Some Say Love

by Aliset

artwork by Linn Bankson
Peter Alcott opened his office door and hung his coat on the nearby rack, shaking the snow from his coat without really seeing the damp mess the snow made on the floor. Sitting down, he pulled open the lowest drawer on his desk and dug out a shot glass and a nearly-full bottle of whiskey. Outside, a fierce snowstorm was building. Dear God, he thought, leaning his head in his hands. Did I really see that? Did I really see that … child?
He had almost half-convinced himself that it was a dream, that the strange feline child his friend Jacob was now trying so fiercely to save hadn’t really existed, save in some netherworld created by exhaustion, when the knock on his door startled him out of his reverie. It was late, well past office hours and he stifled his irritation at yet one more thing added to what had already been a chaotic day.
Peter finished the shot of whiskey and put the glass back in his drawer before answering the door. “Yes?” he said, opening the door a crack.
“Doctor Alcott?” a female voice said.
“Yes,” he replied. “What is it?”
“I need your help,” the woman said.
As he opened the door wider, he saw that the woman was quite clearly in the last stages of pregnancy. “Are you in labor?”
At that, she smiled. “No, though I don’t imagine it’ll be long now. I don’t have a doctor and … I’ll be in need of one.”
His gaze flicked to her left hand where no ring shone and back to her face. Abruptly, he realized she looked familiar. “Do I know you?” he asked.
“You used to, a few months back. I was a student nurse at St. Vincent’s until … well …” She gestured down at her enlarged belly. “Perhaps you remember me?”
Peter nodded. She had been one of the best students until she’d disappeared from his classes. Now, looking at her, Peter had a good idea of why she’d been dropped from the program and why she hadn’t been able to find a doctor to care for her in her pregnancy. “Mary, wasn’t it?”
She nodded. “Mary Stephens.” Mary glanced down at her shoes then back at him. “You probably know … the baby’s father …”
“Is no concern of mine,” Peter said.
At her startled gaze, he smiled a bit. “Come now, did you expect me to toss you out of here?”
“It’s happened before,” she said, brown eyes welling. “You were … you are … my last hope.”
Peter nodded. He’d seen the reactions of so-called "respectable society" to women in her position before, and while he understood the attitude that decent women didn’t let themselves get into such a pass, he had nothing for disdain for the men who didn’t take up their share of the responsibility. “My concern is for you and your child. What you tell me, or don’t, is your choice.”
Anna’s voice, worried and frightened, reached him through the dimmest haze of unreality. The pained howl of the infant echoed off the rock walls. “Jacob?” Anna said again. “What do you think? Will he live?”
It had been several hours since she’d brought the child below, several hours in which he kept expecting the haze to lift and the face of a normal child to stare back at him from the rough crib hurriedly fashioned from an orange crate, but no such luck. The child – kitten – whatever he was, was still … whatever he was. Blue eyes – human eyes – bore into his own and wouldn’t release him. “You heard what Peter said,” Jacob finally answered, turning aside from those eyes as the howling continued. “He’s very sick, Anna. He may not survive.”
“You have to help him,” she replied, stroking the child’s curly blond hair, damp with fever.
The unreality of it all caught up with him and the choke of responsibility – What do they think I am? I don’t know what I’m doing! – rose up again in a defeated tide. “I’m not a vet,” Jacob tried, meaning to be gentle but he knew the words were harsh and wrong, as soon as he said them.
“Dammit, Jacob,” Anna seethed, “are you a doctor or aren’t you? He’s sick. Help him. He’s a child. He’s my child.”
In point of fact, he was not a doctor, not any longer; his license had been revoked with the signing of the deportation order, but Jacob found something stirring in him again, something he’d thought long buried. “I’m sorry, Anna. I’m doing my best – I’ll do my best. But I may not be able to fix what’s wrong with him.”
“Just try,” Anna said, her voice as old and tired as he himself felt. “Just try.”
“It really won't be long now,” Peter said, helping her sit up. “Though I suppose you know that.”
“How long?” Mary asked.
“A week, probably less.” He noted the sudden tightening of her eyes, her lip bitten raw with nervousness. “What is it?”
