WHEN THE NIGHTTIME COMES 

by
Rhonda Collins  

     Diana woke to the early morning darkness.  The tangled
sheets hindered her as she climbed out of bed.  Her head hurt
terribly and her eyes were sore from crying.  As she looked at 
her disheveled image in the mirror, she thought she could see
Vincent standing behind her with his long, tousled chestnut mane
and gentle eyes, but when she turned, he wasn't there.  She
turned back and leaning on the counter, cried again.  "Damn it! 
I wish I could stop this.  I wish HE could stop this.  He doesn't
realize what he's doing to me."  
     Diana had always used her psychic ability in her cases. 
That's why she insisted on working alone and on only one case at
a time.  But now, she felt Vincent's grief and love for Catherine
like a knife in her heart.  She grieved with him, even though she
had never truly known Catherine in life.  The trouble was, she
couldn't control her abilities with Vincent, as she could with
her cases...she couldn't turn it on and off.  The pain Vincent
felt was always present, the feeling to Diana being somewhat
analogous to a sore tooth.  But in the past two days it seemed
more like an abscess.  
     Vincent put a good face on it most of the time and went
about his life fairly normally, but the pain remained, deep
inside.  Hidden from the world, but not from her. 
     She washed her face and with a little makeup tried to repair
the damage the night had done.  As she brushed her long red hair,
the pain washed over her again.  It was truly absurd.  An irony
of fate.  She thought back to when she had found Vincent on
Catherine Chandler's grave and brought him home to nurse him back
to health...but it hadn't really started then.  
     It had begun when she had taken on Catherine's case and had
slowly, through bits and pieces begun finding out about the
unusual man whom Catherine had loved, and who had loved her.  As
she read inscriptions in books, read poems that were marked,
found all the hints of this love in the bits and pieces of
Catherine's life, she began to feel she knew this strange man
just a little.  She picked up feelings from Catherine's things,
fuzzy images which tantalized her and drew her closer and closer 
to Vincent.  
     Then as she began to connect him to the many savage killings
that had happened around Catherine, she didn't know what to
think.  But she realized that somehow Vincent knew when 
Catherine was in danger, and he was her protector.  It was
difficult to reconcile the gentle man of the inscriptions and
poetry to the savage murders, but she had known instinctively
that they were connected... that they were the same man.  When
she found him and saw this visage that would have frightened 
anyone else, somehow she hadn't even been surprised.  She'd known
this was Vincent--the killer--but also Vincent the lover.  As he
raged in his fever and deliriums and almost destroyed her
apartment, she feared for her safety, but she always waited for
the man she knew to be there to come out.  She felt his rage and 
his own terror caused by his fever and hid behind her gun, and
when he DID come to himself, something began happening to her. 
She felt a pull from him she could never explain to anyone.  She
couldn't get him out of her dreams, her thoughts.  
     Vincent had had a psychic bond with Catherine and had been
able to "feel" her emotions, and this bond had helped to create a
greater love than Diana could ever have imagined.  All her
psychic ability had ever brought HER was the ugliness in people's
souls.  But in helping Vincent to heal, to find and rescue his
son, and in the months since then of simply knowing him--now she
was beginning to feel Vincent's moods more and more often.  And
it hadn't been fun..  Last night had been especially bad.  It 
was Jacob's birthday today--the child Catherine had borne
Vincent, and the anniversary of Catherine's death.  Vincent had
been up mourning all night, and would continue, she knew,  for
God knew how long.
     Diana had fallen in love with Vincent...and because she now
had this bond, she knew it was hopeless.  Although his and
Catherine's son, Jacob, had given Vincent something to live for,
Vincent clung to Catherine's memory desperately...afraid to lose
a single moment of their lives together.  How do you fight a
memory?  How can you even want to fight a woman like Catherine? 
Diana wouldn't want Vincent to forget Catherine.  If he could
forget a love like that, he would indeed be a monster.  But how
could she convince him that you CAN love again?  
     Diana hadn't dared to say anything to Vincent about how she
felt--for fear he'd bolt like a rabbit for fear of hurting
her...and himself...and then she wouldn't be able to be near him
at all or be able to help him through this.  But this had to
stop, one way or another.  In desperation, she'd printed out her
journal from her computer--all the entries from the last year
that pertained to Vincent and Catherine and bound them.  She
planned to present them to Vincent today to make his own
decision.   Perhaps if he truly knew he wasn't alone, it would
help...or perhaps he would never see her again.  It was
frightening to her, though, even the thought of letting him see
even a glimpse inside her soul.  She had never let anyone else
in.
     Diana pulled the curtain over the clippings, photos, and all
the other information on the current case she was working on; a
particularly horrible multiple rape and murder case.  Today, she
was  forgetting it.  She dressed in her sweats and Reeboks and
rode the elevator down.  She wished she had an entrance to the
tunnels in her building as Catherine had, but she had to settle
for going to one of the other myriad of openings in the city. 
She'd learned of many of them and never used the same one twice
in a row for secrecy's sake. 
     Once down in the tunnels, Diana pulled the flashlight out of
her shoulder bag--she hated to carry a purse, but down here she
needed things.  She knew her way fairly well, but marked her way
with the blue chalk just in case.  She moved quickly through the
tunnels: her bond with Vincent gave her an advantage in finding
her way through them.  She could hear the incessant tapping on
the pipes as people relayed messages.  She saw few people about
when she got to the living areas, but it was early yet.  She went
first to Father's chambers.  

