Remember, Remember

Fireworks & Misunderstandings

Includes lyrics from ‘A Love So Beautiful’ by Michael Bolton

Vincent wasn’t certain, but he suspected that Catherine was keeping something from him.
It wasn’t anything he could put his finger on, and it wasn’t as if she was withholding anything. It was just that she seemed to be very chummy with a few of the tunnel dwellers all of a sudden and every time that he came near they seemed to clam up.

It rankled on him quite a bit, in fact more than it ought. Because in the past Catherine had surprised him with something that she and a few tunnel dwellers had been working on that they knew would delight him. Yet on those occasions, as he had entered the room, although the group would suddenly start chatting about something else or depart and go their separate ways, he had always been a party to the smiles on their faces. Had always known that they were up to something that would ultimately become a nice surprise for him.

Well not this time. This time the vibes were different, this time when he entered the chamber they clamed up, and Vincent was distressed to find that no smiles appeared and no eyes were bright with the delicious knowledge of a hidden surprise. In fact, this time he began to grow quite nervous as he wondered if Catherine might not be intending a surprise at all but rather be asking advice as to what to do about their relationship.

If she was then he couldn’t blame her for that, because he had to admit he could well do with some advice himself and he knew just the person to seek it from.

Approaching his father’s chamber the last thing Vincent expected to hear was the sound of voices from within. Father had made no mention to holding a meeting there that evening, in fact he had told Vincent that he had wanted to spend the evening in his favourite pursuit of reading a first edition of Shelley that he hadn’t seen in a long time.

For some reason the sound of those voices appeared daunting to Vincent, and he approached cautiously. So much had ‘happened’ recently that Vincent had started to be on his guard, approaching chambers silently. He had never been one to eavesdrop in fact such a thing was forbidden in the tunnels, but for some reason Vincent ignored that rule for the moment, concentrating instead upon things that were being said in his supposed absence.

“And you’re sure about this?” that was Father’s voice. Vincent leaned against a tunnel wall, his focus completely upon the conversation that was taking place within the chamber.
“Oh yes most certainly Father.” That was Kipper. Kipper? Vincent was surprised. Since when had the children become involved in whatever it was that was going on?
“And the guy?” Father questioned.
“He’ll be there.” Mary commented now.
“And you will have people in place, watching?”
“Yes, we have appointed various helpers. We shouldn’t have any trouble. Well not unless Mouse finds out what we are doing.” Everyone laughed at this.
“Ultimately though, we have to remember who we are doing this for. And we mustn’t let him know until we are sure it can be achieved, one of the reasons Mouse mustn’t be told either.” Vincent detected at this stage that everyone had fallen silent as they contemplated that fact and he couldn’t understand why unless it was something terrible. He was panting now. With a hand held to his chest, he wanted to do one of two things, rush in there and demand to know what they were doing without consulting him, or to run somewhere else before he heard any more than he wanted to hear. As he contemplated his course of action two words jumped out at him leaving him stunned to the core. “Catherine will?” He thought it sounded like Eric that had spoken.
“Yes.” Father replied solemnly “If you must.”
Vincent frowned. What? It didn’t make sense.
“You should see the guy Father. He looks real neat.” That was Eric again.
“Oh I intend to do and before he goes to blazes, and I understand Catherine has him up at her apartment right now. Why is that? Does anyone know?”
“He’s rather big by all accounts. Oh and Catherine asked if we had any old clothes that she might provide him with.”
“I expect we will find something. So does that conclude everything? We are all agreed?” Father had begun to sound exasperated, like he was tired of the whole affair. By now Vincent knew how he felt.
There was a unanimous yes, and upon that Vincent took his cue to retreat to his own chamber before anyone saw him and to go over what he had just heard.

Even piecing the jumbled conversation together, several hours later, Vincent’s head had begun to thump just trying to make sense of it. In the main two words, well no three actually, kept jumping up and biting him. They being ‘guy’ and ‘Catherine will.’

There was nothing else for it. He’d go mad if he didn’t find out even though they obviously wanted to sort it out without his knowledge. He’d overheard one very important fact that Catherine had this ‘guy’ in her apartment, and Father obviously didn’t approve or he would never have wished that the guy go to blazes.
Vincent’s mental clock told him it was well after dark and so donning his cloak he set off for the park and ultimately for Catherine’s apartment building.

*** *** ***

“What do you think?” Catherine mumbled with pins held fast between her teeth and several others in her hands.
There was no reply, even as she surveyed her handiwork and scrutinised the figure before her. He was indeed one very large hunk of a guy and she couldn’t believe her good fortune at finding him. Her only problem was how do you hide a guy that size in an apartment as small as hers. It had been a constant worry that Vincent might spot him residing with her, and had managed to stow her guest away so far without Vincent suspecting a thing.
This night however, he almost caught her and the pins dropped from her mouth as she heard the familiar tapping at her balcony door. Catherine panicked, “Vincent! Come quick we must hide you.” By the elbow she dragged the guy toward her bedroom pushing him down onto the bed, with the intention of covering him with a sheet, but then deciding against that she opened the wardrobe door and bundled him inside. “You’ll be safe in there until he’s gone. You might be big but believe me Vincent could do you a serious injury, he could really knock the stuffing out of you.” Catherine laughed at that.

