Union: Chapter 11

PG for very mild sexual references

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”

C.S. Lewis

 

            After

Vincent had left Catherine in his chamber to get them some food with the most perfect ache at her core, gentle tightenings in her belly, but also with a panic slowly rising – the good and the bad always for them, it seemed.  Catherine tried to release the agitation, to stop it, telling herself, He will be back, he will come back, but her heart pounded a deafening rhythm within her body.

I can’t completely rely on him.  I have to get over this.  It isn’t who I am, dammit!  This isn’t who I want to be to him! Doesn’t he have enough to deal with?  Why should he have to endure my fears, my pain….

She moved towards the warmth of the brazier on his small table, trying to towel-dry her damp hair.  She drew within herself, breathing, focusing on the child within.

Vincent stepped into the doorway, tray in hand, but she didn’t notice him.  She stood almost transfixed, slowly drying her hair, staring into the flame, searching.  She remained lost within her thoughts until he placed the meal of Brunswick stew, bread, and tea on the table.  Heartbeat to heartbeat, something changed.  She had found a resolution, he could feel it in her, see it in her eyes when she looked up from the small stove, eyes that both thanked him but now held new questions.

Vincent moved the chair so she could sit, but also so he could watch her from his seat on the bed.  He now walked there and perched, half-sitting, half-standing, bowl in hand, bread within.

How many meals had they shared?  Not enough, he had told himself, faced with a kitchen full of choices.  He realized he didn’t know what she liked with any certainty, and choosing had proved even more complicated by her pregnancy, how it might affect her tastes.  What would she want?  He could only resolve to return to the kitchen again if the stew didn’t appeal to her.  He had to get back.  Her agitation was palpable, pushing through his thoughts, becoming his own.

A smile thanked him and for a few moments they ate in silence.  It was not a contented quiet, only a resolved one.

Finally she softly spoke. “Vincent?”

“Hmmm….”

“Why…why did you…what I mean is…why have you stopped fighting me?  Over us…being together, I mean.”

He lowered his bowl, also trying to find the right words.  After a moment, he simply stated, “I believe, now.”

She required more than that.  She asked him to go on with her eyes.

“I understand who you are, better…than before…” – his eyes motioned to the child within her.  “You have survived everything,” may she keep on surviving, “everything, including me.  I knew you said you loved me, that you were not afraid of…us…, but until you brought me out of my illness, until you walked into that cavern….” He sighed.  He wasn’t explaining it right. “It’s the difference between reading a novel when you are young and being told the meaning, and then with knowledge and experience, revisiting it and truly comprehending the essence in the words.  You told me we had no limits, but I could not quite believe.  Now, I understand who we are, together, the significance of it.”

“I think, I said that there are always limits in life, Vincent,” she corrected him, “but, I would take you and your life, and it’s limits over any man in the entire world, especially if you…umm…make love in such a ‘limitless’ way all the time. ”  She was embarrassed to say the words, but she wanted him to know how amazing he was, especially in an area he had so little experience.

He hesitated in response, clearly abashed. “Well, I…I took you at your word, that it would be all right to…make love to you.”

“Mmmm, I did wonder that myself, if it would be safe,” she explained, “but Mary said it would be all right, good even,” she finished before taking another bite, trying to hide her smile.

Vincent nearly choked. “Mary?  She told you…you asked her…”

“Mmmm,” Catherine assented.  “Mary encouraged it.”

Why don’t you take Catherine to one of the warm springs.

“But.…” He remembered and nothing would come out.  She had, once again, left him speechless.

Catherine couldn’t help but laugh at his consternation.  “Oh, Vincent, you can never underestimate two things: What women will talk about, and the…umm…drive of a woman in love with you.”

He laughed at her gentle admonishment and finished his stew.  He would certainly need his strength for her.

 ***********************************************************************************

They finished their meal, and had taken time to discuss how to get a message Above.  Catherine was back to thinking, her eyes focused on the steady flame of the brazier, her fingers trying to ease through her lightly damp hair.

“Do you have a brush, Vincent?”

“Of course,” he answered, stepping to a drawer in the corner.  She wanted more than that; he could feel an inquisitiveness about her, but he would wait until she told him, or showed him.  It was a dance, them together, he realized, asking, leading, but also learning to move together, seeking where they should go, and trusting her to lead their life at times.  It was hard, against his instinct to let go of control.

Do you dance?” she had asked him last winter.

Yes, Catherine.  For you, I will.

Father had sent them word through a very excited Kipper.  There would be a council tonight about her staying in the Tunnels.  They had never discussed it.  Father had assumed, correctly in this case, but it seemed they should have had some sort of formal asking.  They had gone so slowly, with such care, for so long. This new pace of life was akin to holding on to the top of the speeding subway car.

He stood before her, the brush in his outstretched hand, waiting for her to take it.  She looked up into his eyes.

