A/N—Yes, this chapter has a lot in it. Bear with me, because I'm beginning to wrap up the story. I'll write a few more chapters before I complete it. Again, what happens to the humans in this chapter are semi-biographical (not autobiographical). I'm sorry if this chapter seems too sad, but it's purposeful to the story. Thank you for reading and reviewing!
At the Godly's house. It is still deep morning, Halloween.
Tess opens the door to Andrew and Monica's house and notices no one is downstairs in the living room. It is still dark, but she figured someone would be sleeping on the couch, since Rafael, Gloria and Celene were watching the kids. She ascends the stairs to check on the kids. Peering into the twins' nursery, Tess spots Andrea and Aaron asleep in their cribs. The dark angel smiles as she shuts the door, but not completely. Then, she opens the door to Hannah's room, and sees the nearly two year old girl asleep, clutching her stuffed lamb. "God bless you, my little angel babies," she whispers as she shuts the girl's door.
She walks down the hall a couple paces. Expecting to see Celene asleep in the guest bedroom, she glances in the room and sees it's unoccupied. "Where's Celene?" she wonders, "did she go back home?"
Since the downstairs couch and guest bedroom are unoccupied and she knew Rafael, Gloria and Celene were babysitting the kids, she wonders where the grown woman and two angel are. Tess steps to the end of the hall, to Andrew and Monica's bedroom. "Surely they won't all be in here!" she thinks as she opens the door. To her disappointment and horror, she spots Rafael and Gloria in the bed asleep in each other's arms.
"Just what do you two think you're doing?" Tess booms.
The younger two angels startle awake and sit straight up, afraid to look their mentor in the eye.
"I said," she repeats, slowly, "Angel Boy and Angel Girl, just what do you two think you're doing?"
"Ummm," Rafael stammers, "ummm, we were just sleeping."
"Yeah," Gloria utters, "yeah, we were just sleeping."
"Uh huh," the elder angel harrumphs, unconvinced. "Just sleeping, huh?"
"Yes," the Latin angel repeats. "That's all!"
"Nothing happened!" Gloria protests. "Honest!"
"Where's Celene?" Tess asks, "I thought she would still be here."
"She went home," Rafael answers. "She was tired and thought she'd rest better at home."
Not wanting to awaken the babies, Tess whispers, "We'll talk about this later."
A couple hours later
The three elder angels place the three children in their high chairs to feed them breakfast. Tess fixes the children's plates and places them before each one. As the elder angels begin eating their breakfast, Tess begins to talk to her proteges.
"Now, what is going on with the two of you?"
"N...nothing!" Gloria protests, as she assists Andrea with her meal.
"If nothing's going on," the dark angel begins, "then why did I find the two of you quite cozy in bed together?"
"We were just talking," Rafael adds, as he wipes Aaron's mouth.
"And 'just talking' includes disrespecting Monica and Andrew by sleeping together in their bed?" Tess glares. "So, I repeat myself, 'What is going on with the two of you?'"
Neither young angel says a word.
"Not only have you betrayed Monica and Andrew's trust, you've betrayed God's."
"I'm sorry," Rafael laments. Aaron swipes his hand across the highchair tray, knocking his dish onto the floor. "Are you done?" the Latin angel asks.
"Da!" Aaron squeals, and lifts his arms.
As Rafael lifts the young angel out of his highchair, he notices Gloria crying. "I'm going to get Aaron dressed and let you two talk."
Gloria nods silently.
"Did Monica have the baby?" he asks.
"Yes. A boy," Tess responds, "Two and a half pounds and fourteen and a quarter inches."
"How's Monica?" Gloria asks, lifting Andrea out of the highchair, tears still streaming down her cheeks.
"She's doing fine."
"And the baby?" Rafael adds, as Aaron begins to squirm.
"He's in the NICU, but the doctor said he's healthy and strong."
"That's good news," he expresses. "I'd better get him dressed before he jumps out of my arms." He approaches Gloria and places a soft kiss on her cheek.
"Can you take Andrea too?" Tess asks.
"Sure. C'mere, Angel Girl. Wanna come with Uncle Rafael?"
