Hey, Even Fate Screws Up Sometimes
"Are you sure about this?" Aisa protested for the millionth time.
Nona sighed heavily and turned to her sister. "Aisa, we’ve been all through this. If we go to him, he might overreact. If we go to her, there’s a good chance she won’t believe us. She’s a lawyer, you know. They’re very skeptical; but, the old man is a scholar and a bit of a dreamer, I’m proud to say. He has just enough faith to believe things can happen and just enough determination to make them happen. They also both care for and respect his opinion enough to do what he asks without too many questions. He’s a remarkable man. He helped create all this, didn’t he?" Nona finished, gesturing around.
"Oh well, I agree then." Aisa replied, finally giving in. "We might as well get this over with." Quickly, she raised a pair of glimmering shears and made a motion with them.
"Hello, Jacob." a friendly voice sounded behind Jacob Wells, A.K.A Father in his chamber.
He turned and was confronted with the sight of two rather lovely young women of indeterminate age. They both were dressed like something from a history text; clothed in the manner of classic Greek or Roman statues. For a moment, Father stared, mystified and entranced. But he quickly recovered himself.
"Who are you? How did you two get in here?" He demanded in his best authoritative tone. To his surprise, one of them laughed.
"It won’t do any good, Jacob. No one can hear you and it wouldn’t matter if they could. The sentries are all asleep. Don’t hold that against them, though. It was our doing, not theirs. They really had no choice in the matter."
"What do you want with me?" asked Father slowly; finally sensing something truly strange was going on.
" Nothing, Jacob." one of the women assured him. "Or would you prefer we call you Father?"
"You can call me whatever you like, as long as you explain what all this is about." Father replied loudly, losing his patience.
"We’ve come with a warning, Jacob. It’s most imperative that you heed it. If you don’t, all those that you love: Vincent, Catherine, all the tunnel dwellers and all that you’ve worked so hard for; this wonderful place of refuge to so many, will me lost forever."
"What have you done to them?!!" Father demanded strongly.
The young woman sighed. "Nothing! We’re here to try and prevent what will happen; we’re not the cause of it! What can I say to convince you we know? Shall I tell you of a boyhood meadow that was your favorite place to run, back when you could? Or the agonies suffered when you faced the terrible realization that you could do nothing to fight back against those who so unjustly accused you?"
"Anyone could know of those things!" Father scoffed. "A good investigator could find out such details."
"But there are some things even the best investigators can’t know, isn’t that right, Jacob?" The other young woman said, speaking for the first time. The golden shears on the cord at her waist flashed in the candlelight. "It was a cold and rainy night; one of your very first as a doctor, Jacob. You were on duty alone. The hospital was terribly understaffed. A small boy was brought in. He’d darted out in front of a car. No one knew where he came from or even his name. You did all that you could, fought so valiantly. But in the end, his injuries were too great; his little body was broken. Finally, he died."
"How could you know that?" Father asked in a voice barely above a whisper.
"Because I was there, Jacob." the woman said kindly, taking Father’s hand. "I was there. That little boy’s name was William, William Blanchard. His parents had died earlier that year and he was sent to live with an aunt who didn’t want him. He’d run away that night. That’s when the car hit him."
"I never knew his name." Father confessed as tears rolled down his cheeks. "The police had no leads."
"But he knew! What’s more he heard you when you talked to him, Jacob. You soothed his fears and gave him the strength to let go so he could be with his parents. He went on to a better place. I give you my word." The second woman finished.
"In the end, there was nothing I could do. I just sat by his bed, talking to reassure him as he breathed his last..." Father broke off, unable to continue.
"But his death wasn’t in vain, was it, Jacob?" the second woman added. "William inspired you, helped motivate you to create this wonderful sanctuary for people like him. And you did manage to save Vincent." she continued, drawing him back to the issue at hand.
"Vincent!" Father cried. "You say he’s in danger?"
"You all are. There’s no time to lose! Catherine has been working on a case involving powerful men and those involved know she has information on them. They won’t rest until they silence her! You must send Vincent to get Catherine right now! He must go to her immediately and bring her straight back here. Her life is in grave danger!"
"But that’s dangerous for him! Who knows where Catherine is right now? What if he’s seen? Perhaps, I could go; warn her somehow." Father offered.
"No!" the first woman replied emphatically. "It must be Vincent and it must be now! If we delay too long, it will be too late and this will have all been for nothing. Jacob, you must do this for your future and theirs!"
"All three of them!" the other woman piped in.
"Three?!!" commented Father in bewilderment.
"Aisa!" the first woman reproached.
"What?" Aisa replied. "The man has a right to know he’s going to be a grandfather!"
"Grandfather?!!" Father said as he sat down in confusion and put a hand over his eyes.
When he lifted it, the two women had vanished.