     Diana and Father had become fast friends once he was
convinced she was no threat to the tunnels or to Vincent.  Father
had always been opposed to Catherine's tie with Vincent, but had
finally accepted it, but now, he felt that Vincent needed Diana. 
He knew his foster son was inwardly dying a little every day with
his grief over Catherine.  
     Outwardly, Vincent was going on with his life and having
Jacob helped, but he was still grieving.  Father had tried to
help him let go of the grief, but had been unsuccessful.  Father
hoped that someday Vincent's friendship with Diana would blossom
into something more, and bring him out of his despair.   He knew
also that Diana loved Vincent, though she had never spoken to him
of it.  He could see it in her face when she looked at him.  As
Diana came to the door of his chamber, he looked up over the 
rims of his glasses.  "Diana, dear, please come in.  Is
everything all right?"  Looking at her more closely, he
murmured..."No, I suppose not.  Is there anything I can do?"  
     Diana looked down, unsure of what to say.  "No, Father.  I
came to see Vincent, but I'm not sure I  should."  
     "He may send you away, Diana.  He has everyone else.  He
even has Mary taking care of Jacob, which is just as well.  The
poor child has cried all night, sensing his father's distress. 
He is finally asleep."   
     Diana brushed her hair out of her face and straightened up. 
"If there is ever going to be anything for me here... with him, I
have to tell him how I feel." 

     Father looked alarmed.  "Now is perhaps not the best time,
child."  
     "No, Father, now IS the time.  He's doing himself harm, and
if this goes on, he'll harm  Jacob as well.  It has to stop." 
She turned and left Father's chamber, and Father sat heavily into
his  chair.