Next she straightened her dishevelled clothes and hair and headed to the balcony doors just a little out of breath as she opened them to Vincent, as he was just about to knock for the third time!

The third time! That’s what got him. So used was he to Catherine speedily opening the door to him at his first knock, he was more than bewildered when she finally unlocked the doors.

“Vincent.” Still she did seem glad to see him.
“Is anything wrong, Catherine?”
“Wrong?” Even to Catherine her voice sounded strained. “No, should there be?”
Vincent wasn’t convinced. “May I come in, Catherine?”
Open mouthed Catherine stared at him, “Come in? What into the apartment?” He had NEVER been inside her home before!
“If I may?”
Something was definitely amiss here. “Well yes, of course.” Catherine stepped aside ushering him in ahead of her, “May I take your cloak, get you something to drink, tea, wine…” she was jabbering, she knew it but she couldn’t do a thing to stop it.
“No.” The reply stunned her, it covered everything and he didn’t attempt to remove his cloak.
“Oh. Well then take a seat.” She directed him to one of her dinky sofas and as he sat down she knew that Joe had been right. Those chairs were TOO small! Joe had always maintained so whenever he had called round. Still they were cosy in the right circumstances…
Catherine remembered how she and the new guy had shared one earlier and with a mischievous smile she decided sharing one with Vincent might prove to be even more enjoyable. Deciding to try that out she sat down beside him dismayed when Vincent stood the moment she sat down and took up a place on the sofa opposite.
“What is it, Vincent?” Something clearly troubled him and he seemed at a loss for words.
“You know you can tell me anything.”
“I don’t know where to begin, or even if it is any of my business, although my family seem to think…” his words trailed away. How could he tell her that his family appeared to know that she was seeing a new guy and that they disapproved so much that they were spying on her until they knew everything and before they told him the devastating news?
“Please Vincent, you know that anything concerning me is your business.” Catherine took up his hands in hers. They felt cold and she rubbed them between her own.
Her words relieved him, gave him confidence. “Catherine, you would tell me if there was someone else?” He almost laughed. Someone else? What was he saying? How could there ever be someone else when she was surely free to do anything, see anyone that she liked? How could he ever hope that he would be another someone else to her?
Her brows furrowed as Catherine frowned and she whispered “I don’t understand Vincent.”
Of course she wouldn’t understand. How could he have expected that she would? What was he to her anyway? She viewed him as a friend, nothing more. Could never view him as anything more than that. He was wasting his time and his family was wasting their time. Whatever Catherine did or did not do was none of their business. He rose intending to leave.
“Wait!” Catherine caught his sleeve “Please Vincent, something’s wrong. Tell me please?”
“I can’t. Don’t worry Catherine. Nothing is wrong. I only wish you happiness.”
Again Catherine frowned, “I think I’m missing something here, Vincent. Are you saying goodbye?” Tears gathered in her eyes. How could she live without him in her life? Didn’t he know by now that her happiness revolved around him?
“I love you Vincent.” She gasped not meaning to say it, not out loud anyway, and the way he looked at her, well she wished that she hadn’t. “I’m sorry.” She hastily added, afraid that she would frighten him out of her life forever, “As a friend, you understand. I love you as a very dear friend.” She added quickly her mind in overdrive and telling her she should have left it alone, and let him know how she truly loved him.
Vincent’s heart had leapt and now it sank. “I must go.” He shook his arm free from her grasp, and headed to the balcony. “Be happy Catherine.” He told her and disappeared into the night before she could utter another word.

*** *** ***

Now things went on around Vincent, but he never heard them. Never took any notice oblivious that his family went about around him as silently as they could, spoke in soft whispers and wore kid gloves if it had anything to do with arranging anything near where he might be. And in their growing excitement they did not notice that anything was different as Vincent pretended to be absorbed in a book or writing his journal.
Even so for all his depressed state, one word jumped out at him several days after he had returned so miserably from above. “Catherine will?”
“Yes! How many times do I have to tell you!”
“I’m just checking. In my opinion they are the best that’s all.”
“You just concentrate on that guy. Everything else is almost ready, and make sure that…” there was silent but Vincent detected that Jamie and Brook who had been discussing Catherine and her new guy, and were nodding in his direction before adding, ‘doesn’t find out yet.”
“ENOUGH!” Vincent surprised even himself, as the two girls looked around startled to hear him roar and rise to walk toward them. With eyes wary they didn’t know whether to stand their ground or flee to safety. They’d seen Vincent mad before. But never at such close quarters.
“Er what is it, Vincent?” Jamie asked timidly. She reminded him of a gazelle about to take flight at any moment, and then he wondered briefly how he would know that. When had he ever seen a gazelle? “I know all about it.” Jamie’s face and then Brook’s fell. “You do?” There was obvious disappointment in Jamie’s tone.
“Yes, and I wish you wouldn’t all keep treating the issue like the end of the world. I knew it had to happen some day, I just didn’t expect to be the last to know.”
Jamie and Brook exchanged worried glances. “Are we talking about the same thing here, Vincent?”
“Of course!” He growled giving the two girls the distinct impression that he was weary with the whole affair.
“I don’t think so.” Brook attempted timidly. “We’ve been so careful.” She said this almost without thinking.
“I know what is happening here!” Vincent crossed back to his desk, flopping down into the nearest chair. He seemed lost, alone and in pain as he rubbed a hand across his brow.
“I’ll get Father.” Jamie told him hurrying away before he could protest. It didn’t really matter if Vincent had found out about their surprise for him, but what concerned Jamie now was how depressed he appeared about it.