For one tiny moment, Father was tempted to dismiss what had just happened. Part of his rational mind would have loved to put it down to a bizarre waking dream. But something stronger raised up to counter that idea; a strange inner voice that he had heeded on many occasions and that had never failed him. That voice told him now that all the women said was true and he’d been given a rare gift of knowledge that gave him the opportunity to avert a disaster. He wasn’t about to waste it.
Catherine Chandler had just entered the elevator of her office, headed for home. It had taken days of work, but she was finally making progress on the mysterious black notebook Joe Maxwell had told her about. Just then, the trapdoor above her opened and in dropped the last person Catherine expected to see.
"Vincent!" Catherine cried, pushing the stop button almost immediately. "What are you doing her!!? Don’t you know how dangerous this is?!!"
"Yes, I do." Vincent replied. "I’m sorry, Catherine, but you need to come with me right now."
"Come?" Catherine asked in confusion. "Come where? Vincent, what are you talking about?"
"You must come with me, Below, Catherine! Right now. I’m afraid I can’t explain more than that." Vincent insisted.
"Do you sense something?"
"No. But, please, Catherine. You must do as I ask." Vincent begged. We can’t delay. Your life is in danger and we must do as Father says. I’ll carry you if I have to."
Mystified and a bit taken aback, Catherine took in the determined glint in Vincent’s eyes and her mouth opened in shock. He was serious!
Heaving a sigh, Catherine paused as she unconsciously put a hand to her middle. Still, she relented, trusting in Vincent.
"All right. But I have to take these files." she insisted. "They’re related to a very important case I’m working on."
Vincent smiled gently in reply. "Of course, Catherine! Give me your hand."
Strangely, Vincent hadn’t even allowed Catherine to walk one step until they were back safely in the Tunnels. Vincent had easily carried Catherine up the elevator shaft onto the roof then crossed over to a nearby building with a tunnel entrance. From there, he had run full out; only finally slowing when the first of the tunnel sentries had come into sight.
For some reason, the sight seemed to bring Vincent great relief. Catherine noticed the strong breath that left him and the way his shoulders seemed to sag as the tension left them.
Perplexed, Catherine allowed him to lead her straight to Father’s chamber. Instantly, she began demanding answers. "Father, what is this all about? Why did you have Vincent bring me here?"
"I have my reasons." Father replied cryptically. " Catherine, it has come to my attention that you’re working on an extremely sensitive and perhaps dangerous case."
"How did you...?" Catherine began, totally aghast.
"I have my sources." Father said, shooting Vincent an amused look.
Not surprisingly, Vincent hadn’t doubted one word of Father’s story. Given to visions on occasion himself, he knew to heed a warning when it was given. The very second Father had informed him Catherine was in danger, Vincent had dashed off. He had needed no further explanations; wisely, Father decided to let Catherine herself tell him the rest.
"The men involved are quite powerful. They also know you have information on them. It’s not safe for you Above, right now" he informed her. "In addition" he continued when he noticed her about to speak. "I think you have something you need to discuss with Vincent don’t you, my dear?" he finished, putting a gentle hand on her shoulder.
If Father needed any more confirmation, Catherine’s reaction gave it to him. Instantly, she gasped and put a protective hand to her abdomen. It was a small gesture; but to an experienced physician like Father, it spoke volumes. Catherine’s eyes grew luminous with tears as she turned to Vincent.
"Catherine?" Vincent asked, rising to take her into his arms.
"Ahem." Father observed, taking his cue to leave. "I think I need to see Cullen about something." He smiled. No one even noticed.
"I don’t understand how you did it, Father." Cullen informed Father. "But, it was just as you said! That man Moreno, Catherine’s boss, was waiting for her in the parking garage along with two or three other men. They had guns! Luckily, we were too far away for them to notice us. When the elevator stopped, they became very anxious. When it opened and it was empty, they were furious. Who knows what would have happened to poor Catherine if Vincent hadn’t gotten her out? I guess he could have fought them..."
"And risked all three of them getting killed! No, this all worked out for the best." Father replied, silently thanking every power of heaven that let Vincent get to Catherine in time.
"Three?" asked Cullen in confusion.
"Yes. I’ll explain later." Father answered. Slapping Cullen companionably on the back he remarked. "You know what we haven’t had around here in the tunnels for while, Cullen? A baby! I think it’s about time don’t you?"
"A baby!" Vincent remarked, still somewhat in shock. He was now back in his chamber in his favorite chair, with Catherine settled firmly on his lap. One arm was wrapped securely around her as his other hand rested lightly on top of hers across her stomach.
"Do you mind?’ Catherine asked gently, her voice betraying her apprehension.
"Mind!??" Vincent replied, totally incredulous. "Catherine, you’ve given me something I could have never hoped for even in my wildest dreams; a child born of our love! How could I possibly mind?!! I’m going to be a father!" he continued, his voice breaking with emotion. "My only regret is that I can’t remember when we..." he broke off, not sure how to express what he wanted to say.