Gloria places Andrea in his other arm and he starts to leave the room. Hannah is still in her highchair, and makes her presence known. "Up! Up! Hannah want up."
Tess lifts her up out of the highchair. "Rafael? Could you...?"
Rafael walks back in the kitchen, takes Hannah by the hand, with Aaron and Andrea in his arms, and leads her out of the room.
"Now," Tess begins, "What's going on with the two of you?"
"Nothing. We weren't doing anything. Honest," the younger angel complains.
Tess raises an eyebrow. "Start explaining."
"Celene went home after we put the kids down for the night. She was tired."
"Okay, Rafael already said that, but that doesn't explain why the two of you were quite cozy in their bedroom."
"I know one of us should've slept in the guest bed..."
"Uh huh," Tess frowns.
"We were just talking and fell asleep. That's all," Gloria dismisses.
"Why don't I believe you?" she inquires, unconvinced.
"Because that's not all of the story."
Tess crosses her arms and frowns. "Then, what's the rest of the story? You didn't..."
"NO! I can't believe you'd even think that."
"Then, tell me what is going on?"
The younger angel cleans her glasses and then begins, "I want a family. I want what Monica and Andrew have."
"Gloria..." The elder angel reaches her hand out.
"NO!" Gloria pulls away. "I want a baby and a family of my own. I thought it was just being pregnant that I wanted, but after I handed the triplets over to Mark and Lin, I realized I wanted more. I want a husband, a couple kids: the works."
"Now, Miss Wings, are you ever going to be satisfied with what you've got?" Tess is rather annoyed. "Maybe that's not what the Father has in store for you. Have you ever thought of that?"
Suddenly, they hear a loud crash. "Somebody? Some help up here?" Tess and Gloria rush upstairs to the nursery and see Aaron and Andrea covered in baby powder, lotion and baby oil, laughing at the top of their lungs. The contents of the changing table are on the floor around the twins.
"What in Gabriel's name happened up here?" Tess inquires, hand on her hip, while Gloria stands wide eyed.
"Babies did it!" Hannah exclaims.
"I was getting Hannah dressed and Aaron pulled on a blanket that was on the changing table and down the stuff came."
"Well, don't just stand there Gloria, come help," Tess directs.
Gloria picks Aaron up and fixes him a bath. "C'mon Angel Boy, let's get you all cleaned up."
Tess and Rafael clean up the mess. "We need to have a heart to heart talk."
"I'm sorry, Tess," he apologizes, picking Andrea up. "We shouldn't have done that. We didn't do anything more than just talk."
"Really?" The elder angel picks Hannah up. "Let's get you cleaned up Miss Hannah."
"I...I know about her wanting a baby, but I don't. She's my best friend, and I wouldn't take advantage of her."
"I've told her that I'm not ready for one, and may not ever be."
The angels join Gloria and fix baths for Andrea and Hannah.
Later in the day.
The twins are down for their naps and Tess is reading to Hannah before she takes a nap. Rafael and Gloria are talking in the living room.
"I...I think we should spend some time apart."
"B...but why?" Gloria's lower lip begins trembling.
"Because of last night." He brushes a lock of her hair behind her ear. Gloria starts to interrupt, but he stops her. "I know we didn't do anything, but it was tempting. We can't put ourselves in that kind of position."
"I...I don't want you to go."
"It's the right thing to do."
Tears stream down Gloria's cheeks.
"Sunshine, it won't be forever. It's just for awhile."
Tess descends the stairs. She heard their conversation. "Monica and Andrew said they'd like you two and Celene to come to the hospital."
"Are they okay?" Gloria asks. "And the baby?"
"They're fine," Tess answers. "They thought you'd like to meet Hayden. We're going to swing by and pick Celene up."
"Who's going to watch the kids?"
"Sam, Ruth and Henry."
"Sam, Ruth and Henry?" the younger angels exclaim, trying not to laugh.
"Yes," the elder angel repeats, "Sam, Ruth and Henry." Almost immediately, the trio appears on the Godly's doorstep. "Glad you could make it."
"We're happy to help," Sam replies. "I've never been on a temporary assignment like this. I'm looking forward to the challenge."
"Two archangels and an angel of death to look after three children," Rafael chuckles.
