For These Thy Gifts
Disclaimer: I do not own Touched by an Angel or any recognizable character. They belong to Martha Williamson.
Summary: Monica struggles with the visions the Devil showed her on that cliff. Can Andrew help her, or will his own emotions leave them both shattered?
Warning: Contains major spoilers for episode 7x23 "Netherlands". Also contains references to episodes "'Til Death Do Us Part," "Voice of an Angel," and "'Til We Meet Again," and possibly others.
A/N: As always, feedback is essential to all writers, especially new ones such as myself. Please leave a note, even if it's just a couple words. Thanks!
A petite woman in a flowing white dress walks aimlessly through the deserted terrain, her long burgundy hair wafting behind her in the breeze. She is barefoot, and while any other time she would smile at the feeling of the grass tickling her toes, even this simple pleasure can't jolt her from her troubled thoughts.
Monica is an angel, created by God and sent to Earth to bring messages of love and truth to humans who have lost their way. But today it is she who feels lost, and she walks along, deep in thought. Her last assignment has finished, and while she normally would have gone Home to Heaven by now, she instead has chosen to remain on Earth.
She thinks back to her conversation yesterday with Gloria, the newly created angel who is experiencing Earth for the first time. Like a human child on her first day of school, Gloria had insisted that she wanted to go Home, and Monica was instantly filled with sympathy for the young angel, who at the time didn't even have a name. She admitted that she too constantly wanted to return to Heaven, but that she stayed because God asked her to, because He loves his children.
And she loves them, too. Even after everything that had taken place on this last assignment, even when the atrocities they commit tear at her heart. And as much as she loves Heaven, and though it could never compare, she can find beauty on Earth, too. Sometimes she even chooses to spend her free time on Earth instead of in Heaven, for many different reasons. Sometimes, she stays for research, to further observe humans and to better understand them, for her own curiosity as well as to be better able to help her assignments. Sometimes she stays to revel in memories, going back to significant places she had visited before- checking on past assignments, or visiting Ireland, where she first experienced Earth. She even spends some vacations on Earth, cherishing time with her dearest friends and fellow angels, Andrew and Tess, and creating new memories.
Other times, however, she stays almost as a punishment for herself. Today, she stays on Earth because Heaven is too painful. Because when your heart is breaking, it hurts to be around so much love.
Monica knows this is wrong. She knows better than ever after recent events that the Father would heal her pain if only she would ask. That if she went Home, the love and peace would soothe her shattered heart and wash away the guilt and anguish that is flooding over her now.
But she doesn't want to feel better. In a detached sort of way, Monica recognizes this feeling is wrong for an angel, though quite normal for humans. When in so much agony, humans sometimes begin to almost take comfort in that pain. They begin to feel safe in the only emotion they are familiar with, no matter how much it aches. Or they believe they deserve to feel awful. Whatever the reason, they make the choice to wallow instead of seeking help. She had never understood that particular human trait, until now.
Ruefully, Monica shakes her head. 'Maybe I am spending too much time around humans,' she thinks, then stops herself. That line of thinking was what got her into this mess in the first place.
Sighing, Monica stops walking and takes a seat on fallen branch beside a small lake. She glances over the shimmering water, the waves gently lapping at the shoreline, a magnificent merging of water and earth. Small insects dance across the surface, drawing the attention of fish looking for a meal and creating ripples that spread out in broadening geometric patterns. Normally, this scene would have brought great peace and joy to Monica's heart. But it didn't. Everything seemed… different, now. Beauty was clouded in gray, and the rough ridges of the log cutting into her leg seemed right, somehow.
Tess, Andrew, and the other angels know that she was given some time off to heal and deal with everything that had occurred. Monica knows they believe that she needs the time to trust humans again, and she doesn't correct their assumptions, though she knows that she cannot hide her secret from the Father. She knows that He has forgiven her for turning her back on Him, however briefly, and for questioning His plan and almost giving into temptation. It will take some time, however, for her to forgive herself. She hasn't been able to bring herself to share with her friends the details of her recent experiences, and it is those details that are so troubling her now.
As scenes from the previous day play over and over in her mind, she suddenly hears soft footsteps behind her. A man in khaki pants and a loose, white linen shirt sits down beside her, his striking green eyes gazing forward over the water. He says nothing, just watching nature unfold around them as the breeze ruffles his short blonde hair, but one hand reaches over and enfolds hers, entwining her slender fingers with his own.
Monica doesn't turn her own eyes from the lake before her, unsure of how to react to the man beside her. Normally, he is her pillar, and she longs to be able to fall into his arms and tell him everything. But she knows that this time she can't, so instead she drops her head and closes her eyes, drawing as much comfort and strength from his grasp as she can.
"Talk to me, Angel," Andrew finally speaks, and Monica looks up to realize suddenly that he has turned his stare from the water and she is almost startled by the intensity and compassion in his emerald orbs. She turns away again, unable to meet his eyes. Just as it was too painful to return to Heaven, she feels a fresh stab in her heart at the love and concern that emanate from her best friend. But Andrew persists, taking her chin ever so gently in his hand and turning her to face him once again.
