The Rule List

Summary: Will's always known he had a guardian angel. After he displays some stellar bad judgment in college, that angel talks some sense into him.

Rating: T for language, under-aged drinking, and illicit drug use (and naked teenagers diving out windows to escape the cops)

Author's Note: I'm aware that this paints a fairly dark picture of Will but, to me, it seems perfectly reasonable to do so. It's canon that he never considered anyone family until he joined the Sanctuary and, given the nightmares, I'm comfortable assuming he has PTSD. That would make for a frightened, lonely, angry boy. A little acting out just makes sense at that point.

Author's Note 2: Okay, there's actually a fair amount of anecdotal evidence on the efficacy of using hallucinogenics in a therapeutic context (good luck finding big studies when hallucinogen-assisted psychotherapy is illegal in most of the world). That said, you carry into a hallucinogenic experience what you have with you. If you're in a good place, it won't be that bad. If you're in a dark place, not so much. Also, no personal experience with LSD per se, but I can't see peyote making the rounds at a frat party, either. I did my best. Feel free to call me on it if I got something wrong.

The Rule List

Less than a month into college life, sixteen year old Will Zimmerman was firmly convinced he had found heaven on Earth in this place. Class was a pain in the ass, but it was more than made up for by the parties. Besides, he could use his time in the classroom to write.

The freedom of college life was unbelievable. He had only sought early admission in the first place to get out from under the oppressive thumbs of his foster-parents. Not that they'd ever been abusive or any crap like that, even if Dan occasionally got fed up with his lip and hauled off and whacked him one.

Will was used to a lot worse from his classmates, because you couldn't be his kind of smart in high-school and not make enemies. When you were valedictorian even though you routinely slept through class, people got pissed, and not just the jocks…

But Dan and Alice were in his business 24/7/365. They just never let up. And Will had started to feel more like a caged animal than a regular guy. So he said 'screw high-school', got his GED, and entered college. Got him away from his shit classmates, too.

The parties were a nice bonus, but it was the money-making potential that appealed most. Will had been writing papers for other students since his tenth year of life. It paid okay in regular school where everyone was desperate to just pass. In college, where most of the student body actually wanted to be there and had a vested interest in getting good grades, he was making three times as much per page. Now all he had to do was figure out how to get an inside line on test answer-keys and he would be set.

"Could always jimmy the lock?" he suggested to his roommate, taking a long pull from his beer.

Ben scoffed. "You don't do much B&E, do you, Will?"

"Not really. Why?"

"Jimmying a lock causes damage. The minute the school even suspects one of those offices have been broken into, the tests are rewritten."

"Well, shit. That doesn't work then."

"Nope, but I know a girl who's sleeping with the head of the custodial night-shift. I'll see if she can get a copy of the key for us."

"Sweet." He grinned and drained his bottle. "Any left?"

"Uh, think so. Hang on." Ben walked to the small fridge and came back with two beers. "I'm going to have to get Kevin to make another run for us. You got the cash?"

Will smirked. "Always. Have about another forty pages to write this week, and the semester's just getting started."

"That brain of yours is something else, Will, you know that?"

"I have my moments," he agreed. "Oh, did I show you my latest purchase?"

"More overpriced sneakers or designer jeans?" He shook his head. "You need to get more creative, man."

"I did." Smile widening, he pulled up his sleeve.

"Wow." Ben eyed the day-old tattoo, shaking his head. "Man, how much extra did you have to pay to keep them from carding your ass?"

"Too much," he answered, making a face. "Being sixteen sucks sometimes."

"Just sometimes?"

"Okay, all the time. Only time the girls even deign to notice my existence is when they need help on their homework."

"If you were half as smart as you claim you are, man, you'd be demanding a little something-something in return…"

Will gapped at him. "That's disgusting."

"It's also probably the only way you're going to get any anytime soon. Unless you pay a girl instead."

Will shook his head, scratching his tattoo and wincing.


"Like a bitch. Glad I was drunk because I do not think I could have sat through that sober. I'll tell you, though, man, never again. Pain in the ass to take care of, too." He glanced down at the still-healing tattoo. "But at least it came out nice."

"There's that. How long will it take to heal?"

"Couple, three weeks. I've got this green goop I need to rub into it three or four times a day to prevent infection, and I wrap it at night so I can't scratch in my sleep, but other than that, open air's best for healing."

