There Will Be No Virgin Birth

PEAhopeless

Special notes: This one is adult. Presumed to be late October, roughly two months after they marry and she moves below. What inspired it was a scene at the very beginning of the episode, "The Hollow Men". And remember, never assume the topic of a story based solely on the title.

 

Vincent was still acting strangely. An hour later, and he was still acting strangely. And now, worse yet, he was sending her to bed without the company of himself.

"I won't be long Catherine. I just need to check on the work for tomorrow."

"No you don't," she countered. Her retort was gentle but firm. Firm enough to make it quite clear that she was not going to accept such a simple excuse.

He stopped on his way to the chamber door and sheepishly turned around -- not unlike a child who had been caught. He knew he wasn't good at forcing nonchalance. Even if she couldn't sense his emotions the way he could hers ... still ... his inner trials and tribulations always ended up on his face; in his actions; even in his voice. Probably even in the way he looked at her. And she was becoming quite well attuned.

"Catherine." he murmured -- his tone implying he would beg if necessary.

Silently, she sat down on the bed, having already donned her nightgown at his urging. How anxious he was to get her under the covers, while he walked out the door.

And that hurt.

The only connection she could make -- and it was a loose one at that -- went back to the incident that seemed to have started his strange behavior in the first place.

A nighttime meander through the park. Something she'd taken to since she'd moved below. The pleasure of strolling hand-in-hand with your husband, among the trees of Central Park. Yes, they could only do that at night. But she accepted the restriction most willingly, and their evening walks were becoming one of the highlights of her day. Even the weather had been holding out for them, the warmth of summer hanging on, right into October. Halloween was coming in a matter of days, and she already knew this year would entail the most enjoyable trip into the city lights.

Other New Yorkers were wandering the park too of course, putting extra turns and detours into her and her mate's path. And for some strange reason, it was on one of those attempts to avoid an encounter, that the strange cast had settled across Vincent's face.

Of all people, it was a hooker and her John that were at the root.

Catherine and Vincent had been sitting at a picnic table. Well, more precisely, she had been perched atop it, while he'd paused to gently kiss her. If the night was warm already, it was even warmer with his body arched over her, and a heavy black cloak forming a curtain around them both. The night, and the park, were slowly slipping from her awareness as they happily fiddled away the time.

He was on guard though, as always. When the voices began distantly along the path, he heard them immediately. And when he backed away from his love, so too did she.

"There's a bench down here." came a girl's gravelly and worn voice. "But now remember buddy, you ain't gettin' nothin' you didn't pay for. I'm real strict on that. You wanna giddy-up, you gotta pony-up."

Surprise at the interruption was the first reaction to cross Vincent's face, followed by an embarrassed tightening, then the expected search for an escape route.

No sooner had Catherine hopped down from the table than he was tugging her toward a small grove of evergreens. A dash through there -- pine needles scratching all the way -- and they emerged beneath one of Central Park's many bridges. A few yards further, a metal grating gave them safe passage back into the safety of the tunnels.

From there it all just went downhill. A hasty retreat to their room; an unusually nervous and distracted husband; and now this insistence that she go to bed while he took care of last minute errands. And furthermore, she had the very sinking feeling that he hoped she'd be asleep by his return. The link, although utterly confusing, was obvious -- -- between the intimacy he was avoiding now, and that which they had almost encountered in the park.

Folding her hands politely in her lap ... forcing a veneer of serenity ... she posed the question. "Why are you trying to avoid me, Vincent? What happened back there?"

... ...

Here came an even more pronounced retreat on Vincent's face, although his body chose to approach her. "I'm sorry, Catherine. I should have sensed them sooner."

His wife squinted, briefly, as if trying to reconcile his apology with her already formed perceptions. "Well we got away," she pointed out, clearly unable to find the connection. "We've had close calls before in the park. Usually we laugh over it."

