Disclaimer: I do not own Touched by an Angel. Specifically, I do not own Henry or Sam. The rest is mine.

On the Breath of Dawn

Henry raced down the corridor like a lion chasing its prey. Sarah had to run her hardest just to keep him in sight, to say nothing of catching him. He turned down one hallway, then another.

Soon, she lost sight of him, and stopped to catch her breath. Now she could hear shouting. Henry, to be sure. She had never seen him this angry.

The shouting was growing louder now. She followed the voice down the halls. Soon, she came to a door.

As soon as she opened it, she knew, she would come face-to-face with the man responsible. She shuddered. What kind of a monster could have done this? How had she gotten involved in this mess? What was she doing here?

When you walk down the road
Heavy burden, heavy load
I will rise
And I will walk with you
'Til the sun don't even shine
Every time, I tell you
I'll walk with you
Believe me, I'll walk with you

"Thanks for letting me come, Henry," Sarah said as they walked down the path in the woods

"Don't thank me yet," Henry warned. "I don't even know what the assignment is. I was just told to come here and wait. You may end up bored out of your mind."

Sarah shrugged. She'd been on several assignments with Henry, and none of them had been boring. "No idea?"

"None," Henry shook his head. "Could be anything. A fight. An accident. A bear attacking. Tree could fall on someone's head. Anything."

Sarah started to laugh, but then stopped herself, trying to figure out whether the Angel of Death was joking or not. He didn't appear to be. But it was hard to tell.

They were certainly quite a pair. Sarah was dressed all in white -- white shirt, white pants, white shoes, with curly long light brown hair and light blue eyes. Henry was her opposite, with black pants, a brown shirt, black shoes, and dark hair. Henry blended in better with the trees and the late autumn leaves.

Suddenly, Sarah spotted another figure, coming quickly along the path towards them. It was Sam. She knew at once that whatever this assignment was, it had to be important. Maybe Henry shouldn't have brought her.

But Henry gestured for her to stay. "What is it, Sam?" he asked.

Sam eyed Sarah cautiously, then answered. "Aramis."

That one word made Henry freeze, though Sarah had no idea why. He closed his eyes, then slowly opened them again. "I understand."

"I'm sorry, Henry," Sam said. "You're the only one who can do it. Take Sarah with you if you wish; she may be of help." He turned to go.

"Sam, wait," Henry said suddenly. Sam turned. "Does he know?" Henry asked quietly.

Sam nodded slowly. "Yes, Henry. He knows, or he will as soon as it starts."

Henry nodded, and Sam left. "What is it?" Sarah asked.

After a moment, Henry answered. "I cannot ask you to come with me, Sarah. But Sam has given you permission. If you come, you must not tell anyone what you have seen. Everyone who needs to know already knows. Would you like to come?"

Sarah hesitated. Not tell anyone? What was this about? "Yes," she said, her curiosity getting the better of her. "Take me with you."

Henry nodded. "Close your eyes."


"Close your eyes."

Sarah did, and the wind started to blow. She tried to open her eyes, but she couldn't. The wind blew faster, louder, stronger. Then, all of a sudden, it died down to a gentle breeze.

"Open your eyes," Henry instructed. At first, Sarah didn't see much of a difference. There were still trees. There was still a path.

Yet as she looked around more, she realized the trees were taller, older, the path less worn, the air warmer. "Where are we?" she asked.

Before Henry could answer, two humans came into view. One was an older man, with traces of grey in his hair, which seemed to be every shade possible. He wore all black, and with it a white collar that gave away that he was a priest.

With him was a small boy, maybe ten years old, with brown hair and a small smile. He stayed close to the priest, as if he were his father. Then the priest said something, though the angels weren't close enough to hear what, and both burst out laughing.