*** *** ***

“So how’s the new guy, Radcliffe? I take it you did get a new guy?” Catherine grinned from ear to ear, “Certainly did, thanks to you. He needed a bit of rearranging, but he is a vast improvement on the old one.”
“You can say that again. Whoever heard of a guy with nothing but cotton wool between his ears and wearing a cloak to disguise his ‘other’ disgusting features. Man, where do you find them Radcliffe?”
Catherine laughed, walking from her kitchen to her lounge and handed Joe a much-needed mug of coffee. It had been a long night and a cold one while they had been keeping surveillance on Thomas Morgan and his gang. Still they were happy, they’d achieved the results they had set out to obtain and Thomas Morgan would go down for a long time to come, freeing the streets of yet another heroine dealer.
“It was Elliot actually.”
Joe laughed out loud spilling his coffee and swearing loudly as it soaked through his trousers.
“Joe! Here let me get you a cloth.”
“A cloth? Jeez Radcliffe a change of trousers would be more appropriate. Say what about those that I sent round for the old guy, did you use them?”
Catherine grimaced, “Well sort of.” She burst into laughter, “I cut them down for the old guy, they will be kinda short on you now. Wouldn’t want to be in your shoes hailing a cab in those.” She doubled over with laughter just thinking about it.
“Well, get me them, anything is preferable to these, they’re soaked.”
“Follow me, you can take your trousers off in my bedroom.” Catherine walked toward in the appropriate direction causing Joe’s eyes to light up with mischief.
“What a time to lead me to heaven, Radcliffe.” He left his seat to follow her meekly causing Catherine to laugh as she caught his intention. “Not so fast mister. I mean your old trousers are in my bedroom. And you can change in there.”
“Jeez, Radcliffe and there I was thinking my luck had changed.” “The only way you’ll get lucky tonight Joe, is having me wash your pants to go home in rather than those.” She pointed to the bed where she had left an assortment of old clothing earlier that day. Joe picked some of them up. “Where on earth did you get these?” He held some tunnel togs in front of him, “Out of the ark?”
“Something like that.” Catherine hastened to change the subject. “Say why did you spill coffee all over yourself back there anyway?”
“Dunno now. What were we talking about?”
Catherine thought back for a few seconds before replying, “We’d been talking about the old guy…” she didn’t get any further as Joe laughed out loud, he too had been retracing his steps. “You said it was Elliot!”
For a second Catherine looked at Joe mystified laughing out loud as he explained, “You know Cathy. We were talking about the old guy having cotton wool between his ears and you said it was Elliot actually. I just found it hysterical imagining that the old guy was Elliot…” his words trailed away until Catherine despite her idea to act indifferent couldn’t keep up the act and burst into laughter too.