"They're pretty easy to handle," Gloria adds, "just don't let the twins out of your sight. They do this thing called 'twin speak,' where they communicate with each other and we don't know what they're saying."
Ruth chimes, "I haven't looked after kids since I was in Search and Rescue, but I'm sure it'll come back to me quickly."
"It's nice to be able to take care of kids without having to take them back to the Father," Henry adds.
"They're taking naps right now. Hannah is laid back and pretty compliant. The twins aren't walking yet, but they can crawl really fast. They say a few words. They're all good kids. Monica and Andrew have done a good job with them," Tess tells the trio. Turning her attention back to Rafael and Gloria, "So, shall we go pick up Celene?" Gloria heads out the door first, and Tess stops Rafael. "I heard you're going back to the Father soon."
"Yes. I thought it would be best. As I said, I really like Gloria and I want the best for her. We put ourselves in a compromising situation, and I don't want it to get worse. So, I thought the best course of action would be to spend a bit of eternity back in Heaven."
"You've got your halo on straight, Angel Boy," she quips. "When are you going back?"
"Tomorrow. Adam's on assignment right now, since it's Halloween, and I promised Hannah I'd take her trick-or-treating tonight. Gloria's coming with me, since we're taking all three kids, but I'll sleep on the couch tonight."
"Good plan," she replies. They hear Gloria honking the horn. "I think that's our cue."
At the hospital
The angel trio pick Celene up and drive to the hospital. As the four enter the hospital, Tess leads them to NICU. "Now, we can only go in two at a time. Gloria, you and Rafael can go first, then Celene and I will go."
"Are you sure Monica's here?" Gloria asks, "I thought she'd be in her room."
"She wants to spend as much time with Hayden as she can before she's released from the hospital tomorrow."
They reach the waiting room and see Andrew. "Andrew!" Gloria calls as she gives him a hug.
"Congratulations, my man!" Rafael expresses.
"How are Monica and little Hayden," Tess inquires.
"Thanks," the blond angel answers. "They're both doing well. Monica will be released tomorrow or the next day and Hayden's holding his own."
"When will he be released?" Gloria asks.
"We're hoping just before Christmas. He'll be the equivalent of nearly 36 weeks gestation by then, and hopefully will weigh around five pounds. They want his weight to be over five pounds and for him to be able to feed either by bottle or by being breastfed by then."
"Since there can only be two at a time, Gloria and Rafael will go first. Celene and I will wait out here until they return."
"Okay," Andrew directs, "Right this way." Andrew leads the pair to Hayden's bed. Monica sits in a rocking chair by the bed, talking to her young son.
"Monica!" Gloria shrieks in glee. "How are you? Congratulations!"
Andrew puts his index finger to his lips and silently encourages her to lower her voice.
"I'm fine, Gloria. Come and meet Hayden."
The blond angel places a soft kiss on his wife's cheek. "I'm going to see how Celene's doing." Monica nods, and he leaves the unit.
Rafael and Gloria approach the bassinet. "He's beautiful," the Latin angel remarks.
"He's so tiny! Look at his little hands! So sweet!"
Monica beams. "He is." She places a hand on the bassinet. "I can't believe he's here. He looks so much like Andrew. I know you can't see them, but he's got Andrew's eyes."
"He's got your hands," Rafael observes. He notices Monica's smile fades some. "How are you really?"
"Trying to hold it together, I suppose," she replies. "I feel like it's my fault he's there and not inside me. Tess and the doctor keep telling me it's not my fault, but I still feel that way."
"That's understandable," he affirms. "I know it's hard convincing your heart of what your head knows."
"Yes, it is. I'll feel much better when he's home with his brother and sisters."
The Latin angel places a friendly kiss on Monica's cheek. "We're here for you."
"He will be soon," Gloria adds, "I just know it."
"If that's what the Father wills," Monica returns.
"Well," Rafael begins, "we need to get back so Tess and Celene can come in." He gives Monica a light embrace. "We'll see you later. And congratulations."
"Congratulations!" Gloria echoes, also embracing her friend. "He's beautiful, and yes, Hannah and the twins are just fine."
"Who's looking after them?" Monica inquires.