Henry smiled fondly. "Father Aramis Brown," he told Sarah. "The boy's name is Peter." He glanced up at the sky, as if waiting for something. "It's Aramis they want," he said slowly, quietly. "He knows it, too. He's always known it. But he's so happy now." He sighed. The Angel of Death seemed to have forgotten that Sarah was even there.

Sarah studied the priest. The only unusual thing about him, besides his multi-colored hair, was a sword that hung at his side. He was medium height, neither tall nor short. He was in good shape, but neither very skinny nor very muscular. His skin was mostly a medium brown, but seemed to go lighter and darker in spots, each shade blending perfectly into the next.

Suddenly, he looked up at them. He averted his gaze almost immediately so that the boy wouldn't notice, but Henry nodded. "He sees us. Now he knows." The way he said it brought a lump to Sarah's throat. Aramis seemed so cheerful, so friendly; she instinctively didn't want anything to happen to him.

"He's very unique," she smiled. "Like a work of art."

Henry smiled. "Inside and out, Sarah. He's an amazing person, with a kind heart and a gentle spirit, in spite of everything."

Sarah raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"

Before Henry could answer, there was a loud shriek, and something landed in between them and Aramis. It was as tall as a human, but with large purple wings, a dark body, and bright green horns. "Don't interfere," Henry said quietly as Sarah took a step backwards in surprise. "That's not our job."

Even as he said it, Aramis' hand flew to the hilt of his sword; he drew it quickly with the skill of a trained warrior. "Run, Peter!" he shouted, but it was too late. They were already surrounded by the large creatures. Peter reached for the sword at his side, surprising Sarah, who hadn't noticed it.

The monsters attacked, but even as they did, the most amazing thing happened. Aramis changed color! His skin, his hair, even his shirt and pants, changed to match everything around him. He turned various shades of brown and green and orange, matching everything perfectly. He was visible only by his sword, which moved as quickly as he changed color.

They worked as one, the boy and the man, Aramis often protecting Peter, but the boy still managing to block what the priest missed. One by one, the monsters fell to the ground, unconscious, hit in the head while they weren't looking by the broad side of Aramis' sword. But still more kept coming, like rain falling from the sky. Aramis and Peter led them down the path, and Henry and Sarah followed.

"They're doing very well," Sarah said in amazement.

Henry nodded. "Yes, especially since the boy's a natural and Aramis is a chameleon."

"A chameleon?"

"Surely you noticed."

"Yes . . . so it isn't invisibility."

"Oh, no, though in this case it may as well be. No, he has complete control over his colors. It's an extremely rare gift, and he's become quite an expert at using it."

"But . . ."

Just then, another monster flew down, this time with a passenger riding on its back, a man cloaked and hooded in various shades of green, brown, and grey. "Enough!" he shouted, leaping expertly off the creature's back and just as quickly drawing his sword. "Get the boy!" And with that, he charged Aramis.

"Confusion," Henry whispered to Sarah, and she knew immediately that Henry wanted nothing more than to run out there and give him a good punch in the nose, at the very least. But he only watched, motionless, as the two fought.

Their battle was different than the monsters' attack. The creatures had swung wildly, hoping to possibly hit Aramis, but more often just hitting his sword. Confusion was certain, and attacked ferociously, drawing Aramis away from the boy, who was quickly overwhelmed and knocked unconscious to the ground.

They seemed equally matched, Aramis and Confusion, neither winning, neither losing. Confusion attacked relentlessly, and Aramis blocked every stroke with amazing skill. Sarah stole a glance at Henry, not knowing what to expect; worry for the child, pride in what Aramis was capable of, or hatred for Confusion and the monsters.

Surprisingly, she saw none of these things. In Henry's eyes was only a deep sadness, an acceptance, however reluctant, of what was going to happen.

And at last it did. Aramis was being driven back towards where Peter already lay. Three of the monsters joined Confusion, who broke off for a moment, then attacked anew, plunging his sword deep into Aramis' right thigh. The priest lost his balance and fell to the ground. Confusion hit him over the head with the broad side of his sword, which was coated in blood, and the priest fell unconscious, returning to the colors in which they had first seen him.