“Brush my hair?” she asked, almost reticent.

He could feel her leading him somewhere.  The dance had begun.

He said nothing, but moved behind the chair and lifted a lock in his fingers.  He started at the end, but after months of growth, broken strands and little care, he encountered a snarl almost immediately.  Her discomfort stopped his hands. He nearly dropped the brush.

“Vincent,” she looked up at him, with the slightest hint of amusement shining in her voice, “you have to hurt me a little, or we aren’t going to get anywhere.”

He hesitated, but she preceded him, leading him down a path he did not recognize.  He would try to follow.

He lifted the lock again and slowly stroked down, teasing out the knots.  It hurt.  He tried the next, holding the lock higher, tight within his fist, than brushing, hoping to save her from any discomfort, but there were just too many snarls, especially underneath, where he could not stop the pulling.  His hand was shaking.  It wasn’t the pain, of course, that troubled him.  He daily ripped brushes through his own hair, but causing her pain…. Why was she asking him to do this?

“Vincent?” She didn’t turn to look at him this time, but seemed to be studying her lap.  “Can you shut down our bond so this won’t hurt you as much?  It will help.  You can do what needs to be done.”

It took him the briefest moment to understand what she was asking, but when he did he threw the brush across the table in complete rejection of her request – the spoken and unspoken.

“No, Catherine!”  Vincent’s anger could not be curtailed, and it radiated through her.  He could see it almost broke her confidence, but the baby kicked her, her hand immediately stroking their son’s sheltered body, and her conviction renewed.

She didn’t see him, her eyes only forward.  “Vincent, I need you to be able to shut it off.  It has to be done.”

He turned and crouched in front of her so she was forced to look at him.  “Don’t ask this of me.  I will take any pain.  Catherine, don’t ask me to walk in that grey world again.  I cannot endure losing you….” His voice fell to a whisper, his body shaking against the onslaught of her entreaty.

She took his hand into her lap, trying to comfort him, trying to make him understand. “Vincent, I am right here.”  She squeezed, showing him her reality.  “I won’t be lost!  I am here with you.  I know you’re scared, but I don’t plan on leaving you…or our son.”

“You have asked me to share everything, Catherine, all my pain, with you.  Please don’t ask this of me,” he whispered.

You cannot endure this alone.  I won’t let you.

She frowned.  She lifted her chin and gazed straight into his eyes.  Her expression could almost be called cold if he didn’t feel the love behind it.  He wondered if she knew how she appeared when sure of her course: like an angel, but a fearful one.  “This is what I ask of you, Vincent.”  She would not budge on this, but then her expression softened.  “Please, do this, for me.”

He stood, retrieved the brush from the far end of the table, and brought it back to her hair.  It took him almost an hour, but he was able to learn to shut her out of his heart, to shut out her pain, if need be.

When he was finished, he was shaking once more, his strength at its limit.

He placed the brush on the table and walked away.  He would not look at her.  Catherine almost cried at what she had done to him, would do to him, and without their connection he had no idea the anguish, the turbulence this caused her, the confusion of her emotions.  He couldn’t know how desperately sad it made her to push him away like this, but it had to be done, didn’t it?

“Vincent, I’m sorry….”

He opened the corner drawer the brush had come from, placed it there once more, and pulled out a small silver hand mirror.  A tiny crack marred the corner, tarnish had blackened the scroll work, but in all other ways, it was serviceable, lovely even.  He allowed himself this mirror at least, she thought.  There had to be a story wrapped within its whirls of darkened silver, hidden as it was, like a guilty treasure, but this was no time to ask him.  He brought it to her, and this time she would take what he offered.

He placed the mirror face down on the table for her, but before he could move, she grabbed his hand with both of hers.  “Please, Vincent, please understand….”

Before she could go on he stopped her words with a kiss on the tresses that had caused him such turmoil.  Like a warm rush of air, she could feel him return to her heart, and she knew he could sense her again.  They were open to one another.  Without words he forgave her and told her he understood.

“I have to talk with Father…about tonight,” he said into her hair.

She nodded, accepting.  He gathered his sweater as she picked up the mirror from the table.  She held it up to herself to see what he had wrought.

“Oh, Vincent,” she called him before he could go.  He turned to her and she smiled in her now too-familiar sad way.  “See what beauty can come from a little pain.”

He kissed her again before he left.

Chapter 12

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18 thoughts on “Union: Chapter 11

  1. Jenna says:

    Wonderful as usual!! Is she trying to prepare him for the birth of the baby so he doesn’t feel the pain? Great job!