“I'm to be turned out of my apartment,” Mary said. “As soon as the baby's born, says my landlady. Mind you,” and her voice held a dark, bitter edge, “I've been told many times that's doing 'someone like me' a big favor by letting me stay that long. Which I suppose she is, by her lights.”
Peter's mind flashed back to his comfortable apartment and welcoming fire. What welcome would she find, unmarried, homeless, with an infant? Just as quickly, his mind flashed to another place, far below the city streets. Perhaps ... just maybe ...
Still, he couldn't raise her hopes like that; it would be too cruel to bring it up before talking to Jacob. His face assumed a doctor's calm. “One thing at a time, Mary. First we have to get you safely delivered then I promise you, we'll work on this other problem.”
Her eyebrows rose. “We will?”
“Yes, we will.”
Peter wasn't able to return Below that night; with Sylvia at home (her bridge club had been canceled, much to his dismay) he knew he would need to be careful around his ever-suspicious wife. “You're home late,” Sylvia said as soon as he walked in the door.
“I am,” Peter said. “I had an unexpected patient.”
“Oh, really, Peter,” she said, cross. “I had dinner ready. You couldn't have called?”
No, because they don't have phones in the tunnels, he momentarily toyed with saying, but repressed the impulse. Like a good number of other helpers, Peter carried his secret alone. “I'm sorry, Sylvia. Truly.”
“You're always sorry, Peter. Dinner's still warm on the stove, or it should be.” She turned. “You know, if you'd just give up that dreadful charity work you do at St. Vincent's, you could be home at a decent hour.”
Peter shook his head. It was an old argument and a wearying one. “The babies of Park Avenue matrons don't arrive any more on time than anyone else's, Sylvia. Now can I get at least one dinner without a lecture?”
"I think he's doing better," Jacob said, rocking the pale, fevered child. "It sounds as though his lungs are beginning to clear."
“Oh, thank you,” Anna said, dark eyes sparking with joy.
“That illness would have killed a normal child,” John said from the corner. “He's strong.”
Jacob looked down at the child's feline face, seeing the differences and finding them strangely compelling now, after having sat up with the baby for three long days and nights. “He'll have to be.”
“Can we try to feed him?” Anna asked.
Jacob shook his head. “For now, I want to keep him on the liquid salt and sugar solution Peter brought down; I don't know if he can handle infant formula right now.” The child stirred, opened his eyes, clutching at the thin material of his gown, and the fretful wailing began again. “Anna, if you want to hold him, I'll get the solution mixed up.”
Thin, sharp claws pierced his shirt as he tried to hand the infant over and Anna chuckled. “Seems he wants to stay where he is, Jacob.”
“Yes, well,” Jacob said, “I need both arms to mix the solution. John, would you mind?”
But just as John touched the child, the shrieking escalated in volume and the infant's blue eyes dilated to dark pools – in fear? Jacob wondered. “Well, enough of that,” Jacob said, though he wasn't sure, suddenly, who he was talking to – the frightened child or John.
“I'll mix the solution,” Anna said, glancing from her husband to the child and back again. “If you'll tell me how.”
Jacob nodded, wondering if he’d really seen the savage expression cross John’s face. “I think that would be wise for now.” He rubbed the child’s back and felt the tensed panic begin to subside. What are you, little one? What do you fear?
“So how is my patient?” Peter asked, descending from the basement entrance of his building into the tunnel world.
“Well, though I’m not sure how he’s still alive,” Jacob replied. “I left him with Anna for now.”
“Good, good. And his fever?”
“It seems to be coming down. But he’s very … anxious around anyone other than Anna or me. Won’t even let John near him.”
Peter decided not to state the obvious; that John had that effect on more than a few adults as well. The three of them had been classmates in medical school and while John and Jacob had been quick friends, Peter had always found John to be strange. “Well, he had a traumatic start in life,” Peter said instead. “Small wonder if he prefers you or Anna, since you’re the ones he’s spent the most time with.”
“I suppose so,” Jacob said as they began to walk.
“Jacob, I have a favor to ask. I have a patient who needs a place to live – and soon.”
