Just then, his pager went off. He tilted the device towards the light, recognizing the area code as from Manhattan, but it wasn't Cathy's number. Dropping some more quarters in the phone, he dialed the number. “Hi, someone paged me?” he said.
“Devin, it's Jamie. I'm calling from Peter's house.”
“Why, hello, Jamie. How are you doing?”
He could hear her smile over the phone. “Devin, it really worked. They got back last night. Did you know Vincent can get freckles? I didn't.”
Devin chuckled. “I just got off the phone with Cathy. She's as stunned as you are.” He paused. “Did everything go okay while he was gone? I know the Old Man had to be worried.”
Jamie snorted. “Things were so boring around here, Father broke out his stock of scary stories just for a little excitement.” In a softer voice, she continued, “Thanks for taking my call and helping me plan this, Devin. I couldn't have done it without you.”
He nodded, though he knew she couldn't see him. “I know what it's like to want something for Vincent,” he replied quietly. “He's a good guy.”
“They're both good people,” Jamie said. “And we shouldn't have bullied him like that.” There was the sound of a delighted smile in her voice. “Did you know they're getting married?”
“Yeah, Cathy told me that too. I'm glad he had it in him after all.”
Jamie laughed. “So am I. Are you coming for the wedding?”
Devin nodded. “Yup. Cathy invited me. I'll be there, and Charles will too.”
“Fantastic,” Jamie said. “I gotta go, but thanks again.”
“You're welcome. You're a good partner in crime, Jamie. Take care.” He hung up the phone and smiled, the scars on his face crinkling and lending his features even more of a roguish cast. Vincent, I couldn't make all your dreams come true when we were kids, but I could damn near help you realize them now. My hat's off to you, Fuzz.
Returning to the bar, he announced, “A round on the house! My brother's getting married!”
In an apartment far above the streets of New York City, Catherine packed and padded and boxed her memories of the life before she had known Vincent. They were to be married soon and with his acquiescence, she'd found an old brownstone in need of some serious renovation...but which also had a tunnel entrance. It was to be their place between the worlds, some small space of the universe where they could live and their worlds could join. It would never be perfect, it would never be Fifth Avenue and ice cream in the sunshine, but it would be better. It would be theirs.
Catherine gazed around the place one last time, remembering the one other time she'd packed to leave and her heart throbbed at all that she'd nearly left back then. Now, it was a different kind of leaving---leaving to join her life with Vincent's as opposed to leaving for a life that would take her away from him. She felt a pang, a tug, but nothing more. Life awaited her, and she awaited it.
Vincent met her at the threshold; she would stay with him below until the brownstone renovations were complete, sorting out the path of their life below and above. Their wedding was just a few days hence. “Ready?” he asked, taking her satchel.
“Yes,” she said and kissed him. “Always.”
In a chamber far below the streets of New York City, a man sat on the edge of his bed and remembered. He remembered Anna's white, frightened face as she uncovered the dying child (Anna, I wish you had lived to see this! Father thought) and the three days of wailing and that child slowly growing better and stronger. He'd lost his heart to the boy right then---how could anyone not lose their heart to a child so determined to survive? He remembered his son taking his first steps as Devin held his hand, all the bumps and bruises and joy and sorrows that came afterwards.
And now his child was to be married this very night. Father had heard Jenny down here some hours earlier, so presumably she and Jamie and Mary were attending to Catherine. Catherine, soon to be his daughter in law. Such a thing did not seem possible---or at least, it did not to him, though he had grown to love her for the caring, bright, fierce, passionate woman she was. It did not seem possible because surely his son was not old enough—surely he was not old enough---to have a child getting married.
Devin came in. “What's up, Dad?”
Father smiled at the greeting. Devin never would call him Father, not as an adult and not since learning that Father really was his father. Perhaps they'd grow past that, eventually. “Just...remembering,” Father said. “Is everything almost ready?”
Devin nodded. “Yep. Vincent's about to wear a hole in the floor pacing and Catherine's not too far from that herself, from what I hear from Jenny. But they'll survive. Are you ready for this?”
“I've officiated at a number of weddings,” Father said, somewhat stiffly.
“Yeah, but it was never Vincent getting married.”
Father nodded. “True. I confess I never thought I'd see this day. And I've never been more happy to be proved wrong.” The mantel clock on the low bookshelf gave a thump. He glanced at it, made a mental calculation---the clock never would keep accurate time---and glanced at his other son. “It's time.”
And then there was the afterwards, the music, the dancing, the congratulations, the repeating of the wedding kiss that had ended the ceremony, that had made them husband and wife. Catherine gazed down at the simple band that had been Margaret's and smiled across at her husband. Husband. The word defined what had been in her heart since that first flight from Connecticut. “My wife,” Vincent rumbled, “shall we dance?”
Catherine stood, smiling, making sure the long folds of her mother's wedding gown were out of the way. “I thought you'd never ask,” she replied, and he led her out onto the dance floor. And this time, the music wasn't just in their hearts.
THE END (for now :-)