     Vincent's chamber was lit only by one candle and the light
from  his stained glass window.  He sat alone, quietly staring
into space--into his memories.   The tears ran slowly down his
face.  Diana entered from behind him, quietly, but he heard her
anyway.   "Diana, please...leave me.  This is not a good time."  
     Diana moved around in front of him and kneeled in front of
him.  "Vincent, Catherine is  dead..."  
     He rose, enraged, and threw the chair across the chamber. 
"Don't you know that is all I think about!"  
     "Yes," she said harshly...  "That IS all you think about. 
Catherine would never have wanted you to bottle your love and
hide it so deep within you that you smother life.  You can't tell
me you don't remember....Though lovers be lost, love is not...and
death shall have no dominion....Death  Shall Have NO Dominion
Vincent.  But that doesn't mean you shouldn't live ... or love
again."   Vincent stared at her as though he wanted to rend her
limb from limb.  He stood with his fists clenched so tightly his
claws were drawing blood.  She flinched, because she didn't just
see his anger at her, she FELT it.  In a minute she would lose
him completely.  "Vincent...  Love is like a river.  It begins
with a small spring...runs into a stream, changes to a river. 
The river has eddies and currents... and eventually it runs into
the sea...to join a great body of water.  Love is like that too. 
Catherine's love is with us still.  I never met her, but I knew
her...I learned to know her and love her, just as I.....learned
to love you...before I ever set eyes upon you.  I learned to love
you THROUGH Catherine."  She got up to leave, and she placed her 
journal in his hands.  "Read this.  And remember, even if I never
see you again, I'll always be with you, just as you were with
Catherine.  Remember too, that Catherine still lives in
Jacob...and someday he will want this day to be remembered with
the joy of his birth...not the horror and despair of his mother's 
death."  
     Vincent was standing, head bowed, looking at the papers in
his hand as she left the chamber.
     Diana told Father as she almost ran into him, blind as she
was with tears, "I'll be down at the Mirror Pool if Vincent
decides to see me.  If not... "   She stumbled through the
tunnels down to the Mirror Pool and sat crying softly, for by
now, Vincent was reading her story ....

     As Vincent read Diana's journal his anger changed, quieted. 
He was puzzled and concerned.   How could I have been so blind as
to not see what Diana was going through?  She had been a more 
than a friend to him...had helped him find his son, rescue him. 
The strangest thing was that he had no feeling of bond with her,
as he had with Catherine, but amazingly, she had this bond with
him!  His thoughts were turned completely upside down.  
     Suddenly he saw his relationship with Catherine in a
different light as well.  He perhaps hadn't fully realized why it
had taken Catherine so much longer to fall in love with him ...
when he had loved HER from the start.  It had been impossible for
him not to love Catherine: with his bond, he had felt all the
good, the innocence, inside her...he could feel how she felt
about him.  Diana too was gentle, kind, intelligent.  She had the
same dedication to helping people that Catherine had...he knew he
loved her...he had great respect for her.  But am I IN love with
her?  
     Vincent had never even allowed himself the possibility.  To
him the only love he could imagine was Catherine, and even the
thought was an affront.   But what would it be to be without her,
as I am  without Catherine?  That thought was unbearable as well. 
But he had so little of himself left to give to anyone ... he was
afraid to hurt her, and himself.