Vincent covered the last few steps and sat down beside her. That in itself was good news ... whatever was wrong, it wasn't so bad that she couldn't draw him back.

Leaning toward her, he explained gently, as one might explain to an innocently naive child. "It was a prostitute, Catherine."

The challenge was in suppressing her laughter as she mirrored his actions. Leaning closer, she took on the same gentle tone. "I know that. I've prosecuted them, remember?"

Vincent's shoulders sagged. Rather than being amused, he seemed more disappointed that she didn't understand the significance. "There is an underbelly to the world in which I live. You know this. ... ... Things ... to which I would prefer you not be exposed."

"I'm already exposed," she replied calmly, her hand rising to rest on his upper arm. Already she was feeling better. A concern like this could easily be allayed. "You know I've seen worse in my work. It's the murderers that scare me, not the hookers."

Whatever ease was settling across her face, was wiped cleanly away with his next move. Abruptly, he rose, leaving her hand hanging in mid air ... robbed of the touch she'd initiated.

"Catherine. Some of the things to which I refer, are not out there, but in my own mind." Sadness -- tinged with a healthy dose of guilt -- crept into his expression. "I know what goes on in the park. An easy escape route is not always available."

Understanding began to dawn, and her mouth fell slightly open. The image in her head was not pleasant. No, there wouldn't always be an easy escape route, and she knew full well what her gentle, peaceful husband would do in such a scenario. He'd hide behind something, fading into the background as was his talent. Even while the events unfolded.

"Eyes can be closed," he elaborated. "Ears cannot. Now these things live in my memories and thoughts. I wish not to expose you."

"I'm not a little girl." she assured him. He had been slowly backing away again ... so slowly she'd only just noticed it. Otherwise she might have taken his hand as comfort. As it was, she'd have to dismiss this with words. Her voice lowering in implication, she stated the obvious ... "I know about the birds and the bees. I thought we'd already established that. Quite well, in fact."

"Do you know what is traded for money?" he countered. "Do you know what is offered for drugs? Such acts? It is not the loving connection we share. It's far more," ... ... he stumbled on the word he hadn't seen coming, until he realized how horrible it could sound coming from him ... ... "Far more animalistic. And I don't want it to taint you. Or us."

Catherine shook her head, having reached complete confusion -- and progressing rapidly toward frustration. "I already told you, I know about the birds and the bees. I know about the hornets and the wasps too, as well as the crows and blackbirds. I also know ..."

"You're not listening," he cut her off anxiously. "If I touch you, when such things are in my head ... when certain images ... of us ... have burrowed into my thoughts, then it has the power to taint."

"No. ... It. ... Doesn't!" she argued, with just as much determination. "Believe it or not, I have a pretty good idea what 'images' you're talking about." Her voice finally began to soften again, as she weakly shook her head. "I'm not a snow white saint, Vincent. Don't pretend I'm something I'm not. ... There will be no virgin birth."

That stopped him. Cold in his tracks. Few people had ever dared to question his perception of his beloved, and it hurt no less coming from her herself. "I would have chosen the word 'angel'," he replied, saturated with the deepest affection. "And this is not entirely about who you are."

... ...

It shouldn't have surprised her. It really shouldn't have. What it boiled down to was what it so often boiled down to, and what she hoped, someday, it would never boil down to again. -- -- Namely, those things which set him apart from the rest of the world. His wonderful, beautiful, uniqueness. "Because of who you are." she whispered with sad understanding.

His lack of acknowledgement, was acknowledgement enough. "Vincent, the crime is in the money. The drugs. Not in the acts themselves. And the horror ... the loss of humanity that seems to disturb you so, is in the disconnect. Whatever you've heard, or seen in the park, was a transaction. A sad, soulless transaction, bereft of any love or emotion. That has nothing to do with you. Or us. It's night and day, no matter how you may or may not touch me."

Still no answer, while he visibly struggled to believe her. So she would try another route. -- -- A direct route. -- -- "Come here," she cooed, reaching toward him from her perch on the edge of the mattress.