"You know, for a criminal mastermind, you talk a lot like a pre-Med major," Ben scoffed.

"Probably because I am one," Will answered, half-draining his bottle. "Man, this stuff is too weak. Think you can get Kevin to get the hard stuff for us next time?"

"Costs more, but if you've got the pay, he's got the play. Oh, speaking of the hard stuff, huge Rave this weekend at Theta Kappa."

"At the actual frat-house?" Will shook his head, amused. "Daring…"

"Oh, please! Those are some of the richest kids here. No way is the brass going to come down hard on students whose family names are on half the buildings on campus."

"Point," Will agreed. "So, are we just talking X, or…"

"Little bit of everything from what I hear. Actually going to give it a shot this time?"

"Depends what's on offer. I've always been kinda curious about acid."

"Why is your other major Psych? With your attitude towards drug use, you should be an Anth or Soc guy."

Will shrugged. "I've just heard it can be kind of profound and life-changing. Plus, you know, escaping your own shitty existence for a few hours doesn't sound all that bad to me."

"You always say your life's shit, but you never say why, man. What's your story anyway?"

"Oh, the usual. Father died before I was born, mother killed in front of me by a monster when I was eight, mysterious saviors, string of foster-homes, never fit in, never felt right, never been considered entirely sane, see things that aren't reallythere… You know, same old."

Will shook his head at having admitted any of that. Buzzed much?

Ben stared at him for a moment, shaking his head. "You're a weird dude, you know that Will?"

"And you wonder why I self-medicate."

"Ever consider professional help?"

Will frowned. It wasn't like Ben to display genuine concern. But he did consider him a friend, more or less.

"Three hours a week and two different psych meds," he confessed, coloring and looking away, waiting for the scorn.

"I'm on three," Ben answered quietly. At Will's shocked look, he shrugged and echoed Will's words. "And you wonder why I self-medicate."

The two young men shared a moment of wordless communication: eye-contact conveying understanding and acceptance and compassion. Which, being a pair of teenage guys, quickly grew damned uncomfortable.

Will cleared his throat, looking away. "So, about this party?"

Ben looked relieved. "Oh, yeah. It's going to be huge! Man, you might even manage to get yourself laid at this thing…"


It was a pretty wild party, so it took three of four shots for Will to loosen up enough to actually convince himself he was having fun. Much more alcohol and he'd be crying, but he was feeling pleasantly buzzed at the moment. Ben had started the night in a corner making out with his girlfriend Chesney and vanished upstairs with her within the first twenty minutes.

Which meant Will was alone with a group of complete strangers. Not that anyone seemed to mind his presence. A girl he had already written one paper for and agreed to write several more for, saw him across the room, waved, and then proceeded to force her way through the crowd.

"Having a good time, Will?" she asked. Her face was bright red and she was swaying on her feet, so he reached out to steady her. She giggled. "Thanks. I know, I'm terrible at holding my liquor. At this rate, I'll be passed-out in another hour."

"Then maybe you should slow down, Sarah?" he suggested.

He drank; he liked drinking, liked the way it made him feel as long as he didn't have too much. But binge-drinking continued to elude him. What was the point if you weren't awake to enjoy yourself in the first place and then woke up feeling like complete shit afterwards?

"It's fun, Will! Take your nose out of the books and spend some time in the moment!"

"Time in the moment, huh? How would you suggest I go about that?"

Her smile was inviting. "I can think of a few ways…"

For some reason, the fact that she would never have made such an invitation sober was a real turn-off for Will. He shook his head. She looked surprised but not particularly offended. He was willing to bet she'd still manage to hook up before she ended up passed out in the corner.

"I hear there are some party favors making the rounds?" he asked her instead.

"Drugs? Sure, if that's your thing. Come on." She grabbed his arm and dragged him through the crowd, an interesting trick considering that she was lurching more than walking.

The amount of alcohol she must have been knocking back to be this bad off would have killed more than a few brain-cells. No wonder she needed someone else to write papers for her…

"What's your flavor, Will?" she asked as they walked.

"Thought LSD might be interesting," he admitted.

"Yeah?" She grinned, looking distinctly impressed. "Ooh, Brainy Smurf is an adventurous one!"

"I have my moments!" Will answered defensively.

Her smile widened. "Come on, Will, lighten up! The love-in's on the third floor. I'll show you."