Jacob looked at him severely. “You know our situation down here, Peter. It’s precarious. I’m never sure from one month to the next if we’ll have enough food to go around, and you want to add someone else?”
“She’s a nurse, or near to it. She was dropped from her nursing program a semester shy of graduation, and she was one of my best students.”
“So why does she need us?” Jacob asked.
Peter took a deep breath and decided to brazen it out. “She’s pregnant, the baby’s father missing or long gone, it doesn’t matter which. Once she began to show, she was dropped from the nursing program and she’ll lose her apartment once the baby is born … that is, if her landlady doesn’t decide to evict her before then.” He spread his hands. “Jacob, Mary truly has no other place to go. She has no friends, and her family has disowned her.”
“And she intends to keep her child?” Jacob asked. “Vincent is the second orphan we’ve taken in; I don’t know if we can take on another one now.”
“She does,” Peter said. “If it was just me, I’d let her stay with me until she got back on her feet but …”
“Yes, I can’t imagine Sylvia would take too kindly to that,” Jacob replied, smiling in spite of himself. “We’re certainly not lacking for room, but Peter, you must impress upon her how hard life can be down here, how necessary it is that it remain a secret place.”
“I will,” Peter said.
“And one other thing,” Jacob said. “Don’t tell her about Vincent. If she does come here and finds it’s too hard, I don’t want her to be able to return Above with wild tales.”
Remembering his first sight of the incredible infant, Peter grinned. “Who would believe her? I saw him and I wasn’t sure I believed my own eyes.” Sobering, he continued, “But your point is taken. You need to think about how you’ll handle it when she does see him, because a secret like that – even here – can’t be kept forever.”
The frantic call from Mary arrived, as Peter expected it would, not days later but early the following morning. “Are you in labor?” he asked.
There was a harsh, indrawn breath, then: “No. But my landlady … she found a tenant. I have to be gone tomorrow night so they can move in.” Her voice broke. “God, where am I going to go?”
He glanced at the clock – 2:30am – and thanked whatever god was his that Sylvia usually slept in the other room. “Where are you now?”
Mary rattled off an address that he recognized from his work on the public wards. It wasn’t a slum, but it wasn’t much better. “Mary, I have a place you can go to, but you’ll have to trust me. Can you do that?”
Incredibly, there was a faint whisper of a smile in her voice. “I’ve trusted you this far,” Mary replied.
“All right,” Peter said, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and glancing longingly at his warm bed. “I need you to pack whatever warm clothes and supplies you have for yourself and the baby. Don’t take anything you can’t carry. Whatever else you need, we’ll send for before your landlady moves her new tenant in.”
She was, he sensed, much more comfortable with taking direction than making decisions and the calm in his voice reassured her. “I can do that.”
“Okay,” he replied. “I’ll be there in an hour or less, depending on the traffic. Don’t lift anything heavy in the meantime.”
“I won’t,” Mary said. “Thank you, Peter. I don’t know what I would have done …”
“It’ll be okay,” Peter soothed and hung up the phone.
“She’s coming down tonight?” Jacob said, leaning on his cane and looking as tired as Peter himself felt.
“Yes,” Peter said. “She’ll deliver soon … I couldn’t see her turned out in this weather.”
“Of course not,” Jacob replied. “Anna’s doing her shift in the nursery tonight. I’ll see if she can help get one of the extra chambers ready.” He tilted his head. “I had hoped not to deliver her down here.”
Peter nodded, knowing his reasons. “You know – you must, I’ve told you often enough – that Grace’s death wasn’t your fault. Even if she’d delivered Above, she might not have survived.”
“I know,” Jacob said, “but my son still doesn’t have a mother. And I’m no good as his father.”
He doesn’t have a father, Peter thought, angered all over again at Jacob’s utter refusal to claim Devin as his own. Putting the thought away for later consideration and knowing he couldn’t change Jacob’s mind right now, he placed one hand on the basement ladder. “I’ll be back in an hour, Jacob.”
“Where are we going?” Mary asked, tightening her shawl closer around her shoulders.