     Meanwhile, Jamie had brought Jacob to Diana at the Mirror
Pool.  They had become fast friends since Diana had been
introduced to them.  "He's a beautiful child, Jamie.  I wish he
were mine."  
     Jamie didn't know what to say.  She, too, knew how Diana
felt about Vincent.  Most of the tunnel dwellers were able to see
what Vincent had been blind to for so long.  "Mouse and I wanted 
Vincent to be the first to know, but we haven't been able to
bring ourselves to talk to him lately ...  Mouse and I are in
love, Diana."  
     Diana hugged her friend around the squirming Jacob. 
"Perhaps soon he will be able to be happy  for you without
feeling so much pain.  But after what I did today, I may not be
back for awhile,  Jamie, so give Mouse my congratulations...for
me.   Thank you for bringing Jacob to me.  Perhaps you should
take him back to Mary for me now, though."
     As Jamie turned, she saw Vincent in the doorway.  He held
out his arms for Jacob, held him close to his breast for a
moment, then gave him back to Jamie with a nod.  Jamie glanced
quickly at  Diana, then left.  Vincent turned then to an
extremely pale Diana.  He reached out and brushed her hair back
from her face.  "How could I not know, Diana?  I'm so sorry."  
     Diana reached up and stroked his face.  "How COULD you know? 
Every love is different, that's why it's so wonderful."  
     Vincent looked troubled, and said quietly, "I can never
forget Catherine, Diana.  It wouldn't be fair to you."  
     Diana just smiled, and said, "Vincent, I would never want
you to.  Don't forget her. Cherish those  memories.  Just don't
forget that I'm here for you, in whatever capacity you want or
need...friend ...or  lover.  I'm with you wherever you are and
whatever you do...and your grief is what's killing me.  I  want
to help you let go of the grief, not of Catherine.  Just...don't
send me away.  Let me be a  friend, at least."  
     Vincent held her for a moment, and tears glistened in his
eyes.  "I would never send you  away."
     They talked for a long while, and Vincent felt more at peace
than he had in months.  The  constant ache of Catherine's loss
was still present, but it was somehow eased.  They walked hand in
hand  back to Father's chambers. 
     Father looked up, instantly taking in the change in Vincent. 
He was relieved to see that  Diana was smiling as well.  "Well, I
see you are feeling better, Vincent.  Changing the subject, 
Father put his book away and cleared his throat, "Um..Also,
Diana, Mouse tells me he has an  idea for a tunnel extension to
the basement of your building, with a secret door.  Would that be
of  benefit to you?"  
     Diana looked as though someone had given her the world. 
"Oh, yes!  Father, that would be  wonderful!  The only other
tenant left in the building is an  artist who uses the bottom
half of the  building mostly for storage, so it would work out
wonderfully!  Can it really be managed?"  
     Vincent just looked from one to another of them, more than a
little puzzled.  Was I really been  so far sunk in my grief that
I had not realized how close Father and Diana had become, and
what a  good rapport they have?  He shook his head, a little
ashamed of himself.
     Vincent walked Diana back to the tunnel exit she was
planning to use this time, and they walked  in a companionable
silence, glancing at each other quietly from time to time.
     "You're feeling better, I see," Diana said.  
     "And FEEL, from what I hear," Vincent chuckled, looking at
her with his head cocked.  "I  must admit, I never realized quite
how that must have made Catherine feel at times...it's a 
little...odd.  Especially since I've been on the receiving end
before.  It's going to take a little getting  used to."   Diana
took his hand and stroked it.  It feels good to me just to know
you'll try to accept my  love ... even if it will never be more
than friendship."  
     "Diana..." Vincent began..."I think you know it's already
more than just friendship, but where it  will lead ... how deep
it will grow, we will simply have to wait to find that out.  I
only fear to  disappoint you."  
     Diana looked up at Vincent and placed her hand on his chest.
"Life is full of disappointments,  but love is all that matters,
and you can't find that without risks.  You knew that with
Catherine.   Remember it with me."  She pulled his head down and
kissed him gently, hiding herself in the curtain  of his hair.

     Diana left the tunnels, and after reaching the street,
hailed a cab to go home.  As she was getting  out of the elevator
she heard the telephone.  "Damn!"  Rushing to get it, she hit her
knee and  was hobbling around when she answered the phone. 
"Diana here,"   
     "Well, it's about time,"  Joe said, his usually cheerful
voice sounding angry, "Where have you  been? ...Never mind.  We
have another one.  I need you down here now."
     Rushing to get cleaned up a little and change, she then
hailed another taxi and headed to the  morgue.  Joe met her and
they went to examine the body of a 26-year-old, red haired girl
who had once  been beautiful.  Now, her raped and mutilated body
was the only testimony she would ever be able to  make as to what
had happened.  
     Diana turned away.  After today, she simply couldn't
tolerate the sickness of the outside world.   She had to get this
animal.  
     "There's been another turn, too, Bennett.  This was pinned
to the body."  It was a note for her.   Whoever this man was, he
knew she was getting close, knew who she was.  "Be careful,
Diana.  We  put a patrol outside your apartment, but we never
know where you are to protect you." 
     Diana shrugged, dismissing Joe's suggestion. "I can't work
that way anyway, Joe, you know that.   I can take care of myself. 
I always have."