She snagged another drink from a table they passed, half-draining the cup in one go and leading him up the stairs. Eventually, they reached a big room on the third floor with maybe ten people in it. Four of those people were in one corner, all making out with each other at once.

The lure of drugs forgotten, Will watched with wide eyes and a gaping mouth as one of the three females in the little group shimmied out of her pants. One corner of his mind registered the music on the room's radio: White Rabbit by the Jefferson Airplane, apparently selected by an even bigger dork than Will himself. The rest of his mind was firmly on the developing orgy, until he felt Sarah hugging him from behind.

"They don't even know you're there. But they still wouldn't mind if you joined them," she breathed in his ear. "Do you want to know what it's like to feel that right with yourself?"

Will turned to face her, firmly ignoring the part of his mind that was screaming against this course of action. He knew that it was insane and stupid and could get him kicked out of school. He just wasn't sure he cared. And very little of that had anything to do with the idea of getting into Sarah's pants.

"It makes all the bad shit go away?" he asked.

"Will, that's what drugs are for," she told him.

He nodded and squared his shoulders. "Where do I sign up?"

She took his hand and led him further into the room, to an end table with a little bowl of sugar-cubes sitting there. It was inviting, but terrifying as all shit, too.

"God hates a coward," he whispered, reaching down and snagging several cubes.

"If it's your first time, you may want to start with one," Sarah laughed. "You don't have anything to prove, Will, and you don't want to make yourself sick. If you fry your brain, who's going to help me pass Composition?"

Nothing to prove, except to himself. But what was he trying to prove? Why couldn't he just accept the fact that this was about escaping from the feelings of fear and loneliness that haunted him all the fucking time? Not being cool, just feeling better. Feeling normal, for once.

He let two of the four tubes fall back into the bowl and knocked back the remaining pair, making a face at the bitter taste.

"They say it's much worse without the sugar."

"How long?" he asked.

She smiled. "Wait for it."

Will frowned at her in confusion, then staggered backwards as if he's been punched in the gut. The room was not spinning, but it sure as hell felt like he was!

"Jesus!" he protested, shaking his head to clear it.

"Easy, kid," she said, grabbing his shoulder.

Will let out a cry, jerking away and staring at her with wide eyes. The pressure of the sudden contact had hurt!

"What the fuck?" he demanded.

"Close your eyes," she directed. "Take a minute to get used to the change."

He closed his eyes tightly, bending over to grasp his own knees and sucking in a series of deep breaths. The pressure on every inch of his body was tremendous, the vertigo almost overwhelming.

That said, the flashes of color were pretty neat. He watched them for what could have been seconds or hours. It didn't really matter which; they were beautiful enough to devote some time to. Except the ones that were terrifying in a 'Colour Out of Space' way. He didn't like those at all, could easily see how it might have been enough to drive the Gardners mad in the end.

When he opened his eyes again, Sarah had wandered off, leaving him on his own. His vision swimming, he looked around for somewhere to sit down. He needed to get on his ass or, better still, on his back, right now.

Nothing was right. The wallpaper was kind of slithering around on the walls, and everyone in the room had this brilliant, pulsing aura around them. And someone had turned the music way the hell up. It was so loud it was making his eyes hurt.

Wait. That… isn't right, is it?

Yeah, you fucked up this time, Zimmerman. Royally.

He turned and fled the room with its too-loud music and living wallpaper and strange people, seeking out somewhere quiet where he could stop and just think for a second. Something was wrong. Something was different.

He was wrong. He was different. The monsters in the shadows his whole life? That had always just been him!

"Oh, God!"

Weeping, he searched for a place where he could just be alone with his goddamned misery. But every room he forced his way into had people in it when he wanted nothing more than to never see another person again in his life.

Let alone actually being seen by others who would recognize him for the unnatural freak he was and had always been.

Finally, he found an empty bedroom and staggered to a window, wrenching it open, needing the fresh air. Needing the freedom.

He was not just crying now but sobbing hysterically. More than anything in the world, he wanted to feel his mother's arms around him, telling him that it was all right, that he was loved again.

His chest hurt; the skin burned, so he pulled off his shirt. Then his pants and boxers. The cool night air soothed fevered flesh and he started to feel some measure of relief. He would be okay. He could get through this self-inflicted nightmare.