"Sam, Ruth and Henry," the pair respond together.
"Sam, Ruth and Henry?" Monica coughs.
"I know," Gloria interjects, "That's how we reacted when Tess told us who was filling in."
"Don't worry," Rafael encourages, "they're in good hands."
"I know and I miss them."
"You'll see them soon," Rafael consoles. "Anyway, we've gotta go so Tess and Celene can see you and Hayden."
"Thanks for coming," Monica states, embracing her friends again.
As they leave, Gloria comments, "He's so sweet. So tiny."
"He is," the Latin angel remarks.
"I just can't believe how fragile he looks."
"Yeah, he does."
They reach the waiting room, and Gloria embraces Andrew. "He's so tiny!"
"But he's strong," Andrew replies, "like his mother."
"Well c'mon, Celene," Tess directs, "let's go meet the newest member of the Godly family." They make their way to Hayden's bassinet.
"Hi Celene. How are you feeling?"
"I'm good. She's been kicking all day," the young woman laughs. "I think she may be a soccer player!"
"Or a gymnast!" Monica chuckles. "Whatever she may be, I know she'll be a blessing."
"Just like he is," she adds, smiling at the newest Godly. She rests one hand on her abdomen and one on the bassinet. "I hope these two will be best friends." Celene looks a bit distant.
"Maybe they will be," Tess smiles, not noticing the young woman's change of affect.
"Would you like to sit down?" The young angel offers.
"I'm good," Celene dismisses. "Why don't you sit? I know you must be tired."
"I am, but I'll go back to my room in a little while."
Tess reaches into her pocket and pulls out an envelope. "I brought this for Hayden."
Monica receives the envelope, opens it, and pulls out pictures of Hannah, Aaron and Andrea. "Thank you," she smiles.
"I thought you and Andrew could put them on the outside of his bassinet, so he could see pictures of his brother and sisters."
"How thoughtful!" She tapes them on the side of the warmer. "There you go, sweet boy. Now you can see your brother and sisters until you meet them in person."
Suddenly, alarms sound at the bassinet beside Hayden's. The doctor and nurses rush to the scene and begin checking the child's vitals. "Clear the area!" One nurse shouts, as another one moves Hayden's bassinet over to make more room. Hearing the code over the intercom, Andrew rushes in and holds his wife as they peer at their son, and pray for the little boy in the next bassinet.
Tess leads Celene out to a private corner of the waiting room. "I...I can't do it!" she wails.
"Can't do what?"
Celene looks at her abdomen, "I can't keep her."
"Don't let what's happening in there scare you."
"No," she protests, "it's not that..." Tess raises an eyebrow, and the young woman continues, "Okay, some of it's that, but I've been thinking about this for awhile, and although I want her..." she half-coughs and half-laughs, "I just can't."
"You know there are resources."
"I know, and you have been great. Everyone at the Miriam Center has been, but everyone has said to weigh the options carefully, and I have been."
"I'm glad you have." She reaches and hands the woman a box of tissues.
"And you suggested I 'wear' each option for awhile to help me decide."
"And I've decided," she inhales, "I'm going to place her with Frankie and Doni Leddy and have an open adoption."
"Are you sure that's what you want?"
"No, but it's the best thing," tears stream down her cheeks, "Frankie said she'd have her call me 'Mama Celene' if I wanted. It sounded a bit better than 'Aunt Celene,' since I'm not her aunt and actually, Doni's sister's name is Celine, so that might be confusing to her."
"I think you're being really courageous, Celene, and I'm proud of you." She takes her into her arms.
Pulling back, Celene asks, "You are?"
"Yes, child. I am. I would be proud of you no matter what decision you made because I know that whether you placed her for adoption or chose to parent her, that you were making the decision out of love."
"I do love her."
They look up and see a tearful Monica walking out of the waiting room. Andrew is behind her, but instead of following her, he approaches Tess and Celene. "How's the baby?"
"The baby didn't make it," Andrew says sadly.
Celene cries into Tess's embrace.
"I am so sorry," Tess laments.
"Adam took the little guy home." The blond angel sighs. "He wasn't much older than Hayden. Looking at the two babies, it was hard to tell them apart. His name was even similar: Hagen Goddard."
