This story originally appeared in the now out-of-print fanzine Heart of the Minstrel in 1990. It is my idea of the missing scenes between Gabriel's death and Diana's attendance at Jacob's naming ceremony. Beauty and the Beast and its characters are owned by Witt-Thomas Productions and Republic Pictures. This story is presented merely for the enjoyment of fans.
by J. Patterson
Her fury was ice. The man--inhuman; man wasn't the right term to use, the creature--slumped against the dark wood door, his eyes glittering in exhilaration, certain he had eluded death. He struggled to pull himself upright. His face was laid open by deep, claw-carved furrows, the working of his jaw muscle visible as he unconsciously licked his own blood from his lips. He knew, as well as he knew his own power, that she wouldn't be able to pull the trigger.
It was a fatal misjudgment. Diana Bennett had lived lives that the one called Gabriel could not begin to imagine. She had strength that far transcended her pale, flame-haired appearance. This one had to die. She raised the gun and with practiced accuracy, fired it--once--directly into his heart. He fell again, a look of astonishment frozen on his face.
"Not this time."
* * *
Vincent stopped on the stairs outside the nursery door, consumed by an inner war. The child--his son--was quieting as Vincent held him securely against his chest. He must get the child Below. But the one responsible for so much pain and death, the one responsible for Catherine's death, still lived. Vincent shuddered, trying to suppress his rising frenzy, torn between safety and revenge.
And Diana was with him. If Gabriel hurt Diana, it would start all over again. His son would never be safe. Everyone Below would be in danger.
Vincent snarled and turned, giving in to the white-hot desire to utterly destroy Gabriel, to feel the man's blood cooling on his hands. The baby started to whimper as Vincent's passions intensified. Just as he started back up the stairs, the muffled crack of a gunshot stayed him.
* * *
Diana stepped across the room and prodded Gabriel's body with her foot, pistol cocked and ready. She would never question a heart shot on anyone else, but this one wasn't like anyone else. The body was limp responsive, a gory, scarlet stain marring the creamy shirt. But it didn't feel complete. It didn't feel like he was gone.
She reached down to grab the shoulder of his suit coat and pulled him away from the door and over, dropping him face down on the floor. The skeletal form was almost weightless. She aimed the muzzle of the gun at the base of the skull, just at the top of the spine, and pulled the trigger. Twice.
This time, she knew it was finished.
* * *
Another step. Two more quick shots. Vincent's rage began to dissipate and the baby calmed again. He wondered how he knew it was over, that Gabriel was dead. That Diana had killed him. That she was safe. It could just as easily be the other way around.
The door to the nursery swung open and Diana appeared in the doorway, caution blended with infinite weariness on her face. Her blue eyes, electric, locked onto Vincent's. He felt a sudden weight, saw her tense.
"Vincent! Why are you still here?" Her voice came out in a hiss and her eyes darted from his face to the stairway behind him, swept the hallway, and met his again. "Father is waiting for you."
His one-word explanation was colored with pain.
"It's over. You've gotta get out of here."
Vincent sagged against the wall, releasing his pent-up breath in an explosive sigh. He glanced down at his son, who flooded him with innocent wonder and trust. His son. It was over. Gratitude filled him. Catherine's murderer was dead himself. The person responsible, the one who had taken the duty from him, who had killed the man for him, closed the nursery door and started down the stairs.
She never looked back. She passed him, not bothering to check if he would follow. But he did follow. Once in the basement, she stopped in front of a large duct which was almost hidden behind a clutter of shrouded, abandoned furniture.
"This leads out under the wall that surrounds this compound. From there, it's about twenty yards east--" she pointed to the right-- "to the entrance to a sewer tunnel. It's damn narrow through there." She paused for a moment and evaluated Vincent. "It won't be easy. If you follow that tunnel for about a mile, then climb out, Father will be there. Waiting. Go."
"What about you?"
Diana knew why he had hesitated, and she hoped she could eventually make him understand why she had to be the one to pull the trigger. But right now there was no time. Joe Maxwell was on the way with an army. She had to renew her composure, weave the threads of her story into something firm and convincing. And Vincent couldn't be anywhere nearby. She couldn't risk having him discovered.
"I'll be fine. The police are on their way."
He looked at her, exhausted, and climbed into the mouth of the duct. Once he was inside, she picked up the grillwork which she had kicked out on her way in and hammered it back into place with a block of wood. Vincent watched her from inside the tunnel, the child quiet in the curve of one arm.
The voice was rusty, loaded. She cut him off before he could continue.
"Save it, Vincent. Go."
"I will come to you."
That brought her head up. She met his eyes, saw what was unspoken. She nodded abruptly, her face unreadable. He turned to go, but she spoke his name, and as he faced her again she said, "It was Catherine's gun." She turned away herself then and left the basement.