     Diana left the morgue and headed home.  She knew she was
being followed, but she wasn't sure  if it was police or the
killer...though she suspected the latter: she could feel a
submerged hatred.  She  still had her bag with her gun in it, and
opened it.  Just as she reached the apartment, she was grabbed 
from behind and dragged into a car.  Her assailant was big, and
as he tied and gagged her, all her plans  and struggling went out
the window along with her bag.  She lay in the back seat as he
drove away,  wishing that Vincent did have the bond with her he'd
had with Catherine.  Unless she was very, very  lucky, or very,
very good ... she was done for.   The car stopped.  
     Diana heard the driver's side door open and footsteps coming
around to get her.  When he  opened the door, she kicked him in 
the face, but he grabbed her feet first and pulled her out onto
the  pavement, hitting her head on the concrete.  She passed out,
and when she came to, with her hands  and feet still tied, he had
her inside an apartment, his presumably, and locked in a filthy
bathroom.   She looked around, dug under the sink, shoving her
head up underneath and feeling behind her, and  found a wrench. 
She began tapping the code for Vincent's name and an SOS. on the
pipes.  The  killer didn't come and stop her, so she kept it up,
over and over...hoping someone would hear.
     Night wore on, and Diana could see little out of the tiny
window.  She continued her tapping off  and on, knowing Pascal
would eventually hear it, but she had to keep it up so they could
locate her.   She wondered where the man had gone, and how long
she had before he came back.  She stopped  tapping periodically
to rest, exhausted, against the tub, or to work at her bonds,
trying to get loose.   Her hands were tied too tightly, but by
wiggling and hooking the rope on the handle in back of the
toilet,  she was able to finally get the rope off her legs.  She
began tapping again doggedly.  They just had to  hear her. 
"C'mon, Pascal...find me."

     Pascal listened to the pipes carefully.  That SOS. and
Vincent's name had been going on for a  while now.  He had been
able with the children's help, to trace it to an outskirt of the
city, and  pinpoint it to a specific building.  He had sent for
Vincent when he knew where it was coming from.  
     Vincent appeared in the doorway.  "Pascal, what is it?"  
     "Listen..."  Pascal whispered.
     Alarmed, Vincent listened to it twice..."Everyone is
accounted for?"  
     "Yes."  
     "Then it must be Diana...where?"  
     Pascal went with Vincent to Father's chambers and pointed
out on the maps where the building  was. 
 
     As soon as Vincent had memorized the location, he took off
in his ground-eating stride  toward the subways.  He waited and
leaped onto the first train going the right direction.  He rode
the  roof of the train, clutching the grooves in the top with his
claws, his mane flying behind him,  He  became more and more
worried...and enraged.  He couldn't lose Diana too.  When he had
lost the bond  with Catherine, she had died...because he couldn't
find her to save her.  If the same thing happened  with Diana, he
couldn't bear it.  He leaped off the train when it stopped near
the intersection he  needed.  He heard the tapping again, felt
the pipe, and redirected himself.  Soon he found himself 
underneath the building, but could find no entrance...and the
tapping had stopped.  He must go  Above.

     Inside the building the door to the bathroom opened and
Diana saw a big, ugly, vicious-looking  man dressed incongruously
in an expensive suit...carrying a surgical scalpel.  My, she
thought,  He is ready to do business.  She backed against the
wall, getting as far away as possible, but he knocked  the wrench
out of her hands and forced her into the other room.  There were
pictures of his other  victims on the walls.  "Now, my dear,
you'll have to join my other friends."  Diana was fighting her 
bonds.  She knew Vincent was just outside, but she was losing her
own reasoning power: she was  beginning to lose herself to his
rage.  
     As the man was closing on her, suddenly she broke the bonds
on her own wrists and grabbed the  hand that held the scalpel. 
She knocked him off balance, pulled him down, kneeing him in the
groin,  then growling like an animal herself, she tore the
scalpel from his hand and used it to slash his throat.  

     As Vincent roared and broke the door down, he saw to his
astonishment and horror the man  lying over Diana.  They were
covered in blood.  At first he thought both of them were dead,
but  then Diana moved, trying to pull herself from under the
man's dead weight.  Vincent rushed to her side,  dragging her
from under the would-be killer, and lifted her carefully to the
bed.  She seemed dazed,  stunned.  He murmured to her, stroking 
her hair, and pried the scalpel from her hand.  He could see 
what had happened, but could not understand how.  He removed his
cloak and wrapped her in it, then  lifted and carried her gently
back to the tunnels, to Father.