"Go to your wife," Tess instructs.
"I will." He looks toward the NICU door and then to the waiting room exit. "This has really shaken her up."
"And you too. Go to her, and I'll get Rafael and Gloria and apprise them of what's going on."
Andrew nods. Celene and Tess rise and embrace the blond angel. "Okay," the elder angel states. "Now, go to your wife and give her our best. We'll see you tomorrow when you get home."
"Thanks Tess, I appreciate everything the four of you have done for us."
Tess, Celene and Andrew walk out of the waiting room. Andrew rejoins his wife and the other two find Rafael and Gloria in the lobby. "Let's go back to the house," Tess suggests. The other three nod and they exit the hospital.
The next day (November 1)
The sun shines through the hospital room window, causing Monica to stir and awaken. "Mmmmmm!" she yawns and stretches.
Andrew opens his eyes and looks to his wife's bed. "How are you?"
"I'm ready to see our older three kids." She pause and smiles, "'older three.' I like the sound of that."
"Me too." He walks to his wife's bed. "I love you." He kisses her on the lips.
"I love you too." She smiles and caresses his cheek.
Doctor Hammonds walks into the room. "How would you like to go home today?"
"Really?" the brunette angel smiles.
"Yes, really. You're healing nicely and the magnesium has worked its way out of your system. I don't see any reason why you'd need to stay longer."
"How often or how long can we visit Hayden?" Andrew inquires.
"I was talking with Dr. Hicks last night at rounds and she said for the first couple weeks, a couple hours during the morning and a couple hours late afternoons." The angel couple nods as the doctor continues. "Monica, if the pump the nurse gave you works okay for you, you can take it home with you."
"It does, thanks. How often should I pump?"
"Try to do it about the same times you were breastfeeding Hannah. We'll send some bottles too. You can bring it when you visit Hayden. We can store it up here for him if you'd like."
"Thanks," Monica replies.
"I'll get the papers together and you'll be able to sign them shortly."
"Can someone bring them to the NICU? I want to see Hayden after breakfast, before Andrew and I go home."
"That'll be just fine," Sheryl states. She starts to leave, but notices a faint tear about to escape the young angel's eye. "You'll get through this. Are Tess and Gloria going to be staying with you?"
"Tess will be," Andrew begins, "but Gloria will stay at her apartment and help out during the day. We've got other friends who have agreed to help when Tess is at the Miriam Center."
"I'm glad...and you know Kathryn and I will help out however we can."
"Thank you," Monica whispers.
Monica and Andrew eat breakfast and dress for the day, then Andrew packs the car while Monica makes her way to her younger son's bedside.
Monica sits in the rocking chair by her son's bed. "Hey sweetheart, it's Mama. Your dad and I are going home today to see your brother and sisters. We'll be back later this evening. I wish I could take you home with us today, but you need to grow and get stronger." She looks at the empty bassinet in the space next to Hayden's, which used to hold little Hagen. A lump begins forming in her throat, and she tries to swallow it away.
Andrew sees his wife begin to cry and places a soft hand on her shoulder, and kisses her on the cheek. "I love you," he whispers.
She nods and closes her eyes, blinking back the tears starting to form.
"His vitals are good," Andrew reassures. I just spoke to the charge nurse. "There's no guarantee that what happened to Hagen will happen to our son." He kisses her on the top of her head. "Hey kiddo! It's daddy..."
They spend the next couple hours telling the baby stories about his siblings. A nurse approaches them. "Mrs. Godly?"
"I've got your discharge papers if you'd like to sign them." She hands the papers and a pen to the new mother, who signs and returns them to her. "Here's your copy," the nurse hands them back to Monica. "It says that your doctor wants you to follow up with her in a couple weeks to make sure everything's still okay. Be sure to pump on a schedule, similar to what you would do if you were feeding him, and bring the bottles in when you come see him. Do you have any questions?" Monica shakes her head. "Well, blessings to you and your sweet little guy there. He's a sweetheart."
"Thank you," Monica replies.
The nurse leaves the area.
"We need to go," Andrew suggests. "I know three kids who have missed their mommy."
"I wish I could stay here all day," she sighs, as she holds her hand out.