"Is he . . ." asked Sarah, who hadn't been able to see the entire battle.

Henry shook his head. "No, that is not what they want."

The monsters quickly lifted both Aramis and Peter and flew off. "Where are they going?" Sarah asked. "What do they want?"

Henry sighed. "It is about time I explained." He took a deep breath, trying to figure out where to start. "Father Aramis is a retired priest. He lives on an island in the Pacific Ocean, an island not many people -- or angels -- even know exists. The monsters are called Gleems. They and their leader, Confusion, are trying to take over the world." He paused, as if waiting for a reaction -- a laugh, or at least raised eyebrows. When he received nothing, he continued. "They want to find this island first, to use it as a base. They want Aramis to tell them where it is, and how to find it."

Sarah stared. Monsters? Trying to take over the world? An island? A priest who knew where it was? Could this be real? Could any of this be happening?

"Where are they taking him?" she asked at last.

Henry forced a small smile. "Close your eyes."

When Henry told her to open her eyes again, Sarah found herself in a dark room, the only light coming from a window high above them. The walls, ceiling, and floor were stone, and the only door was solid wood.

Sarah looked around, and spotted Aramis and Peter. Peter was kneeling by the priest's side, shaking him gently. "Come on, Aramis, wake up."

Sarah turned to Henry. "There's one thing I don't get. Confusion. He seemed to be able to tell where Aramis was, almost as if he could still see him."

Henry sighed and crossed his arms. "He could. He can see through disguises. Anything. Masks, cloaks, anything, they're useless around him. If you hide behind a tree or a building, he can still see you. It's a wonder he didn't see us."

"Really?" Aramis was stirring now, obviously in pain from his wound but hiding it for Peter's sake. Peter threw his arms around Aramis' neck, but Sarah could see no fear in his young face.

"It's like he's been through this before," Sarah said in amazement at the boy's calmness.

"He has. A few months ago, he and his foster brother, Sandstorm, were captured by Roaks."


"Story for another time. Their village was destroyed; they were the only survivors."


"Peter used to live with the Elves, on the island I told you about."

"He's an Elf?"

"No," Henry said patiently. "His parents died a little over five years ago. He found the island, and the Elves took him in."

"And Sandstorm?" She had a feeling she knew the answer.

Henry shook his head sadly. "Such a brave young Elf. Peter was there when he died; the boy's seen a lot. He was only five when his parents were killed."


"By the Gleems."

"Everything seems to lead back to them."

"Well, except for the Roaks. Other than that, yes, they've been the source of all this little boy's pain."

Sarah looked hard at Henry. "You were there, weren't you."

"Yes. I took his parents, and then his brother. Well, foster brother."

"And now . . ."

Henry nodded. "Yes."

Sarah shuddered. Aramis was sitting up now, an arm around Peter's shoulders. The boy huddled in close, and Aramis started singing.

Swing low, sweet chariot
Comin' for to carry me home
Oh, swing low, sweet chariot
Comin' for to carry me home

The priest's voice was beautiful, clear and rich. Soon the boy joined in, a quieter, higher, young voice. Together, their voices filled the room.

Swing low, sweet chariot
Comin' for to carry me home
Oh, swing low, sweet chariot
Comin' for to carry me home

"Henry, is it all right if we . . ." Sarah started.

Henry nodded. "He already knows we're here." They joined in.

Peter's head shot up, looking around. He could obviously hear them. But he couldn't see them.

A smile crossed his young face. "Aramis, do you hear them?"

The priest nodded, and all four sang louder and clearer.

