Beauty and the Beast
A fanfiction based on the 1987 tv-series
Sequels “The Rest is Silence”
By Anita Meuris
The smell of candle wax and old wood assured him that he was in his chamber, but even with his eyes closed he knew he was restrained. His eyes flew open. There were chains around his chest and leather straps around his wrists. Sweat dewed on his face and he was cold. Very, very cold.
In the dim light of the candles he could distinguish a slim figure sitting by his bedside. The person had laid his head on the side of the bed.
The raw sound of his own voice startled him. The person sitting in the armchair lifted his head.
A tentative smile appeared on Father’s face.
“Are you …”
“I was dreaming, I believe.”
His voice seemed to scorch his throat. It felt like he had not used his speech in days.
A memory of him roaring and growling like a caged animal flashed by, Father futily attempting to soothe him with words. Then he remembered the beginning.
Father inhaled as if the air was being sucked out of the chamber. He averted his eyes.
“She’s gone, Vincent.”
He tried to grasp the notion: his muse. His love. His hope. Gone.
“It’s because I hurt her,” he realized. “She’s afraid.”
“Her aspirations went beyond these chambers,” Father responded.
“Beyond all of us.”
When Father moved, Vincent could see the bandage on his arm.
“Did I hurt you too?”
Father gazed at his arm.
“It’s just a scratch.”
A hint of anxiety flickered in his eyes.
“How much do you remember?”
An echo of his cries resounded in Vincent’s head.
“I remember despair,” he mumbled, “and madness.”
The chaos swirled through his mind, swallowing all thoughts, all feelings, all that made him human. He could feel it clinging to his heart like a leach, tearing at his skin until he wanted to rip it all off.
His roar echoed off the damp walls.
The voice was like a waterfall, gentle, calming, yet persistent enough to break through the chaos. His body, his entire being responded to it.
For a moment he could picture Father’s face as he desperately sought for a kind answer to his question:
“Is this going to be my life, Father? Should I always be afraid of love?”
A slender body cuddled up against his chest. A hand touched his face.
“Vincent,” the voice insisted, “come back to me!”
Through a red haze he perceived a soft, delicate face. A pair of clear blue eyes gazed at him so intensely he shivered. Once again, his voice scorched his throat:
A shadow of a smile played on her lips.
“Yes,” she whispered. “I am here.”
Her fingers slowly ran through his hair.
“I am always here.”
It was her. He could smell her rose perfume. He could feel the warmth of her body and most of all he could sense her. She was afraid, but not of the roaring beast. She was afraid that he would be lost to her, that she would be forced to live a life that did not include him. That perspective positively terrified her.
“Catherine,” he whispered.
He wrapped his arms around her and could hear her breathe heavily against his chest.
The haze slowly lifted from his eyes, enabling him to take in his surroundings: the cold, wet walls of the cave he had chosen for his tomb.
“Is it over?” Catherine asked, lifting her head to look into his eyes.
He carefully stroked a lock of her hair back from her face.
“You ventured into the dark,” he sighed.
She trailed her fingertips on his lips.
“I would follow you anywhere,” she said, “into the fires of hell if I needed to.”
“I’m glad you finally decided to show up, Radcliff.”
Catherine looked up from her desk, where the files were piling up as usual. Her phone was ringing off the hook, and coworkers were rushing around the office.
“I had a rough night,” she responded.
Joe comically lifted his eyebrows.
“If you’re dating one of those slick types who drive around in Porsches and go clubbing in the middle of the week don’t fill me in. Anyway, I need you on a new case.”
Catherine gestured at the files, scattered over her desk.
“This guy scammed 5 old ladies out of their life savings in the past 4 years,” Joe continued. “His last victim died under suspicious circumstances just a week after she included him in her will. One other victim suspects him of poisoning. She broke off ties with him. Then all of the sudden her kids get stalked. Slashed tires, wilted flowers, prank calls. The usual stuff.”
“But the police can’t prove anything,” Catherine suspected.
Joe raised his eyebrows even further.
“Oh, this guy is slick. I bet he’s slicker than your Porsche-date, Cathy.”
“I think you would be surprised at my date.”
She folded her hands and sighed.
