They sat on the cushions against the wall of her balcony, cuddled in his cloak, relishing the moment of closeness, bodies fitting together as a hand in a glove. There was no need for words; their bond was flowing sweetly between them. The autumn night was crisp, full of light from the stars and moon in the cloudless sky. Even though they had spent evenings inside her apartment lately, the balcony was their window to the world. Vincent no longer feared stepping into the apartment; in fact he loved being in the space that was so.…Catherine.
"I could sit here forever, being close to you, to feel your arms surrounding me with so much love, it is all I could ever want or need to be truly happy. Joe gave me a week off, why don’t you think of something we could do. I’m sure your duties in the tunnels have a vacation plan built in them don’t they?" She said with a little chuckle and a gleam in her sparkling green eyes.
Vincent grinned, and with the slight tilting of his head that drove her crazy, said "Perhaps I can".
He sat in deep thought, thinking of an adventure for the two of them. Catherine often asked him after the Tong had tried to destroy their world, about the other tunnels Dr.Woo had spoken of. He remembered how he fought to save Henry and Lin and in turn his world and family from them.
Perhaps Narcissa knew more about these tunnels as her wanderings took her always far away from the normal community hub. He knew with certainty there were miles of unexplored tunnels that even he or Mouse had never been to.
"My first thought is the Crystal Cavern, We might even be able to find Narcissa; perhaps she could answer some of you questions." He said.
"Oh Vincent, that’s a wonderful idea. Could we start tomorrow morning? I could get things together and be ready as soon as you come for me. Just let me know what I need for the trip beside warm clothes and my walking boots."
Vincent smiled as her excitement reminding him of how much he loved her, how happy she made him…how did he deserve this miracle? She could have anything or anyone she wanted…and she wanted and loved him. He could never thank the Gods enough for this blessing and answer to his dreams. "I’ll meet you at the threshold at noon. William will have food for us to take and I will get things we will need for a safe journey. ".
Early the next morning Catherine went to the health food store to pick up special treats. She thought it would be fun to try these since chocolate was a staple in the ones she found, and Vincent loved chocolate. It would be a treat for both of them and who knows where a chocolate thrill could take them. She also picked up some energy bars; maybe we’ll need extra energy …..She hoped!
She packed her bag with the special treats and proceeded to the threshold, where Vincent waited for her. She put a flashlight in just for good measure. He helped her down the ladder after she had dropped her bag into his strong arms. She never could get enough of the feel of him as he lifted her down off the ladder and placed a kiss on her head. They stayed in the embrace feeling the love that warmed them through their bond.
After what was never enough for either of them, Vincent backed away with a grin. "We will never get to the trip if we keep this up."
Smiling like the proverbial Cheshire cat, Catherine whispered, "Oh well, if we must."
The trip to the Crystal Cavern was about a day’s trip, stopping for a lunch of fruit, and cheese with some of William’s homemade crusty bread. Vincent started out slowly, letting Catherine adjust to the walking for miles. Soon she didn’t feel as tired and enjoyed the pace and the exhilaration of being with Vincent. Mostly, they walked in quiet, their bond letting each feel the warmth and love for the other.
Vincent slowed and decided this was a good place to stop and make camp for the evening.
"Tomorrow after breakfast we will be at the Cavern, it’s only a little further. It’s better to rest and see it in the morning to fully appreciate it and all its wonders."
"I can hardly wait to see it. You make it seem so magical and I want to see where this came from." She was holding her necklace with the fire crystal he gave her on their first anniversary to her lips. This sent such warmth through Vincent and he blushed seeing her lips kiss the crystal.
"Are you all right, you look…look too warm" she said with a soft grin and gleam in her eyes.
"Catherine, are you teasing me?"
"You know I wouldn’t…let’s say tease you, then maybe again I might."
"I know attorneys could be, let’s say a little manipulative to get what they want. So what do you want may I ask?" he said, grinning.
"Why Vincent, whatever can you mean?"
With that he approached a little closer, slowly wrapped his arms around her and ever so lightly brushed his lips across hers. She was totally shocked and happily surprised by this unexpected pleasure. He felt through their bond only happiness and love from Catherine, not to mention total surprise. He liked that feeling of being able to give her so much joy.
When she caught her breath she could not find the words to tell him how she felt.
