Your Refuge: Chapter Two: You Fell
"I'm sorry I had to leave you so early last time," Javert said, his tail softly brushing against the floor as he walked around Abigail's room, sniffing a thousand memories.
"It's alright," said the child happily. "You were busy. I understand."
Javert had not been busy. He'd been frightened out of his mind. He'd stayed as long as necessary to reassure the child that he would return, and then bolted out of there as if the devil were at his heels.
But then, Javert remembered far too many brushes with the devil to be certain that he wasn't.
"You hadn't told me she was blind!" he had snapped at the Holy Spirit.
"You hadn't asked," He said, and Javert could just feel his blood boil. Of course, the Holy Spirit had been quite nervous at the idea of ghosts becoming Guardian Angels, especially Javert, so he was following everyone disguised as a falcon. It hadn't taken Javert very long to realize that the Peregrine Falcon sitting across on another window ledge was keeping a rather obsessive watch on him, so he naturally deduced who it was.
"Javert, who named you that?" the little child asked him, her blind eyes following him as he walked.
The black dog – more demonic than angelic – paused. "It's my family's name."
"Like a last name?" she asked.
He nodded, but forgot she was blind, and almost said yes aloud, when she reminded him that she could see him. Her voice took on such pride when she said these things. Javert could just imagine her boasting to whatever friends she had. "Yes, that's right! I can see him!" It was silly, but then, to be able to do something that you never could.....
"How long have you been blind, Abigail?" he asked her suddenly.
"But you're my guarding angel. Shouldn't you know?"
"Well, I do, but it.... It sounds so much more interesting when you tell it," he quickly whipped up, trying to pass it off as debonairly as possible, even flashing a somewhat debonair smile. Which the child could appreciate, for she could see him.
"I don't remember exactly," she said, as detachedly as one talks about the weather. "Sometimes I remember seeing things. Daddy said it happened when I was about one."
"And how old are you now?"
She gave him another funny look.
"Really, I do know, I just.... Want to hear it from you," he lied. Ah, the advantages of being on earth; he could lie again.
"I'll be five in a few months. Then, I can start kindergarten! Daddy says if I do really well and am careful, he might let me go to school with all the other children."
"You've never been to school before?"
"Not really. Not even pre-school. If mommy and daddy couldn't teach me something, they hired me a private tutor."
"But..... weren't you lonely?"
She sank against the large fluffy blue pillow she sat upon on the floor. "Yes," she said quietly. "But I won't be anymore. You're here!" the little girl said gleefully.
Javert sat, and smiled slightly, just watching her, studying this strange, strange child.
"I didn't know Guardian Angels were dogs," she said, reaching her hands out, beckoning him closer so she could pet him and feel him, for her hands were her eyes, even if she could see the black dog.
Javert felt a twinge of guilt, for he was no angel. He felt a pang of regret, for the child, it seemed, deserved so much better than he. She deserved someone who could guide her, when he could not even guide himself. He didn't know why he did it, but walked closer to the girl so that he lay very near her, her small hands caressing his head, not tugging and pulling as most small children do.
"They're not, generally, but I....." He tried so very hard to think up a good excuse, but found himself very tired, and could not focus quite right. It wasn't the heavy, terrible sleep he remembered from Hell, but a soft, intoxicating one, and he almost did fall asleep, when he felt something. This odd quickening of his heart, as though his soul were taking flight.
Quickly, he lifted his head and stared out the window. The falcon was gone.
"What's the matter?" Abigail asked him worriedly.
"The Spirit's on the move," he thought to himself, remembering the old song. "Oh, when I feel the Spirit moving through my heart....." He shook himself slightly, for it felt very odd, merely because it was something he could only experience when both were on Earth at the same time, and this had never occurred before.
"It's nothing," he denounced aloud. He then turned back to the girl. "Now, anything on your mind?"
The little child thought very hard. "No. Not really..... Oh! Can you read, Javert?"
Javert took another quick look out the window. It would soon be dark. "Yes," he replied, not taking his gaze from the window, privately daring the falcon to come again. So He didn't think he could do it, did He? He'd be sadly mistaken there.
"Can you read me one of the books on my shelves?"
Javert looked. He wanted to say yes – he felt his whole world contract into making her happy for a moment – but knew he couldn't do it. The books were all in brail, and he couldn't hold them anyway, for lack of thumbs. Curse his dog body. "I.... can't," he admitted slowly.
"The brail?" she asked.