     As Father examined Diana, Mary went to get clean clothes and
water to wash the blood off of  her.   When Father finished, he
turned to Vincent, "She is in shock, Vincent, but I think she  is
coming around.  She seems to be doing better.  Whatever
happened?"   Vincent told father all he knew... and surmised, but
neither of them could explain Diana's torn wrists.  
     There was a small moan from Diana, then she said in a barely
audible voice ..."Vincent...you're  here."  
     Vincent smiled at her and held her hand, "Yes.   You're in
my chamber.  You're safe."  Diana  slept then, and Father left
Vincent to watch over her.  
     Vincent sat watching Diana sleeping in his bed, and thought
how lovely she was, with her long  red hair fanned out around
her.  How had he never seen it before?  How had he never realized
how much  he had come to love her?  He thought of Catherine, and
how he had sat next to her exactly like this when  he had found
her in the park that night, dying, and how his bond had formed
with her during that time of  healing.  Suddenly he realized that
it did not matter to him if the bond never formed for him with
Diana.  The bond had been a gift, as Catherine had said...formed
in a time of deep need for him.  She had told  him that there
were so many gifts waiting for him in life and that all he had to
do was open his  arms for them.  He was amazed at how alike
Catherine and Diana were, and how wise...and  yet...how
different.  

     Diana woke and saw Vincent looking gently down at her...and
turned away.  She remembered  the rage and the blood, and what
she had done.  Vincent didn't know the ugliness inside her.  It 
wasn't that she fed on his rage, it was that she didn't need to
have that rage to be able to kill.  She had  killed Gabriel in
cold blood, and she was glad.  And she wasn't sorry she had
killed the man last night.   But Vincent could never understand
that, and if he ever really knew her, as he had Catherine...how 
could he love her?  Right now all she felt was his love and
concern reaching out to her, blanketing her  in comfort, and all
she wanted to do was to escape into his arms from all the
ugliness in the world ...  all the ugliness that had found its
way inside of her.
     "Diana," Vincent said quietly, "you're safe now.  Don't be
afraid."  
     "I'm not afraid, Vincent, I'm ashamed."   Diana whispered.  
     Vincent turned her and cradled her against him, tears in his
eyes, "I know that shame, Diana."  
     Diana pulled away, forcing Vincent to look at her. 
"No...your shame is not the same as mine,  Vincent.  You believe
it is, but it's not.  I know that Catherine told you many times
that all people  have a dark side...you told me that...but you
can't understand my dark side.  If you did, you could  never care
for me."  
     Vincent touched Diana's face gently.  "I may not have the
same bond with you that I had with  Catherine...or that you have
with me...but I know you Diana, and there is no evil in you."  
     Diana flung herself from Vincent's bed, standing before him
in the patched flannel gown  Mary had put her in, her red hair
flowing over her shoulders, and her face twisted in pain. 
"Vincent,  you don't understand the extent of my psychic ability. 
With Catherine, you bonded with her  alone...  In my work, I get
into the minds of murderers, devils. Their thoughts become my 
thoughts.  That is what I do.  The evil is inside me.   I can't
get it out.  I don't think  I can ever get it  out.  I feel as
though I've absorbed it.  I never could love anyone ... never let
them in ... because I  always saw everything, and what I saw deep
inside them inevitably disgusted me.  Until I met you.   Even
your rages are clean in comparison to the filth I experience up
there every day.  Your soul is a  refuge for mine, and I feel as
though I soil you by touching you!"  Tears streamed down her
face, and  she shook with her need to be held by him.  

