Scratches From Glass

Rated G
Summary: Vincent can sense Catherine is in danger, but she may be too far away for him to help her.

To Vincent, it just suddenly felt colder. And the wind was up. It blew his long blonde hair across his eyes. This was early February and this kind of weather was to be expected. New Yorkers had had it easy these past months. Now winter had announced its arrival by demonstrating its full definition. Vincent didn't mind winter. The cold made him feel clean and energetic. The wind, with its icy fingers sometimes cut right through clothing and seemed to touch a person's inner core. Vincent liked that too and he especially liked the snow. It was snowing now and with it came its veil of silence and its whiteness against the stark blackness of the night sky. It seemed to purify and cleanse whatever it touched. Vincent held out his hand and watched the snowflakes settle on his glove. He liked to look at the patterns of each individual flake. He only wished they would last a little longer.

Whenever it snowed above, everything seemed to slow down. The traffic and the people on the streets always faded away. Vincent had been walking for several blocks now and hadn't seen one other person or even a car on the street. It was a rare feeling in New York, Vincent thought. As though he were the only one in the city tonight. He liked that feeling too. He found he didn't have to lurk as much and he didn't feel forced into the shadows tonight as he was every other time he came above. What he enjoyed most about tonight was that he didn't have to be so careful. He was tired of being careful; avoiding other people and cars and animals and lights. Sometimes he just wanted to be entirely reckless, let come what may. He had expressed those feelings to his father and Father told him that Vincent's first night of reckless abandon would most likely also be his last. And Father always told him before he went anywhere to be careful. Father was convinced that his urge for being reckless, and his restless wanderings above had never been a problem before Catherine. Catherine. As usual, Vincent's thoughts came to her. He sighed in spite of himself. Her face immediately came to mind. She was truly lovely.

He abruptly felt a warm surge of peaceful contentment and knew that wherever she was, she was enjoying herself. He could picture her sitting by a crackling fire, sipping cocoa and reading a book of poetry. Vincent tried to envision himself there beside her but the image wouldn't come. He could more easily imagine a dark haired and handsome man beside her. But that image was almost painful and he shook it out of his head.

He concentrated instead on remembering the times they actually were together. Times when she had smiled at him, touched his face with her dove-soft hands, or hugged him so tightly it took his breath away. Those images came easily and Vincent dwelled happily on them. He loved to think of her. He loved her more than anything else in his life. Of course he loved his father and his friends and the children he shared Father with. Vincent found loving easy. But with was very different. He had fallen in love before when he was much younger, but this was a special love that transcended all other love. This love was what had changed everything for him. He felt like a part of this world now. With her love he could influence things, experience unforeseen possibilities, and most of all help people. And Catherine never denied him these chances. She readily shared her life above with him. It would have been easy for her to push him away. She could have any man of her dreams and forgotten Vincent. And then he, knowing it would be a mortal sin to keep her away from whatever or whomever she wanted, would have just returned to the tunnels and to his life before her.

Before Catherine. Even that was painful to think about. What was his life before her? He couldn't imagine what kept him going day after day until he met her. He missed her so much! He hated when he couldn't visit her. And she'd be gone for another week yet. She was too far away for him to visit. But he could feel that she was safe and warm and happy. He remembered sitting outside on her balcony in the shadows, watching her.

She hadn't seen him and besides, she was busy. She was packing. Scurrying from one room and then out into another. Vincent watched her until she spied him out of the corner of her eye.

Smiling with an incredulous look on her face, she bounded to the doors and flung them open.

"Vincent?! How long have you been there?"

"A few moments." He gestured inside as he slid off his precarious perch. "You seemed occupied. I didn't want to disturb you."

Smiling brightly, Catherine shook her head. Her hair swung with the motion. It made Vincent want to touch it.

"You're never disturbing me. I'm just packing. I'm going away with my father for a little vacation. He bought a house out in the country and he wants me to see it." She laughed. "He's so excited about it. I couldn't refuse him."

"Where is this place? How long will you be away?" Vincent didn't mean his questions to sound so worrisome, but they did.

