Disclaimer: I don't own.
Warning: Some language throughout the story.
Author's Note: This is kind of a concept story, based on a theory that I had as a little girl. That theory was that babies waited in line in heaven to be born. (This isn't at all religious or theological…I'm basically using heaven as a setting. Actually, I don't even mention heaven at all. It's just implied.) I expand a little on that idea. This is also a story for the fanfiction contest at Fanforum.
It's AU, so the characters may be in and out of character, though I've tried to keep them all close to canon development. Also, you'll notice that I've taken a lot of liberties with show canon. I did that on purpose, and I hope it works. (And what I've used of canon generally isn't verbatim – every time I use that word I think of Fenton - again, on purpose.)
This story is Jackie-centric.
I think it's a slightly different kind of love story, and I hope you enjoy it! Please let me know…this story is kind of a first for me. I've never done anything even remotely "paranormal" and I guess this kind of is. :)
The Choice of A Lifetime
Long before a human being comes to exist on earth, a soul is created. And somewhere above the earth, deep in the blue of the sky, among the clouds, that soul waits patiently for their turn to be born into life. After all, a body is a human being. But a body, a human being, requires a soul to be a person.
I've been waiting in this line forever, or at least since I was thought of. That was my creation; a collection of thoughts, of creative impulse and design. A work of art in the mind.
The line ribbons out in front of me, weaving in and out, and you'd think I'd be impatient. I'm not. I'm getting closer, and the speed of time feels as if it's increasing.
"You're going to be a girl."
I turn around and find Vetri, another UBS – unborn soul – hovering behind me. Like me, and the others in line, V (as Vetri prefers to be called) is nothing but an ethereal outline of what will become a body. The lines that define us are the color of pearl in the sunlight; glossy cream darted with pinks, lavenders, and blues. Between those borders is a misty shadow, with vague features that function but aren't entirely visible. We understand what components our body will have, like hands, faces, eyes, ears, and on and on. We've been told. We just can't quite see them yet. "How do you know that?"
V shrugs. "You're turning pink. I heard that pink means female."
We've also been explained the difference between male and female. Some UBS's are allowed to choose. I've wondered if I'd be that lucky, wondered how I would make such a choice, but apparently, I won't. I wonder, though, how V heard this and I haven't. We've been next to one another in line the entire wait. Must have been while I was sleeping. Unborn souls need rest. We've been told that's because life on earth won't necessarily allow for such sweet relief.
A female. I'm not sure I want to be a female, but then again, I'm not sure I don't. We've been told the basics, but nothing more.
"The line is moving," V tells me.
Before I can turn, V is pulled out of the line by some invisible force. I gasp, try to call out to V, but I can't. My voice is gone. Streaks of light, gold and silver, guide V's path, and in just a second, V is gone.
I reach out, but it's pointless. I feel…odd. Displaced. V and I talked a lot, laughed a lot, while waiting. I shake my head and slowly turn to follow the line. I hope V is okay. I hope that it wasn't a second thought. That happens to UBS's sometimes. V second thought, or a reworking of that thought, eradicates us.
I move as we all do, allowing the pull of the UBS in front of me to tug me along. But this time, unlike the previous eternity of slow progress, I move faster and faster, the white that has long been steady on all sides becomes rapid streams of silver and gold. What I've been told is my head feels thick and yet light. I'm moving so fast that light has become irrelevant, I suppose, since everything is now black.
I try to say something, try to protest, but my voice is still dead. I'm slowing. The black gives into silver and gold flints, and in an instant, the white fog returns. The lightness in my head retreats, and I look around. Everything is the same as it was before time sped up, except for one thing. In front of me stands an angel.
I've never seen an angel, only heard whispers about them, enough that I know this is one. Angels have walked earth. Angels have lived, and so they have defined human bodies. There are no shadows to this angel, no mere outline, no misty center. This angel is solid, and the features that in me and every other UBS are so indeterminate are fully formed and evident. This angel looks like an UBS colored in, with tans and browns.
"Ah," the angel says, the voice rather low-pitched, but very pleasant. Low voice means male, I've been told. And from what I've heard, that males are generally physically larger than females, this angel does appear to be male. "UBS Love."
The words are given to us as names at our creation. Random, I've been told. Vetri – I mean, V- that's how babies are given names on earth, too. V seemed to know just about everything. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that V knew about the pink-female thing.