“It wasn’t Elliot!” She doubled over.
“You mean he hasn’t got cotton wool between his ears?” Joe sounded disappointed causing Catherine to laugh harder still.
“Hey, don’t mind me, I’ll just stick around.” Joe indicated his trousers as he spoke, the sugar from the coffee was sticking to his legs and Catherine apologised laughing some more. Realising that all this delay was keeping Joe from getting out of his wet trousers and donning the shorts she left him to it.
He changed quickly, only stilling when he heard a sudden noise from outside on the balcony almost as if someone had just knocked over one of the chairs out there. He thought to mention it to Catherine but when he stepped back into the lounge Catherine’s squeal of laughter at the sight of him made him forget all about it.
“Ooh my sides ache.” She held her hands to her waist.
Joe too was laughing as he handed her his wet trousers for her to wash and dry hopefully before he had to leave. “I haven’t laughed so much in ages Joe.”
“That’s not surprising, I mean look at the company you’ve been keeping. That old guy of yours well its not like he ever said much and his clothing! Well they left a lot to be desired. I know I wouldn’t want to be seen dead in them. Say whatever did you do with him anyway?”
“Want to know, really?”
“In a word, I dumped him.” There was silence until Joe caught on and started laughing again. “Oh God Radcliffe, how we can laugh over something so trivial beats me. What have we come to that we can laugh like this over a couple of guys? I need to get a life.”
Tears streamed down Catherine’s cheeks, “Me too, but thanks Joe, I’ve not had such a laugh like this in ages. It done me good.”
“So where is the new guy?”
“In the wardrobe.” Catherine kept a straight as face as possible with her reply. “I stuffed him in there just after we got back here tonight.”
Joe tried not to laugh too. “In the wardrobe. Isn’t that a bit like cloak and dagger stuff?” He laughed then, “Oh God we’re back to the cloak again!” He started to laugh harder.
Catherine did too. They were acting like a couple of kids and it felt so good. It had been a long time, too long, since she had laughed like this. Everything with Vincent was so serious. Too serious, but then not serious enough not in the way she would have liked anyway. “Hey snap out of it.” Joe spoke sharply looking at her long and hard. “What?”
“Dunno, but you were in danger of slipping back into the doldrums again. What is it Cathy, what is it that you aren’t telling me? Why do I get the feeling that hiding a guy in the wardrobe isn’t the only place you hide guys?”
That was a bit close to the bone, and Catherine grimaced.
“I get it, let’s change the subject right?”
Catherine nodded, “Right.” She drew in a deep breath, “I’d better fetch you a fresh cup of coffee.”
Joe sighed, so they were back to the old mood were they? Well the new one had been fun while it lasted, and he tried to humour her with one last passing shot in the hope of restoring their recent joy, “Mind you looking like that it could have been Elliot.”
A wail of laughter was music to his ears as Catherine reached the kitchen and Joe’s eyes lit up, it wasn’t that funny, but that Catherine had found it so, was good enough for him. Yep, until his trousers dried he and Cathy were gonna have one merry evening, of that he’d make sure. No doldrums tonight, he’d leave no room for them, Catherine Chandler didn’t laugh nearly enough, and she was even more beautiful when she did.

Outside on the balcony, unbeknown to the two revellers inside the apartment, the heart of another was breaking. He’d overheard every word from the moment Joe and Catherine had entered the apartment to Joe’s last parting shot. And he’d heard and seen enough. Catherine, it appeared was not only seeing someone new, but she’d had someone before him, and perhaps even Elliot as well. And now by the way things looked Joe might even be next in line, except there was the guy in the wardrobe. The one he had seen lying in Catherine’s bed on his arrival. The one he had seen Catherine bundle into the wardrobe moments after she and Joe arrived home. That he couldn’t understand, especially as Joe now knew he was there. It was obvious that neither Catherine nor the new guy wanted Joe to see him but why the wardrobe? Why didn’t he just stay in the bedroom? They hadn’t known Joe would need to use the room after spilling his coffee. Vincent had peeked through the windows hoping to see movement of some kind, even willing the wardrobe doors to fling open, but no such luck. For some reason the guy was hiding in there until Joe had gone.
And then there was the reference to the tunnel togs, and the old guy being dumped for having cotton wool between his ears, and his clothing being undesirable. Vincent wanted to roar with frustration! How could Catherine treat him so callously? How could she make fun of him at his expense?
Well he could never see her again that was for sure, he could never come to her balcony again. And he could never run to her when she was in trouble. She’d made a fool of him and that hurt, but what hurt the most was that he hadn’t seen it coming, and she had hurt him just as Lisa had hurt him, and Father had been right. In truth that was the bitterest pill to swallow, that father had been right about Catherine. Yes that was the bitterest pill of all.

*** *** ***

“Its all set!”
“Has anyone seen Vincent?”
“Not for a few hours.”
“Catherine will be here any moment with the new guy.”
“What about the Catherine will?”
“Catherine’s bringing more than one of those Eric, she said she’d bring several.”
“Great! I can’t wait to see them go off. Father says they’re brilliant.”

From his corner, hiding where he hoped no one would see him, Vincent listened with a heart made of lead. None of this made any sense, except one thing. Catherine was bringing her new boyfriend below. And Vincent knew he mustn’t be there when they arrived. Yet he felt inclined to stay put. Everything was so…so…weird…everyone was so excited…even Father…even Father seemed excited. Yet Father of all people knew that he loved Catherine. How could Father condone Catherine bringing her new boyfriend into the tunnels in the first instance let alone act as if he, Vincent would find it a pleasant surprise. He just couldn’t understand what was happening around here these days. It would seem that everyone had gone mad, or perhaps he was in a nightmare and hopefully would soon wake up from it.
And then suddenly he heard Catherine’s voice, surprised that he had been too wrapped up in misery to have known of her approach through their special connection and Vincent closed his eyes tightly as she called out to him. “Vincent? Vincent are you there?” She sounded excited and Vincent couldn’t bear it a moment longer. Leaping down from his perch where he had been hiding in the shadows, he raced past her shoving her to one side and raced blindly on aware that as he barged past her he had spun someone at her side and felt a sudden jolt of gladness as they fell to the floor.
“VINCENT!” Many voices called to him, but none halted his headlong flight. He was going, he knew not where, but he was going, and he would NEVER return!