Catherine understood though. Vincent had earned the right to worry. He had helped her out of a number of potentially dangerous situations and she knew he didn't like it when he couldn't be with her to keep her out of the trouble she so often got herself into.

"I'll be fine. It's only for a week and I'll be with my dad. The way up is just a quiet drive through the countryside. There's no need to worry. What could happen?"

Plenty, Vincent thought. He sighed and leaned against the balcony wall.

"I'll miss you."

Catherine's expression became one of heartfelt warmth.

"I'll miss you too, Vincent." Then she reached over and took his large hand in hers.

Vincent's heart skittered. She was always so warm and soft. He loved her touch.

"Come inside," she urged. "It's cold out here."

Vincent stared into her pale green eyes. "Is it? I hadn't noticed," he replied so matter of factly, Catherine laughed.

Vincent sighed. He remembered her warm hands on his. He should have gone with her that night, but he didn't want to wear out his welcome and he had left. She was such a busy person, always so occupied by what she was doing that Vincent often felt he was intruding even when Catherine assured him that he wasn't. And there was still that restlessness about him. Sometimes it would show through his most contented visage so clearly that even Catherine sensed it and let him go.

He wished she were here with him now. The streets were so deserted that no one would notice them and they could pretend they were the only two people on earth.

It was colder and the snow was blowing across the roads with a vengence. Vincent knew that too much of this kind of weather often immobilized the city. He looked up at the sky. It was full of snow. It made him dizzy watching it swirl towards him and he laughed and shook his head. He wasn't cold to the point of being uncomfortable, but he was getting wet. His hair had ice in it and the short fur on his nose was getting caked with melting snow.

He lowered the hood of his cloak over his face and quickened his pace. He decided it would be better at home, curled up in his favorite chair, nice and warm, reading a favorite book. Somewhat reluctantly he headed to the tunnel access.

Catherine hung up the phone and looked apologetically at her father.

"That was Joe. I have to go back to work a little prematurely. Things are getting crazy over there. They need me."

Charles Chandler sighed heavily. "Well, it was fun while it lasted. I think I'd feel something was wrong if I actually had you all to myself for a whole week." He smiled reassuringly at her. "I understand, really. The judicial system knows nothing about convenient timing. When do you have to go back?"

Catherine frowned deeply. She walked over to him and kissed his cheek. "Tonight. That way I'll have all day tomorrow to gather and sort through the files I need before I actually have to be at the office. Could you send up my things later? I don't want to take the time to pack. It's already later than I would have liked to leave."

Charles was disappointed and couldn't help show it. "I guess that means this is good bye." He glanced out the window. "It's starting to snow Cathy. Are you sure you wouldn't rather leave tomorrow? I'll set the alarm bright and early."

Catherine glanced out the window too. "Oh it's just flurries. Besides, I'd have to leave too early tomorrow and you know I was never a morning person. If I leave now, I'll be home by eleven. That's a good time. I'll get a good night's sleep."

"Well, you can't blame me for worrying a little. I'm your father. It's in the contract. I have to worry," he grinned.

Catherine smiled and hugged him tight. "Oh is it? I don't remember signing on any dotted line." She went to retrieve her coat. "I do hate to have to rush off like this. I'll make it up to you I promise." She fished her car keys from her coat pocket. "I had a great time. The house is beautiful."

Charles kissed her forehead. "I'm glad. I've learned to take what I can get with you, my dear. And I'm grateful for every little moment we have."

Catherine laughed and shook her head. "Now you're starting to sound like Vin--" She caught herself and kissed her father quickly. "I have to go. I love you."

With that she slipped out the door, hurried to her car and got inside.

A few hours later, Vincent was sitting on the edge of his bed. His hair was still wet and he rubbed it briskly with a towel. Unlike the snowy stillness of above, the tunnels bustled with activity. The children were running everywhere, playing noisy games. Father was entertaining company in the main room and the pipes sounded like an orchestra of chimes. It was clear there would be no peaceful reading for now.