“Actually, I wanted to talk to you,” she continued. “I need to take things a bit slower.”
“No way!” Joe exclaimed, waiving his hands. “Not now, Cathy. Have you seen the amount of new cases we’ve been getting in?”
“I know. I’m sorry. I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important.”
Joe bent forward, placing his hands on her desk.
“You’re not ill, are you?”
“No. Nothing like that.”
Joes eyes kept staring at her.
“It’s personal,” she explained. “Besides, we have got those two new interns.”
“They’re eager,” Joe admitted, “but they’re not you, Radcliff. You’ve done some amazing work around here. You know that, right?”
She leaned back in her chair.
“And I’m not going anywhere. I just need to cut down on the extra hours. Now for the …”
She peaked at the new file Joe had placed on the side of her desk.
“… Dexter case … let me talk to some of the witnesses.”
In the distance Vincent could hear the wind soaring through the caves. It was dark here, with only the dim light of his torch. Still, he was able to read the name that was carved into the dark stone:
He wiped the dust from the stone and put some wildflowers on the tomb. The medallion with her picture hung from the stone. He refrained from gazing upon it. She was gone and he had no recollection of her touch, her smell, her eyes. Was it true what Paracelsus had told him? Was Anna in fact his biological mother? Not even Father had been able to rule out the option with absolute certainty. The one thing he did swear upon was that Anna had been alive after Vincent’s birth. His life had not ended hers.
He turned around to face a pair of snow-white marble eyes.
“Narcissa,” he sighed.
The blind woman smiled.
Her smile died just as quickly.
“Why have you returned? There is nothing for you down here.”
He approached her, speaking gently:
“I came to say goodbye to Anna … and to see how you were. Do you need anything, Narcissa?”
She waved her hand to dismiss the question.
“I’m just an old woman, Vincent, and somewhat crippled. In the word above they cast these people aside.”
“We are not in the world above and you haven’t been as fit since Paracelsus attacked you.”
She frowned and her voice dropped:
“Your heart is in turmoil over his death.”
Unexpectedly she grabbed his arm.
“You knew that he was not the Father. Don’t be afraid to look into your heart, child. There is only kindness there.”
“Not only kindness,” Vincent mused. “I took his life.”
“He was a weed. You only pulled it out before it could infest the world any further. Do not doubt your humanity. Many people love you.”
“Anna loved you.”
“Perhaps it is dangerous to love me, Narcissa.”
The old woman fiercely shook her head. Her earrings tinkled like wind chimes.
“Love is not dangerous. It is fear that is dangerous.”
She placed a bony hand on his chest.
“Search for the truth within your heart, not within this tomb.”
Catherine did her best to ignore the scent of disinfectants and medication. The high heels of her denim boots clashed against the white tile floor. Door 234. She walked in and found a woman seated in a wheelchair by the window.
The woman turned to look at her. Her face was covered in wrinkles, but her eyes glimmered.
“Hi,” she continued. “My name is Catherine Chandler. I’m with the district attorney’s office. I would like to ask you some questions about David Dexter.”
The glimmer died.
“Please,” the woman said, pointing at a seat in the corner of the room. “Call me Martha.”
Catherine took a seat.
“I understand mister Dexter attempted to harm you.”
The old lady bowed her head.
“He did this,” she proclaimed. “He put me in this chair.”
Catherine opened her notebook and grabbed a pencil out her bag.
“How? The police report said you suspected poisoning.”
“That was before,” Martha said with a sadness in her voice. “When I got on to him, he changed his game. Tried to get rid of me before I had the chance to change my will. It was my kids, you know. They warned me something was off. Oh, he was charming at first.”
The woman tightened her lips.
“Said he was a medium. Said my husband sent him.”
Catherine paused her notes.
“Your late husband?”
“Harry, yes. David said he had come to him in a dream. He knew things … private things only Harry knew.”
“Can you give me an example?”
Tears welled up in Martha’s eyes.
“He said he wished he hadn’t thrown away my neckless. He gave it to me when we became engaged, but then he heard a rumor that I was seeing another man behind his back and he threw it away. I wasn’t, you know. Seeing anyone else. There had been other men of course, but not since Harry. No one ever came close to Harry. It was just jealous gossip. He tried to retrieve the neckless once the truth came out, but he never found it.”