*** *** ***

His feet took him blindly to his special place, his spot by the waterfall. Not the one that he had shared so often with Catherine but to a spot where he hadn’t been in two decades.
Reaching the place, he familiarised himself with his surroundings, seeing everything and nothing at the same time. Funny that he should come here. This was where he had spent aeons of time after Lisa had left the tunnels. Here was where he had run to after Devin had left that first time.
His spot overlooked the waterfall from the other side. A high precipice that probably belonged only to him - and Lisa. Yes he had brought Lisa here many times, in the misguided notion that here, alone they would become something to one another. Lisa had loved it here. There was a flat area that was just right for dancing, and with the beauty of the waterfall behind her Vincent had thought her an angel dancing on rainbows.
It was probably one of the reasons why he could never bring Catherine here. Here all his dreams had been shattered, and he couldn’t risk that happening again. Well now they had, so maybe he should name the spot the place of shattered dreams.
As he thought that he remembered something. A letter - he had written Lisa a letter on his last visit to the spot just after Lisa had visited the tunnels again and met Catherine and he had hidden it in a plastic bottle beneath a few rocks. He hunted for it now, and finding the bottle his heart lifted though he knew that reading the words again would probably break his heart afresh.

The bottle was squashed but not broken, and Vincent extracted the almost perfect sheet of paper from the bottle with shaky fingers. Unfolding the letter and smoothing out the creases he held the words to the best available light and began to read the verse thereon:

The summer sun went down on our love long ago
But in my heart I feel the same old afterglow
A love so beautiful in every way
A love so beautiful
We let it slip away.

A love so beautiful
A love so free
A love so beautiful
A love for you and me.

And when I think of you
I fall in love again
A love so beautiful in every way
A love so beautiful we let it slip away.

Vincent sobbed; holding the letter in is hand he cried his heart out. If he had ever believed that his love for Lisa was strong it was nothing compared to that which he had found with Catherine. He couldn’t go through that kind of heartache again, he couldn’t bare it. This time it would be the death of him. He loved Catherine more than life itself and though he had always led her to believe that he wanted her to meet someone to spend her life with, he had always hoped that might never happen. Well now it had.

A sound caught his attention away from the misery of the moment. Vincent was surprised that anything could, but then he realised it wasn’t just a sound, but also a feeling deep inside. Despite his misery Catherine was calling to him via their connection and he had heard her! And she was close - he knew that too.
Looking down over the precipice and beyond the waterfall he could make out figures walking about along the ledge searching and calling his name. Catherine was among them, and thankfully alone! There was no sign of the new man in her life.
Vincent watched her, slowly taking note of other things he had not noticed before. Piles of driftwood, boxes, paper, sacks, old and very tattered clothing lay strewn about and some of the children were piling it high into a pyramid shape.

Drawing his brows together, and despite himself, Vincent was curious about whatever it was that was going on and watched the proceedings with interest.
Bit by bit the whole assembly of tunnel folk arrived and even Joe Maxwell was there! That surprised him. Of course he had met Joe on an earlier occasion when Catherine had found it almost nigh impossible to explain a few deaths that had taken place and had saved both her own and Joe’s life. But still Vincent was surprised that Father had allowed Joe to know where they resided. Still Father must know what he was doing.
The problem was, as everyone assembled in place the distance and the roar of the waterfall made hearing what was being said impossible, and Vincent desperately wanted to know. So he replaced the letter to the bottle and placed it back beneath the rocks before carefully and silently padding across to the ledge where he knew he could reach the other side. A task probably impossible for anyone but he, with the ability to cling to sheer rock with his sharp claws.

They didn’t see him coming, didn’t know he was near and soon Vincent was able to discern this fact by hearing their conversation.
“Surely you can tell where he is?” Mary asked Catherine.
“No, the bond isn’t so strong from me to him. I only know that he is well.”
“I wish we knew where to look. These tunnels are vast; he could have gone anywhere. It might be days before anyone sees him again.” Mary went on and Father added; “What beats me is why he went at all. Jamie and Brook tell me that Vincent knew of our plans. I feared for this. I thought that he might try to stop it from happening in the misguided belief that Mouse would blow up our home, but he needn’t have worried we managed quite well in the circumstances to keep the fireworks away from Mouse.” Father grinned.
“Maybe Vincent didn’t like being treated as a child. I know we think that he and Mouse are two peas in a pod, but its possible that he might have kept the secret from Mouse. Perhaps we should have told him.” Jamie piped up.
“Yes he probably could have, but I wanted so much to surprise him.” Catherine told the group, “This display was as much for Vincent’s benefit as for Mouse. Where is Mouse anyway?”
“Pascal is bringing him, they’ll be here soon. Pascal is just putting out a few calls first asking if anyone has seen Vincent, and hoping that Vincent might reply to any one of his messages.”
By now Vincent was thoroughly perplexed, and whatever was going on, it didn’t seem so bad. He sighed deeply deciding to face the music…Whatever music that might be and began descending from his hiding place high above the huddled group of people.