"I know," the blond angel utters as he helps her up, "but we can come back later this evening."
"I'll see you later, sweetie. I love you." She kisses the top of the bassinet.
"I love you too," Andrew echoes, "sleep well. See you tonight." He wraps his arm around his wife's waist.
Monica leans in, letting a few tears escape onto his shirt. "Let's go home,' she whispers.
Andrew leads her out of the unit.
At the Godly's later that evening.
Andrew and Monica have returned from their evening visit with Hayden. Andrew has just put Hannah to bed and joins his wife putting the twins down for the night. Monica carries the twins up the stairs, sits in the rocking chair and rocks them. "It's times like this," she observes, "that I am reminded that God is good."
The blond angel picks Andrea up and rocks her. "Yes. All the time."
"I wish we could've taken Hayden home today."
"Me too, but December will come sooner than we think."
"I know," she replies, kissing Aaron on the top of his head, "but it still seems so far away."
Andrew sees that Andrea is asleep. He kisses her on her cheek and places her in her crib. "Remember, Doctor Hicks said he's in good health and is strong."
Monica stands up and places Aaron in his crib. "I can't wait until we fix this room up for the boys."
"If you want," he volunteers, "we can begin working on the room after your two week checkup. We can move Andrea into Hannah's room just before Thanksgiving."
"I like that idea," the brunette angel reflects. "I don't want to move her into Hannah's room until the twins' birthday."
They kiss their twins and leave the nursery. "What colour dog do you want to use for Hayden?"
"How 'bout a Dalmatian and put his name in red lettering?"
"I like it," he smiles.
Monica yawns, "I think it's time for me to get some sleep. I'm beat."
"So am I."
The couple get ready for bed and promptly fall asleep.
Meanwhile, in Gloria's apartment.
Rafael and Gloria dine together and spend the evening talking. The Latin angel is preparing to leave to go back to the Father. The pair are outside on the front porch of her apartment, facing each other, holding each other's hands.
"I wish you wouldn't go," Gloria laments.
"Sunshine," he emphasizes, "I need to."
"But why?" She pleads, fighting back tears.
Rafael unclasps one of her hands and wipes a tear from her cheek. "Because we came really close to stepping over the line, and doing something inappropriate."
"Why is it inappropriate? If we love each other, why is it inappropriate?"
"You know why," he reminds his friend. "God has not joined us in marriage."
Gloria looks down, ashamed. "I know. I just wish you didn't have to go."
"I don't want to, really I don't, but I think it's for the best."
"Are you going to come back?" she inquires, still looking at her feet.
"I won't be on assignment here anymore, but I'll come and visit...like at Hayden's homecoming party," he grins.
At the sound of this information, Gloria's face lights up. "Is he going to be okay? Is he coming home? Oh! Monica and Andrew will be so excited!"
"Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!" he chuckles, shaking his head. "I don't know any more than you do. I'm just being optimistic, and knowing Monica, she'll want a homecoming party."
"Okay," she sighs, still not wanting to accept his departure. "I'll miss you."
"I'll miss you too, Sunshine."
"I...is anyone taking your place on this assignment?"
"What?" he grins in mock disbelief, "are you trying to get rid of me?"
"No!" she replies, horrified. "No. I'd rather you stay, but since you're not, I was just wondering...that's all."
"Good," he chuckles. "I was about to get a complex." Taking a breath, he continues, "To answer your question, Adam will take over here for me. I'm transferring from caseworker to training to be an angel of death."
"Why?" Gloria grows worried. "Please tell me that's not the capacity in which you'll be visiting Monica and Andrew. Don't take any of their kids."
"I don't know whether or not I will be, but as far as any parties or reunions, not that I know of."
The angels gaze at each other in silence.
"I really must go," he speaks, breaking the silence. "I'm sorry, Sunshine."
"Me too," she rues, downcast.
The Latin angel takes his index finger, lifts her chin so that she's looking into his eyes. "Sunshine!" And with that whisper, he plants a soft kiss on her lips.
Gloria moves in to deepen their kiss and embrace.
All too soon, he pulls out of the embrace and disappears into Heaven, leaving a weeping Gloria alone on the porch.
-End of Chapter 27-