“David could have heard about those rumors.”
“He had the neckless,” Martha pleaded. “He knew the exact words Harry had spoken when he had first given it to me.”
“He had more of these messages from Harry?” Catherine assumed.
“Oh yes. I became convinced that he was in fact Harry. Or that Harry’s spirit guided him.”
“When did he start asking for money?”
“He waited a couple of months. Said he had no family of his own and that he wanted me to be his family. He lost his job, he said, and they were going to kick him out of his apartment.”
The woman paused to stare out the window. It was a desolate view, only concrete and grey, windowless walls.
“He sounded so much like him,” she muttered. “At times he even smelled like him. I never realized what he was doing until my children intervened.”
“By that time he was already poisoning you?”
“I thought I’d taken a turn for the worse. I was seventy-eight years old. I never thought he had anything to do with my headaches. My stomachaches. When I started coughing up blood he told me not to see a doctor, that Harry so longed for me to join him in the afterlife.”
“No blood samples were taken?” Catherine asked.
“It wasn’t until later that I started to suspect him,” Martha answered. “When he was driven away by my children and they all got into these strange little accidents. We couldn’t prove anything, but we knew it was him. One Sunday …”
She gasped for air.
“… he came into my house. I never saw him, but I could sense his presence and right before I fell down the stairs, I could smell his perfume. Harry’s perfume.”
“Have you made contact with any of his other victims?”
“Once or twice.”
“Maybe you should talk to Judith’s son. He was dead set on bringing David to justice.”
Back at her apartment Catherine went over the testimonies in the case file. A number of people suspected David Dexter of swindle, embezzlement and assault, but there was no solid evidence. Any decent lawyer would wipe their charges right off the table.
A ticking on the glass terrace doors woke her from her thoughts. Immediately she rushed to the balcony. The soft, pink curtains fluttered around her. There he was: a tall, wide figure, cloaked, almost one with the night.
“Vincent,” she sighed as she threw herself in his embrace.
He smelled of old books, leather, and candle wax.
“Are you alright?”
His breath touched her hair.
“I am well, Catherine.”
She clung to his chest.
“It has passed,” he said, “thanks to you.”
She loosened her grip ever so slightly, enabling her to look up into his eyes.
“I’ve spoken with my boss. I’m going to start working regular hours.”
“Or at least a bit more regular.”
Vincent’s deep, warm voice carried a worried undertone:
“Are you tired?”
Catherine cast her eyes upon the city. The lit-up windows in the distance looked like silver stars.
“I met a woman today, in the autumn of her life, a kind and strong woman, but regretful of many things in her life. She spoke to me of the love that she had lost many years ago and it made me realize that every second that we spend with our loved ones is priceless.”
“Yes,” Vincent replied in his soft, slightly hoarse voice.
“So, I want to spend more time with you.”
She felt Vincent’s muscles tense.
“But all the work you do to help these people …”
“I will keep doing it,” she assured him.
The wrinkle on his forehead deepened, but he did not object.
“What shall we do then with all this time?” he asked.
She buried her cheek in his long, gingery hair and whispered: “Savor it.”
“Mister Bloom?” Catherine’s voice echoed across the pawn shop.
Carefully she maneuvered through the vast rows of shelves, which were all covered in baubles.
“I’m Dennis Bloom,” said a tall man with sandy blonde hair and grey eyes. “How can I help you?”
She reached for her ID.
“I’m Catherine Chandler. I’m …”
“An assistant D.A.,” mister Bloom finished. “Martha told me you would be swinging by. Still trying to get Dexter convicted then? I’m telling you it’s a waste of time.”
“I understand you have been gathering evidence against mister Dexter, related to your mother’s passing?”
“Passing,” mister Bloom echoed. “What a lovely word to describe such a horrific event.”
Catherine followed him around the shop.
“Is there any information you can share that may help us catch him?”
“He won’t get caught,” Bloom snared. “He’s a psychic.”
She laughed somewhat nervously.
“You don’t really believe that!”
Bloom suddenly turned to look at her.