“Well, what shall we do? Everything is ready…yes…what is it Eric?”
Exasperated Father looked down to where the young boy tugged at his sleeve. “We haven’t set up the Catherine wills yet, Father.”
“Eric, you do not say what, you should say pardon.” Father told the child sternly.
Eric took seconds to continue, “Pardon?”
“Pardon what?” Father asked becoming more and more flustered by the second, much to the obvious delight of those listening.
“You said what.” Eric told him flatly. “If you can why can’t I?”
A deep sigh left Father’s lips, “let’s go back to the beginning shall we? You asked about the Catherine wheels did you not?”
Bright-eyed Eric nodded enthusiastically.
“I was telling you that they are wheels not wills.” Father added. “ I have been telling the children that all week, it was really getting on my nerves. When will you ever learn? Huh? The word is wheels not wills!”

From his position climbing down to the floor, Vincent began to see the light. Still what were Catherine wheels? For a moment the delicious thought presented itself as he visualised Catherine getting to work faster than normal on a set of wheels fastened to her feet. Joe would really approve of that. Punctuality had never been one of Catherine’s good points.

With only six feet between them now, Vincent let himself drop, and plop right before the startled group of people. “Vincent!” They exclaimed as one, delighted with his sudden appearance.

“Oh Vincent! There you are!” Catherine moved through the group to hug him tight, “I thought you would miss your surprise.”

“Don’t be silly Catherine we couldn’t have held it without Vincent.” Father reminded her.

“But tonight is traditional, and besides the children have been looking forward to it for weeks.”

“Even so they would have understood. It wouldn’t have been right without Vincent.”

“Whatever is going on?” Vincent asked totally mystified even as Mouse and Pascal arrived.

“Neat!” Mouse exclaimed, “Gizmos.” He left Pascal’s side to run and pick up all the bits and pieces strewn about.

“No Mouse, not this time.” Jamie took his arm, “That’s all rubbish, we’re gonna burn it see.” She pointed to the huge pyramid that from this level looked even higher than Vincent had had surmised from his position above the waterfall.

“Burn it?” Mouse paled not understanding why they should spring all this glorious rubbish on him only to say they were going to burn it.

“Yes Mouse.” Catherine placed a hand in the crook of Mouse’s arm, and holding onto Vincent with the other, she faced them both toward the towering monstrosity that was being added to by the children even as she spoke.

“Tonight we have a surprise for you two.” She told them both happily and looked toward Father for his cue to add more.
Father cleared his throat, “Yes. You see several weeks ago, I was studying the topic of the Great Fire of London with my class, and I began to tell them of the day that comes round each year commemorating that occasion. I told them about Guy Fawkes who had started the Great Fire of London, and how every year people in the United Kingdom would celebrate an occasion called Bonfire or firework night. Well one thing led to another and we decided it would make a wonderful event to hold such an occasion ourselves. Our only problem was the venue. Where to hold it. Fireworks in the park would draw attention to us, and even at the home of a helper it would mean a grand exodus from the tunnels for everyone and leave our home vulnerable to intruders. So we began to look at other ways we could do it. Catherine came up with the bright idea of using fireworks that would not cause too much of a bang and therefore would not act like explosives down here causing damage. But that posed another problem, namely in a word, Mouse.” Everyone laughed looking at Mouse kindly and imagining what he would have made of the fireworks had he of discovered them. Had he in fact known of the coming occasion he would have made it his job to find them!
“And Vincent…”Father added, looking fondly at his son, “You and Mouse have on occasions been party to probably as many escapades as you and Devin and as Catherine wanted to keep the event a surprise for you, well you too were left in the dark. I hope you will forgive us?”

“Forgive you? Of course I will forgive you, I’m just so relieved that it wasn’t what I had thought it might be!” At his words everyone became interested to know what that was.
“Do tell?” Joe asked with his usual boyish grin.
“I couldn’t understand it. I kept hearing phrases like Catherine will…” Father glared at Eric “And everyone was talking about Catherine’s new guy…” his words trailed away then as he became embarrassed and everyone began to understand why.

“Oh Vincent! You didn’t?” Catherine exclaimed.
Vincent remained silent, unable to take his eyes from off his feet. “And her old one? Did you hear about that too mate?” Joe asked, wondering about that sound he had heard out on the balcony that night in Catherine’s apartment.
“Yes.” Shamefaced Vincent still could not look up.
“Oh my gawd.” Joe exclaimed; “I’m sorry mate.”
Catherine looked at Joe, not understanding.
“While I was taking my trousers off in your bedroom, you remember, I heard a chair fall over outside on your balcony. I was gonna mention it but your screech of laughter when you saw me wearing those shorts made me forget.”
“Yes, I knocked over a chair.” Vincent mumbled only now beginning to look up as he detected that everyone’s focus was now on Joe. Everyone stood mouths agape not a bit startled that Vincent would knock over a chair at seeing Joe without trousers in Catherine’s bedroom and more than a bit surprised that he hadn’t smashed the door down instead.

