As Catherine rested on the bed, she pulled the quilt up over herself, and thought about her visit with Peter, and felt so badly for the pain he still had in his eyes whenever they spoke about her Dad, knowing his grief, mirrored her own.
Catherine then thought of her Mother too, sensing her nearness so much lately, which oddly enough, caused her to miss her all the more...
Catherine was then stirred from her thoughts, by the sweet sound of Vincent whispering her name, checking to see if she was awake.
Quickly drying her tears, she turned her head, and thankfully greeted him. And with an embrace, Catherine said she was so glad he was back, safe and sound.
He then hesitated for a moment, and then with concern, asked, "And you Catherine...are you all right? Are you feeling sad about something?"
Knowing she should know better than to try and hide anything, she then shared, "I guess a little. I was just thinking about Mom and Dad this afternoon. I am sorry if I made you worry."
To which Vincent expressed, "It's all right to look back and be sad for your losses Catherine...I didn't mean to intrude upon your grief."
With a sad smile, Catherine replied, "You didn't...somehow talking to you makes me feel better."
As Vincent returned her gaze, he said, "That pleases me, if this is so..."
With a sweet embrace, she assured him it was.
Catherine contemplated telling Vincent about her visit with Peter, but thought not. After all if she did, it would be putting emphasis on their differences, and reveal Peter's fatherly concern toward her. And though it was a necessary conversation to have with Peter, it was better left unsaid with Vincent.
As Catherine got up from the bed, she sat at her vanity, to comb through her hair. And then on a lighter note, she asked, "Did you and Mouse have a good time?"
In reply, Vincent said, they did, and then proudly shared, "Mouse has grown in ways not obvious to others, but when we are alone, the things he has to say can be quite profound and thoughtful. I am in proud of him."
With thought, Catherine observingly replied, "It makes you wonder sometimes what would have happened to him, if you hadn't rescued him."
To which Vincent thoughtfully said, "I shudder to think..."
And then Catherine laughed as she added, "Speaking of Mouse, I have to tell you, Jennifer was a little mad at him today, thinking he was rubbing in the fact, we couldn't go with you."
With humor in his eyes, he shared, "I could tell, and her feistiness was humorous to me. I do hope you explained to her the reason behind our trip."
To which Catherine said she did, and of course Jennifer said she understood once she knew the whole story, but Catherine felt she was still a little put off by his bragging!
And then Catherine added, "But truthfully, she really would love to go to the crystal caverns, and in fact, Jennifer is hoping Ronald may take her there one day."
As Vincent put his pack, and hiking things away, he then stated in reply, "Sounds like a wonderful trip for a couple in love to make."
Turning around in her seat, Catherine astonishingly asked, "Did you say in love? Did Ronald actually tell you he was in love with Jennifer?"
Realizing he put his foot in it, Vincent tried to back peddle as he said, "Oh no you don't Catherine! You are not going to get me tied up in the middle of any "HE" said, "SHE" saids! We would both be wise to stay out, and let them figure it all out!"
Smiling at him, knowing he really didn't have to admit to anything, because he already said too much!
Clearing his throat, Vincent changed the subject, and asked, "Did you and Jennifer fit the younger girls with their garments?"
Saying they did, and of how the dresses fit each of the munchkins perfectly, as if they were made for them. She then added, "They are so excited to wear them tomorrow at our wedding. I can't wait for you to see how pretty they look in them."
To which Vincent sensually replied, "Catherine...there is only one person I am going to be looking at tomorrow..."
And so, not being able to resist a chance for some levity, Catherine asked, "Narcissa?"
Being caught off guard, by her inquiry, Vincent replied, "Narcissa? No Catherine...you, I will have eyes only for you tomorrow."
As she walked over to him, she nuzzled into his arms, and whispered, "I knew that..."
And there they stood together, loving the closeness between them, when all of a sudden they heard the tea pot whistling!
To which Catherine said, "I put water on for tea earlier, care for some?"
In reply Vincent said, "Allow me to assist you."
As they entered the kitchenette alcove, Catherine excitedly said, "I can't tell you how much I love my little kitchen, as well as all the alcoves that were added. They are all so homey and enchanting."
Watching Catherine navigate about, brought such joy to Vincent, as he thought she looked so happy there.
Just then they heard Jennifer and Ronald at their threshold, along with Peter.
Welcoming them inside, Catherine served the tea, as they all sat around the kitchen table talking about the events of the day.
To which then Jennifer smiled at Ronald, and excitedly offered, "Oh guess what! Ronny said he would take me to see the "Diamond Cave"! Can you believe it? I can't wait to tell Mouse I am going after all!"
They all tried not to laugh at the new name Jennifer gave the Crystal Caverns, and so they left that to Ronald to say, "Of course I will take you Jenny, we will have a blast, but you should know we won't be finding any diamonds in the cavern, they are more like crystals, which is why its called the Crystal Caverns."
