An Unusual Gift

Kathy De

Father was standing in front of the mirror finishing up his bedtime routine of brushing his teeth and grooming his beard when he heard his young son screaming from his crib in the other room.

"Debbin hurt! Debbin hurt! Debbin hurt! Debbin hurt!"

Father frowned and threw his towel down on the basin as he wondered what had woken up his sleeping son. He rushed through the chamber towards the crib and grabbed the boy by the arms. "Vincent! Son, Iím here!"

"Debbin hurt! Debbin hurt!" Vincent continued to cry as he swiped at the tears in his eyes.

Father picked him up, sat down in a nearby chair and cradled him to his chest.
"Vincent! Debbin..." he shook his head and chuckled. "Devin is not hurt! Donít you remember? Heís sleeping in the boyís dormitories tonight."

Vincent shook his head violently. "No, Debbin hurt!" he said vehemently.

Father smiled indulgently and held his son closer. "Vincent, listen to me. Youíve just had what we call a nightmare. It was only a bad dream. Iím here now..." Father placed his hand against the side of Vincentís head and tried to gently push it against his chest. "Itís all right. Iíll hold you until you go back to sleep..."

Vincent felt the anger swell in his little chest and he pushed back with a roar as he lashed out with his hand. Clad only in a t-shirt, Father blinked in surprise as Vincentís hand scratched down his arm and he saw red gashes immediately appear.

Mary happened to be walking by the entrance to their chamber when she heard an unusual sound. Tentatively, she stepped into the doorway. "Father? I heard a..."

She stopped as Father looked up at her clearly in shock.

Mary saw the blood on his arm and she rushed into the room. "What happened?"

Father looked back down at his arm. "Vincent...I...he...well...it happened so quickly...Iím..."

Vincent was distracted by the appearance of another adult and reached his arms frantically for Mary. Mary automatically scooped him up and placed him on her hip as she stared at Fatherís arm. "Let me hold, Vincent,; you should take care of that."


Vincent ignored them both as he wriggled in Maryís arms. "Mawy! Mawy! Debbin hurt..."

"Shhh, Vincent...." Mary said automatically. "Father, why donít I take Vincent to the nursery and come back and help you get that cleaned up..."

Vincent, angry at being ignored once again, pushed off with his legs against Maryís hip. Taken by surprise at the unexpected strength of the kick, Maryís grip slipped and Vincent fell from her arms.

Father and Mary braced for the thud as Vincent fell to the floor but then they looked on in astonishment as the toddler stealthily landed on his feet.


Vincent, finally free, ran for the door of the chamber. Father shot to his feet, ran after his son and grabbed him as Vincent was about to enter the tunnels.

"Really, Vincent! Whatís gotten into you?"


Vincent pummeled his Father with tiny fists. "Debbin!"

Detained once again, Vincent was so frustrated he started to sob and laid his head back against Fatherís shoulder.


Father frowned at Mary as he cradled his son and tried to comfort him, blood from his arm was starting to smear across the back of Vincentís pajamas. "It must have been a horrible dream. Iíve never seen a child this frightened before."

Mary shrugged. "You can never guess what a child dreams about." She looked at him and timidly asked. "Um...Father...did Vincent...um...I mean did he...roar?"

Father grimaced and looked down at his sonís heaving back as he gently ran his hand over it. "I think he did..."

Mary shook her head in disbelief. "Letís hope we never hear that sound again."

Father chuckled. "Yes, I could certainly do without hearing it again."

"Did he scratch you as well?"

Father nodded. "Yes, he was so frustrated he lashed out and his fingernails connected with my arm."

"Iíll cut them tomorrow."

Father chuckled. "Thank you, Mary but I just cut them last week."

Vincent was almost asleep when Pascal came running full speed into the room.


Mary whirled around to face him. "Pascal, what on earth?! You know you shouldnít be running so crazily around the tunnels."

"Had to! Dad said you didnít hear the message he sent."

Father caught his eye. "What message, Pascal?"

Pascal started to get worried. He knew Father was going to be very upset by his news. "Devin broke his arm."

"What?!" Father stood immediately and handed young Vincent to Mary.
Are you sure?"

Pascal nodded. "Yep! When he landed it was all mangled and pointing the wrong way."

Mary gasped. "My goodness!"

Father sighed and hurriedly threw on a shirt. "Where is he now?"

Pascal pointed. "Lou was coming down Below and he saw us and carried Devin to the hospital chamber."

Father grasped Pascalís shoulder. "Please run and tell Lou Iím on my way." While Pascal rushed off, Father turned to Mary. "Mary, will you take Vincent to the nursery. Ask Sara to watch him for a while and then I was wondering if you might be able to assist me. Iíll need some help resetting Devinís arm."

Mary nodded enthusiastically. "I would love to learn how to help you, Father."

Father touched her elbow and smiled as he grabbed his medical bag and headed towards the hospital chamber.

 

******************************

 

Father walked in to hear Devin crying out. The group of boys standing in front of the table parted and his heart twisted in his chest as he watched his son writhe around in pain on the table.

Overcome with emotion, he stepped towards Devin. "Devin! What on earth have you done?"

He winced when he heard the harshness in his own voice. Devin ignored him and howled louder. Father walked over to a locked cabinet and withdrew a vial of medicine and a needle. He quickly and efficiently gave Devin a shot in his other arm. Within a few minutes, Devin began to quiet and he was soon fast asleep.

Mary came into the room and saw the crowd. "Pascal, Winslow, Mitch, Frankie...you boys must leave immediately!"

Mitch scowled at her. "Who are you to order us around?"

Father looked at Mitch angrily "Mitchell!"

Mitch blushed and looked away while the other boys started to leave the room.


Father cleared his throat. "Iíll be down in the dormitories as soon as Iím finished here! Iíd better get a good explanation as to how this happened!"

The boys exchanged worried glances then headed out of the room.

Mary stood patiently waiting for Father to direct her. Father brought out the plaster and bandages he would need to make a cast.

Mary cleared her throat to draw his attention. "Father?"

Distracted by his attitude towards Devin and having forgotten she was there, Father looked at her with surprise. "Yes, Mary."

Mary looked away shyly. "Devin has already been sedated, hasnít he?"

"Yes," Father said curiously.

Mary blushed. "Well, perhaps I could clean up your arm for you then you can attend to Devinís needs..."

Mary had looked pointedly at Fatherís arm and he looked down to see his shirt sleeve stained with blood. He grimaced and started to roll up his sleeve. "Iíd forgotten about this." He sighed and nodded towards her. "Yes, if you wouldnít mind I could use some help wrapping it."