That, he obeyed. Little in this world could have stopped him -- even his own fears -- when she spoke so gently and looked at him with such love.

Her hands squeezed his and she used his strength to hoist herself to her feet. She landed into a kiss ... one that she knew he needed. One they both needed. And then, the gamble. Carefully, her fingers went to his belt.

"Catherine," he sighed sadly ... presumably because he felt he had no choice but to put a stop to this, regardless of those 'thoughts' that tempted and taunted in his mind.

Her fingers slipped behind the belt fast enough to prevent his attempted physical withdrawal. "Don't run, Vincent. That won't work any more. You know that by now. Because when you come back, I'll still be here."

His eyes met hers, struggling to grant her entrance. Catherine -- the sole, permanent chink in his armor.

"The one thing you have right," she soothed, "is the one thing that matters. And that's who you are. But not in the way you think." At his waist, her fingers tentatively returned to their work, and she stretched her face toward his. "You didn't marry an angel either. You married a full-blooded woman. Who loves you ... wants to touch you ... wants you to touch her ... even in 'those' ways, and even if that surprises you ... because of who you are."

Her hands had soon progressed to working on his well-worn trousers, and his head had dipped, letting her bless his chin with strings of tiny kisses. "It's ok, Vincent," she continued, "to hide from what you've been forced to see or hear in the park. But don't hide from me. Please, don't hide from me."

At last, an answer ... and one of acceptance. "I won't." he whispered, followed with a tender kiss for her lips. "Trying to hide from you," he mourned, " ... ... it hurts. It's so very painful."

"I know." she consoled, pressing her face to his ... so eager just to be closer. "I know. So we'll fix it, ok? Just let me prove myself." Carefully, she pulled against his embrace, silently coaxing him back toward the bed.

It took a moment -- one last moment of indecision -- and he did as she requested, following her the few short steps, then sitting down where she herself had sat moments earlier. He reached to pull her onto his lap, anxious yet again to wrap himself around her.

But she had other plans, and the satin of her nightgown wisped softly through his palms as she pushed him to lie on his back.

"Do you trust me?" she asked hopefully, climbing to hover above him. "Can you stop thinking on the park, and just think about me? And how much I love you?"

"I'm yours, love." he replied with helpless honesty. "I always have been ... you know that. I've trusted you from the moment my heart recognized you. Even before the trust was returned."

Her next breath had to be kick-started, drawn in sharply before she swallowed through a tightening throat. "Then just accept this, because of who you are. Nothing else." Soft fingers stroked his cheek, begging for his agreement. "All right?"

Vincent nodded ... amazed at his beloved ... amazed at himself. One by one his fingers relaxed, giving up the grip they had taken on her sides. He let her go ... and waited.

... ...

When he had referred to his inadvertent education, born of years wandering the park, he wasn't lying. He'd seen and heard much -- from brutality thinly disguised as affection, to acts of extreme physical closeness, accomplished with a coldness and indifference devoid of any human emotion. Flashes and sounds, amassed over the years, that he had diligently and safely buried beneath the boundary of his conscious.

And tonight, when those images had awoken, revived, and reached toward Catherine, after she'd so willingly taken to his bed, his disgust had been instant. He knew now what it was to be close to her. To make love to her, and do so with his whole heart. But in one blinding second the world had shifted, and it was she in his mind -- his angel -- doing those same callous, dispassionate things from the darkness of the park. And doing them to him.

The worst, however, was even beyond that. The animal that lived within had arisen. The same creature that she swore over and over was never really there. He saw it though, watching it come to life. And as much as it too loved this woman, it had reveled in those images of her doing such raw, carnal things. It had coaxed her into them. It had begged. It had lured. Then it had stolen the angel's silky white wings, and plummeted her to Earth to drown in the coldness of that park.