Vincent watched as Diana walked to the basement stairs, her head down. He wanted to call out to her, to ask her to come with him through the tunnels to safety Below, but he knew she had duties to finish. He said a small prayer of protection for her as he started his own journey home.
* * *
Diana had been right, he discovered. The tunnels here were very narrow and rusty, and it wasn't easy to fit through, especially carrying the baby. In places he had to lay the child on the floor of the tunnel, squeeze his own large frame through, and then reach back and pull the baby to him. It was a slow process. The child was quiet and content, and the small sparks of strength he generated gave Vincent the determination to press on. There was much of Catherine in this child. All of Catherine in this world.
The tunnel through which Vincent crawled suddenly opened up into a passage where he could easily walk upright, about half a mile from the point where Diana had said Father would be waiting. Vincent thankfully stood and stretched cramped muscles. He rested, cradling his son, contemplating all that had happened to bring him to this. He began to speak quietly to the child, who regarded his father's face with rapt attention.
"I have known the greatest love a man can know. I would've given everything for her without one regret. Instead, she gave everything for me. To me. She gave me you."
Vincent could feel the bond with his son, small but steady, like a tiny candle flame in the corner of his soul. He poured out his love for the baby through that resilient connection. Then he thought of the depth of the bond he had shared with Catherine, and a single tear welled up and slid down his cheek. The baby regarded him gravely. He let out a shuddering breath, and with a gentle, clawed finger, carefully traced the side of the child's satiny cheek
"You will know of her, little one. You will know how much she loved you." Vincent took a moment to readjust the baby's blanket and settle him securely against his chest. "But right now, someone else is waiting for us."
* * *
Diana watched as Joe Maxwell arrived with a battalion of police at the gate of Gabriel's compound. All of Gabriel's minions--the ones who had survived, at least--seemed to have disappeared from the property. Rats from a sinking ship, Diana thought grimly. Once Joe was inside and has men were canvassing the large house, she slipped, unnoticed, into the foyer.
She whirled around, a suitable look of surprise on her face, to confront a S.W.A.T. officer, gun trained on her.
"Yes, I'm Diana Bennett. What's going on here?" Where's Joe Maxwell?"
"He went upstairs. He said you might be here--"
"I just arrived."
As she spoke, Joe appeared at the top of the staircase, agitated, hollering.
"Daughtery! Damn it, where is he? I need--" He looked down then and saw Diana at the foot of the stairs.
"Jesus Christ, what's happening here? Diana! Where have you been?"
Diana started up the stairs.
"Traffic, Joe. I just got here. What have you got?"
"Believe me, you don't want to see it. If that was Gabriel--" he jerked his head back toward the nursery door-- "someone wanted to make damn sure he was dead. You!" Joe hailed the S.W.A.T. officer, who had posted himself at the foot of the stairs. "Find Lieutenant Daughtery. Tell him we need forensics, and an M.E." The officer nodded and left the foyer. Joe turned back to Diana, shaking his head. "I'm never gonna understand this one."
"How did he die?" Diana made her question sound disinterested, professionally curious.
"He's been shot in the chest, and in the back of the head. With a hand gun."
"Did you find the weapon?"
"That's the strange thing. It's a nursery, Diana, and the gun was lying in the crib. In the crib! But there's no kid anywhere in sight." He rubbed one hand over his face. "Why do I know that we're dealing with Cathy Chandler's kid here? Hell, maybe even Cathy's gun? And I'll bet we're not gonna find any fingerprints."
Diana knew Joe wasn't healed from Catherine Chandler's death, and every time the wound was reopened, it tore just a little deeper. He'll have his healing now, she thought.
"If that is Gabriel, then it's over, Joe. I'm through with the case."
"Right. That's right. Sorry it had to end this way. Maybe the next one will have a cleaner finish."
"They never do, Joe." She caught his eyes for a moment, reading him, and knew he was weary and would let it end here, with the death of the man who had killed Catherine Chandler. "Sometimes you just have to let them go."
Joe nodded. Diana held his eyes for a moment, then turned and left the house.
* * *
As Vincent travelled towards Father, towards home, the baby started to coo and gurgle, his bright eyes locked on his father's. The baby's vocalizations echoed in the cavernous pipe where they walked. Vincent's preternatural hearing picked up the impatient shuffle of Father's pacing long before the older man came into sight, and he smiled down at his contented son.
"You are announcing our arrival, aren't you? I'm sure Father couldn't want for a sweeter sound to herald our safety and approach."
Vincent came around a bend in the course of the tunnel and saw Father's head fly up, saw joy and relief and wonder and hesitation and love flicker across his face. He stepped forward with the child in his arms.
* * *
There had been a comet the night Elliot Burch died, the night that she had found Vincent. A "beggar's comet," Mark had said. Diana stood on the roof of her building and gazed without seeing through her telescope. It had been two weeks since Gabriel's death, and the investigation had been put on the shelf. It seemed that everyone just wanted to leave this one alone. She was between cases herself, and she was restless. Whatever it was she was looking for was not to be found in the clear night sky.