"Catherine, do I see that you are at a loss for words? Perhaps I could do that again and see if you or the cat can find your tongue? "
She couldn’t believe Vincent referred to himself as a cat!
He lowered his head to meet her trembling lips, this time a slower kiss with slightly more pressure and his tongue tenderly exploring. Her lips opened slowly and their tongues met with passion and desire. She let her tongue slip along his cleft upper lip, and felt his whole body tremble. Finally they gasp for air and held on to each other to gain balance and realized what just happened.
"Vincent, I love you so much, I at times doubted this would ever happen and now you are making my, no our dreams come true. What…how…I don’t know where to start! "
"You have told me so many times and in so many ways how much you love me. I…I have always been unsure and afraid. I’m not an ordinary man and still you love me more than I could ever believe was possible. You love me for who I am and what I am. How could I not love you and give you what you want, what you desire and need. I know I must move toward love… with you, I now know there are no other choice for me….for us. Catherine, I want and need you just as you want and need me. I want to start our lives together, truly together if you’ll let me."
Tear of joy flowed down the cheek, and her heart beat wildly as she took his hands is hers and said, "Oh Vincent, do you know how long I have waited to hear that? You have given me the Gift no one else could ever give me."
The came together in a warm, gentle embrace and looked into each others eyes for what seemed hours. They simply savored the moment, letting nothing disturb this peace. There was no rush, for now they knew they had time…no, not time, they had forever.
The tension that usually surrounded them at these times of closeness floated away as if taken by a gentle breeze. Almost as if nothing had just happened they set up the evening campsite and dined on William’s hearty stew, crusty bread and the bottle of wine Catherine had thought to bring.
Vincent started the campfire with the wood that he had stored there on a previous trip to take the chill out of the tunnel air. No words were needed as they worked together to prepare and then dine on their meal. Each quietly gazed at the other lovingly as they ate, their bond was filled with love, with a peace they had never felt before and never wanted to loose.
After cleaning up from their meal and wine, Vincent rolled out the sleeping bags and organized everything as was his habit, tunnel people always organized and prepared for everything.
Catherine noticed that he opened both of the sleeping bags to make one big comfortable one. "Are you sure you are ready for this step? I don’t want to rush you into anything you’re not comfortable with…well actually, I do." She murmured with a sheepish grin.
With two long strides he surrounded her in his arms; he kissed the top of her head as was his way. Things were about to change! "I love you more than you could ever know; now I want to show you I can love you as you should be loved and desire to be loved." Their bond was flooded with so much love, with desire so strong it took their breath away; they gasped and hung on to each other for strength.
When oxygen finally began to flow normally again with in them, tender kisses, so sweet, so gentle became more passionate in their hunger for each other. Their hands moved, searching, caressing the other as if they needed to reassure themselves it was real and not a dream.
They separated for a moment to look in to each others eyes, both were flamed with love.
Vincent started to reach for her, she put up her hands to stop him, and he froze afraid he had stepped too far. Seeing the look of panic in his fire blue eyes, she smiled and took his hands in hers and brought them to her lips. Tenderly kissing them and taking them to his sides.
"You are giving me the Gift I have waited for. As it is my Gift, please...……. let me open it myself."
She reached for the clasp of his cloak, opened it and let it fall. His eyes gleamed with curiosity and a little uncertainty. Next the ties of his vest and shirt were undone. She let her hands slowly push them back off his massive shoulders and down his arms and fall away. His heart was racing, his breathing growing stronger, and the heat coursing through his body. Catherine stood looking at this beautiful sight before her, knowing there was more!
"Catherine I….love you….need you…desire you, please..!"
"I have waited so long, please be patient." With that she knelt down and started to pull at his boots, he hurriedly helped her as his passion was rising. She stood and came up behind him, putting her arms around his waist, coming together at his heavy metal belt...
With a little help from him, she unfastened it; it made a loud clang as it hit the floor. She was enjoying making him crazy a little too much he was thinking. Both of them could feel the heat of passion rising within their bond, giving a new meaning to desire and need. Now she was unbuttoning his old worn jeans, which were straining to contain his swelling manhood. She pushed them down and off.
He let her hands explore his trembling body. She ran her fingers over his back, his arms, his shoulders and then she came around to the front of him. God, how she loved him, his body was magnificent. She felt she was dreaming and not actually standing her with him naked in her arms. She ran her fingers through the hair of his broad chest; standing on her toes she placed a lingering kiss on his exotic lips.