I looked over Jordan and what did I see
Comin' for to carry me home
A band of angels lookin' out for me
Comin' for to carry me home

Swing low, sweet chariot
Comin' for to carry me home
Oh, swing low, sweet chariot
Comin' for to carry me home

If you get there before I do
Comin' for to carry me home
Tell all my friends that I'm a-comin' too
Comin' for to carry me home

Swing low, sweet chariot --

Suddenly, the door swung open. Confusion stood in the doorway, with some two dozen Gleems behind him. "Father Aramis," he said coldly.

Aramis struggled to his feet, wincing in pain from his right leg. "Long time no see."

"If you do not tell me what I want to know, you'll wish it had been a lot longer. Gleems, bring him with us."

Aramis immediately blended into the background. "Halt!" Confusion's order stopped the Gleems in their tracks. "Aramis, if you come with us now, the boy will not be harmed."

"Do I have your word on that?" came Aramis' voice.

Confusion thought for a moment. "Yes. Come with us and he shall be safe until he leaves this place of his own free will."

Aramis resumed his normal colors. Two of the Gleems came forward and took hold of his arms. Together, they led him out of the dungeon.

Henry turned to Sarah. "Sarah, I have to go with them. You do not. If you wish, you may stay here. You will not enjoy it if you come with me."

Sarah shook her head. "Peter is safe here. I'm coming with you."

Henry nodded, and they followed the Gleems out the door.

As they were led down the hallway, Henry caught up with the Gleems who held Aramis and put a hand comfortingly on the priest's shoulder. Aramis turned for a split second and, though he didn't say anything, Sarah knew he was grateful.

Sarah picked up her pace and was soon walking alongside Henry. Neither of them said a word as they followed Confusion into a small room. Most of the Gleems stayed outside. The remaining two placed Aramis in a large chair in the center of the room. They tied his arms to the chair at the elbows and wrists and his legs at the knees and ankles. All this time, he showed no sign of resistance.

"Can't we do anything?" asked Sarah, who understood at last what was going to happen.

Henry shook his head as Confusion spoke. "Tell me where the island is, Aramis, and you will not be harmed in the slightest. Both you and the boy will be set free."

Aramis sighed. "When will you learn, Athos? All of your attempts are worth nothing. There are those of us who are willing to stand against you, to stand for what we believe is right, no matter what the cost to ourselves."

Confusion's face turned bright red beneath his hood, which he quickly pulled lower. "Make him talk!" he ordered, and stormed out of the room, down the hall, and out of sight.

Sarah looked at Aramis. He was scared -- anyone who had sense enough to tell what was going on would be -- but he was also determined, his jaw set, his eyes still watching the door where Confusion had gone. The Gleems laughed, and more of them came into the room.

Henry took a step forward and took Aramis' hand in his. The Gleems didn't notice. They blindfolded Aramis and set to work.

Sarah soon found herself wishing she had stayed with Peter. Several times she wanted to look away, but found that she could not. This was human courage shining at its brightest. Aramis told the Gleems nothing as their weapons pierced his skin, tore at his flesh. He held Henry's hand tightly in his. And Henry stayed with him through everything.

The minutes blurred into each other, until Sarah no longer knew how much time they had spent in that room. At last, the Gleems stormed off one by one, frustrated, in need of a break before returning to their work.

Sarah came hesitantly closer. Henry knelt down by the priest's side. Blood spilled onto the floor from dozens of wounds. Henry removed the blindfold.

"Aramis," he whispered. Slowly, the priest opened his eyes and turned towards the sound. Henry stood and placed his hands on his shoulders. "I'm an angel, Aramis."

The priest nodded. "I know."

Henry smiled as light filled the room. "It's time to come home, my friend." Sarah noticed Henry seemed uneasy, tense.

Aramis nodded, and his eyes closed. His spirit rose out of the chair to face Henry, the wounds gone, no pain in his face. "Thank you, for being here."

Henry put an arm around Aramis' shoulders. "It was a privilege, my friend." Aramis smiled, and together, they disappeared.

Sarah knew she could follow But something held her back. She wasn't even supposed to be here. She just stood there in that empty room. She had never felt more helpless.

