The Taste of Love

Amber Osborne

The day had been a wonderful break for both Catherine and Vincent. Life at the D.A.ís office had been hectic lately. Their latest case was a nightmare. Down in the tunnels, Vincent had been hard at work alongside the other men trying to repair a collapsed chamber. Yet somewhere in the chaos and calamity, the couple had found a way for their love to blossom. Today being a quiet day, the two spent every moment soaking in the luxury of it together.

Night falling, Catherine reluctantly admitted to herself that it was time for her to return to her apartment if she were to get any rest for the day ahead. Deciding to steal one more moment in the arms of the man she loved, Catherine looked up at Vincent and smiled. They had spent many an evening like this, lounging on his bed in quiet peace. Lately, Catherine had been spending more time Below. On days when she had no previous engagements or obligations, their evenings like this would fade into the two of them waking up in each otherís arms the next morning. Thinking on the beautiful moments theyíd stolen this week, Catherine gazed at him with love. Vincent, knowing her thoughts, returned her gaze, letting the words of love between them not even needing to be voiced flow through their bond. She closed her eyes, smiled, and let her head drop to his chest as she let out a great sigh.

"I have to go," she mumbled regretfully. Looking up at him she smiled apologetically and kissed his cheek. "Tomorrow, my love. Iíll see you tomorrow." Getting up, she put her coat on ready to make the journey back.

Vincent sat on the bed motionless, looking at her.

Standing where she was for a moment, she began to feel something was amiss. Why wasnít he getting up to walk with her? Was he too tired to walk her to her basement? She knew the way well, and there was really no need, other than stealing a few more precious moments with him before they parted. Did he not want to spend any more time with her? Perhaps she shouldnít expect his escort every time she returned Above. Maybe it was too painful. She shook her head, convincing herself it was all in her head. Youíre being paranoid Chandler. He loves you. Thereís nothing wrong. Stop being such a baby and go home. Then, Vincent spoke and confirmed her fears.

"Go then. Leave." His voice was cold. To Catherine those words seem to have a deafening echo throughout the chamber.

"Vincent?" She spoke quietly. Their day had been wonderful. As she frantically tried to search for an explanation, her mind drew a blank. What in the world could have caused such a turn in him in just a few short minutes?

"You have to leave! Go!"

"Vincent, what in the world has gotten into you?"

"Me? Whatís gotten into you? Did you think I wouldnít notice? Iíve been waiting for you to admit it for hours, but no." He was now on his feet pacing the other side of the chamber.

Her mind was reeling as she watched him. What in the world had she done!? "Vincent, would you mind telling me whatís wrong?"

He stopped and looked at her. "As if you didnít know."

Seeing he was growing more and more anxious, she went over to place her hand on his shoulder. "Wait, come here." she said leading him to the bed. "Sit and calm down a little. Tell me what it is."

He stood straight up turning on his heel facing her. "I will not calm down! Iíve had enough!"

Exasperated, Catherine shook her head. "Now this is completely.Ö"

He turned bending over the table. "I canít take anymore. I just canít."

Catherineís brow wrinkled a bit in frustration and confusion. She walked nearer to him with her hands on her hips. "What is it you canít take? Iím not just going to sit here being accused of God knows what!"

"I canít do this right now. Iíll see you tomorrow." Not even looking up at her, it was all he could say as he went to leave.

"Donít you dare cross that entrance! Do you hear me?" she yelled, calling after him.

"I hear you." he said crossing the entry and turning to look at her.

"Fine, go!" she growled at him.

"Grr yourself!"

"Now what the hell, Vincent!?" When she saw there would be no explanation she sighed utterly agitated. "Ok go!"

"I will!"

"Well what are you waiting for? I was here, and here Iíll stay."

"Stay all you like Catherine."

"And you were leaving." she said challenging him just as she thought he was wearing down.

"Thatís right. Iím leaving." His voice was quieter now but firm.

"Youíll have to sleepÖon the bridge!"