Except, leaning out the window and gulping in air, struggling to breathe and shake off his sense of pure desolation, he saw the lights. Even with his vision not entirely reliable, he knew those colors: red and blue.

Red and blue, red and blue, red and blue…

Sweet and bitter, sweet and bitter, sweet and bitter.



He shuddered, drawing back from the window, terrified. A kid with a criminal record couldn't get student loans. He'd have to go back to Dan and Alice.

No fucking way…

He dove out the window, unwilling to be caught in a building with the many drugs inside. He wouldn't go back, could not!

The fall must have taken ten minutes. It felt wonderful with the air whooshing against his bare skin. And the swooping in his stomach, like being on a roller-coaster or something. Just nice.

Then he landed. In a bramble-bush. Which he was fairly certain should have hurt.

Flailing, he struggled to free himself from the mass of thorns, the smell of blood strong in his nose. On all fours in the lawn, he crouched and struggled to breathe, to get his bearings. To figure out which fucking way was up in the first place. Then he got up and started walking. No reason for anyone to know that he'd been involved with that party in any way, after all.

He counted his steps to help himself focus in the face of the amazing colors and ever-shifting landscape. And to help him ignore the monsters lurking in the shadows and sometimes not even bothering with concealment at all. As long as he ignored them, it was okay. If he didn't see them, they couldn't see him.

Three hundred and six steps before She appeared out of the shadows.

"Honestly, Will," she tsked, voice accented.

A black-haired angel. Probably hiding wings back there somewhere. He leaned around her to check.

"Will," she said more insistently.

He struggled to make out her face, which was hard when it kept shifting and distorting. Angels had scary faces. He would have to remember that. But there was nothing scary about that voice. Just… familiar. That strange accent, he knew he had heard it before somewhere. Kind of a royal blue with deep gold edges and a slow, casual strobe. Oh yeah, he would have recognized it anywhere, even if he could not quite place it.

"I know you…"

"Yes," she agreed, extending a trench coat to him. "Put it on. Quickly, before someone sees you like this."

He stared at her blankly for a moment before remembering that he left his clothes at the frat-house. He pulled the coat on, cringing at the feel of the rough cloth against his skin.

"Painful for you, is it?"

"Yeah." He nodded weakly.

"Here." She reached into her pocket and withdrew a bottle, passing him a little blue tablet. "This will help you start to feel better. And I'll stay with you until you do."

He smiled, the thing he had needed back in the frat-house suddenly there. He felt cared-for. Loved.

"Thank you," he whispered.

"Take the pill, dear," she urged.

Trusting to her, he dry-swallowed the bitter blue tablet.

"You're very beautiful," he told her as, at her urging, he followed her down the sidewalk. She sometimes had to help support him, but he was fine with that. Her hands were soft and her skin smelled of lavender. He could have stayed with her forever.

"Can you honestly see straight enough to know any such thing?" she countered, sounding equal parts amused and disgusted.

"Can't see straight at all. I still know that you're beautiful."

"I see," she answered, and lapsed into silence.

"Do angels have names?" he asked after a moment. Her mere presence was comforting; he never wanted her to go, had to know more.

"Azrael, Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, Metatron…" she told him, sinking onto a bench and tugging at his hand until he consented to join her.

"And yours?"


"Of the thousand ships?"

"Of the thousand safe havens for men and women like no others…" She turned to face him. When she spoke, her voice was gentle. "Will, you too are like no other. But you won't amount to a damned thing if you keep on like this. Is that really what you want from life? To be another burnt-out druggie loser? Don't you want to amount to something in this world?"

"Would that make you happy? Because I want to make you happy…"

"Then clean yourself up! Start making some correct decisions for a change!" She did not raise her voice, but her ire was evident. "Damn it, Will, you have tremendous potential and you are throwing it away right now! Play to your strengths, man! There are so many wonderful things you can do in this world if you even half want to. Enough helping other people cheat. Just think of the good you could do if you really put your mind to it."

He sighed and leaned his head against her shoulder. "I don't care about the future. I just want it to stop hurting."

"You must miss her so very much," she answered, wrapping an arm around him. "My mother died giving birth to me. I never even knew her, yet I felt her absence keenly each and every day."

He turned his head enough to more or less see her face. Which was still a huge blur. But a pretty blur. She was gorgeous. He knew that in his heart.

"Angels have mothers?"