     Vincent seemed thunderstruck.  He had never considered how
extensive her abilities were.  He  knew she was intelligent and
intuitive and he knew she had the bond with him--but what she was
telling  him was impossible to comprehend.  He was speechless for
a moment, and in that moment, Diana  whirled, grabbed her clothes
from the chair and ran from the chamber. 
     Diana fled past Father straight to Jamie's chamber, where
she tore off the nightgown and  dressed quickly.  She had to
leave here now before she did any damage to Vincent.  If he ever
learned  of how she had fed on his own rage in order to gain the
strength to break her bonds...and kill that man,  what would it
do to him...or to any chance of his  ever loving her?
     As Vincent started after Diana, Father met him at the door
and caught his arm..."No Vincent, let  her go for now.  Go to her
in awhile."  
     "Father, I have to help her.  If what she tells me is true,
I must go to her and be there for her."  
     Father was confused, "What did she tell you that has upset
you both so?"  
     Vincent just looked at Father, torn with a desire to tell
him and ask his counsel, and yet  feeling this wasn't something
Diana would wish him to share.  "I cannot say for now,
Father...but I  have to go to her."  
     As Father watched Vincent rush down the tunnel looking for
Diana, he held onto the hope that  good might still come of this
woman for Vincent.
     Looking for Diana, Vincent saw Jamie..."Where is she Jamie? 
I must find her."
     "She went above, Vincent."  Jamie took Vincent's hand,
concerned for both of her friends."  Please. Let her calm down. 
She says she has to go to Joe Maxwell and tell him what
happened."
     Vincent hung his head as he leaned against the wall.  He
shook his head when Jamie asked if she  could help.  Slowly he
made his way back to his chamber, and sat restlessly...after a
long while, he  lay down, exhausted by his emotions and fell
asleep.
 
     He dreamed he was following Catherine's voice through the    
     mist, but he could not find her.  Catherine's voice told     
     him, "We loved, Vincent.  Remember love, but remember too    
     that Though   Lover's be lost, Love is not.  Then he saw     
     himself and Catherine as they had been when Catherine told   
     him "Life has so many gifts waiting for you.  All you have   
     to do is open your arms for them.  Open your arms, Vincent." 
     He did, and Catherine moved into them, but ....when he       
     looked down at her face, it was Diana!

     Vincent awoke, drenched in sweat.  Going to Mary, Vincent
asked if she would  continue caring for Jacob until he returned. 
"Tell Father not to worry, but I will be away for a while.   I
will be back soon."  He kissed Jacob, marveling again at the
child's beauty, and took his leave of  Mary.

     Vincent had decided to go to Diana's loft and wait for her
there.  By the time he reached the  apartment, it was dark and he
was able to go to the roof.  This time, instead of simply waiting
for her  on the roof, he forced his way inside.  He stood
upstairs, looking down at Diana's cluttered  apartment.  Slowly,
he walked downstairs, feeling an intruder.  Suddenly, he stopped
dead in his  tracks...Catherine's rose bush!  It was here...and
alive!  He knelt next to it, touching the petals softly,  and the
tears began to fall again.  Diana had saved it and cherished it. 
Rising, he went to her wall and  pulled the curtain away,
revealing the mass of clippings, police photos, ...all the sordid
details of  the last case Diana had been working on ... the one
that had almost killed her.  He saw what this man  had been
doing, and a growl rumbled, starting deep in his throat.  This is
what he had intended for  Diana!  If she had seen into his
mind...no wonder she felt soiled.  Carefully, he closed the
curtain and  went to the bedroom.  Diana's furnishings and
appointments were so different from Catherine's... more
...functional, somehow.  He looked around.  Everywhere  he saw
practicality and function...very few  frills.  He sat in the
overstuffed chair next to the bed to wait.
     A little later, Vincent heard the elevator and closed the
door to the bedroom, just in case Diana  wasn't alone.  