What could he have done except remove himself from the room? Tell her of the things he'd imagined? Touch her, love her, only to find the risen animal pushing her into that terrible role locked in his mind?

He knew she wouldn't let him escape though. No matter how strong his instinct was to seek distance, he knew she wouldn't let him achieve it. ... ... Just like he knew what was coming, when she gave him one more kiss, then rose up and away from him.

Her hand pressed purposefully to his abdomen, warning him against trying to sit up. ... ... And he knew.

She'd already pried his trousers open. It was no surprise when she took hold of the waist bands and pulled them down. Even his underwear, in one vigorous yank. He was reminded yet again -- the angel was stronger than she looked.

If she was surprised at the speed with which his erection bounced anxiously toward her, she didn't show it. Not verbally. Not even a reaction through their bond.

He raised his head, unable not to. Maybe it was the elusive animal that wanted to see its lustful dreams come true, or maybe it was simply the softer side of Vincent, checking that she wasn't too shocked. Either way ... both of them, it seemed, trusted her.

One by one her fingers wrapped around his shaft; testing the girth; testing the weight. And when he gasped in response, her eyes drifted a sultry path up to meet his. Dark eyes, filled with fire and determination. That alone made him take another labored breath.

"Are you all right?" she asked, trying so very hard not to let it sound like a tease.

He took the communication -- the concern -- as invitation, and rose up onto his elbows. "I can't ... think." he managed to stammer, quite truthfully.

Catherine bit back her urge to laugh in triumph. "You're not supposed to," she replied, then buried her face into the fur at the base of his shaft. This time she just let him gasp and puff, as she trailed the slowest string of kisses and suckles up along his straining length.

The bed shifted slightly as she braced herself against his legs, angling for a better direction. And when she'd accomplished it, with one hand steadying him, she absorbed the tip into her mouth.

She expected a grunt. Or a roar. Or snarl. Or even a purr, though she would never have voiced the prediction aloud. What she got instead bordered more on hyperventilation, his head falling back as he huffed for air.

"Are you all right?" she asked, this time much more seriously.

His head rose languidly, and he hoisted himself even further upright. He might have heard the question. Might not have. It didn't matter. He was finally starting to understand.

She'd been right ... again. This was not what he had heard or seen in the park -- and even that was such a blatant understatement, he scoffed at its obviousness. The ardor in her eyes, whenever they flitted up toward his, was beyond compare. ... ... Coax her to do this? Beg? On the contrary, he was rapidly getting the impression that he couldn't have stopped her even if he'd wanted to. And God help him, he definitely did not want to.

Balancing himself unsteadily, one hand reached tentatively forward. Work-roughened palm slid across soft, glowing, candle-lit cheek ... his pointed claws slipping easily through the cascade of her hair. And she smiled. Proudly; joyously; adoringly.

Stretching up, she gave his cheek the intimate nuzzle that had become their own special endearment -- filled with the closeness they both valued above all else -- then blessed him with a reassuring kiss.

She would not push him back down. If he was ready to watch, she would welcome the attention. Whatever memories still lingered from fearful, entrapped moments in the park, hopefully they were drifting away ... being replaced one by one with new, more personal visions of her own heartfelt display.

Again she caught the tip in her mouth, her tongue curling around curves and flicking along ridges. Above her, his breath panted into her hair, and she felt the tension in his muscles as his torso began to arch over her. ... Closing her in and wrapping himself around her as he was always so wont to do, even if it was a bit more of a challenge in this position.

She made her first downward pass -- drawing him as far as she could -- and was rewarded with his hand, gravitating instantly to the back of her head.

Pushing her was not the goal, and he held the tightest control over his fingers ,,, demanding that they not grip too tightly, press too hard, or offer anything beyond a loving caress. He couldn't help it though. The scene below his eyes was too unreal -- he had to touch it.

At last she was gifted with a word -- her name -- whispered so breathlessly it was reduced nearly to one syllable. So she pulled off, massaging and suckling the path of her retreat ... ... all for one specific goal ... ... to plunge him even faster, right back past her lips.