"I had a mother, at least. And the pain of not having her was profound. But, always in my life, I thought about what she would have wanted: for me and from me…"

"I didn't have the chance to know my mom well enough to know what she wanted for me or from me."

"But can't you imagine? Surely it wasn't this life?"

"I'm in school. I get good grades. I make good money. What's so horrible about any of that?"

"The way you go about it." She shook her head, drawing him into her arms and holding him close. "Son, you have so much potential and you're wasting it…"

"I do okay for myself."

"If I hadn't been there to dress you and lead you away, do you honestly think you would be anywhere other than in a police holding-cell right now? Will, your future at this school depends on your behavior every Friday night. Are you really going to allow a drug arrest to destroy your chances at Graduate School? Just to make it hurt less?"

He shrugged, leaning into her. "Hurts real bad sometimes. I don't like it. I can't even think straight half the time."

"Because of the pain, the fear?" she asked gently.

"The monsters…"

A long pause. "Even when there are no drugs, you still see creatures?"

"Sometimes," he admitted. "But I'm not crazy or anything!"

"No, of course not, dear. I sometimes see them myself. Best thing is to not try to convince other people. They don't want to know the truth; they couldn't understand."

"I know. That's why I've never even told my shrink."

"Clever boy," she soothed, kissing the top of his head. "Now, I'm going to bring you back to your dorm, but first I'd like to exact some promises from you."

"Anything," he agreed.

"No more drugs, Will. Nothing stronger than white wine until you're twenty-one."


"Promise," she ordered, voice stern.

"Okay," he sighed.

"Good boy. No more taking money to do other people's homework."

"But I need the money."

"You need some money," she countered. "Which you can make easily enough tutoring. You can teach others to help themselves for a change."

"Tutoring?" he repeated, frowning.

"William Perry Zimmerman," she warned, voice stern.

"Guess I might actually get to know some people that way," he admitted.

"You see, there's the Zimmerman brain at work." She sounded approving. "No more parties with drugs, either. I take it you understand the consequences of a drug conviction on your life at this point?"

"Why do you think I jumped out that window?"

"I assumed it must have something to do with the fact that you had just dropped acid!"

"I'm not a complete moron," he protested.

"Not yet, although you do a damned credible impersonation at times. Trust me, Will. I lived through the sixties and seventies. I saw many good kids and intelligent adults destroy their entire lives with indiscriminate drug use. I don't want to watch you do the same. I may not always be here to save you from the consequences of your own actions."

Someone jogged up to them out of the darkness. "Doctor, the police dragnet's headed this way. You'd better get the kid somewhere safe ASAP."

"Thank you for the warning, Ramirez." She rose, drawing Will to her feet as the man ran off. "This way," she directed.

He let himself be led to a car and bundled into the backseat. The angel named Helen joined him and conveyed directions to what he knew to be his own dorm, on the other side of campus.

"No one will expect someone fleeing on foot to make it that far," she explained, pressing another pill into his hand. "Take it."

"Not sure I should be taking drugs from a stranger," he pointed out, regarding it dubiously as they drove.

"Little late for that after your actions this evening, don't you think?" she asked, chuckling softly. "It's only diazepam, Will. If you trust me, take it. If not, your night will be less pleasant than it otherwise might be."


"Can you make out distinct shapes yet?"

"Not really." He shook his head.

"Can you tell me what color my eyes are?"

He tried to focus on her eyes only to have the taste of lemonade flood his mouth. "Whoa…"

"I'll take that as a no," she sighed. "Take the pill, William."

He did so obediently, making a face.



"Ah. Well, for future reference, dear, people who already see things that others don't should probably avoid hallucinogens at all costs."

"I'll remember that."

"That remains to be seen, but I've no doubt you'll remember some things about this night and one may hope that's all to the good." The car stopped. "All right, then. Let's get you up to bed."

He let himself be led through the mostly-empty halls; it was that time of night where serious students were still at the library studying and pretty much everyone else was still off somewhere having a party.

The angel turned down his bed, made him take the coat off, then checked him over with all the professionalism of a doctor or something. Blood was rinsed away, bruises prodded, cream applied to the worst cuts, and then she bundled him into bed.

"My tattoo," he protested as she started to cover him.

