Pride and Passion

Karen Mossman


Catherine sat in a chair in her apartment, eighteen stories above the city of New York.  Her hands were in her lap and she was staring out of the window.  She had not been well these last few weeks, but it was nothing that had stopped her from going to work as Assistant District Attorney. She knew why and her mind went to Vincent the man she had been in love with for the last three years.

They had never had a cross word, and still hadnít and yet these past couple of months things had not been right between them.  Vincent had stayed away and sometimes when she went to see him he was busy in the tunnels somewhere.  She also had an important case that had kept her busy so the last eight weeks had flown by. 

Theirs was no ordinary relationship.  He lived his life beneath New York with other tunnel dwellers. Most people in the city didn`t know of their existence and those that did were helpers providing food, medicine and clothing.

Some tunnel people lived below but came above frequently, some chose never to leave and there was Vincent, who had no choice but to stay below at least during day light hours.  Only at night did he come out into Central Park to breathe the fresh air and see the trees and feel the grass beneath his feet.  It was on one of his nocturnal walks that he found Catherine, battered and scarred and near to death.  He took her below to his chamber and with the help of Father nursed her back to health.  She will never forget those frightening days when she was dependant on Vincent and the only contact she had with him was the sound of his voice.  Because her eyes were bandaged, she was able to get to know and trust the man before she saw the lion like features that kept him below.

Catherine sighed.  Vincent could always sense her moods and if she was unhappy or frightened he would come.  Now he was staying away and she knew why.

Eight weeks ago she felt deep down in her heart that something was very wrong.  She had hurried to the tunnels from the basement of her building and was greeted by Father and other tunnel dwellers. 

"Vincent," she gasped, "Whatís wrong with Vincent?"

Father looked sad.  "Heís gone down to the lower tunnels." He was shaking his head.  "Something has been troubling him, something he wonít share.  Itís happened before, heís angry and afraid of his actions, afraid he will hurt someone."

 "I must go to him!" she cried and Father put his hand on her arm.

 "No Catherine, you canít be with him.  Itís not safe for you to go down there."

 "Father, Vincent would never harm me, you know he wouldnít."

 "When he is his normal and rational self he wouldnít, but he doesnít trust himself.  You must wait like we do."

 "No, weíre talking about Vincent there is not two of him, if heís in pain, I have to be with him." 

Catherine was adamant and reluctantly Father agreed, but knew his son better than anybody and in these moments of torment, Vincent needed to be alone.  It had been a long time since he had lost faith in himself, not since he met Catherine who had given him inner peace. 

A worried looking John took her down to the lower levels.  They could hear a distant roaring sound and looked at each other, they knew it was Vincent and he was crying out in torment.  Catherine wondered what devils were making him feel like this.  All she wanted to do was be with him.

 "This is where I leave you, "said John.  "Are you sure you really want to do this?"

 "Yes,  itís Vincent down there, how can I be scared?"

Catherine followed the sound of the noise even as it echoed and bounced off the walls.  Each roar was like a stab in her heart.  He was hurting so much, his hurt was hers and she felt her heart beating wildly against her chest.  "Oh Vincent, Vincent," she cried.

 At last she turned a corner and the roaring ceased.

 "Catherine, leave me," his voice was gruff and troubled.

 "Where are you Vincent?" she asked seeing nothing but darkness.

 "Turn round and go back the way you have come."

 "No."

 She saw him then, he was stooped forward with one arm leaning on the wall as if he was sick.

 "Catherine.  I donít want you here, not when I am like this."

 "I canít leave your, your pain is my pain."

They bantered for a bit, he telling her to leave and she telling him why she couldnít.  Eventually he let her go to him. In his arms she could feel his torment, but didn't understand it.

 "VincentÖ."

 "Itís inside of me, I can't change who I am, I'm not worthy of you."

 "Of course you are and I donít want you to change."

 "You donít understand," he groaned.