He sat in a chair and pointed at a basin. Mary ran and poured hot water into it and brought it back to him. Without being told, she turned and grabbed the antiseptic and some clean bandages.

Father grinned. "You could be quite an efficient nurse with a little bit of training."

Mary blushed again but quickly set about the task of cleaning Fatherís scratches. He hissed a few times in pain and Mary stopped and looked at him worriedly.


Father shook his head. "Sometimes it has to hurt so we know itís being cleaned properly. Keep going, youíre doing a quite well."

Mary dabbed at the rest of the wound and Father reached out and handed her the sterile bandages. She took it and carefully wrapped his arm then stepped back and critically eyed her work.

Father stood as he pulled his shirt sleeve down. "Thank you, I couldnít have done a better job."

Devin moved and Father quickly stepped over to his side. "Mary, this is going to be rather painful to watch. Are you sure youíre up to this?"

Mary was by his side in an instant and swallowed nervously. "Iím sure."

Father nodded. "Then come around to the other side." Mary walked around and Father showed her where to place her hands. "Okay, Iím going to pull Devinís arm back into place. I need you to hold his shoulder in place while I do this, all right?"

Mary nodded and Father began to pull on Devinís arm. They heard a pop and Father stepped back and breathed a sigh of relief. Mary was pale but Father ignored it as he set about assessing the rest of Devinís arm. He nodded his head and mumbled to himself as he placed Devinís arm in position.

He began to set the arm in a cast and Mary watched and learned quickly and Father allowed her to finish setting the outer layers.

When it was finished, Father finally let himself take a long breath. He shook his head in wonder, again, at how easily children got themselves hurt.

Mary had cleaned up and turned to Father. "If youíd like Iíll stay the night here with Devin?"

Father shook his head. "No, Heíll rest easier in his own bed. Iíll carry him to our chamber and keep an eye on him."

Mary nodded and started to leave the room when Father called her back. "If you donít mind...will you bring Vincent back to his bed in about 30 minutes? That will give me time to get Devin settled in and talk to the other boys about how this happened."


Mary smiled at the chance to be useful. "Of course."

Father turned and picked Devin up and carried him through the tunnels towards their chamber. He set him down on the bed and covered him up. He tousled his hair then lovingly caressed his cheek. With a sigh, he smiled down. "Son, youíre going to be the death of me..."

He chuckled and stood and walked to the boyís dormitories. The boys were sitting up in bed and whispering and all of it ceased when Father stepped into the room.

"Gentlemen..." The boys looked up at him with worried faces and Father looked at each of them pointedly. "Would someone care to explain to me what happened tonight?"

Pascal was about to talk when he caught a look from Mitch and he decided against it. Mitch looked on innocently and Frankie wouldnít look up at all.

Winslow cleared his throat. "It was an accident."

Fatherís lips pursed in anger. "Really? And here I thought Devin purposefully set about trying to find a way to dislocate and fracture his arm."


Pascal snorted with laughter then looked down as the rest of the boys shot him angry looks.

Winslow balked under Fatherís angry gaze. "We were betting one another on who could jump the farthest. We were jumping from bed to bed..."

"Which you know you are NOT supposed to do..." Father interrupted.

Winslow mumbled. "Yes...well we kept moving the one bed further away. There was only two guys left and Devin was about to win when someone forgot to put the braces on and the bed moved when Devin jumped on it. He lost his balance and fell to the floor."

Father caught the angry scowl Winslow sent Mitchís way. He had an idea who the final two boys were and who forgot to set the braces for the bed. With a roll of his eyes and a sigh, Father looked at the boys. "Now do you see why Iím always saying you should think before you act...Kitchen detail for the next 7 days!" All of the boys moaned but wisely remained silent. "Devin will complete his punishment when he gets his cast off."

Pascal looked up, clearly impressed. "Heís got a cast? Cool!"

Father shook his head angrily. "It is not cool! Devin has sustained a serious injury because you boys chose the wrong game to play! Whatever happened to a nice game of checkers, chess even!"

Mitch curled up his lip in disgust. "Boring!" he sang out.

Winslow reacted instantly. "Thatís Ďcause youíre too stupid to learn it!"


"Winslow!" Father shouted.

Winslow looked unapologetic as he scowled at Mitch. "Sorry!"

Father pointed at them angrily. "Thatís it! Lights out. Now!"

Candles were extinguished quickly while the boys covered up and lay back in their beds.

Pascal looked up worriedly. "Can I still sleep here tonight?"

Father looked down at him. "May you still sleep here?" Pascal nodded and Father continued. "Your father is on duty tonight and your mother is probably already asleep so...yes, you may."

Pascal smiled with relief then laid back.

"Goodnight, boys," Father said as he left the room and headed back to his chamber.

 

****************************

The lateness of the day was starting to wear on him and Father felt a dull ache in his leg. He limped slightly as he made his way through the tunnels.

He checked on Devin who still seemed to be sleeping soundly. Satisfied, he turned around and heard Vincentís voice out in the hallway.

Mary walked in carrying Vincent on her hip. Vincent saw Father and smiled then reached for him. Father took him from Mary and held him in his arms as he kissed his forehead.

"Thank you, Mary."

"Debbin better?" Vincent interrupted as he squirmed to look down at the boy sleeping in his bed.

"Yes, Devinís better."

Vincent noticed the cast on Devinís arm. "He gotís a owie?"

"Yes, Vincent, Devin has broken his arm."

"Broked it? Like my boat?" Vincent said solemnly.

Vincent had recently broken his favorite toy and Father smiled at the referral. "Sort of."

Vincent wrinkled up his nose. "Canít fix it! Poor Devin."

Father patted his sonís back. "No, unlike youíre boat, I was able to fix it. In a few weeks, Devin will be good as new."

Vincent nodded then for the first time noticed the bandage on Fatherís arm. "You gotís an owie, too?

Father frowned at his arm then looked curiously at his son. "Yes."

"Mary kiss it make it better?"

Mary blushed while Father chuckled. "She made it better, yes."

Vincent looked up at him uncertainly. "Me did it?"

Father nodded. "Well...um...yes, you did."

Vincentís bottom lip began to tremble as he held back the tears, he looked down, clearly ashamed. "I sowey."

Father took Vincentís chin and turned his face up to look into his eyes. "It was an accident, Vincent. I know youíre sorry. Weíll just try to come up with a way to make sure it doesnít happen again, okay?"

"Okay."

Vincent let out a large yawn and Father walked over to the crib. He set Vincent down in it and Vincent immediately flipped on his side and put his head on the pillow. He turned to watch Devin as Father covered him up. Within seconds, his eyes began to drift shut and Father turned to Mary.

"Thank you again for all the help this evening."