Henry appeared moments later. Every emotion that ever existed seemed to have found its way into his face. He looked down at Aramis' broken body, then up at his fellow angel. "Sarah, I'm glad you were here."

Sarah was surprised. "But I didn't do anything."

"Just being here was enough, Sarah, just knowing that there will be someone else who understands what happened here." He blinked the tears out of his eyes, wiping them with the back of his hand. "We think humans are so young and fragile, small and weak. They fight each other with no end in sight, over silly little disagreements. They burn houses and slaughter children and quite simply make a mess of things. But--" He looked back at Aramis' body, covered in blood, blood that should never have been spilt. "--their courage is truly remarkable. The moment he saw us, he knew he was going to die if he didn't tell them what they wanted to know. It's amazing, Sarah, and I'm glad you were here to see it."

Sarah nodded. "So am I." But she couldn't help noticing that Henry still seemed preoccupied. "So that's the end, then?"

Henry shook his head. "No. That little boy is going to find out what happened, and there's no way I'm going to let him know it first form that monster." A blaze of light came to his eyes, but was as soon gone, and he turned to leave.

Sarah followed him back to the dungeon, where Peter was sitting in a corner alone, shivering from cold and fright. He looked up as the angels approached. "You were here before," he said quietly. "You were the ones singing."

Henry nodded as he knelt by the child. "My name is Henry, and this is Sarah. We're angels, sent by God. We . . . we were sent here, today, to bring your friend Aramis to Heaven."

Tears filled the little boy's dark eyes. He didn't hide them. He must've learned that from the Elves, Sarah realized. They must not consider tears a sign of weakness. He looked up at Henry, with an expression that brought tears to Sarah's own eyes. This boy was old beyond his years, had seen far more pain and sadness than anyone ever should.

That was the last straw for Henry. He jumped up and raced out of the dungeon. Sarah stared after him in surprise, then ran after him.

Henry raced down the corridor like a lion chasing its prey. Sarah had to run her hardest just to keep him in sight, to say nothing of catching him. He turned down one hallway, then another.

Soon, she lost sight of him, and stopped to catch her breath. Now she could hear shouting. Henry, to be sure. She had never seen him this angry.

The shouting was growing louder now. She followed the voice down the halls. Soon, she came to a door.

As soon as she opened it, she knew, she would come face-to-face with the man responsible. She shuddered. What kind of a monster could have done this?

She turned the handle and pushed the door open, half-expecting to see Satan or one of his angels on the other side. Instead, what she saw shocked her. A lone man in an armchair, his face buried in his hands, sobbing. His cloak was gone. He wore a simple green shirt and brown pants, and black shoes. His hair was born and black, mixed together in clumps, as if it couldn't decide which color it wanted to be.

Henry stood in the middle of the room, his arms flailing wildly, yelling at the man in the chair, calling him everything from a coward to a tyrant to a monster. And he didn't seem about to stop. Any other time, in any other situation, it might have been funny, his arms waving around everywhere, screaming whatever came to mind. But Sarah just stood there, amazed, watching the pair.

Confusion didn't seem about to stop him. Indeed, he didn't even seem to hear him any more; Henry's rage simply hit him like a wave and washed over him. Sarah took a step forward. "Henry!"

Henry turned in surprise. He hadn't heard her come in. He caught his breath and then for the first time seemed to actually notice Confusion. "And all you can do is sit there and cry!" he finished, not quite as loudly as before.

Confusion, realizing Henry was done, looked up. "I . . . I never wanted . . . him to die . . ."

"No, you wanted him to tell you where the Undiscovered Island is, but he wouldn't! He endured everything the Gleems did to him with a courage that you couldn't possibly understand! And you never will, because you're nothing but a murderous, torturing monster!"

"Henry!" Sarah screamed. "Enough!"

Henry looked at both of them. Confusion looked up at Sarah with light brown eyes, eyes that looked so familiar, in so much pain. Sarah's eyes widened as she realized what Henry had missed. "Of course . . . Athos."