“Oh I see…” Joe laughed nervously, “It wasn’t what you are thinking…I spilled coffee over myself…and was changing into some fresh clothes…” He spoke quickly hoping they would believe him. Thankfully they did, as each in turn started to laugh sobering only when they wondered how it might have appeared to Vincent.

Seeing them look back toward him Vincent nodded, “Yes, you are right. I did think the worst.”

“Oh Vincent, I’m so sorry.” Catherine placed her hands around his waist and hugged him tightly; “We obviously put you through some anguish and were not aware of it.”

Suddenly Joe started to laugh, “Hey what did you think of the guy in the wardrobe?”
Catherine’s eyes opened wide imagining what Vincent must have thought to that.
“Don’t ask.” Vincent told him and Catherine was delighted to see a spark of humour in Vincent’s beautiful blue eyes.
“Well then shall we get started? I hear that William has made some delicious Bonfire fare to mark the occasion and I for one am eager to partake of it.” Father announced to one and all.
“We’re ready Father. Cullen has nailed the Catherine Wheels to those posts you had us bring down, and the fountains are in place.” Mary replied happily.

“We thought it best to only use Catherine wheels and fountains you see. They don’t crack like rockets and bangers do Vincent, and so there shouldn’t be any risk to the safety of the cavern. By the way everyone, these aren’t called Catherine wheels anymore, the name has been changed to Cyclones.” Catherine laughed, remembering the trouble she had had explaining that she wanted Catherine wheels in the various stores she had found selling fireworks, especially when she told them her name was Catherine when she gave the delivery address. Nobody had heard of them in America.
After a while there had been too many boxes of fireworks to safely keep in her apartment so they had been bestowed below in exchange for the guy that Vincent might so easily have spotted and asked about its reason for being below.

“Well that new guy is great Catherine. Where did you get him?”

“You can thank Joe for that. When he saw the one Elliot had donated he knew that one puff of smoke and he’d be gone. He was stuffed only with cotton wool and the clothes he wore were so ancient we had to tie an old cloak around him to keep it all in. In the end Joe found a better guy in some store, one that will take a lot longer to burn.”

“Thank you Joe.” Everyone told Catherine’s friend.

“You’re welcome. Besides I think you’ll enjoy him more than the old guy, Catherine put him to rest in a dumpster, this new guy apparently has a few surprises up his sleeve. Hey don’t look at me, that’s what it said on the label.” Joe shrugged grinning from ear to ear.

“Well let’s get started then shall we?” Father stepped forward and with a lighted taper in his hands touched the paper placed at the foot of the large bonfire and soon had it roaring into flames.

It was wonderful! With the waterfall in the background and the roaring fire the reflection on the water was breathtaking. And the fireworks! Wow, what colours! The cyclones span round and round in a trail of blazing light first green, then pink, then gold, silver, red and yellow, ebbing away to a thin streak of blue light before they came to a swirling end. Father loved them and seeing them brought back some very happy and long forgotten memories of his days as a child growing up in England.

The fountains popped and cracked between showering colours making everyone jump even though they anticipated the next crack and burst of colour.
William brought his bonfire fare down, apples coated in toffee, baked potatoes filled with butter and cheese, and hot rich creamy chocolate topped with marshmallows steaming in thick chunky mugs that Catherine had supplied for the occasion. And just as the fire burnt away the guy began to burn leaving everyone enthralled by the spectacular sight he provided. Joe had been right, the guy certainly did have a surprise up his sleeve. As he burned away, by layer upon added layer that Catherine had placed upon him, the fire finally reached the original covering he had been supplied with. This revealed a grand finale to the whole evening as flames of blazing colours travelled his length and breadth before dying away with intermittent popping sounds.
The crowd of onlookers cheered and applauded this sensational sight, and all retired to their respected chambers happy and chatting excitedly about the things they had enjoyed the most.

Only Catherine and Vincent remained…long after the others had gone…they stood arms wrapped around one another, Catherine enfolded within the warmth of Vincent’s voluminous cloak.

“That was wonderful, Catherine. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome Vincent. You get so few surprises, and it’s a treat when everyone gets involved to give you one to remember.”

“I remember all the surprises you alone give to me.” He kissed the top of her head, smelling there the scent of wood smoke and gunpowder among the more favourable scents of newly washed hair.

“Well I’m sorry that this one started out not so nice for you. To think what you must have overheard outside my apartment that night…it makes me cringe. I’m so sorry, Vincent.”

“I thought you were leaving me. I thought you had found someone new.” He whispered, hugging her tighter as he spoke.

“Never Vincent. You know I love you!”

“As a friend.” He whispered sadly, reminding her of that occasion.

“No, more than a friend. I lied then Vincent, I was so afraid that if you knew how I really felt you would run a mile and I’d never see you again. I love you Vincent more deeply than I have ever loved anyone.” Catherine held her breath hoping that now was the right occasion to tell him so.

She held on to it even as he contemplated what she was telling him. Even as his heart began to race wildly as he shifted his gaze from the top of her head to her grey green eyes. And he knew then of her anxiety and he hastened to reassure her. “I love you too, Catherine.” Only then did she breathe a huge sigh of relief and Vincent knew he had been right to tell her how he felt about her too.