"Youíre welcome, it was my pleasure."

Father sat in a chair and motioned for Mary to join him. "These boys that live Below..."

Mary chuckled as she sat down. "They do seem to get into their fair share of trouble."

Father rolled his eyes. "I wish I had a dollar for every stitch Iíve given or cast Iíve made in the past year."

"Just think, Father. Theyíre only 6 and 7. Whatís going to happen over the next few years?"

Father laughed. "If Mitch keeps coming Below to stay I would imagine quite a lot."

Mary nodded in agreement. "He does seem to create quite a bit of havoc when heís here."

"I just wish the boy didnít rope the rest of them into doing stupid things!"

"What punishment did you give them?"

Father grimaced. "I was so angry I gave them 7 days of kitchen detail."

"Kitchen detail?! What on earth will 7 year olds be able to do in the kitchen?"

"I donít know! It slipped out. Iíll talk to Carl in the morning."

Mary looked at him thoughtfully. "Well, they could clean up the tables and wipe them down."

Father nodded. "Good idea, they can probably stock shelves and open cans with the can opener."

"Winslow and Frank are quite tall, they could probably wash dishes..."

"Yes, and Pascal and Mitch can dry..."

Mary smiled. "See, maybe Carl wonít be too mad at you for sticking him with the punishment..."

Father laughed aloud. "Letís hope!"

Vincent sighed in his sleep and Mary looked over at him then back at Father. "This was certainly a strange evening tonight."

Father sighed. "Yes, it was."

Mary leaned forward in her seat. "He was so adamant! Father, how did Vincent know Devin had been hurt?"

Father shook his head in confusion. "I donít know, Mary!"

"Itís eerie..."

"What concerns me more is his display of temper."

Mary looked down at Fatherís arm. "Vincent is so mild mannered. Iím shocked he reacted in such a way."

Father looked at her worriedly. "What if he gets angry at another child and lashes out? He could seriously hurt someone..."

"I would imagine like any child as he gets older heíll learn to control it. Heís only 3 but I think perhaps we can start talking to him about his differences and reminding him to be extra careful."

Father scowled. "I never wanted to make an issue of his differences. I had hoped to be able to raise him as normally as possible."

Mary shook his head. "Father, you know I love Vincent as much as you but for the sake of the other children, I think we have to talk to Vincent. How many other children can let out the sound we heard earlier and lash out with their hands and cause that type of a wound? Father, a fraction deeper and you would have needed several stitches!"

Mary had looked at Fatherís arm again and Father nodded uncertainly. "I know, youíre right but..."

She interrupted. "But we love him and itís so hard to remember all that he went through as a baby just to survive. Now, heís a perfectly healthy toddler who has some unusual...features...that need to be addressed."

Father leaned back in his chair and rubbed a hand over his face. "Yes."

"Iíll talk to Vincent."

"No, no Mary. Iíll do it. Iíll remind Vincent of his differences. Itís the only way I can protect him from himself and others."

Mary stood and yawned. "Itís been a long night. We should get some sleep."

"Yes, yes...thank you again."

"Goodnight, Father."

"Goodnight."

 

***********************************

The next morning, Father got a reprieve as both boys slept in.

Devin woke up first and moaned as he sat up.

"Good morning, son."

Devin looked at him with tears in his eyes. "Morning."

Father came and sat and put his arm around his shoulders. "Hurts, huh?"

Devin nodded. "Uh, huh."

"What were you thinking jumping from bed to bed?"

Devin cried out. "That I could beat Mitch and stop his endless bragging. Father it hurts!"

Father sighed. "I know. Iíll walk to the hospital chamber and get you something for the pain."

Within a few minutes, Father had returned and handed Devin the medicine and a glass of water.

Devin swallowed the pill, sniffled and looked at Vincent. "Heís still sleeping?"

"Yes."

Devin frowned. Vincent was always the first of the three of them up and ready to face the day. "He sick or something?"

"No, he had quite a big night."

"Oh, yeah. Whatíd he do?"

Father decided to be honest with Devin. Devin and Vincent were extremely close and he hoped Devin could help keep an eye on Vincent when he wasnít around. "Well, it all started when he woke from a sound sleep. Somehow, Vincent knew that you had an accident."

"He did?"

"Yes, he was insistent you had been hurt. He got so angry that I thought he was only dreaming, he lashed out with his hands."

Father raised his arms and Devinís eyes widened when he saw the bandage. "Got you with his nails, didnít he?"

Father looked at him curiously. "How did you know?"

Devin showed him his hand and Father frowned at the cut by his thumb. "We were coloring and I took the blue crayon...he got mad at me and grabbed at it."

"Devin, you should have told me!"

"It was an accident, he didnít mean to do it."

Father worried about a second incident of Vincentís temper causing an injury. "Iíll speak to him, Devin. But in the future, maybe you can help me out..."

"How?"

"Well, we all know Vincent is a little...different. Any time you see your brother getting especially angry or frustrated maybe you could pull him away from the situation...diffuse the problem..."

Devin nodded. "Itís never happened before, you know. I swear this was the first time..."

"Thatís good news, Devin. Thank you."

Vincent sat up suddenly in his crib. "Debbin!" he smiled.

Devin grinned. "Will he ever be able to say my name?"

Father chuckled and walked over to let Vincent out of his crib.

Vincent ran towards Devin. "Debbin!"

Devin shielded his arm and hugged his younger brother. "Hey, little brother."

Vincent hugged him and stood back. "You brokeded your arm."

"I know."

Vincent pointed at Father. "He fixed it."

Devin nodded. "I know."

"Why did you breakded it?"

Devin shrugged. "I was being bad and jumping on the bed. See what happens?"

Vincent looked at him solemnly and nodded his head. "Iís bad boy too...I scratcheded Father."

"Remember I told you last week about those nails. You gotta be careful buddy."

"I didnít Ďmember..."

Vincentís bottom lip came out and Devin tapped him on the stomach in a brotherly gesture. "Donít stick out that lip! Thatís only for babies! Youíre almost a kid and kids donít pout! Suck it up. You can forget once in a while but you gotta pay more attention and really try, okay?"

"kay!"

Devin smiled and looked at Father for approval. Fatherís eyes shone with love for Devin and he nodded to him.

"Hey, Vin? How about you help me get my clothes on? Can you do that?"

Vincent nodded importantly. "Yeth," he lisped.

"Go get me some sweat pants and socks..." Vincent took off towards the clothing bureau while Devin called out. "Underwear, too!"

Father leaned over and kissed Devinís forehead. "Thank you, Devin. You handled that quite well."

Devin basked in the glow of Fatherís love. "Heís a good kid. Weíll raise him right."