As Vincent tenderly kissed her, he took his turn at…Gift opening.
When he was finished undressing her, her picked her up in his arms and gently laid her on the sleeping bag bed he had made. Their hands and lips explored each others body as their passion built, when they could wait no longer…they joined as one forever.
Later when their breathing slowed, they lay sated in each others arms, their bond humming sweetness neither had ever known. They gazed in to each others eyes and knew this wasn’t a dream, it was real and they were really together… always.
Vincent gathered Catherine up in his arms and started down a small tunnel, she thought she heard water and felt warmer air than in the rest of the campsite.
"Where are we going?" she said with a curious smile.
"I want to show you my etchings." he teased. "There is a warm spring near here and I thought after all our walking and…other activities you might like to soak with me in the mineral spring"
‘You are full of surprises today are you not? What did I ever do to deserve you? How can I show you how much I love you? "
"Catherine, Kristopher was right…so many questions. I will try to answer all of them tonight with you in my arms, loving you as you are meant to be loved. It is I who wonders how I deserve you and your love."
The smaller cavern, more than likely had been carved by flowing waters over hundreds of years. The rocks were smooth, the water warm and bubbly, just like a spa. A slight mist arose from the water creating a soft silkiness against the rock walls. There were candles everywhere, as Vincent started to light them, Catherine took in the wonder of this world her beautiful man lived in.
With the candles lit Vincent came to her, looking deeply into her sparkling green eyes.
"I love you Catherine, I want to make you mine forever."
He picked her up and stepped into the warm water, each caressing the other, exploring and loving. Later they sat on the stone ledge, her head on his shoulder their arms around each other as the water swirled around them.
"Catherine are you asleep?"
"No, just in that floating space, where all seems warm and fuzzy. Oh my, I believe it is you that is all warm and fuzzy."
Her grin was infectious, he hugged her closer and kissed the top of her head and anywhere else he could. When they finally came up for air Catherine noticed he had towels and soaps and anything they might need.
"Were you a Boy Scout?" she asked with an innocent grim, "You are so prepared and equipped, in more ways than one, apparently."
His eyes widened. "You make me sound… so devious, I’m totally shocked and innocent."
"I’m beginning to wonder about your innocence! Just for that you can kiss me again… and again..."
Finally they decided to leave the pool as they were perhaps getting a little wrinkled.
They took turns drying each other; Vincent took a bit longer as his fur didn’t dry fast.
Wrapped in dry towels they went back to rest in each others arms for the night. He pulled his cloak over them and they snuggled and drifted into a restful sleep.
Early the next morning, Vincent awoke slowly and wondered if he had been dreaming, a slight movement next to him told him no. He just laid there and watched her sleep, thinking to himself that no man could be so lucky….and then he thought I am that man.
Slowly Catherine awoke, looking up into his blue eyes and smiling. She thought to herself, that no matter how long she lived, she would never understand how lucky she was to have this magnificent, exotic and beautiful man as hers.
"If we want to see the Crystal Cavern, we must dress quickly and eat breakfast," Vincent said, smiling.
"Have you no faith in my self control?"
"It’s not your self control I worry most about."
They dressed quickly, ate a breakfast of oatmeal and tea with honey. They cleaned up and put things in order, only taking what they needed for the day. Catherine gave Vincent a bag of the trail mix and 2 energy bars so they could snack on as they walked to the Crystal Cavern.
"How do you know about my vice for chocolate, you’re tempting me again."
"I’m going to temp you every chance I get," she grinned with a half shaded look in her eyes. "William told me, of course."
It wasn’t a long before Catherine knew through their bond it must be near.
"Vincent, are we there? I’m so excited to be able to see where my crystal came from. Being from your world makes it all the more special, actually priceless, no amount of money could ever buy. This is why you need to believe you give me everything."
He set the lantern down to make the decent into the cavern. They entered carefully; first Vincent climbed down through the entrance, he reached up and she handed him the lantern. Catherine started down, she slipped, missing a foothold and fell into Vincent’s arms.
"Are you all right, you must be careful, if any harm came to you, I…I…could not go on."
"You caught me; everything is fine, anyway it’s heaven to fall into you arms. They make me feel protected and loved."
He put her down with a kiss to the top of her head and smiled. He then proceeded to light candles everywhere.
