To imagine that…rough beast…joined to Catherine infuriated Vincent; it sickened him. It also made him want desperately to know the truth of exactly what had occurred in that shadowed cave. He glanced over at her and then quickly away again, degraded by poisonous thoughts, by his feelings of envy and fierce possessiveness. Jealousy, his own private demon, now tormented him beyond the edge of reason. ‘He’ would never have her again--never again!
‘Oh, no?’ A voice sneered from within.
Hearing it, Vincent jerked up straight in the air as a depth of covetousness he'd never felt before reached out and smashed the facade of reserve lain so carefully, end-over-end, through the years. Gasping to breathe, a frenzied look came into his eyes. Rage swept through him as his consciousness screamed to the darkness, ‘Catherine belongs to me, not to you…never to you! To me!’
‘Oh, you think so? Well pal, she didn't belong to YOU that night…’
With a malicious smile, the ‘beast’ began to weave images as only he could. Mental impressions of his body joined to Catherine's in ways and positions that in the past had always seemed barbarous, sheared away the veneer of control Vincent always maintained, particularly when he wanted to make love.
Already rigid with desire, his body throbbed mercilessly, rebelling against his attempts to prohibit a potent erection. He tensed all of his muscles as his penis distended. Curving outward and upward magnificently, away from his body, the rigid flesh betrayed the enormity of his need. He wanted her so much…so much. He thought he would perish if he couldn't hold Catherine in his arms soon and cradle himself in the sweet refuge of her womb.
Standing there, trying desperately to regain his inner focus, Vincent's mind whirled with images of carnality. Passion and desire were natural urges, weren’t they? Normal, healthy, masculine…
Like the driving force of a hammer, the truth hit, staggering him. Masculine. He longed to make love to Catherine in ways that weren't demeaning, they were merely his ways--part of who and what he was. And whatever else he was, he was male.
As he assimilated that insight and finally accepted it, an intuitive sexuality heightened. Reality coursed through him, giving him his answers, at last fitting all of the pieces of the lifelong puzzle neatly together. Devastating in intensity, needs long submerged at a conscious level stirred, arousing every fiber of his personality. As desire gnawed at him, Vincent felt as if he would explode. Forces long kept to a shadowed level of existence, ones that went beyond intellect, beyond domination, worked their way upward from within, towards the miracle of being. At that moment, for the first time that he could remember he felt completely alive.
Along with the comprehension that he wasn't an animal, came the wanting--a seething, unconquerable hunger. A man's hunger. Although he'd buried the need deeply, Vincent had longed to take Catherine in ways he'd never dreamt of asking her to endure, or to submit to. Until now, he'd assumed that it was the ‘darkness’ who wanted her in that way, and he vowed never to allow that to happen again.
But he was the darkness and the light; he always had been.
There was nothing else, no one else here except him. There was no separate ‘beast’, no other entity or individual in this shadowy place. Here, in the darkness of his soul, there was only him. Fortified with that knowledge, Vincent began to explore that somber region more closely and found what he knew he would find--himself. He met his phantoms face-to-face and came to know them as a part of himself, part of what he had always been and would always be.
As dual halves of the same heart finally pulsed in cadence with each other, he stared into the somber eyes of his other self, and for the first time found no malice there. There was no threat or any sense of rage as he looked into the face of his contradictory identity.
Vincent eyed the swarthy face warily, suspicious as always of his intent. Leaning against the opposite side of the bedroom window and folding his arms over his breast, the creature of twilight arched one eyebrow and grinned back. ‘Well, it's about time. I'd just about given up on you, pal. You've got more balls than I gave you credit for. So Vincent, what say you and I claim…really claim…what has always been yours anyway?’
‘Sure.’ The darkling shrugged. ‘I can admit that now. Catherine belongs to you, and that's the truth of it. But you'll share her now and then, won't you? Can you?’ he challenged, obstinate to the last.
‘I can…try, but only on my terms,’ Vincent answered, his intent explicit. ‘I have to learn if it's possible for me to trust you as much as Catherine does. Mine shall always be the dominant personality. It must be. Is that clearly understood?’
The beast looked resigned. ‘Oh, all right. You've always been in control anyway, haven't you? That's why you nearly went over the edge when I finally did get out last year. Sure scared the hell out of ya, didn't I? Ha! Well, if you hadn't been so damned stubborn,
it wouldn't have nearly finished both of us! It's a damned good thing that Catherine was there.’
‘Yes, she saved us…both,’ Vincent conceded. ‘So now, I'm willing to try and live in peace with you, for her sake, if you can make peace with me…’
‘For Catherine, I'll try.’ Eyeing Vincent, the beast admitted, ‘I really do love her, you know. That wasn't a lie. You still can't believe it, can you? Cripes, you're a stubborn son of a bitch.’
At that moment, Vincent found this side of himself surprisingly droll. ‘As are you, my friend,’ he retorted.
‘Friend?’ the ‘other’ echoed skeptically. ‘Truly friends? Can we be that, you and I, after so many marvelous battles?’
Shuddering, Vincent remembering those assaults. ‘The choice is yours. You can live my life on my terms, or go on living as you are now.’
‘Ha!’ the creature sneered, grimacing. ‘Some choice! Aren't you just too, TOO generous?’ Pursing his lower lip, he tilted his head, looking Vincent up and down. ‘I suppose we can be friends, although you have been a quite worthy opponent.’ Cautiously, he extended his hand toward Vincent. ‘I'll miss our…debates.’
‘Will you?’ Clasping the proffered hand, Vincent eyed the other presence with a slight hint of sarcasm curving his mouth upward. ‘I shan't.’
As their hands touched, the tranquility of spirit so long denied him encompassed Vincent's soul. Washing away the pain as well as the fear, the calm he felt was nearly overwhelming. In that instant, he realized that it wasn't the darkness he'd been so afraid of all these years, it was losing himself in it. Now he would never lose himself there again, for the shadows were gone. GONE.
Taking a deep breath, he realized that Catherine had been right in her supposition.
As much as he had feared the bestial side of his nature, that side had envied him,
and had yearned to be joined to him. She'd known that all along, and that was why
she wanted him reconciled to his differences. His Beloved knew, she had always known,
who he was, what he was, and she loved him as he was.
Unique? Definitely. Filled with conflicts? Oh, yes. But, no matter what else existed within him, Vincent realized that in his own distinct way, he was a man. The miracle of his son was living proof of that fact. Jacob was a human child. A human child.
‘So’, a voice whispered from within his mind, "You've finally grasped the truth of that too, have you? Shall I show you more? Can you handle more of what we are, hm? Let's find out. Come on, you can do it, with MY help. You have to trust me now, or we've truly gained nothing.’
‘Yes, I know…’