Through Caverns Measureless to Man


by Aliset

--//--

The train ride had lasted what felt like an eternity, a long journey hidden on top of the train as it sped to New Rochelle. Vincent had had to change connections at least once, and his hands were beginning to stiffen from holding on so tightly but nothing mattered, nothing but reaching Catherine. The visions in his dreams flashed before his eyes as another part of his mind calculated the exact time to jump without being seen. The train slowed down just enough to make the turn and he narrowed his focus to the bond he shared with her, to her terror and rage. It was as effective as any homing beacon; two and a half miles to run, to reach her.

Vincent jumped off the train and rolled; he'd have bruising come morning but none of that registered now. Catherine was in real fear for her life and fighting, but the sick tinge of madness he sensed through the bond, through Catherine's own awareness, could only have had one origin: Stephen Bass himself. And there was no telling what such a man might do, when thwarted. His breath blew out in a fog as he ran, heedless of the bramble that tore at his legs or the mud that coated his boots. The branches, cold in the night air, ripped at the toughened skin of his hands as he pushed forward. The dull edge of panic---his? Catherine's? he couldn't tell---made his heart beat faster in the dead run towards her.

The scent of Catherine was in the air; blind, Vincent would have known it anywhere. It was tinged with something else ... terror ... fear ... death. And then, he was there and Stephen Bass was ... he was ...

And it was all over, suddenly, the rage ebbing away at the sound of Catherine's voice and Vincent was standing in the middle of a dark forest with a madman's blood on his hands, knowing that he'd only managed to avoid killing Stephen Bass because of her ability to call him back from the dark rages. “It's over,” she said, sobbing in her fear and terror. “It's over.”

But it wasn't, he knew. Not really. He had nearly killed a man not out of self-defense or to protect Catherine---the danger had been over the moment he'd pulled Stephen Bass off her and thrown the man against a tree---but because he had scared her, had hurt her ...

Had tried to kill her. And only Catherine's voice had stopped the rage. Only that. And the awful clawing thing that lived inside him still wanted to kill him, to destroy the man who had so nearly killed Catherine.

It might have been a few minutes or a generation, but Vincent came back to himself with a rush, feeling Catherine's small hand tug on his arm. “We need to get him back to the house.”

“Yes,” he managed, though the last thing he wanted to do was touch Stephen Bass again. Even unconscious, the man radiated a dark swirl of madness that was nearly nauseating in its force. He bent down and gingerly picked the man up, walking slowly back to the house.


***

The house was a cold, foreign place, empty of feeling, of any sense that anyone had ever lived there. It had only the most basic furniture and it was on the sole couch that Vincent placed Stephen Bass's body.

“We have to call an ambulance for him,” Catherine was saying. “He needs medical attention.”

“As do you,” Vincent responded. “Your hands are cut ... and the bruises on your neck ...”

She looked down at her hands in shock, as if only now noticing the cuts. “From where I jumped through the window, I guess. My injuries aren't important now.”
Vincent nodded his assent. “I'll have to stay, give a statement of some sort, so I can keep you completely out of it,” Catherine continued. “Otherwise ...” She tilted her head, looking at him. “It'll be dawn in a few hours. How were you planning on getting home?”

“I ... didn't think that far,” Vincent confessed. All that had mattered was getting to her.

“No, I'd guess you didn't,” Catherine said, smiling, though her face was still drawn and pale, the bruising on her neck standing out in stark relief. “Let me call the ambulance and we can talk after they leave. We came up here in my car, so I can give you a ride back home if you'd like.”

He’d gone into the woods then, into the protective covering of forest and watched as the ambulance came and went. There was a police car too and an earnest detective who took Catherine’s statement and photos of her injuries and left shortly thereafter. Once Vincent was sure everyone was gone, he came and sat next to Catherine on the steps of the old mansion. “Are you all right?” he asked.

“I think so,” she said slowly, shaking as the reaction set in. “Just … hold me, please.”

