Hold On

SandyX


An expansion to Once upon a time in the City of New York.


[A/N: This little piece was inspired by a song I stumbled across recently that seems as if it could have been written just for Catherine and Vincent. Special thanks to Vicky, Carole, and Linn for their enthusiasm and support, and for liking the song as much as I did. And a big hug to Vicky, for actually recording the song.]


'Cause I know my heart's worth saving
And I know that he'll be waiting
So I'll hold on and I'll stay strong
Till then ...

"I know him by heart"
     -Jon Vezner, Paul Williams


****

Catherine and Jenny sat at a window booth.  The remains of their lunches had been cleared away and they lingered over coffee.  The sound of rattling dishes echoed in the kitchen where the door fanned open and shut as waitresses hurried about with loaded trays.

"Do you love him?" Jenny asked.

"Who?"

"Tom ... "

Catherine laughed ... "oh, of course."

"You do?!?"

"No.  I mean, of course you meant Tom ... not someone else," Catherine replied, looking briefly at the steady stream of people passing by the restaurant window. 

"Someone else?" Jenny laughed.  "So you don't.  Could you, though?"

"Tom?"

"Who else?"

"I don't know ..."

"You don't know if you could love him?"

"No ... I don't know ... who else."

Jenny met her friend's eyes, the playful smile gone from her face, an eyebrow raised ...

Catherine glanced at her watch, "Damn ... the time ... I have an appointment ..."

"So, he's not the one?"

"My dad loves him," Catherine replied, flashing a smile as she gathered up her coat and purse.

"Cathy ..."

"We'll talk again soon, Jen ...  I've really gotta run."

****

Catherine examined her reflection in the mirror.  She was well prepared for the evening ... black cocktail dress, make-up just right.  Good girl ...  She took a final look and pulled one last stroke of the brush through her hair before she slumped back into the chair.


Do you love him? 

Who?



She closed her eyes and drifted away to a place she kept secret and apart.  A place that existed but for her belief in it, and her belief in him.  An enchanted place free from fear, where essential truths were whispered and gentle hands pushed her along the path toward him.  A place where fantastic things were treasured.  A place where he lived.  Who he was, she didn't yet know ... but she knew he was, just as she knew her own heartbeat.  Ethereal.  Inexpressible.  Yet tangible.  He was.  In her heart, he was real.


The doorbell rang.

"Are you ready?"

Yes.


****


Piano music and fragments of conversations filled the air.  There was the faint ringing of ice against crystal as guests mingled about the room, cocktails in hand. 

Catherine listened as Eve recounted the story of her broken relationship. 

"He told me to just pretend like he was dead ..." 

Her heart broke for her friend.  Her voice held such bitterness and resignation.  Did Eve also hold someone close, hidden away in a secret place ... a safe place?  Maybe someone she had given up waiting for?  Catherine wanted to ask, but didn't.  Couldn't. 

She looked across the room and watched her date as he spoke with the Commissioners, pointing out some detail of the building intricately carved in cold, transparent ice. 



"You could do a lot worse than Tom Gunther," her father had said.

"And have ..." she'd replied.  She had done worse.  Much worse.  But not much better. 

When did 'could do worse' become an acceptable standard,
she wondered as she walked away from her father's office. 



"I need to talk to you ... "

A sense of discomfort rose within her as Tom placed his hand on the small of her back and guided her to a private corner.  There, she was scolded for inattention to his needs ... for showing compassion to an old friend deemed less than worthy.

"You stick with me ..."  he said.

She pulled away and scanned the room, hoping ... for something ... someone.  It was suddenly all too heartbreaking - to hold a possibility so close, yet always just out of reach. 

"Maybe I expect too much ..."

Or too little.

"I think I'll call it a night ..."

She rushed toward the door, wanting to be somewhere else ... with someone else.

I need you.


****

Annoyed and frustrated with the events of the evening and with herself, she barely noticed the man who approached her and offered to help hail a cab.

Waiting ... she was so tired of waiting.


"Hey Carol ...."


No.  Not this.  Not now

Her head slammed against hard steel.

No.

The violating grip on her wrists ...

Help me.

The sickly swish of a blade sliding open ...

Please.

She closed her eyes.  Where are you?


****

Cold, damp grass.

whispers
...

Searing pain.

gentle hands pushing, coaxing ... this way ...

Blood. 

find him ...


Silence.


She opened her eyes to darkness ... alone, and felt herself slipping away again.  


Then ... a tender touch.  His touch.  Powerful arms gathered her close, offering refuge ... offering hope ... offering love.


You ...


She knew this place ...

With what strength she still had, she clung to him with what breath she had left, she drew in his essence, afraid that he wasn't ... and sure that he was, real

You're here.

"I'm Here."

Safe.


*******


"I know him by heart"

There's a secret path I follow
To a place no one can find
Where I meet my perfect someone
I've kept hidden in my mind

Where my heart makes my decisions
Till my dream becomes a vision
And the love I feel
Makes him real someday

'Cause I know he's out there somewhere
Just beyond my reach
Though I've never really touched him
Or ever heard him speak

Though we've never been together
We've never been apart
No, we've never met
Haven't found him yet
But I know him by heart

Am I living an illusion?
Wanting something I can't see?
If I compromise, I'd be living lies
Pretending love's not meant to be ...

'Cause I know my heart's worth saving
And I know that he'll be waiting
So I'll hold on and I'll stay strong
Till then

'Cause I know he's out there somewhere
Just beyond my reach
Though I've never really touched him
Or ever heard him speak

Though we've never been together
We've never been apart
No, we've never met
Haven't found him yet
But I know him by heart

No, we've never met
Haven't found him yet
But I know him by heart.

 - Jon Vezner, Paul Williams