Father stood back and laughed aloud. "Iím going to see about securing us some breakfast."

Devin shook his head. "I want to go to the dining chamber and show off my cast."

In an instant, Father shot him a disapproving look. "Having a cast on a broken arm is not something to be proud of...especially when it was obtained by horseplay. The other boys have been assigned kitchen detail for one week. When youíre cast comes off you will have to serve 1 weeks time as well."

Devinís face fell. "Yes, sir."


Vincent stumbled over with his arms filled with clothes. "Get up, Debbin!"

"Vincent, Devin will bring you to the dining chamber when youíre both dressed and ready to go. You will stay with him and listen to him!" Vincent nodded and Father looked at Devin. "Please try to protect the arm while you show it off today..."

Devin looked up to see Father trying to hide a smile. He grinned as he nodded. "I will."

 

************************************

Weeks turned into months and the incident was soon forgotten. It was now the middle of winter and Father was at the end of a flu epidemic that had invaded the tunnels.

He woke up one morning and sat up in bed and found himself rushing to the nearest pail. After vomiting violently, he stood up with a groan and headed back to bed.

Down the tunnel way, Vincent woke up suddenly and sat up in his bed. He tilted his head slightly as he stared out into the air. He frowned and climbed out over a still sleeping Devin and headed out their chamber door.

Walking towards Fatherís chamber, he encountered Sara.

"Vincent, what are you doing out here by yourself?" she said to the 4 year old.

"Fadderís sick!" he said, as if that explained it all.

Sara frowned, instantly thinking of all the problems that would occur now that the tunnel patriarch was sick as well.


"Could you tell Mary?" Vincent asked as he tugged at Saraís dress.

Sara ruffled his hair. "Sure, Iím on my way to the nursery."

Sara left and Vincent hurried towards his destination.

Only a few minutes had passed, and Vincent was standing in his chamber. "Fadder, You donít feel good?"

Father groaned. "No, Vincent I donít."

"Are you frowing up?"

"Yes, I am."

Vincent mimicked the familiar gesture he had seen of late and reached out his hand and felt Fatherís forehead. "Youíre hot."

Despite feeling so badly, Father chuckled. "I imagine I am."

"Should I get Debbin?"

Father smiled as he realized Vincent still thought his older brother could fix anything. "As much as I would like to see your brother, Vincent, this time it might be better if you asked Devin to go find Mary or Sara. I think Iíll be laid up for a few days and I need to let someone know that Iím sick."

"I already told Sara."

"Hmmm, what did you say?"

"I saw Sara in the tunnels. I told her you were sick and she went to get Mary."

Father briefly wondered how Vincent knew he had been sick but his stomach rolled and he quickly got up and headed to a bucket.

Vincent stood silently by his fatherís side and handed him a cool cloth when he was finished.

Mary walked into the outer chamber and called out. "Father?"

Father walked to the doorway to his private chamber and leaned against the wall. "Mary, Iíve come down with the flu."

"Yes, Vincent told Sara and she came and got me." Mary pushed against his shoulder. "You go lie down. Iíll take care of Vincent today."

Father willingly gave in as he headed back to bed. Mary grabbed the bucket filled with vomit and headed out the door. She returned within minutes and the clean bucket was placed back by the side of the bed.

She reached a hand out to Vincent. "Come on little man, letís get you dressed."


Vincent crossed his arms in front of him indignantly. "I a big boy, I get myself dressed."

He took off running and headed back to his chamber.

Father frowned and looked at Mary. "Mary..." She turned around curiously to look at him. "Vincent knew before he saw me that I was sick."

Both of them thought back to the incident months earlier when Vincent had warned them of Devinís injury.

Mary shrugged. "Maybe itís just another coincidence..."

Father nodded as his eyes drifted shut. "Maybe..."

Mary left and she caught up with Vincent in his chamber. He was already stripped down to his underwear and pulling on his pants.

"Vincent, honey, youíre putting them on backwards."

Vincent looked down and then smiled up at her ruefully. "Oops!"

He giggled and sat on the ground and turned the pants around. Mary held his shirt and Vincent grabbed it from her. "I can do it myself!"

"I forgot, Iím sorry."

Vincent pulled it over his head but his head came out the arm hole and he gasped. "Dumb shirt!"

In his exasperation, he clawed at the front and accidentally shredded the shirt.

Tears formed in his eyes as he looked up at Mary and waited to be reprimanded.

Maryís heart ached for the little boy and she instantly tried to soothe his feelings. "Oh, Vincent...I should apologize to you. This shirt is so worn it split in half with just the littlest of effort."

Vincent was surprised but pleased to hear he wasnít to blame. "I didnít do it?"

Devin was in bed and watched the whole thing. He sat up and winked at Mary. "Nope, that was my shirt and I wore it too many times. Itís all worn out. You shouldnít have had it to begin with, sorry buddy."

Vincent sighed as he removed the torn garment. "Thatís okay, Debbin. Iíll get another one."

Devin turned to Mary. "Whereís Father?"

"Heís sick, Devin. He has the flu."

Devin had already gotten over his bout with it a few weeks ago and he wrinkled his nose. "Lucky him." He nodded at Vincent. "I guess your next, Vin."

Vincent turned to him and shook his head. "I not get sick. I not want to frow up!"


Devin giggled. "I didnít want to throw up either."

Vincent wrinkled his nose and frowned. "Looks yucky!"

Mary groaned. "It is yucky, just be glad youíve never been sick, Vincent."

Devin had gotten up and thrown on his clothes. "Well, Vin. Looks like your hanging with me today..."

Mary shook her head. "I can keep an eye on him, Devin."

Devin laughed. "I got him, he wonít be any trouble. But maybe you can watch him at nap time?"

Mary smiled and hugged Devin. "Of course. Bring him to the nursery around 2:00."

Devin nodded. "Okay, hey Vin, you hungry, dude?"

"Yeth!"

""Yessssss," Devin hissed like a snake. Lately, he had been trying to help Vincent stop lisping.

"Yeththththththth," Vincent tried.

Devin laughed and ruffled his hair. "Keep trying, kid!"

The two boys took off and had breakfast. Vincent had the time of his life playing with the older kids. Lunch came and went and Vincent fell asleep on a bed in the boyís dormitory as he watched the older kids playing a game of Monopoly.

Mary stepped into the room and smiled at Vincent and Pascal sound asleep on either side of the bed.

"Devin," she whispered.

Devin looked away from his game then over at Vincent. "He fell asleep. I thought it would be okay and just left him there."

Mary nodded. "Youíll stay here with him until he wakes up?"

Winslow nodded. "We just started playing. Besides, Iím watching Pascal for his mom and dad. Iíll be here too."

