A/N: First of all, to all the people who read this story, thank you so much. When I first started this story, I was a little scared because it was really AU, and I didn't know if people would really take to it considering it did involve religion to a degree, but the response was wonderful and I thank you all for it. This turned out to be one of my favorite stories to write, and I loved every second of it. Thank you so much for sticking with it, and reviewing it, and just reading it. It means so much to me.
So, I just hope that you like this, and that the ending is satisfying to you. Thank you again. :)
I cover my mouth to keep from gasping, squealing, making some sound the universe hasn't come up with a word yet.
Without another word, without thinking about how this is happening, how he's even here, I launch myself into his arms. It doesn't occur to me that he might not even know me. I don't care because he's here. He's here right in front of me when I was missing him so much, when I was just starting to think I would never see him again, he showed up, just like he always did. And I could touch him, that means he's real. He's real and here and I can touch him, and who cares if he might not remember me? I'll make him remember me if I have to.
But just as those thoughts are floating into my head, his arms wrap around me tightly too, and I know that he knows, that he remembers, that it's really him. It's not some doppelganger that is here to torment me, it's really him. I bury my face into his neck as I feel the tears start to fall. I didn't even realize I was tearing up, but of course I was tearing up, of course they would start to fall, and of course I would start to sob into his neck.
I feel him reach over and close the front door to give us some privacy. He starts to pull away, but I just grab him around the neck tighter, not letting him go. He laughs a little bit and continues to hug me. I don't think I can let him go, I don't think I want to let him go in the fear that he'll disappear again. He's done it before, twice actually, and I can't bear it a third time. This time, I'm not going to let him out of my sight. He tries to pull away again, but I don't let him again.
"Steph, come on," he tells me gently, and I finally relinquish my hold on him, but I stay close, pressing my cheek against his. He slowly pulls back so he can look in my eyes, and I must look a mess now, but I know Chris won't care. He's seen me at my worst, my absolute worst. He's never cared because he loves me so much.
"You're here," I cup his cheeks, running my thumb over his stubble. "You're really here."
"Yes, I'm really here," he tells me, laughing slightly at me. "You're so adorable."
"That's what you have to say for yourself?" I ask him. "That I look adorable?"
"Beautiful, gorgeous?" he smirks at me, grabbing my hands from his face and holding them in between us. "Is that better?"
"Where were you?" I wonder, searching his face, as if the answers will be written on it, an entire explanation that I can read and analyze and figure out. "What happened? You were there one second, and you were gone the next, and I thought you left me, like really, really left me."
"You know I could never do that, I would never do that," Chris tells me, and I know he's speaking the truth, but that doesn't change the fact that he did suddenly disappear. He sighs and looks over my shoulder at nothing and everything. "I don't even know what happened. I really don't, it was just like, one second I was with you, and the next second, I was waking up in a completely different place with all these…memories."
"Memories?" I ask in confusion. "What kind of memories?"
"Memories of my life," he tells me with a scoff, like he still can't believe it, and I'm having trouble wrapping my own head around it. He has memories now, a life? What does that even mean? I know Chris is real, but is he even more real than I ever suspected.
"I don't…I don't understand."
"Stephanie!" I hear my mother calling from inside the house. I startle for a moment before letting go of Chris's hands and rushing to the front door, opening it up. My mother looks over in surprise. She's just exiting the foyer and she turns to me. "Stephanie, what are you doing outside?"
"Oh, it's such a nice afternoon, I was waiting for the guy coming for dinner out there, sitting on the front steps, you know, welcome wagon and all that," I finish lamely, hoping my mother buys this crap.
"Are you okay? You look like you've been crying," she narrows her eyes, studying my face. "Were you thinking about Paul? Sweetheart, if you actually are torn up about it, that's okay, you don't have to act like you aren't, there's no shame in being upset."
"I just needed a good cry," Stephanie nodded. "I'm okay, really, I'm just going to wait for the guy outside, he's probably going to be here soon anyways, if he hasn't gotten lost since it's not easy to find." She knew Chris got here without difficulty because this was his home too for so many years as she grew up, but now he had other memories too.
"Are you sure you're okay? You don't have to stay for dinner, I can send something up to your room or you can go home or something…"
"No, Mom, I'm fine, I'm really, really fine," I tell her, and I am, I haven't been this good in so long. I haven't been this happy ever in my life because Chris is here, and this time he's going to stay. I'm going to make sure he stays.
My mom seems reluctant to believe me, but she hears something dinging in the kitchen, "Okay, if you're sure." I nod emphatically and she nods back before turning to head back to the kitchen. I practically run outside again and Chris is still there. It's not like I thought he wouldn't be, I just need to feel near him again. All these years, and he's been there, and now I realize just how much I need him. And it's more than anyone in the world.
"Okay, back to the conversation at hand, I bought us some time, come here," I lead him down the steps and towards the garages. Sitting here, nobody will see us, even if they come out the front door. "Okay, what memories? Where did you wake up?"