“Where were you Vincent? Where were you when we all came here tonight?” Catherine asked suddenly.

He pointed, “There, beyond the waterfall. I will take you there one day. It is a place I go to when I…when everything…” he whispered the last almost breaking her heart, “seems lost to me.”
“I will never be lost to you, Vincent. Wherever you are I want to be. Vincent, I love you so much.”

“How can this be, Catherine? You have a life…”

“Not without you. Vincent, please try to understand. The life I lead is only half a life without you. I want to be with you, down here, living out our dream. Please let me Vincent?”

“It won’t be easy, the transition from life above to life below…” His words trailed away as he noticed the shining look of love coming from Catherine’s eyes. She was overjoyed, for once he wasn’t dismissing the idea entirely…for once he seemed to be preparing her for what she would have to face…

”Oh Vincent!” She husked throwing her arms around his neck; “I’ll manage…as long as you’re with me…”

They gazed upon one another then, each wishing and hoping for the same things, each a little afraid to reach out and take them. Yet by wills of their own two hearts beat in harmony and entwined two people together. And as Vincent met Catherine half way their lips met in a first sweet kiss that promised them everything.

“I love you.” They spoke as one, and moving arm in arm they left the waterfall and walked toward Vincent’s chamber with hearts overflowing with such unadulterated joy they thought that they must be dreaming.

“To think I believed that I would never see you again. This night has turned out to be more beautiful than anything I could ever have imagined.” Vincent told Catherine as they entered his chamber at long last and Catherine was happy to note that he was a drawing down a dust-covered drape to hang over the entrance, signifying that they required privacy.

“Yes, I am so sorry I put you through that pain Vincent. It seemed such a good idea. I just never stopped to think how some things would look and sound to you.” She came back into his arms, loving the solid feel of him and longing to be kissed by him again.
“Forgive me?”

“I’ll forgive you anything, even the fact that I thought you had been seeing other men behind my back.” He grinned as he kissed the tip of her nose.

“Me? Other men? Explain Vincent?” Catherine teased.

“There was the guy you dumped, and the new guy, and Elliot and Joe. What was I supposed to conclude?” He kissed her then, her eyelids, her cheeks, her ever waiting lips. Catherine moved her mouth beneath his loving the taste and the texture of him, drowsy with love and drunken with desire as his kiss deepened.

“Arh but none of them move me in quite the way you do.” Catherine murmured between kisses and moulded herself to the hard contours of his body, she found with delight one place harder than all the rest and at that Catherine gasped, stepping back and questioning him with her eyes before asking, “Vincent, would you like to make love to me?”

He stared at her, his heart hammering, his disbelief obvious by the anxiety visible in his eyes. Yes he wanted to. How he wanted to. Yet how could he say so? He began to pant, his body growing hot and hard even as he felt ashamed and he looked away unable to face her.

However Catherine was having none of it, she turned to him, lifting the heavy curtain of his hair, peeking at him from beneath it, “I want to make love to you Vincent.” She told him huskily, “And I believe you want that too?”

He could no longer hide the truth from her, “Yes.” He told her reaching for and moulding her body against his once more, “Yes if you will have me.”

“Have you? Vincent? It would be my pleasure!”

He laughed then. Laughter that started as a thin trickle and continued faster and harder as he realised that all his dreams were at last coming true. He truly had found his love so beautiful and it hadn’t slipped away.
“Oh Catherine…Oh Catherine…” He hugged her hard revelling in the sheer joy of holding her closer than a heartbeat. Closer than he had ever held her against him before. “I love you so much.”

Her eyes filling and overflowing with tears Catherine hugged him back, burying her face in his long hair loving the feel of being in his arms, overjoyed that after this night they would never be apart again.
“I thought I’d lost you.” Vincent was saying over and over, almost with disbelief of everything that had happened since, “I thought…”

“Shh, darling.” Catherine placed a finger to his lips, thrilling him by her use of such an endearment, “You thought too many things for too long…but all that is in the past now…we have our future to begin…” Blatantly she looked toward the bed making the invitation impossible to ignore. Even so Vincent hesitated, it was still hard to believe even after all that had been said, even after all the hugs and the kisses they had shared that this beautiful woman would share her body and her life with him.
“You’re sure?”

Gazing into his eyes Catherine smiled before speaking “Vincent? Darling? I think we need to make one thing plain.” He waited for her to go on; knowing without a doubt that she was teasing him and loving every moment of it.
“Yes, my love?”
With her arms clamped tightly around his neck Catherine left in him no uncertain terms of how sure she was. “One…you Vincent should remember, remember on this 5th of November that you have never been and never will be, as far as I am concerned, the poor old guy… And you must never forget one other very important fact…” her words trailed away and Vincent waited in joyful expectation for her to continue. She didn’t disappoint him.

“Catherine will…”

His hearty burst of laughter was all that Catherine needed to hear. And their happy life began.