She didnít, not then, not that moment.  But in the moments that followed she did, she understood all too well because she was feeling the same.

Now sitting in her apartment, she felt very alone.  She was lost without Vincent.  For a reason she couldnít understand he had blamed himself for what had happened.  As soon as it was over and he realised what he'd done, he had looked horrified.

"Vincent, itís all right," she tried to say, but he turned and fled.

Since that day he had stayed away from her, she had tried to tell him it wasnít his fault, it was no ones fault, as she had wanted it too.

She hadnít thought of the consequences, she had selfishly taken Vincentís lead and felt powerless to stop.

The doctor had confirmed she was pregnant that very morning and somehow she was going to have to tell Vincent, but how could she when he was avoiding her?

Catherine took a deep breath lifted her head and thrust out her chin.  Someone was going to have to do something about this situation and it didnít look like it was going to be Vincent.  She would have to go to him, make him listen, make him understand and tell him about the baby.

Father looked at her and shook his head, "Vincent's down in the far chambers repairing some flood barriers."

 "Thatís okay," said Catherine.  "Iíll wait.  Heíll know I am here."

 Father nodded.  "Do you want to wait in his chamber or would you like to come to mine for some tea?"

 "No, thank you Father, I shall sit and wait in his, he has to come back sometime."

Father nodded again, he could see the determination in her eyes and felt this was a good thing.  Maybe she could sort out what was going on between them once and for all.

Catherine did not have to wait as long and was sitting in his chair when his large frame filled the door way.  He paused as he looked at her then came into the room.

 "Catherine."

 "We need to talk Vincent, you know we do."

 "I know."

 "We have to sort this out, I miss you, I miss us."

 Vincent said nothing; he sat down in the opposite chair and leaned his elbow on the table.

 "What happened Vincent was nothing to be ashamed of.  I wanted it too."

 Vincent met her gaze steadily.  "I hurt you, I canít I forgive myself for that."

 "You didnít hurt me, Vincent.  You could never hurt me.  What we shared is physical love between two people."

 He was shaking his head, "I am different, you know that."

 "Youíre not different, you may look a little different, but youíre not different Vincent.  Your needs are just like other men, they need to fulfilled; your love for me wanted fulfilling.  You have been fighting against it."

Vincent stared at the floor, "I have, I would rather die than hurt you and Iím frightening of losing control and if I have no control, how can I stop myself from hurting you?  You are so small and fragile."

Catherine managed to laugh, "I may be small, but I am certainly not fragile.  Youíd never hurt me Vincent, you were tender, urgent, but tender" she added with a smile.

 "I told myself this would never happen, but it has, I lost control."

 "Thatís okay, losing control under those circumstances has another name, its called passion. Passion got in the way of pride.  You have to have faith in yourself, have faith in me.  I love you Vincent, I love you more each day and the day before I wonder how it is possible.  I can never imagine a time when we are not together.  And I am not ashamed to say that what happened, I would like to happen again."

 Vincent managed to look surprised.  "You would?"

 "Yes, I would, but I need you to understand that itís not wrong, Iím not fragile and you canít hurt me."

He looked at her for a long moment realising that she spoke the truth. Then another thought pushed itself to the surface.

 "Catherine, what if, well if you were to becomeÖ."

 "Pregnant?"

 "Yes, you could have a child like me."

 "Yes, I could."

 He could see the look in her eyes and it puzzled him.

 "If he looked like you I would be proud.  You are a special man; you have qualities that I have never found above.  If my son had half of that I would be pleased."

 "You make it sound likeÖ.." he trailed off.

 "I am."

 "You are?"

 Getting to her feet she came over to him and he held out his arms for her to sit on his lap.

 "Are you telling me youíre pregnant?"

 "Iím carrying your child, Vincent and Iím very proud.  Iím going to have this baby in this chamber on your bed and what ever it looks like, we will love it."

 Vincentís eyes shone with love.  "Iím going to be a father.  I love you so much."