"At least those voices whisper!" She looked at him infuriated as her jaw dropped. "And they donít take everything from you!"

She was still confused but now hurt at what those words implied. "They donít what?"

"You heard me. I canít believe you would do such a thing."

She walked over to him and grabbed his shoulders. "Now this is enough!"

"You couldnít even leave just a little."

Her expression softened. Had she really done something to hurt him and not have known? "A littleÖa little what?"

"Donít play innocent Catherine, you know."

She took his face in her hands to focus him. "Vincent?" she said softly. "Can we talk, please?"

"You knew how much I loved it."

"IÖwhat?"

He sighed. "The chocolate Catherine! You ate every single bit of my chocolate."

Stunned, she stood in silence for a moment before a slight grin broke on her face. "TheÖoh love, this is not happening!" she said trying to stifle a giggle.

"Well it wouldnít be if you werenít so selfish."

She stopped wondering if he really was serious. "SelfishÖVincent..."

"I can be selfish too you know."

She flung her arms around him. "Vincent! Iím sorry sunshine! Iím really, really sorryÖ"

"Selfish as in I donít want you sleeping on that mattress anymore." he said continuing his thought.

"IímÖyou what?" sensing his humor.

"If you want to be selfish Catherine, Iíll show you selfish."

She smiled. "So you loved it huh? Iím so very happy to hear that! You seldom want to keep anything I get youÖ"

"Well I certainly didnít get to keep any of that, so donít think youíll make your way back onto that mattress!" He said trying to remain as serious as possible.

"NowÖnow wait a minute! You canít stand here acting like a three year old!"

He walked over without a word and picked her up. Catherineís mind was whirling in a hundred different directions for what he could be up to now. He walked over and lounged back on the bed with her in his lap. "Youíll sleep right here. You canít have the mattress anymore."

She looked up at him for a moment stunned. "You mean here, here?"

"Whether you like it or not. That is your punishment. Perhaps it will teach you a lesson." he said with his charade still playing.

Catherineís smile was even brighter. In the past couple of weeks they had shared so much. It made her spirits soar that he was able to play a little. "Will you let me get something for you? I have it right here. Itís better than the other one."

"Oh?" She crawled off his lap long enough to pull out another box of delicious chocolates.

"Here, all for you." She said presenting him the box and taking her oh so inviting seat back.

Vincent raised an eyebrow as she opened the box. "HmmmÖjust to make you feel more guiltyÖ" he mumbled. "Open up dearest." He said holding a chocolate to her lips.

"No!"

He gave his best imitation of the glare Father was always giving the children when they misbehaved. "Catherine, open." He said, also in a fatherly tone.

"Mmm!" she mumbled keeping her lips tightly sealed.

"Catherine, donít make me.Ö"

"Um nut upuning!" she mumbled shaking her head in disagreement.

"Oh yes, I think you will." he said before he began tickling her.

"Ahh!" she squealed as he popped the sweet in her mouth. "Aww you!" she said laughing. As she wriggled about, Vincent showed no sign of letting up. "Hey stop that!" she yelled still laughing hysterically. Then as she tried to maneuver out of his reach, her elbow came down on the corner of the box and chocolates flew everywhere!

"Now look!" he said giving her an accusing glare.

"You started it!" she said barely able to control her laughter.

"Again youíve ruined it all."

Catherine started to move to round up the chocolates. "Let me getÖ"

"No!" he said holding her in her place.

She looked at him wide eyed, challenging him back. "Yes! Now let me go!"

"No, Iím not letting you go. Iíve had enough of you spoiling my chocolates."

"But this time it was your fault!" she said poking her finger at him.

"Iíll have to be even more selfish now." he said with a certain look in his eye.

"Oh?"

"Yes and youíre going to have to take it."

"Mm, as you wish." she said with a dreamy smile.

"No resistance?"

"Hmm, depends." she said as she shrugged her shoulders.

"Has the great Catherine Chandler given up?" he teased.

"Just what are you trying to imply? Am I that intolerable?" she said putting her hands on her hips.