Mary smiled. "Okay, Devin. Youíre in charge."

Six hours later, Peter came down to check on the various tunnels residents. He had gotten word that Father was sick as well and he wanted to try to help.

As he thought, there was really nothing that could be done. The virus just had to run its course.

He was sitting in the dinner chamber enjoying a meal with Mary. Vincent and Devin sat on the opposite side it the table and were talking animatedly about a book they had read.

Peter finished and leaned back in his chair. "As soon as I finish this coffee Iíll go check on Father."

Vincent turned and looked out into the air over Peterís head. He cocked his head then looked Peter squarely in the eye. "Heís better."

Knowing Vincent had been in front of him for the last half hour, Peter laughed at the young boy. "Is he now? Did you just check on him?"

Vincent shrugged. "Heís on his way here."

Peter looked up at Mary then shook his head. Mary looked at him nervously and Peterís jaw dropped open in surprise when not 5 minutes later, Father stood in the doorway.

"What the...?" He looked at Vincent then looked with disbelief at Mary who shrugged her shoulders.

Father made his way over to their table and sat down heavily.

Mary reached out and touched his arm. "Can I get you something, Father?"

"I thought I could try some soup..."

Mary left as Vincent stood and came over by him. "Hi, Fadder!"

Father smiled weakly. "Hello, Vincent. Were you a good boy today for Mary?"

Vincent shook his head. "Nope! I hangded out with Debbin today." He turned to Devin for confirmation. "Right, Debbin?"

"Right squirt!" Devin smiled and looked at his father. "He was good, him and Pascal took a nap while Winslow and I played Monopoly. Iíll take him into the bathing chamber with me after dinner."

He smiled with pride at Devin then eyed the remains of dinner on the front of Vincentís shirt. "Perhaps you can do that soon..."


Devin laughed. "Címon Vin, letís go swimming!"

Vincent turned to Father. "Debbinís taking me swimming!"

"I heard."

"You all bedder now?"

Father ruffled his hair. "Yes, Iím better now. Iím sure Iíll be my old self in the morning. Go on now, go with your brother."

Vincent took off after Devin and Father looked at Peter with relief. "Thank you for coming down."

"Youíre welcome, Jacob. Everyone seems to be on the mend. I think itís probably run its course."

Father sighed. "Thatís good news."

Peter watched Vincent leave the room then looked at Father curiously. "The strangest thing just happened..."

Mary came back and placed a steaming bowl of soup in front of Father.

"Whatís that?" Father asked distractedly.

Peter looked at Mary then back at Father. "Vincent knew you were feeling better before you came here. In fact, he just told us you were on your way here."

Father looked at Mary who nodded. He sighed and looked at Peter. "Itís happened a few other times as well. Remember a few months back, when Devin broke his arm." Peter nodded so Father continued. "Vincent told us Devin had been hurt almost as soon as it happened."

Peter looked puzzled. "What do you mean?"

Mary cleared her throat nervously. "He just knew. He was in a sound sleep and woke up and told Father that Devin had been hurt. We found out later that it was true."

Father grimaced. "And just this morning, Sara caught Vincent walking to my room. He told her I was sick and asked her to tell Mary."

Peter shrugged. "But you were sick..."

Father shook his head. "You donít understand...I had just gotten sick, Vincent couldnít have known that, he hadnít seen me yet."

Peter raised his eyebrows in surprise. "That is interesting."

Mary rushed to defend Vincent. "Itís only happened a few times..."

"Howís he been controlling his temper? Have there been any more incidences there?"

"No," Father answered. "Devin had been a tremendous help. Vincent worships him and if I must say so myself, Iím quite proud of the way Devinís fallen into big brother mode."

Peter chuckled. "Devin is a free spirit but deep down inside heís a good kid."

Father nodded in agreement, while Mary clasped her hands on her lap. "So, the two of you donít think that thereís anything to worry about with Vincent?"

Peter sighed. "It seems like he is highly sensitive. Maybe heís just that much more...intuitive than other people."

"Do you mean...instinctual?" Father said as he grimaced and Mary closed her eyes.

Peter wrinkled his nose in distaste. "Well, yes, I suppose that word fits as well as any other word..."

Mary shook her head. "Heís no different that any other boy. Iíll keep a closer eye on him from now on."

*********************************

Another year passed and Vincentís gift grew stronger. He and Devin often escaped punishment because Vincent was able to tell when Father was near.

Vincent kept his gift a secret from everyone but Devin. Devin laughed at the games they were able to play on Father and often the brothers could be found running amok in their room. Father would step in only to find two sleeping boys tucked safely in their beds.

Two more years passed before Vincentís gift was truly discovered. He was playing hide and go seek with several of the children when he climbed up a wall onto a ledge high off the ground. He slid down the other side and was stuck deep in a crevice. On his way down, he felt a metal bar scrap down his leg. He cried out in pain as he felt the blood flow down his leg. He began to panic when he realized he had taken off alone and no one knew where he was.

As the kids were slowly found, Devin came out of hiding with a strange look on his face. "Whereís Vincent?"

The other kids shrugged and Devin grew desperate. "Pascal, run and get an adult!"

Pascal frowned. "Why?"

"Pascal now!" Devin shouted.

Rebecca worriedly came forward. "Devin what is it?"

"Somethingís wrong..."

"With Vincent?" Winslow wondered.

"Yes."

Mitch smirked. "How the hell do you know?"

Devin thought for a moment then pushed Mitch onto the ground. "Shut up, I just do."

Pascal found Carl and George and the three ran through the tunnels towards the children.


Carl looked at Devin who started to feel foolish. "What is it?"

"We canít find Vincent..."

George rolled his eyes. "Youíre playing a game and you came and got us for this?"

Carl shot George a disapproving look. "George, it can be quite dangerous down here." He looked back at Devin. "Why do you think Vincentís missing?"

"Cause he would have come out by now. I think heís hurt..."

George nodded, feeling ashamed of his earlier outburst. "Why do you think heís hurt?"

Devin looked at the other kids then back at the two men. "I just got this funny feeling..."

Carl grabbed his shoulder and squeezed it affectionately. "Sometimes a manís got to work off his feelings. Letís split up and look for him..."

Groups of people were starting to form as Pascal had continued on and told his father the news that Vincent was lost.

Everyone split up and scoured the area where the children were playing. Father came as quickly as he could and tracked down Devin.

"Devin, why do you think Vincentís hurt?"

Devin had tears in his eyes as he looked up. "I donít know...I just feel like thereís something wrong..."


Suddenly, George came running around the corner with a crying Vincent in his arms. "He fell in a crevice behind a wall. Something cut him up pretty bad..."