"It’s all right, Vincent" Catherine assured him gently, instinctively understanding what he couldn’t say.
"But, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen again." Vincent offered, turning the idea over in his head. Suddenly, he found the notion quite appealing. ‘Right, Catherine?"
"Of course it doesn’t!" Catherine whispered back, barely daring to hope.
Slowly and deliberately, Vincent lowered his mouth to Catherine’s for a soft and gentle kiss that quickly became quite passionate and heated. Their mutual sighs of pleasure soon filled the chamber.
"Thank Heavens that’s over!" Nona sighed in a hidden corner of the tunnels. Do you think they know how close they came to losing it all?"
‘You mean the whole Catherine dying, little Jacob being kidnapped and slow decline of the Tunnels thing? I doubt it. It’s possible Vincent could have carried on with the community on his own without Father or Catherine, but now the point is moot. Without that terrible trauma, Father will live for years to come and Catherine can share help share in the responsibilities. Vincent doesn’t have to bear it all alone anymore. That’s what is important. Happy endings all around." Aisa replied.
"There’s one thing I do regret, you know." Nona commented.
"Oh, What’s that?" Aisa asked.
"Diana Bennett. I always liked her. She had spunk." Nona answered.
"Well, I happen to know of a certain rather good looking young lawyer who should be getting out of the hospital soon. He’s very nice, even if he is an average ‘Joe’." Aisa
snickered at her own pun.
Nona looked perplexed. "Can we do that?"
"Why stop now? Besides, we’ll only set up the meeting. The rest will be up to them. If they hit it off, great. If they don’t, no harm, no foul. Case closed." Aisa stated.
"Speaking of cases..." Nona began remembering some files that now lay unattended in Father’s chamber.
"Not to worry! I’ve got an idea for that too." Aisa commented.
Two months later, the New York news was dominated by the story of a combined FBI and NYPD raid on the suspected headquarters of a major drug and weapons cartel that supplied the whole East Coast. The mastermind, one Gabriel by name and all of his henchmen had been killed in the ensuing gun battle. The investigation came about after some very incriminating files were mysteriously left on the desk of an up and coming hotshot FBI agent. Unfortunately, a full forensic investigation by one of the best teams in the country had failed to turn up any further evidence in the mysterious disappearance of Assistant D.A. Catherine Chandler. She had simply vanished from her office one day and it was rumored the crime cartel had eliminated her because she knew too much. John Moreno, her former boss, had been killed as well and no one else was talking.
Catherine sat up in the bed and groaned, simply unable to get comfortable. She looked up in surprise as Vincent entered their chamber.
"Vincent." she said. ‘I thought you were helping Mouse!"
"I was. But I felt the need to check on you. How do you feel, Catherine?" Vincent asked anxiously. It brought tears to her eyes. He’d been so gently attentive through her whole pregnancy.
Seeing her tears, he put down the package he was carrying and went over to her, taking Cher into his arms.
"It’s all right." Catherine reassured him. "I’m just feeling like a beached whale."
Instinctively, Vincent’s hand went down to the small of her back and began to gently massage away the ache she had there. Somehow, he always knew just how and where to soothe her. Within days of her moving Below, the bond had returned. As their physical relationship had developed, the bond had grown stronger until they each felt almost everything the other did.
There had, however, been a few side effects. Catherine’s morning sickness had been harder on Vincent than it had on her. Because he was rarely ill, nausea was an unpleasant albeit novel experience for Vincent. On the positive side, it had let him develop a unique bond with their child. He insisted it would be a boy. Catherine didn’t doubt him for one minute.
‘What have you got there?" Catherine asked, looking over at the package Vincent had brought.
"What do you think?’ responded Vincent, teasingly.
"Chocolate chip cookies?" Catherine asked in delight. "How did you know?"
"How could I not?" Vincent laughed. ‘You’ve been craving them all day!"
"Thank you!" she said, gently kissing him. "Remind me to thank William too."
"You should sleep." Vincent chided gently.
Catherine sighed again. "I wish I could! The baby’s being extra active today. Read to me?" she requested. "It always settles him down when you do."
Nodding obligingly, Vincent reached for an old favorite as Catherine nestled close.
Before he’d finished one chapter of Great Expectations, Catherine had drifted off into a sound sleep. Vincent chuckled. This particular book, without fail, always soothed Catherine and their child no matter the circumstances. Vincent found the title especially appropriate; considering the ‘great expectation’ of their own that was due to arrive quite
" I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so, the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her.."
Vincent read those last few lines and couldn’t help but marvel at how they echoed his own relationship with Catherine. Though they too had suffered and been parted at times, in the end, Fate had brought them back together; never to be parted again. Silently, Vincent sent up a prayer to of gratitude to the force that had given Father the warning that had let him save his Catherine.
In a far away place, a classically dressed woman with a pair of golden shears as her side smiled quite gently and whispered. "You’re welcome."