“My mother did and now she’s dead.”
“Can you tell me what happened?”
Bloom stopped his fiddling and took a deep breath.
“He told her my dead brother was communicating with him,” he started. “Tommy has been dead for ten years. He never communicated with anyone, but mom … she always believed his spirit was out there, you know? Like when a light bulb broke, or a butterfly flew against her bedroom window. She always thought it was him, that he had some last, big message for her. I guess she needed closure.”
“And mister Dexter played right into that card.”
“Even had me fooled for a while,” Bloom confessed.
Bloom scratched his throat.
“He called me Froggy. It was my nickname as a kid because I loved amphibians. Tommy came up with it.”
“When did the extortion begin?”
“He said no one would give him a job because of his ability to interact with the dead. Said it ruined his life, but he couldn’t ignore the cries for help. We offered him a place to stay, gave him money. Mom even included him in her will. To her he was Tommy reincarnated.”
“How did she die?”
“Fell from the cellar stairs. Broke her neck.”
Catherine stopped taking notes and looked at him.
“Yeah,” he snorted. “Stairs. Same as Martha Rosely.”
“Ah, Vincent …”
Father entered the chamber, leaning heavily on his walking stick.
“Pascale told me you had gone to the lower level.”
“I visited Anna’s grave.”
Although Father did not openly object, the worried look in his eyes did not go past Vincent.
“She is the closest thing I had to a mother,” he explained.
Father took a seat and nodded.
“I suppose she was. She so enjoyed holding you and singing you to sleep. She had a beautiful voice.”
“Her love for me proved to be fatal,” Vincent thought up. “How could Paracelsus do such a thing? Murder his own wife?”
Father took a deep breath.
“John was lost,” he concluded. “Even as a child he felt no connection to the world around him. He had of course been a victim of abuse. His father was an alcoholic and a bully. John was a skinny boy with an insatiable desire for knowledge. He was extremely intelligent, but his father thought him weak and rejected him. He spent most of his young life on his own, studying science. He became … estranged from the world, from humanity.
When he started this community, he finally received the esteem he had yearned for. I thought that that, and Anna’s love, would bring him back to life. Instead he chose death.”
Father paused. When he opened his mouth again to speak, he was interrupted by Mouse, who stumbled into the chamber, holding the strangest object in his hands. It looked like a small UFO, made of black plastic. There was a round glass in the upper side and strange knobs around the length of the body.
As usual Mouse was highly excited and practically bumped into all the furniture on his way to Vincent’s desk.
He placed the strange object on the desk.
“Mouse made stars. For Vincent.”
He pressed a button on the side and a light beam rose from the glass. The entire ceiling became covered in twinkling lights.
“See!” he exclaimed, marveling at Vincent’s surprise. “Night sky.”
“Mouse,” Father started, “that is truly amazing!”
Mouse pressed another button and the lights started dancing across the walls.
“Can look at it when you feel sad,” Mouse suggested, “or with Catherine.”
Vincent put his hand on Mouse’s shoulder.
“Catherine will love these stars,” he said.
There was a man standing in the hallway of her apartment building. He had folded open a small table and had displayed a sphere, a book of cards, incense, and a couple of spiritual statues.
“Ah!” he exclaimed when he saw her approaching. “Just the person I needed to see! Please, fair lady, pick a card.”
She had to pass him to get to her apartment, so she paused for a moment. The man looked a bit scabby, dressed in a long, black raincoat. He had messy, dark hair and almost pitch-black eyes.
“Just pick one,” he insisted, holding the book of cards under her nose. “Doesn’t cost you.”
“Oh alright,” she sighed.
She pulled a card from the middle of the deck.
“Show me what you got.”
She turned the card around and instantly gasped at the image. It was a tarot card called The Lovers and the image was of a young woman in a white dress. Her lover was a devil-like creature. Pointy ears, dark skin, sharp teeth.
Her voice sharpened:
“Who are you?”
The man shrugged.
“My name is David Dexter, miss Chandler. I thought since you had been snooping around in my world, I would return the favor.”
“This is harassment,” she reprimanded him. “I would like you to leave before I call the police.”
