*sigh* I bring sad tidings to my readers. The world has lost a man who will always be missed. Heaven has taken a truly joyful soul to its gates. God has brought one of his most devoted and well-loved children home. Everyone's favorite angel of death has been taken by the real angel of death... On Monday, January 10th 2011, John Dye, also known as Andrew, died of a heart attack. He was forty seven years old... As soon as I found out, I knew that I had to make the best chapter I could for this fic. This chapter is dedicated to John Dye. I hope that the angel that took him home was every bit as awesome as he always was...
Andrew chewed thoughtfully on one of the chocolate chip cookies he had made earlier that day. In his hand was an assortment of photographs. While cleaning the house after Noah left to hang out with Rex, he had found a huge box of photos. They all varied in quality and clarity. They were all similar in that they had obviously been taken after dark, using a flash camera. They also had similar scenes. Almost every picture was of a tree or large bush. What was odd about them was the fact that nothing was really in focus. It was almost as if the person taking the pictures was trying to capture something that wasn't there.
He heard the door open and close in the other room. Noah was finally home. 'It's past eleven...teens these days...' "Where've you been?" He asked as the blond walked in.
"Eh, just hanging." Noah replied, shrugging his shoulders nonchalantly.
"Is Rex injured in any way? You mentioned that he had to fight a bunch of Evo rats this morning."
"Oh, he's fine." Noah waved a dismissive hand. "He does this kinda stuff all the time. It's no big." His eyes fell on what Andrew was looking at and his face seemed to pale. "Where'd you get those?"
"I was doing some cleaning and came across them." Andrew replied, hurrying to put them back into the box. Something in Noah's voice told him that he shouldn't have peeked. He was right.
"So you just took them and decided to start going through them?" Noah snapped. 'Chill, man...he didn't know...' He paused to take a deep breath before continuing in a calmer voice. "Look...I know that White hired you to keep an eye on me...but I really don't want you going through my stuff...kay?" He quickly pulled the blurred photos toward himself and started sorting them into the box, fuming quietly.
Andrew watched him silently for a few minutes before walking away without a word.
Noah felt a flash of guilt at his outburst, but didn't move from his spot. He had to get those pictures put away...
Noah's eyes darted to the left and right. The dark streets were deserted. 'Of course they are...' He thought to himself. 'It's not like we're in New York City. People are gonna be asleep at two in the morning.' He turned a corner and felt a smile come to his face at the sight of the familiar scene of the starlit park.
"What did you want to show me, Daddy?" Noah yawned, stretching his arms out as he walked alongside his father on the sidewalk. "It's still dark out..."
"I know, son." Gabriel ruffled his son's messy yellow hair. "I just thought you'd want to see this. Do you have your camera?"
"Got it!" Noah held up his most recent birthday present, which hung faithfully around his neck. "But what is there to take a picture of?"
"You'll see. I saw it the other night when I was out walking. Hopefully, it's still there..."
"What is it?"
"You'll see." Gabriel muttered, putting a hand on Noah's shoulder and steering him toward the park. "Let's see...it was over this way..." He paused, trying to remember something, before turning to the left and walking. Noah followed at his heels, gray eyes wide and confused.
"I don't get why you brought me here at night, Daddy. I mean, wouldn't it be easier if-Oof!" He cut off as his father suddenly put out an arm to stop him. "Ow! Dad, that-"
The abruptness of the shush was enough to make Noah stop. 'What's going on?' He then realized that his father was pointing at something. Following Gabriel's direction, Noah stifled a gasp. Perched on a tree, not even five feet away from them, was a Great Horned Owl. This close, even in the dim light, Noah could see the tawny, rust, white, and black feathers that merged together on the bird's being. Those eyes were such a shade of yellow, Noah was stunned that the brilliant color even existed. Around the creature's eyes were circles of copper and its tufts were like a crown. "Wow..." Noah breathed.
Gabriel nodded his head, his eyes glittering, his lips turned up in an awed smile. "Take a picture, Noah." He whispered. The owl turned its head toward Gabriel as he spoke, but didn't fly away.
Slowly, ever so slowly, Noah raised his camera and snapped a picture. The flash sent a bright light everywhere. When it faded, the owl was gone.
When the picture was developed, Noah was disappointed to see that the owl had evaded being captured on film.
"Don't worry, son." Gabriel gave Noah a pat on the back. "We'll get it next time..."
"Alright, birdy..." Noah murmured, looking at the tree branches above him. "I'm gonna get you this time..." His fingers drummed thoughtfully on the small black camera that hung around his neck. "I'm gonna get you..."
Every time he came to the park, the owl was in a different place. That was the only thing that changed about it. Its eyes were still that striking amber. Its multicolored feathers made a kaleidoscope of pigments on its chest. Its beak was always sharp and black and its tufts made it seem like a lord of birds.
The softest of sounds whooshed past Noah's ear and he turned abruptly. There it was! It had flown almost unnoticed past his ear and into a nearby tree. The branch was low, so Noah was practically eye-level with it. "There you are..." Noah grinned as he slowly lifted up his camera. 'I got it this time, Dad!' His heart was pounding. The owl wasn't moving a muscle! This would be it...
"Well, well, well..." A loud, oily voice drawled. "Look what we've got here!"
The owl took off into the night. Cursing to himself, Noah slowly turned around. 'This can't be good...' Standing a few feet away from him was a group of five boys. Five very...big boys...and one of them had a golf club... 'Maybe I can just talk my way out of this...' "Hey, guys. What's up?"
The leader, the guy with the gold club, sauntered over. A stupid grin was on his face. "Nice camera, blondie." He sneered as he drew closer.