Now both roughened palms were at the back of her head, searching for the fine line between encouraging her to take as much of him as she could, but never demanding more than she could handle. Had her mouth always been this warm? Her lips always this soft and her tongue always this lithe? How could he have never noticed?

Once more she pulled off -- this time for a healthy gulp of air -- then drew him in again, tracing and countering each beating pulse of his blood with a press from the tip of her tongue. He was literally at his wits' end as he curved his body further across hers, his mane hiding her away from the rest of the world. In his opinion, this had nothing to do with the rest of the world. This was not even a part of it. This was unique, somehow ... ... even more unique than his own differentness.

It required every ounce of strength he could muster ... refraining from holding her head down while he simultaneously bucked upward. And then the snarl she'd been waiting for, hissed across the top of her head while his release sprayed to the back of her throat.

Smooth nails pinched into his thighs, and his heart paused when he feared he'd heard a gurgling sound of discomfort from his beloved. But even words of concern were impossible, these final, endless seconds as she gave him one last, prolonged glide out through her lips.

His collapse began as he leaned forward, his muscles weakening, instinctually searching for her comfort just as always. Then it slowly rebounded as he sprawled backward onto the bed, giant puffs of air still issuing from his lungs. Coherence was difficult to achieve, and he rubbed his brow with his fingers.

Pride filled Catherine's smile as she rose and moved to sit beside him. "Was that ok?" she asked. seeking his gaze. She rather suspected it was, obviously. At the very least, he was too satisfied to be embarrassed. It was quite an unusual sight to see ... this man spread so freely across the bed, his shirt mussed and his trousers around his ankles.

"Ohhh Caaaaatherine," he drew, taking her hand and giving it the most ardent kiss. "That was more than ok," he added shyly, his eyes finally focusing on hers. He almost laughed, and motioned briefly toward his legs. "I'm not even certain I can stand."

One feminine eyebrow rose. "So I guess you don't have to run that errand tonight after all?"

His respiration had finally begun to slow, and bright, satiated feline eyes blinked tiredly at the woman he loved. "No, I don't believe so," he agreed. Gently, he pulled her down to his chest ... kissing her hair, circling her ... loving her ... thanking her ... the strength in his arms given over freely, just as she'd already spirited away the rest of his energy. She could have it all -- he no longer needed it. There was nothing left to hide from.

-

Eventually, she managed to coax him beneath the covers. It had already been late upon their return, then with the battle of wills and the 'events' thereafter, sleep was definitely on the horizon.

"I hadn't realize," Catherine began sympathetically, once she had settled down and her husband was spooned around her, "what you may have been forced to witness in the past. Up there in the park. ... I mean, it hadn't occurred to me."

And there was an additional thorn to the situation too, wasn't there. One she'd only stopped to consider now that the tension was past. She too would have been embarrassed, trapped behind a tree while a prostitute sold her wares. But to bear the added insult ... ... to believe, as Vincent would have, that even the tiniest fraction of what was so freely exchanged for money would never be yours, even as a simple gift of love ... ... how utterly heartbreaking.

Behind her, he exhaled thoughtfully. "The park has always been a significant part of my world. A place of peace and contemplation. A place of interest and enjoyment. City and forest, come together in one. With the good comes the bad. With the joys, the sorrows." He smiled, his arms closing tighter around her; his next words spoken deep into the curve of her neck. "Fortunately, my world is changing. Shifting and quaking. ... Expanding."

Catherine smiled, closing her eyes and sliding her hands along his forearms. Settling down for a good night's rest. "I love you," she whispered.

Vincent returned the same endearment, whispered across her skin and intermingled with a kiss. And then ... ... ... "Shall I admit something else, Catherine? Before we sleep?"

"What?" she giggled.

"It has not changed, my chosen word. ... ... ... You remain an angel."