Vincent closed his eyes and passed the towel over his face. It was wet and cold from his hair and it felt good against his eyes. He pressed it into them, trying to block out the noise and the activity and cleared his mind.

Just then, such a feeling of shock, fright and pain struck him, he dropped the towel and opened his eyes, trembling. Right away he knew it was Catherine who had felt this. But the emotions went through him so fast he could scarcely make sense of it. He knew Catherine was hurt and frightened. He concentrated hard, but nothing came back to him. He also knew she was still very far away. Somewhere, but he didn't know where. There was nothing he could do.

Catherine's eyes popped open and she grabbed at the steering wheel of her car before she realized her car had stopped moving. She looked around frantically and regretted moving her head so fast. She felt as though she'd been clubbed in the head with something and could feel a tender spot with her fingers. Where was she? Why was she stopped? Already the snow was piling up on her car windsheild to the point where she couldn't see out anymore.

Her head was throbbing and it was starting to come back to her now. The gentle flurries she had started out in had become a full winter storm in a matter of hours. She had just made her turn onto a county road when something happened. Horror reflected on her face as she suddenly remembered. She had hit someone! They were probably still lying in the road!

Hurrying as much as her head allowed, she clambered out of the car and headed back up the road over a small incline. The wind assaulted her, whipping snow on her face and making her skin sting. She couldn't really see anything. She turned first one way, then another. It had been right after the turn off. But where was that now? She had to concentrate hard just to keep walking straight. She tried looking for an outline in the road. A flash of color, anything that would give her a clue as to where this poor person could be.

Then she spied it just ahead. She could make out a pair of jeans. She staggered over to it and nearly fell on it. She knelt down, crying and horrified. It was no bigger than a child. Desparately she dug at the snow but the body was giving way in her hands. It was a morose sensation. She dug harder, crying harder. Suddenly there was no body at all. Only clothing and frozen stalks of straw and weeds.

"A scarecrow," she breathed. Her tears of horror became tears of relief. The wind must have blown it into the road from a field somewhere, she decided.

Vincent stopped pacing. Catherine's new emotions confused him. She went from terror to joy in a split second.

Father was watching him with concern and sympathy. His guests had departed and the children were in bed now. The room was so quiet and still, he could hear Vincent's forceful panicking breaths. It pained him to see his son so tormented.

"Now I feel relief. Estatic joy. Concern. Pain." He looked at his father questionably.

Father went to him. "She could be disoriented. Or maybe your interpretation of what she is feeling is cloudy because she is so far away."

"No, it's clear. It's what she's experiencing."

Catherine tried to shield her face from the wind. She was chilled to the core and soaking wet from the snow. Her only thought now was to get back to the car. Her pulse banged inside her head. Her hands were numbing. She rose unsteadily and looked hopelessly around.

She didn't remember which direction the car was in and the snow was so blinding, she couldn't really see. She knew she was in trouble. She started walking. It was better than standing in the middle of the road and freezing. Maybe someone would come along. Maybe there were houses close by. With friendly faces.

One face suddenly came into her mind. The same face she always saw whenever she was in trouble. It helped calm her just thinking of him. Thinking of his warm strong arms around her, his soft breath against her neck whenever they hugged. He was always there when she needed him. How she wished for the peace and security of his embrace now....

Suddenly the ground gave way beneath her and she tumbled downwards landing face down in a snow filled ditch. She weakly pushed herself up and saw her car about ten feet in front of her. Its headlights staring vacantly at the opposite bank. Catherine was happy to have found the car, but disappointed to find it unmovable.

"She's thinking about me." Vincent suddenly faced Father. "I know where she is. I can picture it."

"She must be miles away Vincent. You can't possibly try to find her. Besides she has her father with her. He'll take care of her."

Vincent shook his head. "No she is alone. Frightened and hurt. I know I can find her. Our bond will guide me. It always does." He turned and darted up the stairs before Father could protest.