Father took Vincent from George and hurried through the tunnels.

Mary waited for him in the hospital chamber. Pascalís father had sent her a message and she prepared a tray of necessary items for Father. She looked it over carefully, hoping she had gotten everything they would need.

Father came in and set Vincent down. He glanced at the tray and smiled at Mary. "Good work, let me scrub up. I fear weíre going to be putting in a lot of stitches."


Vincent began to cry. "I donít want stitches, canít I just have a band-aid?"

Mary was removing his pants so she could get at the wound easier. "Sorry little man, this looks too big for a band-aid."

"Use a big band-aid?" Vincent said hopefully.

Devin came up and held his hand. "Cool, Vincent. Your first stitches!"

Vincent looked at Devin for support. "Is it gonna hurt?"

"Nay, Father will knock you out with some medicine heís got...you wonít feel a thing."

Father smiled at Devinís attempt to pacify his brother. "Devin, you should leave until after we get this done."

Vincent panicked. "Canít he stay until you knock me out."

Father rolled his eyes. "Iím not a barbarian, Iím not going to knock you out. Iím going to sedate you." He frowned and looked down at Devin. "You may stay until heís asleep...not a second longer."

Father administered the medicine and Vincent seemed to be drifting off. Suddenly, his body started flailing around.

"Heís having seizures," Father gasped. "Devin, run for Peter!"

Devin ran from the room like he was shot from a cannon. Father frantically worked on Vincent who was starting to turn blue from lack of oxygen.

"Mary, I have to get him on oxygen!"

Mary swooned when Father stuffed an apparatus down Vincentís throat but soon enough Vincent, was breathing with her help.

"Keep compressing the bag, Mary."

Father administered medicine to try to counter the effects of the sedative. Carl and George ran into the room.

"What can we do?" Carl asked.

"I need to put Vincent on a ventilator. Someone needs to get the generator in here."

Within five minutes, they had the generator hooked up and Vincent on the ventilator.

Peter came down a short while later running into the room with Devin. "Jacob, what happened?"

Father was standing over Vincent monitoring his vital signs. "Peter, I merely sedated the boy so I could stitch his leg!"

Peter scowled. "He had an adverse reaction to the medicine?"

"He started seizing almost immediately. His throat closed up, I had no choice but to put him on a ventilator."

Peter performed his own examination and looked at Father. "He seems to be stabilized. Letís get him stitched up." He looked down and shook his head at Vincentís leg. "Weíll have to shave the little guy..."

Father nodded. "Go, Iíll call Mary back in and she can help me while you scrub up."

Mary came around the corner the second her name was mentioned. She efficiently shaved the hair from Vincentís leg and then quietly slipped away as Peter entered the room.

Peter nodded towards the leg. "You can have the honors."

Father shook his head. "Iíd much rather watch his vital signs."

"No, Jacob. Iíll watch his vitals. Youíre already too close to the patient."

"The patient you refer to is my son, Peter!" Father said angrily.

Peter pointed at him and grew just as angry. "Precisely why you shouldnít even be in this room but for obvious reasons...youíre taking the easier of the two jobs...now start stitching!"

Mary came around the corner. "Should I assist?"

"Yes," Peter answered.

"No," Father roared.

Mary looked helplessly from one to the other. Father sighed and relented. "Yes, Mary. Thank you."

Father and Mary bent over the task at hand. Father swallowed the bile in his throat as he poked the needle through the sides of the wound and saw the thread pull the wound closed. He did a few more stitches then stood up and looked away, A few minutes later, he shook his head and bent back over.

Mary could see in his eyes how much it disturbed him to be doing this. "Father, could I try to do some of the stitches?"

Peter looked over and saw the paleness of Fatherís face. "Thatís a fine idea, Mary."

Father shrugged and handed her the needle. Mary bent over and under Fatherís watchful eye made her first stitch.

"Good, good...now again." Father encouraged.

Taken over with the task of instructing Mary, Father soon turned his attention to the surgery being done as opposed to the fact that it was his son on the table.

Father sighed as the last stitch went in. He looked up at Peter and nodded. "Itís done."

"How many?"

"23," Mary said.

"Wow!" Peter exclaimed.

Mary took the package of sterile wrap from Fatherís hands. "Iíll finish. Check on your sons."

Father smiled weakly then walked over to Vincentís head. He watched as the ventilator pushed air into his sonís lungs. He lowered his head next to Vincentís and began to cry.

Peter came over and put his arm around Fatherís waist. "Heís stable, heíll be alrightall right."

Father swiped a hand across his face. "I almost killed him."

Peter shook his head. "You know thatís not true. He had an adverse reaction to the medicine. Let me run some blood work on him and weíll find out why."

Father nodded and Peter gently pushed him towards the other room. "Talk to Devin, I would imagine heís scared to death out there."

Father walked around the corner and Devin stood up. Tears formed in both of their eyes as Devin ran across the room and hugged his father fiercely. Father buried his face in Devinís hair and the two of them cried together.

Father gasped for breath and led Devin over to an old sofa in the room. They sat down together and Devin sat cradled in the crook of Fatherís arm.

"Is he gonna be alrightall right?"

Fatherís head fell forward in defeat. Mary came around the corner and smiled. "Heís going to be fine, Devin. He was allergic to the medicine. Give him a day or two and heíll be driving you crazy again."

Devin grinned and looked at Father for confirmation. Father looked up at Mary who seemed so resolved in what she said that he let hope take over and he nodded. "Iím sure thatís true."

Peter came around the corner as well. "Iíll sit with the boy for now. Why donít you go get something to eat?"

Father shook his head and Mary looked at Devin. "Letís go make them some trays and bring their dinner here to them."

Devin stood and went to walk away when a thought struck Father. He reached for Devinís hand and squeezed it. "Devin, how did you know Vincent was hurt? Did you really just feel it?"

Devin nodded. "Yeah, I just kind of got this funny feeling that something wasnít right. Somehow I knew it was Vincent and that heíd been hurt."

Peter frowned. "Thatís an odd way to interpret feelings..."

Devin shrugged "Itís like we have some kind of bond or something. Like those twins we were reading about in mythology." Father knew what Devin was referring to and nodded. Devin looked down at the floor. "Father, we kind of always thought it was funny but Vincent can tell when youíre near as well. He can even tell if youíre crabby or happy."

"Or sad," Father finished.

Peter was intrigued and sat forward in his seat. "How do you know that, Devin?í

"Last week, we were playing and Vincent suddenly looked up and said Fatherís very sad...We walked into the library and you told us that you had just received word that old Mr. Simpson died."


"I remember."