'Yep. A bunch of thugs. That's what I got here. Just a bunch of stupid thugs.' Noah clutched his camera protectively as the head thug walked closer. "Thanks." He said curtly.
"Why don't you let me see it?" He was holding the club over his shoulder, like how a hunter would hold a rifle.
Noah took a step back. "I'd...rather you didn't..." He took another step back. 'I just need to get out of the trees so I can make a break for it...'
The thug scowled. "Not being too friendly, are we?"
A pair of strong hands grabbed Noah's shoulders from behind. He stiffened. 'Oh no...reinforcements...' "Look, I don't want any trouble..." He let out a yelp as the hands tightened painfully on his shoulder. "I just-"
He was cut off at the sound of a bloodcurdling shriek behind him. The hands that were grasping his shoulders let go immediately and he shot forward. When he turned around, he saw blood leaking down the face of his captor, who was holding his forehead tightly and whimpering. The rest of the guy's gang stood where they were, completely stunned. Then, the leader shot toward Noah.
He heard a curse, the whoosh of something being swung, the dull thud of it hitting something.
Black dots obscured his vision. He could see a shadowy figure running toward him. He could hear a voice...a voice calling his name...
Andrew sat next to Noah's bed, his hand methodically stroking the kid's golden locks. He had wrapped a bandage around his head. He hadn't gotten there soon enough to prevent the leader from hitting Noah with that club... But he had been able to stop the gang from doing worse. It was amazing how fast a group of kids would run when facing an angry angel of death...
'Poor kids...' He thought to himself. 'What kind of home life could they have if they're doing such awful things...' He longed to investigate the matter further, but knew that he couldn't. There were other angels to handle such matters. His only concern was Noah.
"Ugh..." Noah turned his head to the side, toward Andrew. His stormy eyes fluttered open. "Wh-Where...Huh...?"
"Shh..." Andrew continued to lightly touch Noah's head, like how a father would do to comfort a young child. "You're alright, Noah. Don't worry."
Noah stared dully at Andrew for a few minutes. Then, everything that had happened came back to him and he sat bolt upright. "My camera! Did they-OW!" A sharp pain shot through his body from his head. He fell back on his pillow with a plop.
"Don't try to move so quickly." Andrew said sternly. "And your camera is fine. More importantly, you are fine."
Noah breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness..." He blinked a few times as he tried to recall what happened. "You...saved me...didn't you?"
Andrew nodded his head. "Yeah. I got there just as that kid was knocking you out cold. I only wish I had gotten there sooner."
"No, man." Noah mumbled, feeling the pain slowly ebbing away. "You saved my life. Thank you."
Noah paused for a moment before speaking again. "Look...about earlier...I shouldn't have snapped at you. I'm sorry."
"It's alright." Andrew smiled and sat up straight. "I understand that those pictures were personal."
"They were..." Noah sighed. "I took them...with my dad...and then by myself..."
"Why are they so blurry? Have you been practicing your photo-taking skills?"
"No...No, I'm pretty good at taking pictures by this point." Noah closed his eyes. "When I was little, Dad took me to the park at night. There was a beautiful Great Horned Owl there. I tried to take a picture of it with the camera Dad gave me, but it flew away before I could get it. Ever since then, he'd take me back every week on Friday to try and capture the thing on film. Then...when...we got separated, I started going by myself." He opened his eyes and stared mournfully at the ceiling. "I was so close this time..."
"Ah, that reminds me..." Andrew stood up. "We have a temporary guest in the house, Noah."
"Guest?" Noah sat up slowly. "What do you mean?"
Noah followed him into the kitchen, where there was a large cardboard box on the ground. Its top had a bunch of holes cut in it. He let out a start of surprise when Andrew took the top off. On a bed of towels, standing perfectly stiff and still, was the owl. Its yellow eyes were looking dully up at Andrew and Noah. "What happened...?"
"Your friend attacked one of those boys." Andrew reached in to cautiously stroke the bird's feathers. "And he got hit with that golf club."
"Oh..." Noah stared at the creature that had been his self-made connection to his father for the past few years. 'It was trying to protect me...' If he was superstitious, he would have thought that maybe his father's spirit had had something to do with this. But he wasn't, so he didn't. "Thank you..." He reached in to touch the bird's feathers. They were very soft... The owl didn't flinch or move away. It just continued to look blankly ahead. "How badly was it damaged?"
"He will be fine within a few days. Nothing's broken. He's just in a state of shock."
"I see..." Noah continued to lightly run his finger through those multicolored feathers. "Don't worry, buddy." He whispered to the owl. "We'll take good care of you." The owl turned to look at Noah, his yellow eyes carrying the slightest of glimmers.
"You know..." Andrew said, opening the fridge to get some raw meat. "This fine owl ought to have a name. What do you think?"
"I think you're right." He took a step back as Andrew knelt down to feed the owl some bits of meat. He watched as the bird halfheartedly gulped down his dinner. "I'll call him Gabe."
"Gabe..." Andrew nodded his head. "That's a good name." He looked at Noah. The kid had a faraway look on his face. Andrew was almost positive that he was thinking of his father. "A very good name..."
I don't cry very easily, but I certainly shed a few tears after I read the news... I hope you'll all say a prayer for John when you go to bed tonight. I definitely will... Rest in peace, John Dye. You will always be remembered by your fans, family, and friends as a truly extraordinary person. You turned death into a symbol of hope and new life through your portrayal of Andrew. You made an already-beautiful series even better with your kindness, grace, and presence. You are now with your fellow angels in Paradise. I wish you every happiness for the rest of eternity. God bless. Amen...