The inside of the car was cold, but at least it was out of the wind. Catherine found herself shivering uncontrollably. She wrapped her coat tightly around her but her clothes were wet and it didn't seem to offer much comfort. Resigned she sat huddled and listened to the wind outside. There wasn't anything she could do now but wait. Someone would drive by and find her soon, she assured herself. She tried to take her mind off of how cold she was by thinking nice thoughts. Naturally her mind focused on Vincent once more. She closed her eyes and smiled and didn't even realize she was falling asleep.

Vincent stood beneath an old abandoned and forgotten building. Above was the closest access tunnel this far out to the world above. The opening was small, almost too small for him, he thought, breathing hard and wiping a trickle of sweat from his brow. He started up, his body aching in protest and near exhaustion. Decaying boards covering the passage gave way readily to his determined push. He squeezed through one limb at a time and soon found himself inside the building. He paused only to let his eyes adjust to the total darkness surrounding him. He was close now. He could feel her clearly. Summoning more energy, he headed for the large double doors and threw his whole body's weight into them. After another try, he broke through the boards sealing the entrance from the outside and almost collapsed in the deep snow. The wind was dying down and it wasn't snowing anymore, he noted thankfully. He looked around quickly to get his bearings and started off.

As it was, Catherine was only a few more miles away. He was so tired and depleted he didn't think he could run any further, but when he finally spied her car, he felt a surge of renewed strength.

The moonlight on the snow made the hood of the car glisten. He brushed away the snow with his arm, trying to get to the door. Catherine must have known someone was digging her out. Vincent felt hope and happiness course through her. He hurried even more.

Catherine did hear the noises coming from outside the car. She sat forward, anxiously trying to see through the snow covered windshield. Moonlight suddenly flooded the car's interior and Catherine saw a large black arm sweep across the glass. Then she heard the door on the driver's side moan in frozen protest as it was very nearly torn off its hinges. She turned and looked up and was greeted by tired but sparkling blue eyes that reflected as much love and joy as the heavy hood allowed them to.

Catherine stared at him astonished. "Vincent." She touched his face with her hands. "I can't believe you are here. How on earth did you find me?"

"You told me where you were," he breathed in reply.

"How...I'm still miles from the city." She suddenly tried to look reproachful. "You shouldn't have come all this way. I would have been all right. You took a tremendous risk---"

"Ssssh," he chided and took her hands in his. They were ice cold and he blew on them to warm them. "You're shivering," he noted.

"I fell in the snow. I'm all wet," she complained. "I can't seem to get warm."

"There's an old building not far from here," Vincent began. "It's dry and warmer there. There's an older tunnel access just beneath it. I'll take you there." He slipped his right arm carefully behind her back and his left arm under her legs, effortlessly lifting her from the car.

Catherine hugged his neck and buried her face against it. He was incredibly warm. His body was radiating heat. She felt herself succumbing to her dizziness suddenly and then everything went black.

Vincent carried Catherine into the building and layed her in the warmest spot he could find. She had passed out but was still shivering almost nonstop. Vincent remembered her saying she was wet from falling in the snow. Tentatively he took off her coat and peeled away her blouse and jeans and took off her wet shoes. He carefully touched her bare skin and frowned. She felt cold and clammy. He knew he had to get her warm and dry. She didn't look well at all and Vincent started to worry. He took off his cloak and lifted her up, wrapping it around her. Then he positioned her as comfortably as he could and eased himself down beside her. He drew her tightly against him, covering her as much as he could with his body. He closed his eyes and suddenly realized just how tired he was. He felt he didn't have the strength to stay awake a minute longer.

He stroked Catherine's cheek with the back of his hand and sighed and softly kissed her hair. He sorely wished their circumstances were different for she felt wonderful against his body. He smiled thinking he could stay like this for the rest of his life and with that thought, he fell into a deep sleep.