“It represents something,” he said. “Doesn’t it? The card you picked. Is it someone you lost?”
Catherine intended to walk to her door, but his voice stopped him:
“You recently lost a loved one, a parent, but the card represents someone you are connected with. A lover.”
Her hand trembled as she unlocked her door.
“He’s not a regular lover,” David Dexter continued. “He is … he transcends humanity …”
Catherine slammed the door in his face, but she could still hear him:
“Leave it be, miss Chandler!”
She locked her door meticulously and waited a few moments before looking through the peephole. David Dexter was gathering his things and seemed to be leaving.
Her sigh was so intense it blew strings of her shiny, brown hair into her eyes. She needed something solid on this guy.
She took off her coat, poured herself a glass of wine and went through every detail in the case file with a fine-tooth comb. There must have been something she had missed. Someone must have noticed something suspicious. There was nothing.
The chamber was lit with flickering candles and the children were all seated in a circle. Their faces were filled with wonder and excitement and their eyes were fixated on Vincent, who was reading in a soft, warm voice:
“I found every breath of air, and every scent, and every flower, and leaf and blade of grass and every passing cloud, and everything in nature, more beautiful and wonderful than I had ever found it yet. This was my first gain from my illness. How little I had lost when the wide world was so full of delight for me.”
Behind his impressive silhouette Father entered the room.
“I believe it is time for bed,” he stated, ignoring the children’s mutters of protest. “Mary will be in shortly to tuck you in and I will want to hear all about your little chemistry project in the morning, so best make an early start.”
One by one the children got up to go to their dormitory.
“Night, Vincent,” they spoke interchangeably. “Night, Father.”
Father patted one of the smaller boys on the head. Samantha hesitated for a moment. Then she ran to Vincent and threw her arms around his neck.
“I’m glad we get to read Bleak House together,” she told him.
“So am I, Samantha.”
The little girl merrily hopped out of the chamber and Father could not suppress an amused laugh.
“They have missed you,” he noticed.
“I was only away for a couple of hours.”
“Yes, but they were the longest hours of their lives.”
Slowly Father limped to one of chairs.
“Eric tells me Catherine will be reading with them next week.”
“Yes,” Vincent affirmed. “She is meaning to spend more time with the children.”
“And with you.”
Father seemed somewhat dazed.
“I know you are concerned,” Vincent said, “but it is only time and we have had so little of it in the past.”
“I know,” Father whispered, “and I am happy for you both, but as a friend I am also entitled to be just a little concerned.”
Vincent bent over to place a large, fur-covered hand on his shoulder.
“I am well, Father,” he assured him. “In fact, I don’t recall ever having been this much at peace with myself. Not even as a child.”
“Yours has not been an easy path,” Father agreed. “I must say I’ve been stumped at your resilience. Envious even, at times. I’m not sure I wouldn’t have cracked under the pressure.”
“I did crack,” Vincent refuted, “twice.”
Fathers hand patted the back of his.
“But you persevered and that is what matters.”
Through the side window of her car Catherine looked at the mansion Martha Rosely had lived in before her attack. The front yard was covered in Easter flowers. She got out of her car and started ringing doorbells. By the time she had covered most of the block she started to lose hope. Martha’s neighbors were all quite friendly, but no one had seen anything. She was about to head back to her car when a window across the street drew her attention. Behind it a young boy stood staring at her. She could immediately recognize the sadness in his eyes. This boy had been through an ordeal. Still, he seemed to call out to her, so she crossed the street and rang the doorbell. When no one answered she rang it again, a bit longer this time. Finally, the door opened, and the boy stood in front of her.
“Hi,” she said in a gently voice. “My name is Cathy. What’s yours?”
“Hi Tommy. Are your parents home?”
“My dad died,” the kid answered. “My mom’s at work.”
Catherine heart went out to the boy, who was obviously very unhappy.
“Did you know mrs Rosely?” she tried. “The lady who lived across the street?”
“Are you a friend of hers?”
“I’m trying to catch the man who hurt her.”
The boy seemed nervous.
“Did you see anything?”
The boy shook his head, but he avoided all eye contact.
Catherine took a wild shot:
“The man who put mrs Rosely in a wheelchair is not your father. You know that, don’t you?”