She gazed around not believing what she was seeing, the beauty and radiance of the colors, the exquisite formations: it took her breath away. Vincent just stood and watched her expressions change, one more beautiful than the one previous. She was childlike in her wonder, innocent of how she made him feel at this moment. He felt as if he had given her the wonders of the world…in away he had, it was his world.
To Catherine it was like standing in the middle of exploding fireworks that were stopped in time and space. Colors shimmering in a multitude of shades, hues so different, she could not believe what she was seeing.
"The colors, glimmering blue pools like your eyes when you are happy, darker blue when you are angry, and fire blue when you are making love to me; how can there be so many emotions caught in these crystals?"
"The greens remind me of the calmness and peace you bring to me, as the new spring grows and fulfills all I ever dare to hope for. Our dream, so alive in your eyes, your heart, never doubting what can be. can never give you what you deserve, but I will never stop trying if you will let me."
Coming together for a soft hug, they continued exploring the wonder of the cavern, marveling at only a portion of its beauty and secrets.
"There is a geode on the ledge oval shaped with what looks like blue energy trapped inside like the blue of your eyes when you look at me. It would always make me feel you were watching over me when we are apart. Do you think Mouse would polish it for me?"
"Mouse would do anything for you if he knew it would make you happy. I could almost feel a little jealous; I know he loves you too." Then again who couldn’t love you? Come I’ll put it in the pocket of my cloak to protect it on our way back. We should be going back to the campsite, have some lunch and then perhaps we can find Narcissa."
They slowly walked back to the campsite hand in hand, the contentment of just being together humming along their bond. They ate a quick lunch of fruit and cheese and some of the trail mix. Vincent smiled as he licked his fingers of any remaining chocolate, with a twinkle in his eyes.
Gathering up the things they would take back with them and cleaning up the site for anyone else who might travel there they started to look for Narcissa. They walked back for a few miles, which didn’t seem to bother Catherine’s energy at all, now she had become accustomed to the steady pace Vincent kept.
As they started on a slightly downward tunnel, Catherine could smell a potpourri of fragrance in the air that traveled up the tunnel. Vincent smiled to himself; he had noticed it a while back as his senses were so much more sensitive than everyone else’s.
Coming to not really a chamber, more of an alcove, Vincent put his finger to his mouth as he looked at Catherine and she knew he meant all quiet. Before his hand was at his side they heard a swishing of someone moving about.
"Come in, Vincent, and bring your friend with you," she said warmly.
"Narcissa, how did you know it was me and that I have someone with me?"
Catherine smiled and said "You’re as good as Vincent, knowing before seeing some one approach. How are you, Narcissa,? I haven’t seen you for a quite while."
‘I’m fine, child, and may I ask what are the two of you doing so far from home?"
"Vincent took me to see your Crystal Cavern, and may I say it was even more enchanting than he lead me to believe."
"That is not your only reason to be so far down in the tunnels is it now?"
Catherine and Vincent just looked at each other wondering how this special woman could know they had two things in mind on this trip.
Vincent smiled a little looking from Catherine to Narcissa and shook his head.
"Narcissa, in your travels did you ever see tunnels that were used by the Tong years ago? Catherine hadn’t forgotten her question.
"Child, why do you ask this old woman about those cold places, they are better left quiet and undisturbed? You could get lost; they haven’t been used for many, many years. They were never a good place to go; many evils may still lurk in them for the unprepared."
‘I’m sorry if we upset you Narcissa, I was just curious and thought I might ask if you knew about them. Please forgive me?" Catherine felt guilty about upsetting the old woman. Vincent put his arm around her to let her know that Narcissa wasn’t really upset, just surprised at the questions.
A little later they sat drinking the special herbal tea Narcissa had come to favor; William had sent some when he packed the food for Vincent and Catherine. They sat and talked about the goings on in the tunnel, new Helpers, babies being born; just the usual stuff of life. It was a very pleasant visit and Catherine saw how much Vincent loved and respected this remarkable old woman.
The older woman watched the looks between the two of them and smiled, she had known all along that Vincent and Catherine were meant to be together, even if The Father didn’t think it so.
As they left to return home they asked Narcissa if they could do anything for her.
Smiling and holding their hands she said "the Gift you have given each other on this trip will be forever. Now go children and live your destiny as it was meant to be."
They left her knowing that what they had could never be broken or taken from them.