"Iím not. Iím not implying anything. You are putting words in my mouth."

She shook her head. "Nope, youíre saying them." Vincent said nothing, only looked at her. Two can play at this game. Catherine thought to herself. "Well the great Catherine Chandler will have none of this infantile behavior, and she will get those chocolates back. Now if you will excuse me, I need to get up."

"No. You havenít received your punishment for this mess." he said pulling her back to him.

"Oh? And just what am I getting?"

"This." he said softly before their lips met. The kiss was long, sweet, and gentle.

"Mmmm, sweeter than the best chocolate." she said smiling, her eyes still closed.

"You should know about chocolates, having eaten them all."

Still dazed she raised her hand to his cheek. "You know what? You are lovely." she said just before kissing him again.

"I canít believe you would do such a thing." He said just as the kiss ended, trying to act as if he wasnít phased.

She smiled. "You are, even when you pretend to be all upset." Catherine leaned in to kiss him once more when he began to speak again. "Shut up." she said slightly giggling as she pressed her lips to his.

"Shut up? Now youíve done it." he teased kissing her back again.

"So?" she said placing herself to lay on top of him. "I love you."

"I love you."

"Forgive me? Besides, it wasnít just me. FatherÖumÖwell I told him I had another box for you soÖ"

"You shared with my father behind my back?"

"Just a little." Catherine said trying to put on the face of a guilty little girl. "Forgive me?"

"MmÖperhaps."

"Perhaps?"

"Maybe."

"Maybe?"

"Possibly." he said with a sly grin.

"Oh you! I forgot I was dealing with a thesaurus," she said laughing.

"I am no such thing."

"You are, a lovely one," she said with a kiss before laying her head on his chest.

"Donít try buttering me up Catherine." After a moment when she didnít answer he added, "It wonít help."

"Iím not trying to," she answered after dismissing the image of putting butter all over Vincent.

Catherine opened her eyes at the start of an idea. Now it was her turn to tease. She moved to look at him and grabbed a piece of chocolate by the pillow. "NowÖ" she said holding it up to his mouth.

"I donít want it."

"Oh you do. Your eyes are shining." she said laughing as she moved the piece in a little circle. "Itís calling you."

"I donít want it. Take it away."

"Nope." she said with the shake of her head.

"Donít tempt me! Bribing wonít help you either."

"Mmm, looks great!"

Just then, Father began to make his way into Vincentís chamber. The sight of Catherine lying on top of him stopped him in his tracks. Apparently he had walked in on a private moment. He was about to turn around when Vincent exclaimed, "You temptress! You should be ashamed of yourself." Fatherís eyes widened in shock. He nearly fell trying to scramble out as fast as he could. Just before he got out, he heard Catherineís reply. "Ashamed? Why should I be ashamed. Iíve been wanting to do this for oh so long!" Dear God, what was she trying to do to his son? Although he strongly disapproved of eavesdropping, this situation could easily get out of hand. What if Vincent turned out to need his help? He decided to stay there and make sure he would be all right.

"Vincent what is it?" she asked seeing the peculiar look on his face.

He tried as hard as he could to stifle his laughter, and in a hushed whisper, he said with a wink, "Weíre not alone, but if youíll play along.Ö"

"Oh no!" she said clapping her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing out loud. "Ok, ok." she breathed.

"What made you think Iíd give in so freely?" he said resuming the charade.

"Well because all of this is for you. Donít you see? Take itÖnow." She was grateful Father couldnít see her face, for it would surely give her away.

"Of course I see. It is all very tempting, delicious, and mouth watering but.Ö" Catherine once again had to muffle her hysterical laughter. "No! I wonít do it!"

Composing herself she replied. "Ok then, so you think I should give it to someone else?"

Outside, Father was trying his best not to barge in and banish Catherine from the tunnels forever. How could she do such a thing to him? Didnít she ever stop to think of his feelings? It was true, he had begun to trust Catherine. She had proven that she did care for him, but now! How could she be so inconsiderate and selfish? It was utterly inexcusable! His train of thought was interrupted by Vincentís response.