     When Diana came out of the elevator, she knew Vincent was
here, patiently waiting.  Her stomach was  churning with the
grueling interview she had just had with Joe and the coroner. 
There would be a hearing  later, but Joe said there would be no
problem for her as far as her killing the man.  It had been self-
defense.  She wished he were right... but the problems were
problems only she knew about.  She went to  the kitchen and
washed her face, preparing to talk to Vincent...she was afraid
that would be almost as  difficult as her meeting with Joe.    
When Diana turned, she saw that Vincent had come out of the
bedroom and was standing there  with his arms outstretched for
her, and she ran to him, but stopped just short.   Vincent
dropped his arms, but said softly, "I needed to know you were
well...so I came to you."  
     Diana's need to be in his arms was almost overwhelming, but
she remained where she was.   "I'm well enough.  Thank you,
Vincent ... for coming.  There were ... unpleasant things I had
to  take care of, but Joe says everything will be fine."  Vincent
moved over to the window and stood looking out at the city.  The
lights were like jewels  in the darkness, but he couldn't see
anything, his heart was too sore thinking of Diana's pain.
"Diana,  why will you not let me comfort you?  I know there is
something disturbing you ... something deeply  wrong.  Please let
me help."   
     "No one can help me with what's wrong, Vincent ... it's
something only I can deal with,"  Diana said bitterly.  
     Vincent turned to face her again, a little angered, but
puzzled as well.  "Diana, friends help  one another, and we
...are more than friends.  Where I would be without you, I cannot
bear to  think about.  The darkness can be deadly, especially
when the darkness is inside you."  Changing the  subject, seeing
he was making her uncomfortable, he moved softly past her to
Catherine's rose bush.   "It's like suddenly coming upon a living
part of Catherine unexpectedly.  For you to have done this,  ...
was wonderful."  
     "I didn't do it for you, Vincent," she said flatly,
"although I'm glad it pleases you.  I don't like to  see people
die, and when I become involved in their lives through my cases,
it's like a small part of them  comes alive to me.  When I saw
Catherine's roses were almost dead, it became important to me
somehow  to save them.  It was before I met you.  Catherine's
mind and heart were clean and innocent.  When I  touch her things
I feel that innocence, that goodness."  She paused, considering
how much to say, then  continued, blushing..."You know, Vincent,
I even talk to her sometimes...about you, and Jacob.  I sit 
talking to that stupid rose bush as if she were here." 
     Touched, Vincent didn't know what to say at first.  Then, he
just smiled and said, "I talk to her  too.  But I talk to her
about Jacob...and you."  Vincent took Diana's hand and led her to
the roof,  where they stood looking out at the city. 
Tentatively, Vincent put his arm around Diana and felt her 
tremble.  "Are you cold," he asked, starting to remove his cloak.
     "No, Vincent.  I'm fine. Just hold me, please.  I need to
feel your quiet."  As Vincent's arms  enclosed her, Diana let her
mind go.  Let it heal a little.  His strength and goodness were
all she wanted  now.  Tomorrow would have to take care of itself.
     After a while of standing there, her head against his chest,
listening to his heartbeat, she looked  up at him and smiled. 
"Somehow, this reminds me of a poem I read recently.  Have you
ever read Rod  McCuen, Vincent?"
     "Yes.  Some.  Why?"
     Diana quoted:
     
     "Caught in the quiet
     off on our own
     coming together
     staying alone."

     Vincent brushed her hair back and kissed her forehead.  "I
must leave soon.  I have Jacob to  think of.   But you are not
alone.  If you need me...ever...you know where I am.  When you
become  tired, and afraid of the darkness...let me be your safe
harbor, your quiet place.
     Diana watched Vincent leave then went inside.   She picked
up a volume of Rod McKuen's  poetry,  turned to a page she had
marked, and read,      
  
                 From your arms I'll make a wall
                 then I'll never be alone
                 I'll let your arms encircle me
                 When the nighttime comes.

                 From your smile I'll build a wall
                 the tallest wall that man has known
                 Then I'll hide behind your smile
                 and I'll never be alone. 

     She closed the book thoughtfully, then went to bed.  She
could still feel Vincent's peace and  innocence.  How a man could
be as wise as he and still have that ...essence... of innocence
despite all  that had happened to him, she didn't know, but
however he came to be what he was, he was  unique...in every way.

End.