A slight rustle, the sound of a footstep. She whirled away from the roof's edge and her hand went unconsciously to the revolver which was thrust into the waistband of her slacks.
No answer. Before she could pull the gun, a large form solidified from the shadows and a voice quietly spoke her name.
He stepped forward to where she could see him clearly. He was obviously rested and recovered from his long ordeal; he felt both centered and empty to her. Resigned was the word she would choose.
"I promised that I would come to you."
"How is the child?"
He tipped his shaggy head back for a moment, joy playing at the edges of his melancholy.
"He is well. He is growing stronger."
The silence lingered, blue eyes locked on blue eyes. Each found strength and resilience in the other and communicated appreciation for that. Then Vincent spoke.
"I came to thank you for all that you have done for me. For us. I owe you a debt that I cannot repay."
"You owe me nothing."
"Then perhaps I could ask one thing more of you?"
She waited, anticipating his question.
"Tell me--why did you kill Gabriel?"
She turned from him and leaned her arms on the wall of the roof's edge and shuddered, then dropped her head on her arms. She consciously subdued the emotions which roiled through her, and when she turned back to Vincent, who stood stolid and patient, she was calm.
"I had to. I think you understand that. He wasn't--an ordinary man."
"What was he?"
"Then what are you?"
"What do you think I am?"
He studied her for a moment, stepping closer to see her more clearly in the grey darkness of the city night. She opened herself to his gaze, and she saw his eyes widen as he scrutinized her.
"You are--" He hesitated, wondering, not finding the words. "There is a depth in you I have never--felt--in anyone else. It's as if you were--"
He stopped speaking, speculative. She wondered what he might have said next. "Timeless"? "Immortal"? "Not human"? She had heard them all, for one reason or another. So very few could really feel, could begin to understand. She smiled a tight, small smile, and looked away from him, embarrassed.
"I have a responsibility. And an uneasy talent. Sometimes I don't want it. But I don't have any choice. I hope, someday, I'll accept it for myself." She looked back and saw that he was listening, absorbing her words. His attentiveness gave her the courage to continue explaining things to which she had never given voice. "This case, Catherine's murder, started out like any other one. But then I began to understand what she had--what you had together. I had to find you."
She began pacing a small area of the rooftop, looking out over the city or down at her feet, but never meeting his eyes. She had to take this chance, to tell someone. Someone who could understand.
"There are very few absolutes in this world. And no one wants to see them, so they dwell all their lives in the grey areas. Absolutes. Like light. Dark.Good. Evil. Life. Death." She stopped pacing and took a deep breath, raising her eyes to his face. "Like love. Like the love you have with Catherine."
"Catherine is gone."
"Is she? Look into your heart, and tell me she's gone."
He closed his eyes. Diana wrapped her arms around herself and stared out into the night. Minutes passed. She began to tremble, but stilled as he started to speak.
"She will be with me always."
"Yes. Hold on to that. Very few people are given the strength to see what you have seen, to have what you have. I can only appreciate it."
"Yours is a different strength."
"Yes." She smiled again, sadly, but with the knowledge that Vincent understood. "I can see the absolutes. Sometimes, I'm compelled to act on them. And pay the price for my actions. So others don't have to. That's my choice. And you," she said, reaching up to lay one hand gently on the side of his face, "have paid enough for one lifetime."
He brought one large, golden hand up to cover hers. She could feel his respect and appreciation, and knew he could feel her compassion.
"What I feel--" he began.
"Is what I feel," Diana finished for him. "But what you and Catherine have is so much more. It's everything. Something the rest of us can hope for." She walked a bit away from him, her head down.
It wasn't quite over. She looked back over her shoulder at him, her hair like cold fire tied loosely at the back of her neck.
"You are not alone."
"Yes, Vincent, I am."
"Not as long as I live."
She had no answer for that, for the noble, haunted soul who had stood and pledged to her, unconditionally, the gift of his friendship. She remembered the assumption she had made when she had first found him, that he was alone in the world and wouldn't survive his quest without the help she had been compelled to give. But his life was not a fragile one, any more than was hers. And they had each, in their own worlds, come to full term with their aloneness.
The difference was Catherine. Vincent held in his heart a rare jewel, and Diana felt the echo of that love in him. Perhaps she would someday find the one who would fulfill the potential in herself. For now, she had the glorious responsibility of a true friend.
He came toward her then, gathering her into a warm, secure embrace. She relaxed very slightly against him, then pulled back to look into his eyes. He saw her caution and acceptance, acknowledged it, and released her.
"It is a tradition in my world," he said, "to welcome children into the community with a naming ceremony. A christening, a baptism. The ceremony to welcome my son will be tomorrow evening. I came here to ask you if you would attend. As my guest. Now I ask you--as my friend."
The feeling was wonder.
"I'll be there," she answered.