The angel's lips turn upwards at me, and it warms me. "I'm Paul, your guide angel."
"Are you a male?" I ask. I can't help it. This is the first opportunity I've had to see a male in the flesh, so to speak.
The angel nodded. "Yes. I am male. As I said, I'm your guide angel." He holds something in his hands and looks intently at it, runs his finger over it. "And you are to be female. Your name is to be Jacqueline Beulah Burkhart." He looks up at me. "Does that please you?"
Beulah? The Jacqueline part sounds okay, and the Burkhart sounds fine. But Beulah? I'd rather have Love for a middle name. I'd rather have Vetri for a middle name.
He chuckles. "I can see that you're not too fond of the middle name. I'm sorry. I can't do anything about that."
I nod and grin slightly. "The rest of it is okay, I guess. I mean, I don't really know if I want to be a female or male."
"That's right. I keep forgetting how little you UBS's know about earth. Now." Paul lifts his hand and extends it towards me. "Take my hand. I have a few things to show you before you're ready for birth."
He steps towards me and I hesitate. I'm unsure of how to move. I've always just been pulled along by the UBS in front of me.
"Just hold on, and I'll do the rest."
I take his hand, somehow molding my hand, which looks more like a flap at this point, around his. My head shoots up when warmth spreads over me. Is this what touch is? Does it always feel so nice? I feel tingly, and my form shivers.
Paul smiles. "Come with me."
Before I have time to wonder what's happening, he pulls me forward, I float along after. We only move for a few seconds, but seem to travel a long way. Now, instead of white clouds nestling around me, I am in a room blockaded by solid walls painted in the same pastels as my outline, though below me is still a swirl of clouds. In one wall, there is an opening, and beyond that is familiarity; the thin white haze that used to envelop me and the others. It's pulling at me, and I feel my form strain to begin a float to it.
The warmth turns to heat, grips me, and prevents me from fleeing. I look down. Something is happening to me. I feel something jumping in the center of my form. And when I look at myself, I can see more than just the mist. The lines that used to outline me have multiplied and shifted. There are glossy lines all over me, darting towards the middle of me. I lift my head, and Paul curves his mouth upwards again.
"You're form is preparing for your birth into life. Don't worry, it's normal. Come."
The angel leads me to the opening.
"You have two choices, UBS Love. Two choices of families to be born into."
I look at myself. Now the lines are glowing and pulsating, and tiny pricks purse my form in perfect rhythm with the lines' strobe. "Two choices?"
"You are lucky. Most have no choice. You are special."
My face seems warmer, such as it is, and I wonder if the lines are causing that.
"Keep in mind that the choice you make will impact your life on earth in incredible ways. The choice you make here will define the love you give and are given in return, and nothing is more important on earth than love." He winks at me. "Hence, your UBS name, because love is particularly important to you. Jacqueline Burkhart has enormous love to give, and an enormous need of it."
I shake my head, bewildered. "How am I to make the decision?" I turn to stare at the familiar, and the idea of busting through the opening and floating back into all I've ever known seems like a good one.
I turn to Paul. He hadn't spoken, so where had those words come from? Now the lines aren't just prickling, they're hot and sharp, and I tremble with a cold chill all over. Violently.
Again, he smiles. "You're just about ready for birth. You've just had what people call an instinct. And…"
He puts his hand in the center of me, just a few inches below my face. I look down, and his hand is moving. Something is pounding it upwards. I think I heard once that there's a muscle there, called a heart, I think.
"The way you feel right here after you see your choices is how you'll know what to do."
Paul turns me around and gently guides me until I'm only centimeters from the opening.
I frown. "I don't see anything."
I stare out. Only clouds, rolling hills of clouds.
"Now. Your first choice."
As my guide angel speaks, his tone still soothing and musical, lovely to listen to much like the birds that occasionally entertained us during our wait, I notice the clouds part, revealing a vibrant blue, a wide expanse of it.
It's beautiful, and beckoning, but different. Much more intense than the calm white I'm used to. When the heat of touch on my back pushes me forward, I strain, try to resist. After a moment, and a slight clucking from Paul's throat, I give in. I float out and into the blue yonder. My eyes move back and forth, so quickly that it all becomes blurry.
"Your first choice, Jacqueline Beulah Burkhart, is in Point Place, Wisconsin…."