  2. Krista says:

    Amazing work, this. I told you this morning but…it’s really remarkable what you’ve done here—Catherine, ever practical, leading Vincent through what has to be one of his worst fears, and reassuring him that she would still be *there,* and they would still be whole at the end of it. (But seriously, maybe some detangling conditioner wouldn’t be amiss? :-P)

    Fantastic job! 🙂

    • Crowmama says:

      Ok, so maybe some detangler would have been appropriate, but they weren’t thinking about that at the time. 🙂 Talk about ever practical, sheesh! 🙂 Your lovely feedback, is appreciated, as always, and thank you for the early read. I took out a few sentences, because I hate knocking people over the head, and you reassured me that it still had harmony with the extra notes. Thank you my lovely friend.

      Karen 🙂

  3. speedy says:

    Oh thank you thank you! This is just what I needed to start off the weekend! It is so wonderful to see how they are working together to build this deeper aspect of their relationship! Can hardly wait for more! Great piece!

    • Crowmama says:

      Dear Speedy,
      I would have replied sooner, but I was stuck in New Jersey without wireless and no plug for a network cable. Who doesn’t have wireless? 🙂 I hope to have another chapter as soon as I have my con story done. Your comments make my heart happy. I am glad I helped your weekend off to a good start. 🙂
      Karen 🙂

  4. Michele says:

    Another wonderful chapter! I have been patiently waiting for this installment and you didn’t disappoint.
    Nice to see Catherine fighting her demons and getting her inner strength back. And Vincent realizing there is so much he doesn’t really know about Catherine and so much he is finally accepting about their relationship. It’s a shame he had to see to believe.

    • Crowmama says:

      Michele,
      I am so glad not to disappoint. It is hard when you have a vision, and wonder if people will go along. It gets a little bumpy from here on in. 🙂 I too think it is a shame that it takes V. this long to accept, but some folk is just stubborn, I guess. 🙂

      Karen 🙂

  5. sue says:

    Wow all I can say is wow!!!! This show was one of my all time favorites,,,I was, as many broken hearted with season 3,,, and felt cheated out of our happy ever after,,, I like to read fanfiction relating to the old show ,love the SND stories and have read so many.Yours is so different and new,,,and so far I am blown away by how you have captured the essence of the show, I sit and wait for the next chapter. you are truely a gifted writer!!!

    • Crowmama says:

      Dear Sue,

      Thank you so much for writing! Like you, I have always loved fanfiction for it’s ability to right wrongs and change what should be changed. There are good reasons to chuck cannon. 🙂
      I love that you think Union is different. I strive to say something new while paying homage to all the other great writers in fandom who had the guts to write long before I did. Thank you for giving me a chance!

      Karen 🙂

  6. Megan says:

    I’m late in finding the update this week but this was wonderful! I love the interaction between catherine and vincent and how catherine is steadily guiding him towards a deeper relationship. I also can appreciate though vincent’s fears of losing her. He almost came so close before! The best also was catherine’s reasserting her inner strength that she fought so hard to suppress while she was capture because she had so much to protect.

    As the rest of the ladies said– excellent job once again! I look forward to the next update!

    • Crowmama says:

      Thank you Megan! I think you can sign up for updates on the side. Truth is, I don’t know how, or I would tell you. I always write a little post when I put up a chapter so it emails everyone that a new chapter is up.

      Next chapter has a lot going on: counsels, kids, meet-ups and medical reports – oh my… 🙂 – Karen 🙂

  7. Norma says:

    Wow! I can appreciate Catherine’s concern for Vincent and labor pains but I can see him needing to feel it all, good and bad. I think that when you finally reconnect with somebody you love, you don’t want to miss a second of anything with them. Looking forward to a busy next chapter.

    • Crowmama says:

      Dear Norma,

      Glad you got here! 🙂 It certainly makes me happy to think that people will find this story in the weeks and months to come. How did you find it? I found Carole and Krista’s great work, and many other fine stories years and years after they first published. You are not alone! I tend to gulp down stories too. (You should have seen me with Battlestar Galactica on Netflix!) 🙂 As far as Vincent wanting to feel everything yet Catherine knowing he shouldn’t/can’t, we want what is best for those we love. Some things we can’t keep them from, some we can. I hope you think that what they (in this story) come up with in the end is a good compromise. 🙂

  8. Inglesia says:

    You’re writing is very intense. To build a lifetime below for these two is quite and undertaking. Especially to capture the essence of who Vincent and Catherine are and what they mean to each other. What’s your inspiration?

    • Crowmama says:

      Wow Inglesia, good question. Ummmm, I have a lot of inspiration: Joss Wheadon, Amy Tan, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austin, the Bronte’s, Alice Walker…Along with some amazing fan fiction writers, who inspired me to write in the first place, (see my list on the front page,) then of course just the actors and the series. I love these characters and I have a gut need to explore the “might have been”. I am a big fan of intense, so I aim to make each chapter count on that front. I hope to have the chapter 12 up in the next few days. Work has been an intense roller coaster since I got back from New York, but I am hoping that things calm down in the next week. Thanks for writing! Your question just inspired my next post. 🙂

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