"You wouldnít!"

"Oh wouldnít I? I could do it right now if you let me get up."

"Who did you have in mind?"

"Well, what about Father?" Vincentís face lit up with laughter as they heard him shuffling and coughing at the entrance. Catherine buried her face in his vest as he put his to her hair. She caught her breath long enough to say, "He hasnít had any like these in quite a while." Once again, she was choking back the tears and thinking to herself, "Iím sorry, Father, but it looks like you need a little lesson on granting your son his privacy.

Father had sunk down to the cool floor. He couldnít believe his ears. How could she possibly have suggested?! It was too much. There had to be something done. There was no way he could ever face her again, let alone Vincent. No, much as it might hurt Vincent, she must be banished from their world. She had betrayed them. His heart ached at the thought. What had become of her? He could hardly believe this was Catherine. It simply couldnít be true! He had to be dreaming. Voices again brought him out of his reverie.

"You wouldnít give it to Father!"

"And why is that? If you wonít accept it, then.Ö"

"What makes you think he would?"

"I just know heíd love it! So, let me go!"

"You canít do this to me!"

"Oh?"

"Please Catherine!"

"Vincent, let me go!"

"No! Tell me, what must I do?"

Dear God this canít go on much longer. Father thought back to the devastation the incident with Lisa had caused. He couldnít believe Catherine would do that after seemingly proving him wrong about her. How would Vincent ever make it through another time like that? And again, why would she suggest betraying Vincent with him?! He already felt a slight headache beginning to form.

"Whatís so wrong with Father?"

"Catherine!"

"You said yourself the other day he should have some."

"Well I never meant he should have whatís meant for me!"

Catherine smiled at him, happy in the knowledge that this little prank was allowing him the freedom of saying what was really in his heart. Not wanting him to feel self conscious about it, she just went on: "Oh? What then? I know! He could have Maryís in the meantime. I donít think she would mindÖ."

"No, not if itís me who asks her. LookÖIíll have Maryís while you have your way with Father. Weíll see who ends up where."

"You? Vincent, no! What are you thinking? Donít you see? I have plenty here for you!"

"Well if Father can have yours, why canít I have Maryís?"

"Because Iím giving it willingly to Father. Youíll be taking it from Mary!"

Father was about to have a fit. Heíd lost it. This was it, he knew. Jacob, youíve finally lost your mind. He thought to himself. Vincent and Mary? He and Catherine? He stared off into nothingness trying to find some sense of right.

"I will not take anything. Youíll see. Mary will be glad to give me what I ask for!"

"Fine, you do that. Iíll go and get Father."

Of all the times, Mary came along the passage finding him on the ground. "Jacob! What are you doing down there?" she said kneeling to him. Fatherís attention was focused on the panic rising within. She was coming for him!

"Can you hear me?" Mary said trying to meet his far away gaze.

Catherine stepped outside with a smile. "Oh Mary! Iím glad youíre here. Vincent wants to see you. "

Father paled. "Mary donít," he muttered.

Catherine sat down beside him. "Why are you here? Anything wrong?"

All he could do is give her a pleading look and stutter. "IÖIÖIÖ"

"Hmm? I have something for you, you know." she said with a grin hiding the piece in her hand.

"IÖnoÖyou.Ö"

"No, what? You donít even know what it is."

Mary shook her head. "Iíll go in and see what Vincent needs. Perhaps he can help too."

"Of course."

"Mary, no. Donít." He said just before she walked in, but she was gone. "Oh dear God!"

"Father?"

"Huh?"

"Are you all right?" she asked feeling his forehead.

Before he could answer, he heard Mary from inside the chamber. "Really Vincent, no!" With that he got to his feet with Catherine rushing in after him. "Mary! Are youÖwhat happened?"

Vincent looked at Catherine. "Well it seems you were wrong. He didnít take anything you had to offer."

"I didnít have the time to offer it! You were wrong too. Looks like Mary didnít want it from you, either."