“You’ll find out soon enough,” Peter answered with a reassuring smile. “Now, there are a few things you need to know first. Where I’m taking you isn’t to an unwed mothers’ home or a hotel, it’s to a safe place run by a good friend of mine.”
Mary nodded. “What else do I need to know?”
Peter’s hands tightened on the steering wheel. “It’s a safe place, but it’s a secret place, and it needs to stay that way. The people who live there have nowhere else to go.”
“Like me,” Mary whispered.
“Yes,” he said. “Exactly like you. I spoke to my friend after you called; he agreed to let you and your child stay with them.”
“Permanently?” she asked.
“That’s between you and my friend. You may not like it and decide to leave – you can, if you want. No one will force you to stay.”
Mary thought of the staring, accusing eyes of strangers and recoiled. “Will they accept me, Peter? Treat my baby any differently because I didn’t have the good sense to get married first?”
Peter’s warm hand closed over her chilled ones. “I can’t go into their individual backgrounds, Mary – you’ll find that respect for privacy is a big part of life be– ... where I’m taking you. But I can promise you that you’ll have a chance to live among them and deliver your child in safety. Is that enough for now?”
She nodded and watched as he pulled the car over to a gentle stop in front of a deserted warehouse. Coming around to the side of the car, Peter opened the passenger side door and helped her out. Lifting the box that contained her meager possessions, he took her hand. “It’s this way,” Peter said, walking into an alley.
“Peter, what kind of joke is this? Why are we in an alley?” Mary asked, suddenly afraid that she’d trusted the wrong man again. Her hand slipped from his and she pulled her shawl tighter as a wicked winter wind blew through the narrow alley.
Peter smiled, looking not at all offended. “The entrance is here,” he said, gesturing to a rusted iron door. “You’ll see once you’re inside.” He pulled on the door and it opened with a grudging groan of protest, just enough for her to see a very faint light. “Go on,” Peter urged.
Mary stepped inside the building, cautious and wondering if she should try to make a run for it, even now. This could not possibly be real, could it?
A woman stepped out into the light, a scarf knotted around her dark hair. “Hello, Mary. I’m Anna.”
Some hours later, warm and ensconced in what Anna had termed “a chamber,” Mary put the last of her clothes and the few baby things into the makeshift dresser. She had met the doctor – Jacob, Peter had called him – Anna and her taciturn husband, John, Simon and his son, Winslow, and Rachel and Pascal and their son, also named Pascal. There were a few single adults as well – Deirdre, Gennaro, Solomon and Narcissa – and other children – a quick dark-eyed boy named Devin, an orphaned girl named Rebecca – and Mary smiled at the prospect that her child would one day play with them.
A contraction took her by surprise and she sat down in the rocking chair Anna had brought. Peter had warned her that the delivery would be soon, any day, but she hadn’t thought, hadn’t wanted to think that any day could mean now. Just then, Anna bustled in, carrying an armful of linens.
“It’s not much, but we should have some more once Deirdre finishes the batch she’s making,” she said, then stopped. “Is it … are you in labor, Mary?”
Mary breathed out once as the contraction subsided. “I don’t think so. I’ve been having them off and on for the last few days.”
“I’ve heard of those,” Anna said. “But it’ll be soon, regardless.”
“How many women have delivered down here?” Mary asked.
“Three,” Anna said, but she looked uncomfortable and Mary wondered why. “Rachel, Grace and now you.”
“I didn’t meet Grace,” Mary said, certain she would have remembered.
“She died three years ago; her boy, Devin, is the little scamp you met.” Anna placed the linens on the foot of the bed. “When you’re ready, Jacob wants to talk to you.”
Mary struggled to get up out of the rocking chair and Anna rushed over to help. “Thank you,” Mary said, laughing a bit, “I keep being surprised at how hard it is to get up these days.”
“I imagine so,” Anna said, smiling back, but Mary noticed the smile didn’t quite reach her eyes.
While Anna escorted Mary to Jacob, Peter was taking the opportunity to examine Anna and John’s son. “You say he’s not eating?” Peter asked John as he felt the child’s belly for any swelling. The blue eyes staring up at him tracked his every move.