"The point is that Vincent knew you were sad before we even saw you. He knew!"

Mary could tell the two men wanted to discuss this new concept. "Come on Devin letís get those trays."

The two left and Father turned to Peter. "What do you make of it?"

Peter shrugged. "Vincent has always been sensitive to otherís feelings. He may just be so in tune with..."

Father raised his hand to stop him. "Itís more than that and you know it..."

Peter sighed. "Heís an extraordinary boy, Jacob. Who knows anything about his origins? I think you should just get used to the fact that he has this unusual ability to...bond...with someone."

"Anyone?"

Peter shrugged yet again. "Well, Devin and you are the most important people in his life so it stands to reason that he would bond with both of you."

"Yes."

"Youíll just have to wait and see if it happens with anyone else in the future."

Vincent recovered from his accident over the next few days and Father never again administered him another sedative.

 

***************************************

Years passed and one day Devin suddenly left the tunnels after an extremely intense argument with Father.

The tunnel community had been frantically searching the tunnels for him all day. Father received continual reports that each team came back but with no success. Devin was not to be found anywhere.

Vincent walked into the library looking hopefully for some good news about his missing brother.

Father looked up and frantically motioned for him to come by him. "Vincent, please come here."

"Yes, Father."

"Vincent, canít you feel Devin anywhere? Do you know if heís been hurt?"

Vincent shrugged. "I have no sense of him."

Father scowled. "What the hell does that mean? Youíve known almost youíre whole life where Devin and I have been and what are feelings are! Now when I need you to help me find your brother, you canít help!"

Tears sprang to Vincentís eyes as he looked down with shame. "Iím sorry, Father. I canít..."

Father exploded and paced the room. "Youíve said as much, Vincent. What I donít understand is why?!"


Mary overheard and rushed to Vincentís side. Tears flowed freely down the youthís face as she cradled his head against her chest. "Father! Whatís gotten into you?! Heís not a performing circus act!"

Father looked over and realized what heíd done. "Vincent, Iím so sorry. Son, come here..." Father gently pulled Vincent towards him and hugged him to his chest. "God forgive me, I didnít mean to snap at you."


Vincent nodded and dried his tears. "I know. If I could tell where Devin was I would..."

Father nodded and grabbed his sonís head and kissed the top of it. "I know. Why donít you help the others look for him?"

The search went on for days and then weeks before it finally was abandoned. If Devin was found, he would certainly have been dead by now.

Vincent and Father mourned with the rest of the community but inside Vincent was reeling with the loss of him. Devin and he had been inseparable for the last few years and Vincent felt most at home by Devinís side.

It was years before he found another person that he bonded with.

 

*******************************

Lisa and Vincent had been classmates for the last few years. When they hit their adolescent years, the whole group of kids marveled at the changes that took place in one another.

Lisa turned into a beautiful young girl filled with grace and poise. She also turned into a huge flirt and the boys fell over themselves trying to gain her attention.

Lisa had been taking ballet classes for years and her natural ability made it seem as if she floated through the tunnels when she walked. She also became prima-donna like, self-absorbed and rude. The other teenagers tended to keep their distance from her.

It was on one such occasion that Lisa once again caused herself to be ostracized from the group. She sniffed in disdain and headed out through the tunnels. She found Vincent sitting by himself in an open area. He had his head down and was reading from a book.

"Hi, Vincent."

Vincent looked up and smiled. "Hello, Lisa."

"Whatcha ya doing?"

Vincent raised his eyebrows wondering why she didnít see he was clearly reading. He was always polite though and answered her question. "Reading poetry."

Lisa smiled airily. "I love poetry!"

Vincent gasped at the blatant lie. "You always fall asleep in class when itís being read."

Lisa waved her hand loftily. "Thatís because Father is so boring...Will you read some of it to me?"

Vincent blushed and looked down. "I...donít know..."

"Oh, pleeease! You read so beautifully!"

"Really?"

"Sure, everybody says so!"

Vincent smiled with pride and nodded his head. "All right."

He began to read and Lisa noticed the blanket he was sitting down on. She straightened out the edge of it and sat down right next to him. Vincent stopped and blinked in surprise.

"Iím sorry to interrupt," she gushed. "You just look so comfortable..."

Vincent shrugged and went back to reading. Lisa pretended to be interested but the beauty with which he read soon had her mesmerized by the story. She leaned forward attentively and hung on his every word.

For four hours they each took turns reading to one another. As it neared dinner hour, Vincent stopped and shut the book. "We should get back. Itís almost time to eat."

"Oh, pooh!" Lisa pouted. "I canít wait to hear how it ends!"

Vincent lowered his head shyly. "Perhaps we could finish it tomorrow."

Lisa shook her head. "Oh, I canít."

Vincent face fell and he immediately looked apologetic. "Of course, you canít. I shouldnít have asked."

Lisa frowned as she wondered why he suddenly seemed so sad. She rushed to explain. "I have ballet practice. Maybe we could do it tomorrow night?"

Vincent looked up hopefully. "All right."

Lisa stood and extended her hand to him. "Iím starving! Letís go eat."

Vincent stared at her hand in shock. He stood up by himself and Lisa grabbed for his hand and skipped down the tunnel pulling him along behind her. Vincent laughed, thoroughly enjoying this new side of Lisa.

They walked into the dining chamber holding hands. Lisa immediately dropped it when she saw the adults staring at the two of them. Vincent seemed oblivious as he made his way through the tables. Pascal waved him over and Vincent came to a table with Pascal, Rebecca, Olivia, Winslow and Matthew.

"Sit here, Vincent." Pascal said as he scooted over.

Vincent looked around the table. "We need room for Lisa too."

Olivia and Rebecca exchanged glances and looked away from him. Pascal frowned and looked at Matthew who looked with interest at his napkin.

Winslow cleared this throat. "Sorry, Vincent. Thereís only room for one."

The others watched in horror as Vincent cocked his head and turned to her. "Lisa, you sit here. Iíll find somewhere else to sit."

Lisa looked around the table at the group and knew instantly she wasnít welcome there. "No, Vincent. I can sit with anyone I want to...Iíd really like to sit with you." She pointed across the room. "How about the empty table over there?"

Vincent nodded and the two headed over towards the table.

Mary and Father watched the whole exchange and Father groaned aloud. "Give me strength!"

Mary giggled. "Vincent is probably being nice to her because no one else. Lisaís made a few enemies this week with her sharp comments. Sheíll learn her lesson and things will be back to normal in a week."

Father grunted and continued to eat his stew.

Mary was wrong though and over the next year, Vincent and Lisa grew closer.

Vincent knew what the others thought about Lisa but she treated him nicely and they did in fact enjoy spending time together.