"In an apartment. Believe me, I was as shocked as you were when I woke up without you. If I didn't know you, I'd have thought you dragged me somewhere, but I know that can't be true, so instead, I'm waking up in this strange place, and I just have…this life. Like, I remember stuff, and I remember people, but all the other stuff is still there. It's like I've been living these parallel lives."
"So you remember being an angel and everything?"
"Yeah, I remember it all, I remember you and us, and I remember meeting other angels, and just being your angel, and I know it all, but alongside that, there's this life, and it feels natural, it feels like mine at the same time it doesn't."
"So you have like…a family?"
"Yeah, I do, like a mom and dad, like a real mom and dad, and I have memories of a childhood that don't revolve around sitting in your bedroom watching you play with toys. I have friends, I was a wrestler, that's when I knew that I had to be with you. Even in this weird life that I suddenly got, that I guess God was like, well, if I'm doing this, I have to go all the way with it. But he made me a wrestler, an outlet to you, and I knew how to wrestle, I mean, I've been around it, I've studied it, but I just know how to do it, and I had matches booked and matches that I'd never really been in, but I sent them to JR, helps when you've been around these people and know their addresses and whatever."
"So you came back to me?"
"You had to know if that if it was at all possible to do so, I was coming straight back to you," he told her. "I moved heaven and earth for you, Stephanie, do you really think I was going to let this go, let you go. I came here for the sole purpose of being with you. That's always been my destiny, in any shape or form, it's always been you."
I give him a watery smile as I hug him again, "You're hired!"
He laughs, "I've also been around long enough to know you don't have any say in that."
"I do today," I told him, "today, I have all the power in the world. And you are mine, and you are nobody else's, and we are getting married, and we're going to have kids, and they'll probably be gorgeous because you were an angel."
He's laughing in earnest now, "How are we ever going to explain this to your parents?"
"You were someone I knew in college, someone I dated, but never told them about, that's how we'll explain this, and other than that, they don't need to know a damn thing, nobody does, and who cares, right? Just who cares, we're here, and we're together, and that's really all that matters, isn't it?"
"Yes," he pulls away to kiss me, and I eagerly kiss him back. I feel complete again, like I'm completely whole, and this soothes my heart that's been broken since he left. I'm back with the other half of me, the true other half, and he is, that's what he is.
"Wait, what about having a guardian angel?" I wonder. If Chris is off the clock, what does that mean for me?
"You've got another one, this one will probably stay away…if they know what's good for them," Chris jokes. "I've got one too."
"Can you see yours?"
"No, but I can sense them," Chris explains. "Somewhere over my shoulder, probably talking to yours, probably gossiping."
I kiss him impulsively again. "I love you so much."
"I love you too."
1 year later
"You are so annoying," I roll my eyes, picking up socks off the floor. "I swear to God, just because you actually wear clothes now and you can't just snap and be dressed, that doesn't give you the right to just drop your clothes everywhere."
"Sorry," he crawls on the bed until he's next to me. He's giving me that smile, just the corners of his mouth turning up. I try to turn away so I don't have to see him, but he turns that way too. I try not to laugh now because I always give in. He starts to lean in like he's going to kiss me and I throw his sock in his face. "Hey!"
"That's what you get," I say before yelping as he grabs me around the waist and pulls me down onto the bed. He starts tickling my sides as I try to push him away. "So do you think your parents have forgiven us yet?"
"No," I shake my head. "They're not going to forgive us until we have a proper wedding, even if it's technically going to be a vow renewal."
"But we didn't even say vows the first time."
"Well, now you have the chance to talk all about how much you love me," I give him a coy look. "They're okay with the getting married part, just not the part where we flew to Paris and got married, they weren't too happy with that part."
"Oh come on, it was romantic, they should think it's amazing that I would whisk you away to Paris on a whim."
"A whim? Chris, you planned it, how you planned it, I don't know, but you planned it so that it was just us, and they're a little put out by that."
"Oh well," he kisses me. As he starts to pull away, I bring him down for one more. "They'll get over it, and besides, it should have just been us there anyways."
"Why do you say that?" I ask him. "Why should it just be us and not us celebrating in front of our families?"
"Because it's always been us," he tells me, staring at me. "It's always been you and me, just you and me. We've always faced everything together, and I was right, you know, I was right that first night when you acknowledged I was there and asked me if you had a brain tumor or something."
"What were you right about, Mr. Cocky Man Who Knows All the Answers?" I smirk at him.
"When it's all over, when it's our time, we'll be together forever. I'm still fulfilling the angel part, just…not as an angel."
"You're still my angel."
"Dear God," he makes a face, "that was cheesy."
"What! I'm being sentimental here."
"Can I disappear again? Hello, God, can I take a sabbatical from the human thing?" he looks up towards the ceiling. I laugh and pull him back down for another kiss. "Okay, maybe I'll renege on that disappearing act."
I think I was seven when I first saw him.
I was 24 when I accepted him as my guardian angel.
And I was 25 when I got to keep him forever.