“He’s been spitting up the formula we just started him on. Perhaps Anna didn’t make it correctly,” John said. “I’ll have to watch her next time.”
If anyone needs watching, it’s you, Peter thought but did not say. “I’m sure Anna didn’t make a mistake. Some babies don’t take well to it.”
“Vincent’s not an ordinary child,” John said, and there was a dark undercurrent – of satisfaction? Peter wondered – in his words.
“Of course he isn’t,” Peter replied. “There’s no such thing as an "ordinary" child.”
“My son … is extraordinary,” John uttered with a flourish worthy of Macbeth and Peter busied himself with listening to the child’s heartbeat rather than have to respond.
Anna came into the small chamber. “How is he?” she asked.
“No fever, heart and lungs and bowel are clear. He just doesn’t care for the formula,” Peter replied, pulling the stethoscope out of his ears. “For now, keep using the solution I brought down, since he tolerated that well, and I’ll see about finding some other formula for him.”
“You’ve been careless again,” John said to Anna, and Peter saw the anger flash in her eyes. “You’ve hurt the boy.”
“John,” Peter said forcefully. “It’s not anyone’s fault.” Nor were Anna’s miscarriages, you great, overbearing ass.
“Thank you, Peter,” Anna said, hands clenching and unclenching in her apron. “Will he be all right, do you think?”
Peter nodded. “It’s just a case of indigestion and I’m sure it’s fixable.” He rested a hand on Vincent’s golden curls and saw the boy’s blue eyes stare into his own again. What a wonder you are, he thought.
With Anna’s eyes on her child and John’s eyes on her, neither of them noticed when Peter quietly left the chamber.
“You look tired, Anna,” Mary said, knitting a blanket the next day. “Is something wrong?”
Anna nodded, looking up from her own basket of mending. “My son isn’t well. Peter’s coming down again tonight to check on him.”
“I’m sorry,” Mary said. “How old is your son?”
“Not even a month old,” Anna said, biting her lip. “He was abandoned above. I found him and brought him down here.”
Mary’s eyes welled. “Oh, how awful. How could someone do that to a child?”
“I don’t know,” Anna said softly. “To me, he’s beautiful … but he wasn’t to someone up there. I don’t understand. I can’t.”
“Is he so … different, then?” Mary asked.
Anna finished a seam on a pants-leg and returned it to the basket, fishing for something else to mend. “I can’t ... I don’t know how–” she replied, digging out a sweater with a gaping hole in the collar.
“I’m sorry,” Mary said. “I shouldn’t pry.”
“No, it’s all right,” Anna replied, smiling. “My son is just … well, you’ll know soon enough. You always want to protect them.”
Mary nodded, thinking of all she might do now to protect the child growing inside her. “Peter’s a good doctor.” Her knitting needles flashed in the candlelight. “I’m sure he’ll be able to help.”
“I don’t know how to help him, Anna,” Peter said that evening, leaning his head in his hands as the child’s fretful cry grew louder. “Yesterday, he wasn’t taking formula. Now he’s not taking anything, not even water.”
John was out on a foraging expedition and Peter wondered if Anna had sent for him knowing John would be gone when he arrived. She rocked her son, humming tunelessly, and Vincent nestled against her neck, tiny clawed hands clutching her dark hair. “Is there some other formula you can give him?”
“I’ve tried three different formulations, but I think what he needs, I can’t give him.”
“His mother’s milk,” Anna finished in a whisper.
“Yes,” Peter agreed. “Anna, was there no one else around when you found him?”
Her lips thinned. “No. No one. He was left in the garbage, Peter.”
“Of course,” Peter sighed. “No one would stick around in that circumstance. Keep trying to get some fluids into him; I’m going to go talk to Jacob.”
Before he left the chamber, there was a loud WHACK! Bang WHACK! Bang on the pipes. Peter and Anna exchanged glances. “Mary,” they said as one and Peter rushed out.
“How is she?” Anna asked hours later. Word traveled fast in the tunnels and a tragedy for one was a sorrow for all.
“Sleeping,” Peter said, gazing over at Mary where she slept. “I’ve sedated her for the time being. When she’s awake, we’ll need to find out what her wishes are for her son.” He choked a bit on the whiskey Anna had stirred into his tea. “It’s not the first time I’ve seen this happen, but it’s always hard. Cord accidents are so random.”
Anna folded her hands and nodded. “Jacob’s sitting up with Vincent and John is … wherever he is. If you’d like, I can sit with Mary for a time.”