"You donít have to try to give it to Father. I know there are those Above and Below who would take what you have to offer. Will you throw Mouse in next?"

"Mouse!" Father exclaimed.

"No, not Mouse!" Catherine replied.

"Or William? Heíd love it in the kitchen."

"I donít think it would be enough for William."

Vincent paused, as if to think for a moment. "He does have a rather large appetite. I think we should just leave Father and Mary to share it with each other. What do you say?"

"Well that was the whole point wasnít it?"

Father remained speechless as Catherine went on. "It looks as if Father doesnít want to share."

"Father, you donít want to share it with Mary?"

Mary seemed completely lost. She had come in only to find that Vincent wanted to offer her some chocolate. Now they were making a big scene about how to get rid of it while Father was apparently losing his sanity. Exasperated she said, "Well if you are so anxious to get rid of it, why not give it to the children? Heaven knows theyíd take it!"

Catherine completely lost it. As she broke down into hysterics, Father looked at her seriously disturbed.

Vincent spoke. "Father itís quite all right. Iíll have Catherineís chocolate and you can keep what you had from earlier for you and Mary."

Father looked at him dazed. "Her chÖchÖchocolate?"

"Yes, my chocolate. What on earth did you think we were talking about? Now Vincent, open."

Father, staring at the floor, seemed to blink himself back to reality. "Chocolate. Yes. Right. I think Iíll go sit in my study now."

"Father, is everything all right?" Catherine asked innocently.

"IÖyes. Everything isÖjust fine. I think I need some tea. Mary would you care for some?"

"Of course, Jacob." she said taking his arm with a concerned look. "Are you sure youíre all right?"

"Yes, Iím fine." he said, somewhat steadied as they made their way out of the chamber.

Catherine and Vincent smiled at each other as they embraced. "We should be ashamed of ourselves." he said as they both laughed. "Now do I get some of that or not."

"Of course. Itís all for you remember?"

"I donít know if I should though. I tried to tell you what chocolate does to me and now look at poor Father."

"Iím not sure I understood the chocolate effects. Would you explain it again to me?"

"Well, you know how chocolate makes some people hyper? I get somewhatÖmischievous."

She laughed. "So that explains it. I knew you couldnít be really upset with me earlier."

He smiled. "Of course not."

"Vincent, where did you say I was going to sleep?"

He picked her up and went back where they started. "Right here." She leaned against him and smiled until he suddenly began to shift around uncomfortably. "Ouch!"

"Wait, what is it? Ouch! Stay still a minute!" she said trying to move.

"Ow!" he said still shifting.

"Vincent!" she yelled just before she started to fall, bringing the cover with her, as if it could prevent her from doing so. Vincent quickly moved to keep her from falling. However, both of them hit the floor along with part of the cover and some of the chocolate.

"Catherine! Are you all right?"

"Ouch. Yeah, I think so."

He took her in his arms and kissed the top of her head. "Iím sorry."

"Just what are you playing at sunshine?"

"I wasnít." He turned to grab something off the bed. Holding up a piece of chocolate, he said, "See?" just before tossing it at her.

"Hey! Ok!" she said laughing.

"Just how many pieces of chocolate are there still in my bed now?" Vincent asked looking back.

"I donít care, as long as we get back up there."

"And as long as I donít lay on another one." he added.

Catherine giggled as he picked her up and laid back down with her. "I thought you said you had to leave, Catherine."

"What? And skip out on my punishment? No, I donít jump bail." she said snuggling closer.

He laughed. "But your work, CatherineÖ"

"So Iíll be a little later. Iíve put in plenty of overtime. Iíll be sure to remind Joe of that when he tries to say something. Iím staying right here," she said as she kissed him.

"What if I let you off for good behavior?"

"Then Iíll have to be bad, wonít I?"

"Catherine.Ö"

With an impish grin, she said, "Goodnight, my love," and kissed him once more before snuggling in for the night.

"Goodnight, my Catherine."

~