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To Laugh is to Love

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Father glanced up as there was an intrusion on his current reading. He tried to curtail the scowl of his discontent upon noting that it was Catherine from Above, here no doubt to lead Vincent into trouble once more.

It was an uncharitable thought, and he endeavored to stifle it before it could further darken his heart, or his relationship with Vincent. It was best to take things one night at a time. However, he could not set aside his worry for long as he watched Vincent join Catherine, already dressed to go Above.

Whatever task was at hand, it had been prearranged that they would meet, almost as if they had a date planned. That thought made Father uncomfortable, but he could not protect Vincent forever.

"I am still uncertain about this idea, Catherine," Vincent said, even as he sat still for her on the stool, not far from one of the many exits of Below. He was patient, though, allowing her to do just as she wished.

"And I am certain," Catherine told him firmly. "Hooded scarf, heavy jacket, and gloves to get you inside, and then we get to just enjoy ourselves. No surprises, no deadly danger, just you and I watching a light-hearted movie." She kept winding the scarf around his neck, loose and easily obscuring his lower face. She flipped the hood up; making sure that the shadows fell just right. She had been looking forward to the bitter cold for just this reason, so that she could treat Vincent to something of her world. It was only fair, given all he had shared with her of his.

"I am still amused to learn that she is an actress in addition to her skillful singing," Vincent admitted, rather than dwell on their plan to interact in such a stereotypical way of the world Above. "Ellie enjoys listening to her," he added, as Catherine opened her mouth to tease him for embracing something that was derived from modern popular media.

"Of course," she said instead. Most of the music and books below were classics, but she was learning that nearly every member of Vincent's community had some divergence from the isolation policy. Vincent came Above to help while Mouse acquired things he couldn't get Below. Ellie probably had some lingering association with this music that made her hold onto it in her life among their community.

Vincent stood and shrugged into the coat, before accepting help to put the gloves on. They would take away one of his best defenses, but perhaps this night would not see need of them. He would be pleased to have one peaceful night in Catherine's company.

Catherine came back over to where Vincent was waiting, standing against the building in one of the lesser lit areas. "Bad news, Vincent. The show we wanted is sold out."

Vincent inclined his head slightly. "It is only a minor disappointment, Catherine. We are both still free of expectations for the night and can share it in other manners."

She smiled at him, always amazed at just how gentle and easy-going his manner was. "Well, it just turns out they had plenty of tickets for a marathon of classic comedy acts," she informed him, brandishing two tickets. "Let's go see who's on first."

Vincent gave her a sly smile. "And what's on second?" Catherine lit up brightly at him, so pleased he was grounded in the classics of humor.


Oh, that's our shortstop!

As the final line in the classic skit came over the speakers, Catherine stopped watching the screen to look up at Vincent. In the dim light of the screen, she saw just how relaxed his features were. His eyes crinkled around the edges, his lips turned up, and the soft chuckle that had been steadily rolling through the various skits and shorts pieced together from radio-plays and actual films was a soft, purring sound.

She was so pleased that the other movie had been sold out. As nice as it would have been to see, she would treasure this night all the more for having shared in true laughter with Vincent.

"We should slip out now," he finally said as the screen filled with the closing credits.

"Yes," she agreed. "Do you think we could take a walk, maybe in the park?" she asked him.

He looked down at her, still smiling beneath the hood that kept him safe from those who just would not understand. "I think that would be wonderful, Catherine."

She knew they were as unlikely a couple as could exist, but the bond between them, forged and annealed in the fire of too many trials, was something neither would choose to ignore. Their friendship was the center of their lives, letting them help each other. That they both chose to help others only added layers to what they were.

She kept her hand on Vincent's arm as they made their way to the side exit of the theater. She was feeling light-hearted and knew he was too. This just made her more careful that no one knocked into Vincent as he kept his head down to avoid any inadvertent mishaps.

"I think it snowed," Vincent said, his voice touched with wonder. She turned her face toward the door as another man exited, catching the slight hint of cold, crisp, and wet.

"That will just make tonight perfect!" she decreed.

He held the door for her, allowing her to exit into the freshly falling snow first. "Catherine, it already was perfect." He let the door fall shut, giving her his arm again. They began walking toward the park, the snow falling all around them.

"You say that so easily," she told him.

He nodded at that. "Your company is a balm on the wear of the tiring tasks we set for ourselves, or that life offers us. To also add the cure of humor on top of that was wonderful, while the snow adds a measure of enchantment to the night."

She looked up at him, catching a glimpse of his soft features in the reflected lights of the city on the snowy blanket around them. "Vincent, I would not trade any of those tasks, of the work we do, for anything. I love feeling that I am making a difference, and your presence in my life is a gift beyond measure." She leaned in closer to his arm, to the security that he was, and they continued on their way, suffused in the perfect rapport they shared.