“You don’t mind?” Peter asked, feeling his fatigue settling over him like a leaden blanket.
“No,” Anna said, “I don’t. The first year John and I were married, we had a stillbirth. It’s a hard road she’ll travel.”
“I didn’t know, Anna,” Peter replied. “You’ve never spoken of it.”
She smiled, sadness hollowing her eyes. “No. John … didn’t. And after a time, I learned not to bring it up.”
And I suppose he reminds you of what you could have done to prevent it when the subject does come up, Peter thought, remembering the other man’s baseless accusations the other day. “Well, Mary will need you near, Anna. Thank you.”
Mary awakened the next morning, aware only of a crushing grief. Surely it had been a nightmare … but as she turned her head, there was no baby resting beside her. Her child was gone, dead. Gone.
A hand clasped hers. “I’m here,” Anna said. “I’m so sorry, Mary.”
Mary nodded, dazed. “What do I do now, Anna? I’m not a mother and my baby is dead. What am I to do now?”
“You live and you grieve and you never forget,” Anna said. “I wish I had some better wisdom for you, some words that could take this pain away, but I don’t. But you have a home here, Mary. And if you want, your child can stay with us, among those we’ve loved and lost. We won’t abandon either of you.”
"Matthew,” Mary said suddenly. “His name was Matthew.”
Anna nodded. “My daughter’s name was Natalie.”
They buried Matthew in an area Elder Pascal had named the catacombs. The entire community attended, save for John, who was staying with Vincent, who was still unable to tolerate any food. The funeral ceremony was brief, but not perfunctory. Every life here was precious.
After the service, Mary returned to her chamber. The few baby things she’d managed to accumulate in all the months of worry and grief were already packed away. She sat down heavily on the bed and considered the next hours, the next days, the next years of her life. They stretched out before her in a haze of pain, drowned out by the knives of her grief. Even breathing seemed like too much of an effort and as for eating …
She folded her arms, noting with a detached interest how swollen and painful her breasts had become. Milk coming in, she thought clinically. It didn’t matter anymore. Nothing mattered. She existed in one particular space while the sounds of life – children playing, the constant muted tapping on the pipes, the worried conversations about her welfare – continued around her.
“I don’t understand it, Peter,” Jacob said as they sat in his chamber, all but pounding his fist in his hand in his frustration. “Vincent was doing so well and now …”
Yes, Peter thought. Now. Vincent had been taking some water but he simply could not tolerate anything else. “He can’t survive like this. Not unless he gets some nourishment.”
Jacob nodded. “I wish I knew what he needed.”
Peter’s conversation with Anna only a few days before replayed itself, bursting into his tired brain with all the force of a hurricane. “Jacob, I have an idea.”
When he finished, Jacob stared at him, agog. “Are you serious? To ask a woman who’s just lost her child?”
“Do you have a better idea?” Peter challenged. “Women have nursed each other’s babies for centuries; how is this any different?”
“But … Mary’s situation … Matthew’s death. I don’t want to hurt her,” Jacob said. “And this will be painful to her.”
“I know,” Peter sighed. “I feel the same way. I don’t want to see her hurt. But she’s the only woman down here who might possibly be able to help Vincent. It’s either we try this, or nothing, because I’m out of ideas and so are you.”
Jacob nodded. “I can’t think this will end well … but it’s the only hope we have.”
Anna’s reaction, when told of the plan, had not been shock or surprise. “I’ve thought the same thing,” she finally said, staring at her son in his crib. His skin was dry and parched. “But when we lost Natalie … if some other woman had begged me then to save her child, I’m not sure what I would have done.”
Jacob, looking down at Vincent, did not see the accusing look John threw Anna, but Peter did. He made a mental note to speak to Jacob about John’s odd behavior then returned his focus to the child. “It may not work,” Peter said. “It may be that whatever ailment he has isn’t anything we can cure. But if we don’t try something – and soon – it’ll be too late. He’s just too small to survive without food for long.”
“All right,” Anna said, not looking at her husband for consent or agreement. “But I’ll talk to Mary.”