Realizing her faux pox, Jennifer laughed, and said, "There is so many interesting places down here, I better start a journal to keep them all straight! But diamonds or crystals, I don't care! I just gotta see this place."
To which Vincent said, "I can think of no finer guide than Ronald, Jennifer. It should be a time. "
Peter then humbly said, "Jenny, I must say, you allow me to view the tunnels through new eyes all over again. And you are right, there are many interesting places to see here."
Enjoying the conversation, Catherine glanced at Peter, and thought he seemed like a new man from just a mere few hours ago. She thought he seemed to be free from worry now, and was truly excited when talking about the wedding tomorrow.
Feeling so happy this was so, Catherine too talked, and laughed freely, feeling all was right now, with the world.
As they finished their tea, the supper announcement sounded, prompting Peter to say, "Great timing kids! Let's hit the chow line."
And so together they headed for the Dining Hall.
That evening, the Dining Hall was filled with a joyful chatter, because everyone was feeling so very excited for tomorrow.
And as Mouse sat down beside Vincent, he fielded a barrage of jabs, asking how he was feeling! And so proudly he stated he was feeling fine, and then bragged a little bit about the trip he took with Vincent that afternoon.
It was then Jennifer took the opportunity to say, "Ronny is going to take me to see the caverns too! I cannot wait!"
Thinking he would like to go again, Mouse inserted, "When? Maybe I can show you the way Vincent and I go."
Both Jennifer and Ronald shared a glance, thinking Mouse coming along was not what they had in mind, and so Ronald quickly said, "Thanks any way Mouse, but when we go, I would like it to be just us two. It will be sort of like a date."
Feeling a little dejected, Mouse tried to sway them by tauting, "Our way is quicker, maybe more dangerous, lots of cliffs, crevasses and crags to jump over, but quicker!"
To which Pascal said, "Don't listen to him Ronald and Jennifer! You couldn't pay me to take the path those two travel!"
Catherine's eyes widened, as she heard the path Vincent and Mouse took was a dangerous route after all, and so she looked up at Vincent, who by now was trying to stifle Mouse by kicking him under the table, and was shooting Pascal a pleading look, to say no more!
And so, because of the swift kick he received, Mouse yelled "Ouch! Why did you kick me Vincent?"
To which Vincent said, "Pardon me Mouse, my leg twitched from a Charley Horse."
Seeing right through Vincent's tale, Catherine suspiciously said, "A Charley Horse uh? Must be from jumping across all those DANGEROUS crags and crevasses!"
Everyone laughed at the little tiff between the soon to be betroths, and Vincent did too, but knew, this would not be the last he would talk with Catherine, about his and Mouse's path to the caverns.
Later, after supper, Catherine and Jennifer prepared to leave, and sweetly, both Vincent and Ronald walked them to the apartment buildings threshold.
Each couple took a private moment to say goodnight, and then the girls left them, as they entered the world above.
As they closed the apartment door, Jennifer excitedly revealed to Catherine, "Wait until you see the colors of nail polish, facial masques, and other stuff I bought for our sleep over tonight! I want to try and look beautiful for Ronny."
Catherine slyly asked, "Speaking of which, may I ask what is going on with you two?"
Jennifer excitedly shared, "Ronny asked if I could be patient as he moved forward, and said he thought after our Pratt courses, he may be ready to step back into his old job."
Smiling, Catherine said, "Well that is wonderful news! How exciting Jenny."
In reply, Jennifer said, "Yes, I thought so too."
Turning the subject to their "Project Beautiful", Jennifer suggested, "Well, I suppose we better get started!"
Catherine replied, "You're in charge, I'm ready."
Excitedly, Jennifer said, "Ok but first, I have a surprise for you."
And so Jennifer handed Catherine a gift to open, and the moment Catherine opened her present, she began laughing at the cuteness of this gesture on Jennifer's part.
As Catherine looked at her sweet friend, in an awing tone she said, "Oh Jen...Granny Gowns! Just like we had when we were girls! And you got us granny caps too!"
Jennifer nodded and said, "Of course! Remember how we loved Here Come the Brides? We had to have granny gowns like Candy and Lottie too!"
And so they put their flannel gowns on, along with their wacky night caps! What a hoot it was! They could not stop laughing, and so giggling, Catherine said, "This is a real blast from the past Jen!"
Jennifer laughed too, and as she put on The Monkees record, Daydream Believer, she said, "Well, I hope you know how hard it was for me to find all this retro stuff. But I thought it would make it more fun. Just like when we were kids."
Catherine smiled, as she said, "It does Jenny...and what a groovy song too. I loved Daydream Believer!"
Well after a little fun, the girls stepped into action, and did their facials and hair too!