"Yes, the brail." He decided to leave it at that. Suddenly, the golden head of long hair turned toward the hall way, hearing something. "What is it?" the black dog asked her.
"It's my mother. She's going to tuck me into bed now."
Abigail had already been bathed and groomed for night – her blue pajamas seemed to engulf her small body – but the telephone had wrung, and the child's father was not yet home from his business trip to Chicago, so Abigail had been instructed to play quietly, like a good child. It had been at this moment that Javert arrived.
And, of course, the child was right. Her lovely mother walked in, smiling, though Abigail could not see it, for the German Shepherd was not near the woman's face. "Ready for bed, sweet heart?" the beautiful woman asked, scooping up her beloved child and tucking her into her bed, which was at least five times the size of the blind child.
"Yes," she responded with a sleepy yawn.
"Which story would you like tonight?"
"No, Mommy, it's okay. My Guardian Angel will tell me one."
Naturally the woman took it for one of those innocent moments children always have, said alright, kissed the child good night, and left, turning off the light, the night light flickering on.
The child turned onto her stomach and peered over the edge of the bed, looking for Javert, who had remained on the floor, watching this strange – in his eyes – ritual which took place between mother and child.
"Well?" Abigail asked. "Aren't you going to come up and cuddle with me?"
Frankly, Javert was flabbergasted at the very idea. He was not a cuddly person by nature. But what was he to do, say no? "Alright," he stammered, leaping gracefully up onto the tall bed, the purple sheets not giving way beneath him, for he remained weightless.
The blond child now patted a place next to her to sleep, and with trepidation, the German Shepherd stepped forward, and sat down.
"What story will you tell me?" she now asked him. The clock work wheels in Javert's mind came to a screeching halt.
"Story?" he asked her. "I don't.... I don't really know any stories."
"Everyone knows a story," the child insisted. "It doesn't matter if I've already heard it. Just tell it anyway."
Javert blinked in the dimly lit room. What to say? "Ah...." He began, racking his brains. "Once upon a time, there was a police officer. A very brave," here he paused to cough, and deepen his voice "handsome police officer who everyone respected and obeyed."
"Boy, what world do you live in?" he thought to himself, but continued on with the story. "There was also this very bad man who was put in jail, and he tried to escape several times, but each time he failed. Finally, twenty years went by, and this police man-" Javert stopped, for Abigail had ceased to listen, having fallen into a deep slumber. He could leave now, if he wanted, yet something held him back from going, and for a few minutes he just sat there and watched the sleeping child.
He began to lie down beside her, and felt that heavy sleep once more cloud his brain, until he, too, slept, and remained dormant, until the nightmares started.
"Javert, wake up!" Abigail shouted, and it was only then that he was launched out of that terrible dream, his golden eyes wild, his mouth open as he panted with alarm. "You're shivering. Are you cold? Here," and now she lifted the blanket up. "You can snuggle with me."
He didn't move, his eyes still wide. How strange it was, to be comforted after a nightmare. He'd never done anything like this before. He was not allowed up on even her bed.
Good God, what was he doing here? How did this child spell bind him and keep him here, all thoughts of the person he loved above anyone else pushed out of his head.
"I can't," he lied. "I've..... I've got to go."
The tiny child looked a bit disappointed, but recovered quickly. "Alright. Will I see you again soon?"
"Yes," he said. "I promise," and began to get up, ready to jump out of the window and take his flight. But something held him back and he paused for a moment. Finally, he turned back to Abigail, and very quickly gave her a light kiss on the forehead before racing out the window.
It was always fire, in those nightmares. He raced along the black streets, the wind pressing his ears to his head, the lamp light his only guide. He was running, but he didn't know where.
"Just run," echoed through his head. "Run and the nightmare's can't catch up to you."
Javert was always running.
He was panting, and sweating, shivering in the cold night air, when he came up to the park entrance, and would have simply raced on, probably to the stair way to Heaven, maybe some place else, had he not seen them.
They weren't anything extraordinary. They were just a pack of ghosts, smiling, laughing, sitting on the park benches, smoking cigarette's, their dog tails wagging merrily. Javert paused at sight of them, but still did not enter the park.
However, one, a collie, noticed him, and he called "Hey! What's your name?"
Javert stood stark still. He could always talk to other ghosts, but he wasn't terribly personable, and had always stuck to his own assigned pack. However, the pack was beckoning him to come and join them, so telling them his name was Javert, he walked in, his tail swishing at the fallen leaves.