Henry and Confusion both looked at her. "What?" Henry asked.

"Oh, Henry, don't you understand?" She turned to Confusion. "Aramis . . . he was your brother. Wasn't he."

He nodded weakly. "Yes. Yes, he was."

"And your real name is Athos. He called you that."

Henry looked at Athos, shocked. "Brothers?"

Athos nodded. "Yes."

Henry collapsed into a nearby chair. "I didn't . . . I never knew . . ."

"We're twins. We were separated at birth, left abandoned on the streets. The Gleems found us. They took me in, and left Aramis on the doorstep of a church. Well, the people there took it as a sign from god; obviously, the boy was meant to be a priest. Somehow, he found his way to that island, and I have tried ever since to convince him, but he always disappeared from the Gleems' sight, and I could only do so much to catch him."

"But today . . ." Sarah began.

"Yes. The boy. He couldn't run and leave him alone. I don't know where he found that kid, but he loves him like a son. Of course, being a priest, he never had kids of his own. So how could he resist?"

Henry smiled, and all hatred was gone from his voice when he spoke. "No, it was more than that. I have a feeling someday you'll realize on your own why this particular child was led to your brother."

Athos stared at Henry. "Is this the same person who was yelling at me a couple moments ago? A murderous, torturing monster, is that how you worded it?"

Henry shook his head. "I was wrong, Athos." A light filled the room. "I'm an angel, and I was sent here to bring your brother home. There was one thing I didn't understand, before: he never blamed you, not for a second. I didn't know why, but now I realize that he loved you. He loved you the same way that God loves you -- completely, unconditionally. Your brother showed me courage such as I have seldom seen in a human. God sent me to bring him home, but also to tell you. God loves you, Athos, no matter what. In spite of everything. God loves you."

Athos stared for a minute, then spoke. "You should really go into theater; I have never seen Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde portrayed more accurately."

Henry raised an eyebrow, not quite sure how to take that. "Oh, don't get me wrong; I believe you," Athos assured him. "What did you say your name was?"


"Henry. I might have guessed. Dr. Henry Jekyll. I see God has a sense of humor. Aramis always told me that." He wiped the tears from his eyes.

Suddenly, two Gleems burst into the room. "Sir!" one of them called. "Sir, the prisoner is dead!"

Athos nodded. "Yes, I know. Go and open the door to the dungeon."

"But sir--"

"I promised I would not harm the boy. Go!"

"Yes, sir." They left.

Athos stood up and offered his hand to Henry, who drew him into a hug. "I'll see you around, Athos."

"See ya, Jekyll."

Henry smiled. "Come on, Sarah. Before he comes up with a nickname for you, too."

The leaves were falling. The trees swayed in the wind. But no animals chattered. No birds sang. The woods were silent.

Together, Aramis and Henry placed the last log on the pyre. Together, they laid Aramis' body gently on top. Sarah watched, amazed. The two worked together like old friends. They were perfectly matched.

Athos lit a match and from it lit two torches. He handed one to Henry, tears streaming down his face. Sarah's eyes clouded.

As the two of them lit the wood, Sarah noticed a small boy hiding behind a nearby tree, a boy with brown hair and very dark brown eyes, now full of tears. Athos knelt down as his brother's body was engulfed by the flames. Henry came over and stood by Sarah.

"Peter's here," she whispered.

"I know. So does Athos. He's been watching the whole time from behind that tree. Didn't realize Athos could still see him, I guess." He stared at the flames. "The torch has been passed, Sarah. It is now left to that boy to defend the world that he loves."

Sarah stared at him. "One little boy? What chance does he have against . . ."

"More than you think. Aramis knew that. Peter doesn't yet, but he will." The flames grew higher and higher. This was not the end, Sarah realized. It was a new chapter, a new dawn.

And morning had never looked so bright.