"Please, baby. I can see how much this is eating away at you. Whatever it is, you need to let it out. I love you, and I'm here to listen. Whatever it is, we can get through it together."
Monica hesitates. She had been sure she would never discuss what happened on that cliff, and even minutes before, she would have said that Andrew, specifically, would have been the last person she'd confess to. But now, looking at the empathy and dedication written on his face, she is swayed by the love and peace her best friend exudes.
"Well, you know that after I walked away from the explosion yesterday, I ran into the Devil," Monica begins cautiously, looking at Andrew to gauge his reaction.
Andrew nods slightly, encouraging her to go on, but careful not to show any emotion. This much he knows already, that she met the Devil and he enticed her to the edge of a cliff, offering anything to tempt her to fall from God's graces. He doesn't know what happened between getting into the car with Satan and walking away from him on that cliff, but he knows how powerful and manipulating the Devil can be, and that he will use any tactic necessary to crush a soul. He is so proud of his friend, and his heart swells with love and awe at her strength. But that swelling only makes the stab of pain that much deeper when he thinks about the emotional suffering she must have endured in her darkest hour. Still, right now he has to focus and let her tell the story, and not let his own emotions get in the way. He can't imagine what the Devil must have done or said or offered to Monica, but he's sure that is what is eating away at her now, and that is what he hopes she will confide in him.
"I don't know what made me go with him. I know I should have known better. I've spent my whole existence trying to avoid him, but I just… Oh, I felt so horrible, Andrew, and I didn't know what to do!" Monica breaks down sobbing.
"I know, I know Angel," Andrew placates, pulling her into an embrace and rubbing her back soothingly. "I'm not here to judge you, honey. And I know how terrible that day was, how much it broke your heart. You were in pain, that's why you went with him, and it's okay. Everything's okay now." Andrew continues to calm her with his word and his hands until she feels composed enough to continue, though she chooses to remain in the safety of his arms.
"He… confused me. One minute, I was walking away from him, telling him to leave me alone, that I wouldn't turn my back on God, that I didn't want to listen to him. Then, all of a sudden, he was talking about love and telling me that I owed it to myself to find out if I could be a better human, a better lover. And I wanted to resist, but I was so confused and in so much pain and he… he showed me things, Andrew…" As she speaks, Monica chances to look at him, desperately seeking some sign of reassurance as she exposes herself to him, and Andrew does not let her down.
"What did he show you, Angel?" Andrew prods gently, wiping some of the tears from her cheeks.
Monica takes several minutes to compose herself again and gather courage before she continues, her liquid eyes staring at Andrew's broad chest, but seeing the images that were planted in her mind.
"He showed me what it would be like if I were human. He showed me myself, with a husband, and two kids… and I was pregnant…" Monica whispers, tears continuing to fall. She can't stop herself now. She tells Andrew everything, describing every detail of the scene so burned in her mind. Her tending to the roses, listening to the laughter of her two children as they played catch in the yard; her daughter- Tess, she'd been called- smiling up at her as she cautioned from the porch; swinging her son in her arms, his giggles infecting her and causing her own laugh to ring out. And the feeling of Mike Rice's arms around her, his lips on hers in a physical expression of love that she'd always been denied as an angel. And the heavy feeling in her stomach… oh, how that weight had filled her with such joy and fulfillment! Even though she was not actually there doing those things that she saw, the Devil had made her feel as if she was. For just a moment, she could actually feel the life growing inside of her, feel Mike's hand on her stomach, his lips on hers. She could feel the little boy in her arms- her son. And she could certainly feel the love that swelled even greater in her heart…
Andrew says nothing as the words continue to pour from Monica's mouth, describing the scene in such detail that he can see it in his mind just as she had. He is shocked, and feels as if he has been stabbed. Suddenly, Andrew has his own vision: A young girl with dark hair catching a baseball, the sun glinting off her reddish highlights and making her jade eyes sparkle. Standing across from her is a young boy with dirty blonde hair but his mother's chocolate brown eyes, readying himself for his sister's next throw. And Monica, carrying a third child within her, her face aglow with the happiness of being a mother and spending the day with her family. But Andrew now sees himself in the picture. Instead of that other man, it is he who is caressing Monica's pregnant stomach so intimately, he who holds her close and places a tender kiss on her velvety lips…
Lost in his daydream, Andrew fails to notice that he has pulled away from Monica's embrace, his mouth still hanging open and a stunned expression on his face. Nor has he noticed that Monica has stopped talking, and is now looking at him, devastated.
Suddenly, Monica pushes away, dropping her face and murmuring "I'm sorry, Andrew," before turning and running off through the trees.
Startled out of his fantasy, Andrew stands and calls after her, but she has already disappeared from his sight. He knows he should go after her, but instead he sinks back down onto the log, dropping his face into his hands. He saw the flash of hurt in Monica's eyes, and he wants nothing more than to take that pain away. But how can he help her when his own heart is shattered?