One, a hound of some kind, offered him a cigarette, which he gratefully accepted, puffing on the thing ceaselessly, feeling his nerves calm as he smoked.
"What are you doing down here?" one, another hound, asked personably.
Javert flicked his ears back and said "Visiting a friend." It wasn't a lie, yet it wasn't a whole truth. Was Abigail his friend? She was certain he was her's.
"Me too," said a border collie happily. "I got a daughter down here. I died a couple years back in a car accident."
"I'm sorry," Javert said, flicking his ears back again, not used to discussing the subject of death. None of the other dogs seemed to mind.
"Don't worry about it," the collie said. "I'm a natural cause guy, myself. You?"
Javert stalled. Which death? Better to play it safe and go with the first one. "I.... drowned." He didn't dare tell them that it had been by his own hand.
The first hound whistled. "That's a bit painful, isn't it?"
"I suppose," Javert agreed, becoming more and more relaxed. "I mean, it felt funny, but I don't think it really hurt..... It was just.... Colorful."
"Colorful?" asked the second hound, skeptically.
"Yes," reiterated Javert. "As you drown, all these colors flash before your eyes. Reds mostly. Then they just sort of fade."
"Fade into what?" the border collie asked.
"Black. And then light once you're finally dead," he finished, taking another puff of the cigarette. "Thanks for the cigarette. I've got to go."
"See you around!" the collie called, waving to him as he left. It was one of the oddest conversations Javert had ever had, but he felt that the nightmare that terrified him no longer stalked him in the dead of night.
New York City, New York
Present Day: 2006
I wanted to go home, really I did. I just.... Couldn't.
Not physically couldn't. Nothing binds me physically. I felt something tugging me to keep walking, even if the nightmare was over.
So, deeper, and deeper into the park I walked, until I was certain that there was no one around for ages and ages.
That's when he showed up.
A yawning and exhausted Valjean stumbled out of the brush, knocking straight into me. He pulled back, blinked with surprise, and a few seconds later, his tired brain registered who I was.
"Monsieur Javert!" he cried excitedly. "What are you doing here? Ah, don't tell me. Coming to visit mademoiselle Leroux? And how is she?"
I must admit I'm surprised to see him. I'd forgotten he was on miracle duty. "No, I-" I begin, but he cuts me off.
"Ah, sh, here she comes."
"Who?" I ask, befuddled.
The answer is a small, weeping child clutching a ragged stuffed toy. "Must go, you understand," he says quickly, dashing to her.
I sit there, absolutely still, blinking. What on earth is going on? Valjean has appeared before the girl, not saying a word, but she can obviously see him, for she begins to cease to cry, reaching out a small hand.
"Doggie?" she asks. He steps closer to her so she can hug him, still sniffling. "I wanna go home!"
Valjean then pulls away, turning on his heels and racing through the brush, leaving the girl to start sobbing. I stare at where he disappeared, absolutely befuddled, and stand up, not sure whether to follow him or comfort the girl. I'm not given the chance.
I can see flashlights through the darkness of the trees, and a man calling "Jessie!" And faintly, ever so faintly, I see a faint blue glow, and know it's Valjean, leading them to her.
Still I stand, and do not move.
"Daddy!" the girl is screaming, as she runs to the man who scoops her up. "I'm sorry! I promise I'll never run away again! Oh daddy!"
The rest of the words are lost on me as I stare, slack jawed, at the scene. Valjean, still looking tired, crosses over to me. "I would say that's a good night's work, oui monsieur?"
"Oui," I agree breathlessly. Finally, I turn to face him. He looks terrible. His eyes are bloodshot, and his fur's a mess. He needs to eat, and sleep, and rest. "Valjean, you look so tired," I tell him.
"Hm?" he asks sleepily, still smiling at a job well done. "I suppose I do, don't I? How's Cosette?"
"She misses Marius."
"Ah. Well, the shift will be over in about a day. I can survive."
"Are you sure?"
"Well, I won't die, I promise. However, I do not fall asleep if I lack coffee, unlike some people I know," he says jovially, glancing pointedly at me. I smirk slightly.
"I suppose you don't."
"We'll have to see another play soon. It's been a while since we've done that."
"You'll have to wake up first."
"Stop worrying about me!" he snaps playfully. "You don't exactly look awake yourself. Go home, go to bed!" he orders.
"I'm not tired!" I protest, but it does me little good, because I then yawn. He raises and eyebrow, points towards Heaven, and I dutifully march that way.
To Be Continued.....