Tommy glanced at her. Then he nodded.
“He knew things about dad,” he said, “but he didn’t feel like him.”
“What did he tell you?”
Tommy’s face had lost all color.
“He said he’d make sure dad went to hell if I ever told anyone what I saw.”
He hesitated for a moment.
“But I don’t think he can do that, can he?”
“No, Tommy. He most certainly can’t.”
“You saw him push her.”
“I saw him through my window. He came up from behind mrs Rosely and pushed her down the stairs.”
The entire drive back to her apartment she thought about the people David Dexter has conned, sad and lonely people who wanted nothing more than to believe that their loved ones were still out there. That their spirits had not perished. She thought about her own parents. Would she have been an easy target for mister Dexter had circumstances been different?
She paused at her door and looked for her keys. They were not in her bag.
“Dammit,” she muttered.
She must have dropped them in the car.
Briskly, she walked back to elevator. There was a man in an orange overall standing on a step stool in the middle of the elevator. He had put his tool case between the doors, so they couldn’t close.
“Hey,” she called out to him. “What are you doing?”
The man stopped to look at her.
“Maintenance. She’ll be up and running again in half an hour.”
Catherine let out an annoyed sigh, but she decided she didn’t want to hang around her hallway for the next half hour, so she took the stairs.
The lights weren’t working properly. She needed to mind her step. Just when she had reached the level directly below hers, she could hear a second pair of footsteps echo down the staircase. Instinctively she took up the pace. So did the person following her. By the time she had reached the next level he had caught up with her.
Her heart jumped. It was David Dexter.
“Why couldn’t you leave it be?” he asked. His voice almost sounded sad. “Then again, a rich girl like you … You probably can’t imagine what it’s like to have nothing.”
She didn’t respond, so he continued:
“I was just like that kid you met today, only poorer. I was eleven when my dad died. My mom had to work two straight jobs to keep us fed. She was never around to watch tv with me or tuck me in or cook me diner. I had to do everything on my own. Then she died too and there was just me.”
For a moment she felt sorry for him. Then his tone hardened:
“I’ve never been able to communicate with their spirits. It’s like they pushed me away. I had to look out for myself.”
“By robbing lonely people out of their life savings?”
“At least they got to talk to their loved ones once more.”
“She says she approves,” he said. “Your mother.”
Catherine launched a mocking laugh, but David Dexter kept going:
“The one you gave her rose to … she approves of him.”
Instantly Catherine froze up. There was no way David could know about that. No one besides Vincent and herself knew.
David took advantage of her confusion by shooting forward and pushing her as hard as he could.
She lost her balance. A loud shriek flew from her lungs as she fell. Her body bounced down the stairs, then landed on the next level. Slowly David followed. Bent over her, he said:
“You will lose something now, miss Chandler.”
Quickly she kicked him in the groin. Her shoulders and back were sore from the fall, but she could still run. David swiftly recovered from his attack and grabbed her wrist, pulling her back.
“You are not taking me down!” he yelled in her face.
He wrapped his hands around her throat. She lashed out, but she could not get him to loosen his grip. Gasping for air she saw the staircase get darker. Everything seemed to move away from her. Even her own mind.
Then her hand hit something on the wall behind her and a new energy raged through her.
She struggled, was able to turn her body far enough to grab the fire extinguisher and pull it off the wall. One sway and the grip loosened. She’d managed to hit David on the side of the head. He laid unconscious on the platform before her.
She felt his presence even before she heard his voice.
“I’m alright …”
In a heartbeat he stood next to her, wrapping his arms around her trembling body.
“Vincent, I’m alright.”
“Do you still remember,” Vincent softly recited, “fallen stars …”
He laid stretched out on his bed with Catherine solidly in his embrace, both of them marveling at Mouse’s night sky.
“… how they leapt slantwise through the sky like horses over suddenly held-out hurdles of our wishes.”
After a moment Catherine said: “He truly had a gift, this man we captured, but he decided to use it for evil.”
“The choices we make in life,” Vincent replied, “define who we become.”
She tightened her arm around his chest and buried her face in his hair.
“I like who we’ve become,” she whispered.