Catherine sighed, contented. She felt deliciously warm and secure. She was as comfortable as though she were in her own bed with her down comforter tucked in around her. For a split second, she didn't know where she was but it all came flooding back. Then she suddenly realized why she felt as good as she did, seeing the thick muscular arm lying across her chest and felt the soft hair of his large hand against her cheek. Carefully she turned her head to see Vincent's face mere inches from her own. His eyes were closed and he seemed to be sleeping peacefully. Catherine smiled, covering his hand with hers and squeezed it. "Vincent?" He slept on. She listened to his steady breathing and felt his chest expanding against her back. "Vincent?"

Slowly he opened his eyes. Sleep had made them clear and bright blue again. He lay unmoving, gazing at her and then suddenly looked startled. He tried to roll away from her but Catherine tightened her grip on his hand.

"No, stay where you are. Don't pull away." She could feel his tension building. "It makes me feel good," she tried to reassure him. "I was so cold last night, but I'm warm and comfortable now."

Vincent finally found his voice. "Are you well?"

Catherine smiled. "Very." She gripped his hand tighter feeling him attempt to pull it away. She thought if she were to let it go, he would be up and across the room before she could turn around. She snuggled closer to him and sighed. She saw her coat and clothing laying over some broken boards a few feet away and realized for the first time that she was clad only in her underwear and socks beneath his cloak. Her eyes grew wide.

Vincent felt her heart quicken and her surprise. He followed the direction of her gaze and took a deep breath. "I only wanted you to be warm," he said in a quiet apologetic voice.

"It's all right, really," she assured him. She wished she had been awake last night. She would have enjoyed it, she thought.

"Catherine," his voice was imploring now. "Please...let go of my hand."

"Vincent don't be troubled. I want you to stay where you are." She released his hand and he quickly withdrew his arm from around her but remained beside her.

Catherine rolled completely over to face him. "Don't be afraid of me. I love you, you know I do."

Vincent heard and felt the tenderness in her voice. "And I love you. More than you could possibly imagine...I would do anything to make you happy and make you love me more. You are my everything. You must know that."

Catherine's eyes roved his face. "You say things like that but then you insist on putting a wall between us. You'll never get to see what possibilities are waiting on the other side if you keep maintaining it the way you do."

Vincent lowered his eyes. "Yes there's a wall. But it's made of glass. I can see what is on the other side. I long for it and dream of it, but it remains on the other side. To reach for it would mean I would have to break the glass. Glass cuts and I know I'll only end up bleeding."

"Are you so certain of that?" She reached over and touched his face. "Vincent," she began. "I'm beginning to realize just how much you love me and just how much I love you." She slipped her fingers through his long blonde hair, pushing it back from his face. "I can't believe you came all this way looking for me in a snowstorm. But then when I look up into your eyes, I can believe it. You would do anything for me wouldn't you?"

Vincent's heart was pounding. She was so close to him. He could feel every curve of her body against his and the sensation was intoxicating. Her eyes held him captive with an alluring liquid gaze. He knew he was powerless to resist her. She drew his resolve from him as easily as she drew in each breath.

".....Anything," he breathed finally. The effort of speaking that single word seemed to drain the very last of his will.

"Then kiss me," she told him. "Kiss me now." She closed her eyes and parted her lips ever so slightly in anticipation, beckoning him.

He hesitated only momentarily. Then,gently, he touched his lips to hers in a tentative kiss at first and found her lips' soft fullness and warmth too pleasurable to pull away from. Her hand buried deeply into his hair, urged him closer and he obeyed, wrapping his arms powerfully and possessively around her. Her mouth was sweeter and hotter than he had ever imagined and he kissed her hungrily until he could feel the sensuality of it throughout his body. Had he ever felt anything in his entire life to compare with this one kiss?

They parted hesitantly, panting slightly, and staring into each other's eyes.

Catherine smiled warmly. "See, you didn't even get scratched from that glass."

Vincent sighed. "Your love gave me the courage to reach for the other side of the wall." He smiled easily.

"Vincent, there's so much passion in you. That kiss," she paused and passed her tongue over her tingling lips, "was only the very beginning of what we can experience together if you would only let me shatter that glass." She leaned closer to him wanting to feel his lips on hers once more. "I love you Vincent. Take my hand, keep your eyes on me and step over to the other side."

The End