Meanwhile, below the city streets, Vincent helped his Father with a heavy pine box, he wanted to bring over to his writing table.
Jacob looked up at his son, and said, "I want to give you something Vincent. I feel it is time."
Vincent tipped his head, as he watched his aging Father open the lid. Jacob looked at Vincent once more, before he reached in and took out a gathering of *tattered rags that was lying within the musty smelling box. Inquisitively, Vincent asked, "What have you there Father?"
In a pensive melancholy manner, Jacob said, "It is your heritage, these are the rags you were wrapped in when you were found Vincent."
Carefully, Vincent took the rags from his Father, into his own huge hands. Pathetically, he thought of how this material was barely enough to wrap a small kitten.
Whispering, he said, "This does not amount to very much Father..."
Correcting his son, Jacob said, "You are wrong Vincent...I consider this precious yardage as I would a pot of gold. This meager amount of material, protected you from the cruel wind and cold. If not for these few rags...you would have surely died that bitter January day."
Seeing Vincent hold the rags, Jacob thought of how they hardly covered even just his hands now. But he remembered that small helpless baby they covered then...and tenderly said, "What a pitiful little sight you were Vincent...I did not believe you had a prayer...but along with Peter, and John, we worked tirelessly through the night doctoring you. Within the next day or so, we knew you would make it."
Vincent hesitated a moment, before he asked, "Lou accidentally indicated to me once, I was not welcomed by all...is that true Father?"
Sorrowfully, Jacob truthfully answered, "Sadly...yes. Some of the community when they first heard about this different looking little baby Anna found, at first denied you...but after one look at your helplessness and the sweetness within your eyes, they...as I did...AS we all did...fell in love with you. However because of John's tyrannical nature, he kept everyone at bay. He wanted only Anna and himself to care for you."
Jacob continued, "After John's defection, well, I should say Paracelsus, because he was known by that name by this time, we were all free to care for you. It was then you really became a part of us, and we bound together because of you. We all wanted to protect you from John....err, Paracelsus. We feared he would come, and take you away to his lair deep below the crags. Ah yes, it is true, you really were the catalyst that made us strong and united Vincent. I often wonder how long we would have survived here, if not for your presence and influence."
Expelling a pondering breath, Vincent looked downward once more into his hands at this little bundle of rags. Jacob looked down at them too, and chuckled a little as he said, "I could never bring myself to discard them Vincent. I suppose since you are at a crossroad in your life...I wanted you to have them now."
These strips of material, brought a peacefulness to Vincent's heart. It was tangible proof, that perhaps his birth Mother DID care whether he lived or not. Otherwise she would not have bothered to wrap him up in anything at all.
He also realized she must have been a person of little means...as this was all she had to give him.
Compassionately, Jacob looked on his son. He saw the tears fall from his beautiful blue eyes, and a trembling of his son's dimpled chin, inspired Jacob to reach over and kiss his cheek. Tearful himself, he said, "You have enriched my life more than you could ever know Vincent...enriched all of our lives. I love you so very much."
Over to See Photo of Father and Vincent
Jacob felt taxed by all the emotions the tattered rags had brought to his heart, and as he hobbled to his chair, he said, "Forgive me Vincent...I think I should turn in early tonight. Tomorrow is a going to be a time."
Vincent broke away from his personal introspection these rags had induced, and said, "Of course Father."
He then began to leave, when suddenly he turned around, walked back to his Father, and kissed his forehead. He thanked him for the precious gift, and the story of his lineage, and then told him how much he loved him, and said goodnight.
As Vincent travelled to his old chamber, he placed the tattered rags in his chest that held his most precious things, and he knew as he placed them inside, these rags, were the most precious of all his possessions.
As he stood, he heard Ronald at his threshold, asking if he could come in. And as he did, he asked, "Was your visit cut short with your Father?"
To which Vincent thoughtfully said it was, and said, "Our time together was significant Ronald. It was meaningful but taxing on my Father as he shared things with me he never had before. He is tired."
Not wanting to pry, but still Ronald felt he needed to ask, "Good things?"
With a nod, Vincent said, "Indeed...they were good things."
Vincent then said, "I am however, having second thoughts on the wisdom of my telling Catherine I could not visit her at Jennifer's tonight."
Ronald too said, "Yeah me too. We finished up in the Great Hall already..."
And then the same thought, struck them both at the same time, and they said together, "Should we surprise the girls?"
As they shared a laugh because of being so in sync, they decided a surprise visit to the girls was definitely in order, and so they readied themselves to go above.
As they travelled the tunnels, Vincent hesitated, then asked, "Is it too much to ask for your help upon our return? I have a gift I want to prepare for Catherine."
Arriving at the area, where they take their individual paths to enter the world above, Ronald, said, "I will be glad to help Vincent. I am proud you would ask."
They then parted, saying they would see each other at Jennifer's.