And picking up Vincent and carefully wrapping him in a mismatched patchwork of blankets, she gathered her son and walked to Mary’s chamber.
“Mary, may I come in?” Anna asked just outside the entrance.
A nod was her only answer and Anna shifted her son to hold him more securely, his breath warm against her throat. “I need your help,” she began, not knowing how else to start the conversation. “My son … he’s dying. He needs something I can’t give him, but you can.” Anna noticed a gleam of interest in Mary’s dark eyes and plunged on. “Only you can help him. Will you?”
“What … what do you want?” Mary asked. Her voice was as rusty as if she hadn’t used it in centuries.
Carefully, Anna placed her son on the bed and uncovered him and Vincent began to wail fretfully. “This is my son, whom I found abandoned above. Will you try and feed him, Mary?”
The only sign of Mary’s surprise at the sight of the baby’s features was a slight widening of her eyes and an indrawn breath. “But do you think ...” Her voice trailed off.
“You’re the only one who can. I wouldn’t ask for your help if it wasn’t for Vincent,” Anna said.
She watched as Mary picked up the child and carefully unlaced the front of her blouse. Mary gathered him next to her breast and the baby’s crying ceased.
“Oh, you’re beautiful,” Mary murmured as her tears began to fall.


Michelle K. February 28, 2011 at 5:39 PM  

What a sad, yet uplifting story! You have stayed with Mary's character as we always saw her, but you've given her a deeper strength, as well. This Mary is tenacious. She has a spirit that will not be torn down. At her worst, most tragic moment in life, she refuses to be destroyed. She rises. She becomes. Beautifully done.

Krista February 28, 2011 at 6:09 PM  

Thank you, Michelle. Mary is such a difficult figure to know in canon, capable of such warmth and yet, it's a challenge to find her beyond all the archetypes of Tunnel Mom and Nurse. Her strength is so often disregarded---but no one could survive what she's survived and not be strong.

I'm glad you enjoyed the story---thank you for commenting. :)

Michelle K. February 28, 2011 at 6:16 PM  

I have to say as well that I just loved your Anna. Her scenes with John were exactly as I might have imagined them. She is fierce as you've portrayed her, but not without vulnerability.

Krista February 28, 2011 at 7:31 PM  

Thank you again, Michelle. Anna is someone we don't see really at all in canon, except through Father's memories and Paracelsus' plotting, but I thought it would take a special woman to take the infant Vincent exactly as she saw him and love him enough to fight for him.

Thanks again for commenting :)

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