And so he did, until her tremors ceased. “You’re hurt too,” Catherine said, noticing the deep cuts on his hands.

“It’s nothing,” Vincent said. “What did you tell them?”

“It’s not nothing,” Catherine replied, refusing to be distracted. “Vincent, you should let me clean those wounds.”

He didn’t want to step into that house, to see Stephen Bass’s blood on the floors, and the broken window…but Catherine was right. He followed her into the kitchen and stood still as she rinsed the blood and dirt from his hands and fur. She turned off the water and dried his hands off and Vincent was struck again that she could still want to be anywhere near him when she’d seen him and all that he was capable of.

“What did you tell them?” Vincent asked again. He didn’t care so much for himself, but for her, for the awkward story she might have to live with, on top of all the other complications his presence in her life had caused.

“The truth, mostly,” Catherine said. “I said that Stephen had lured me up here on a pretense, then refused to let me leave and when I ran away, he tried to strangle me. I told them I didn’t remember anything after that.”

Vincent’s mind flashed back to Stephen Bass’s injuries. “And the ... claw marks?”

“The detective seemed to think they were self-inflicted,” Catherine said. “From what I can tell, they’re working on the theory that he tried to kill himself with a knife when he thought I was dead.”

“I threw him up against a tree,” Vincent said. “Surely they’ll ask about that.”

Catherine shook her head. “Somehow, I doubt it. Or they'll blame those injuries on our fight. Vincent, the detective told me that Stephen had checked himself out of a mental hospital in New Rochelle only a few weeks ago; anything he says now, any wounds he has, will be chalked up to the ravings and actions of a madman.” Her voice turned bitter. “I was such a fool to not have seen what he was, that he was manipulating me again. There probably wasn’t even a brain tumor.”

“A what?” Vincent asked.

“He told me he was dying of a brain tumor,” Catherine replied. “I should have known.” She looked up at him and her gaze was clear and steady. “I should have trusted you.”

The night was chill and the breeze from the open window cold; Vincent settled his cloak around her and pulled her closer. “This was … outside your experience, Catherine. I wish I'd had some more definite proof to give you besides my dreams.”

She shook her head and leaned against him. “I shouldn't have needed the proof, Vincent. I let myself forget why I broke off the engagement with Stephen in the first place, and in the process, I hurt you. I'm sorry.”

“You didn't---” Vincent began.

“I did, and don't deny it,” Catherine said. “Please.”

He nodded, feeling somewhat uneasy at the very thought that Catherine could have anything to apologize to him for. And yet, the beast---the same beast who had howled in fury deep inside him when she'd confessed to her previous intimacies with Stephen Bass---howled yet again in anger at her lack of faith in him. “It's over, Catherine,” Vincent managed, shoving the beast into his mental cage with difficulty. “It's over.”

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3 comments:

Anonymous June 14, 2010 at 4:35 AM  

Hi Aliset,

Thank you for your story. I enjoyed it. I felt like I was right there with Vincent on the train, racing to save Catherine. Congratulations!

Lion hugs,

Jodie xxoo

Michelle K. July 17, 2010 at 7:13 PM  

It does seem as though the writers of the show left it to Catherine to deal with the authorities - alone - every time Vincent came to her rescue. Granted, V couldn't exactly explain his actions, but I'd never thought about him staying near, to offer her some sort of support (or even just to recover his own equilibrium) while she dealt with the logistics of each situation. Interesting take on it. And I have to say, it gave me a little chuckle to imagine Vincent in the back of Catherine's car. ;)

Krista July 17, 2010 at 7:44 PM  

Hey Michelle,

I noticed that too, and yes, it annoys me. She had to bear a huge burden of coming up with some reasonable explanation for the unexplainable. I just never saw Vincent leaving her completely alone while that was going on. ;-)

Heh. I'm thinking he had a little more problem in the back of her car than certain "luggage" did in mine ;-)

Thanks again for reading and commenting,

Krista :)

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