For her part, Lisa liked Vincent, truly liked him, and they had some wonderful times together. She was unaware that he had fallen in love with her but she had often caught him watching her as she danced and saw how much he enjoyed it.

She flirted outrageously with him and was surprised one day when he reached for her. In an instant, she realized she had pushed the limits too far and she tried to step away from him. Vincent tightened his grip and Lisa became fearful. She didnít want to hurt him and have him hate her like all the others did.

In her haste to back away from him, Lisa moved and Vincentís nails scraped against her shoulder. Lisa gasped in pain as she grabbed at the cuts that he made on her shoulder. Vincent roared in frustration at the pain he caused her.

Father, who had decided to check on the two teenagers, had luckily been on the scene when it happened.

"Vincent, no!"

Vincent turned and Father looked at Lisa. "Run and go see Mary."

Lisa looked at Vincent uncertainly then back at Father. "Will he be all right?"

Father nodded. "Go, child. Get your shoulder looked after."

Lisa left while Father comforted Vincent. Vincent finally quit crying and sat with his hands in his lap.

"Are you okay, Vincent?" Father wondered.

"Yes."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"No."

"Please! Tell me!"

Vincent scowled. "I thought..." he snorted with disgust. "I thought she liked me."

"Vincent, Lisa does like you."

"No, not in the way that I thought."

Father cleared his throat. "You mean as a...boyfriend."

"Boyfriend! I felt her fear, Father. She was afraid of me! For weeks Iíve felt what I thought was her love but I was wrong. She was disgusted by me, afraid of me!"

Father scowled. "I saw it differently, Vincent. I saw her fear at a situation that was quickly getting out of her control. I donít think Lisa is ready for that type of a relationship."

Father and Vincent walked all the way back to his chamber and talked until well after midnight.

In the morning, Father woke to find a note waiting for him. He read it and smiled proudly. He sent for Lisa immediately and she stood in front of him 20 minutes later, ready to be reprimanded for the previous night.

"Howís your shoulder this morning?"

Lisa shrugged. "It was only a few scratches. Mary cleaned it up for me."

Father nodded and smiled at her. "Lisa, I called you here early this morning to talk about a note I just received."

Lisa looked at him curiously as Father handed it to her. "Go ahead, read it."

Lisa read it then reread it once again before she looked up. "Is this true, Father?"

He chuckled. "Yes, youíve been accepted at the Linden School of Dance in London."

"Father, only the best students get to go to that school."

Father stood and came around the corner of the desk and hugged her warmly. "And you dear child are certainly one of the best, congratulations."

"I can go then?"

"Of course!"

She chewed her lip thoughtfully. "Father, I canít pay for it."

"You have a full scholarship, Lisa. One of the helpers has offered to pay for your airline ticket over there."

"I have to tell, Vincent!"

Father frowned. "I...Lisa...Vincent was quite upset about yesterday."

Lisa looked down, clearly ashamed. "Father, it was my fault. I teased Vincent and then when he reacted to it, I got scared. Mary warned me about playing with fire and now I know what she means. Iíll never flirt like that with another boy again."

Father smiled. "Then you learned something from it and thatís good."

Lisa was reading the letter of acceptance. "Father this says I have to be in London in two days."

Father grabbed the letter from her. "Are you sure?í

He scanned the contents and grimaced. "I thought it said the 14th is says the 4th! Lisa, youíll have to leave right away if you wan to go."

Lisa gasped. "Want to go! Itís always been a dream of mine to dance!"

"Look, you run and pack. Iíll send a note to the helper and see about getting your airplane ride."

Lisa ran and Father sent a message Above. Within the hour, both Lisa and the answer to the message were in his office.

Father handed her the sealed envelope. "Here you do the honors."

Lisa grabbed it and tore it open. "I leave at 4:00 this afternoon."

Father gasped. "You should run and say your goodbyes to everyone."

Lisa thought about everyone Below. She knew she would not be missed by anyone except Vincent. "Maybe you could tell Vincent goodbye for me?"

Father nodded. "If you wish me to..." Lisa nodded and Father stood and hugged her. "Iíll miss your beautiful little face lighting up the room in the morning."

Lisa swiped at a tear that escaped her eye. "Thank you, Father. I promise Iíll write."

Father handed her a piece of paper. "Hereís the helpers name and address. Heís waiting for you."

Lisa smiled and picked up her small duffel bag and headed out the door.

Three hours later, Vincent woke and came into the library after hearing some disturbing news in the dining chamber.

"Father?!"

"Yes, Vincent. Up here..."

Vincent looked up to see him in the balcony. "I heard some news about Lisa is it true?"

Father sighed. He had hoped to be the one who broke the news to Vincent. "Yes, Vincent. Lisa received word that she was accepted to a dance school in London. She had to leave immediately."

"She left because of me!"

Father walked down the steps as he looked at his son. "I just told you, Vincent. She was accepted at the Linden School of Dance."

"She left because I loved her!"

"No...thatís not..."

Vincent roared his outrage. "I loved her and I hurt her!" He looked in disgust at his hands. "These hands hurt her!"

Father shook his head. "No, Vincent. I mean she had a few scratches but..."

Vincent couldnít come to terms with the loss of Lisa. His body began to shake and his eyes rolled back in his head as he collapsed to the ground.

Father gasped and called for help. Thus began a two week vigil that almost ended with Vincentís death. Vincent eventually recovered and lived a somewhat happy life.

*************************************

Twenty years later, a woman was lying in his bed. Fighting for her life, her head was neatly wrapped to protect the devastating cuts on her face that she had received in an attack.

Vincent brought her Below to Father who stitched her wounds as best he could. Vincent kept a constant watch at her bedside. The woman woke and over the next 10 days, Vincent slowly began to realize that he could feel her emotions.

The woman healed and headed back to the world Above and now nine months later, Vincent couldnít stop himself from going to see her. Father and he argued and Vincent eventually stormed from the room.

Mary came in and sat down at the table. "What was Vincent so enraged?"

"That woman!" Father scowled.

Mary frowned. "The one you both saved? Catherine...wasnít it?"

"Yes"

Mary smiled. "She seemed like a sweet girl."

Father rubbed his hand over his face. "I think he may have...bonded with her..."

Mary looked on in surprise. "But he hasnít...I mean not since Devin and Lisa..."

"I know, Mary, I know."

"What makes you think..."

Father interrupted her. "He told me!"

"Oh."

"Oh? Thatís all you can say?"

Mary threw up her arms in exasperation. "What would you have me say?"

Father shook his head and smiled. "I wonder what impact this one will have on his life?" He visibly shuddered. "God help us all!"