"No more of those, either," she directed firmly, but it did not stop her from applying the gel to his arm. "Your body may be a temple, Will, but most temples really only need a small amount of stained-glass to look nice. Focus more on the architecture and landscaping, the things that can be learned within, not the gaudy embellishments."

"Okay," he agreed, closing his eyes and rolling over, hugging a pillow to his chest.

"Good boy. Now, remember the rules and take care of yourself for me. You may not see me again for some time, but never doubt that I'll be close by should you need me."

"Who are you?"

"Didn't you already guess? I'm your guardian angel, Will."

She kissed her cheek and that was the last he knew until past 3:00 pm the next day.


The repercussions could have been worse. Very few people got arrested, although a handful were still expelled. Ben's parents yanked him and insisted that he start going to a community college instead so he could live at home while attending. Sarah, in spite of a few previous problems with underage drinking, was only ordered to do community service and attend a 12-step program. The frat was shut down, but opened again a few semesters later under new leadership.

No one ever ratted on Will over his own attendance, although he often felt guilty for not having been caught.

A rumor spread that he had been seen getting into a car with a very attractive and much older woman. Why that suddenly made him popular with the other sex, he was never entirely sure. He didn't bother trying to explain that it was only an angel and nothing had happened. After all, as the angel had pointed out and as Will himself had discovered in his own life, you shouldn't try to convince people of the reality of things they couldn't see for themselves.

He ignored the women who only seemed to be interested in his level of "experience", eventually meeting a fellow psychology major who was very sweet and only occasionally ragged him for jumping out of a third-story window and into a bramble bush while stark naked. They lasted about three months and remained friends afterward. After that, he found that dating didn't much interest him. Psychology was more fascinating than he could have imagined. There was so much there to learn…

His new roommate, Danny, point out the value of the life-lesson from that night. Will could have lost everything, instead he had received a much-needed wakeup call. The child of an alcoholic father and a drug-using mother, Danny had a real problem with people who took drugs.

He had organized a peer-counseling organization under the guidance of the Psychology department and sucked Will into participating before the younger man knew what hit him. Will had to admit, it was fun, too. Not everyone was willing to listen to what a sixteen year old had to say about these things, but he did other things for the group as well.

He was its treasurer for several semesters and its VP from his junior year forward, and worked on numerous committees. Danny dragged him to a Psych Club meeting, too, and Will was hooked. Eventually, he was invited to join Psi Chi. And he tutored, although he was never sure where that idea came from. The pay wasn't as good as writing papers for people, but it was more rewarding emotionally.

Between his classes and all his extracurriculars, he made friends. But Danny was the closest, the one who could actually be counted on to listen instead of just getting uncomfortable like most guys in their age-range would have done.

When he woke up the day after the party, he found a list, written in a script so pretty and intricate as to almost be calligraphy, sitting on his desk:

The Rules:

1) No more drugs
2) No more cheating
3) No more parties
4) No more tattoos
5) Use your mind to do great things
6) Use your heart to do things still greater
7) Be happy
8) Find peace
9) Know that you are loved, Will

He had no idea where it had come from, except some vague, nagging notion of a guardian angel. He remembered almost nothing of that night except confusion and terror and pain. And then the scent of lavender and a strangely-accented voice as familiar as going home which had eased all that and made him feel like a regular kid for the first time in almost a decade.

He kept the rule-list tucked in his wallet after that. Sometimes, when things got particularly bad, he would just take it out and stare at it and think of the smell of lavender. And he would start to feel better.

Then, in his early thirties, a few weeks after starting the most singular job imaginable, he happened to receive a memo from his new boss, hand-written because Henry had taken the computer system off-line for routine maintenance.

Shaking his head as he stared at the memo, he pulled out his wallet and gingerly unfolded the brittle paper, placing it side-by-side with the memo.

He laughed, incredulous.

Not that he should have been surprised. The voice alone should have been a dead giveaway, but how did you believe anything you remembered about the one time in your life you used a drug stronger than pot?

He walked to the nearest copier and Xeroxed the rule list, then added a handwritten note in the margin:

1) Only what was prescribed by a doctor
2) There was one math test
3) Sorry, but it was college
4) You did my intake physical; you already know this one
5) I like to think I have
6) Ditto
7) More often than not
8) Still searching, but getting closer
9) I'm starting to realize how true that it. Thank you. For everything

Smiling, he folded the annotated copy into an envelope and added it to the intra-office mail.

The End