When Stacey 'Met' Fred
Disclaimer: I don't own any of them. Oh darn, it would be such a fun show to write!
Summary: Stacey's known about Deb/Jane since the beginning. It's time she found out about Fred. Despite being sorely tempted to make it AU, I tried to make it canon. That was hard! Just getting rid of some energy while waiting for season 3 finale!
Harrison Parker office building …
Fred's fingers fairly flew over the keyboard as he worked his way through a boatload of work associated with his job as Kim's assistant. Despite the appearance of far too much work for one person, Fred was not at all challenged by his new boss' tasks.
Not after his old job. Being an assistant to a lawyer is nothing compared to his responsibilities as a gatekeeper who got to decide who went to Heaven and who went to Hell. If Kim Caswell looks hard to deal with, try a rough, tough biker who died suddenly in a fiery crash and didn't really want to be sitting in front of a scrawny man in white who was telling him he was going to Hell.
Kim's voice rang out from her office.
"Where's the motion for the Heller case? I need it yesterday!"
Fred shouted back without hesitation. "Filed in your inbox under 'H'. And it was done yesterday, when you asked for it."
There was no response, not that he expected one, just a flutter of paper and the scraping of Kim's chair on the wood floor. She appeared at the door, case file in hand. "Good. I'll be in court for a few hours. Make sure you finish the motions for tomorrow."
"Aye, aye, captain," he chirped, receiving her customary eyeroll as response.
As Kim left, Fred watched her progress until she was through the elevator before he leapt to his feet and beelined for Jane's office. That girl had been driving him crazy the last few days. She had been pining strongly for Grayson and he knew she was on the verge of breaking her silence.
It would have catastrophic consequences, he could just feel it.
Without so much as knocking, he rushed into the office and pulled the door closed behind him. "As your guardian ang…"
And he broke off abruptly.
Stacey was seated in the chair across from Jane's desk.
How he hadn't seen her come in, he had no idea. But he had nearly blurted out his own secret! What repercussions that would have caused, he couldn't begin to fathom. Just kissing her the first time had gotten him dragged back to gatekeeper duty.
"Uh…." He stumbled. "I … uh … right, Jane, can I have a moment?"
Jane, apparently as dumbfounded as he was at the near blunder, jerked in surprise at the question. "A minute. Right. Uhm. Sure. Stacey?"
The blonde looked between her besty and her friend Fred. They were squeezing her out?
"What's so juicy I can't stay to hear it?"
Fred was at a loss. He looked imploringly at Jane to come up with something, anything, to get the other woman out of the room so he could continue on with his guardian angel duties. But for once she too was at a loss.
"I just … it's something kind of personal," Fred finally said, his voiced jumping from high to low with each word.
But Stacey was showing a surprising amount of resistance – and perception.
"Oh, so I'm not good enough of a friend to hear your problem then?" She said, glaring at Fred, who shrank under the gaze. "I'm good enough to be a roommate with, but not to share problems with. I get it. You two knew each other first and so I'm the odd one out."
She surged to her feet. "Fine. Be that way. I'm leaving."
Fred was in front of her in an instant. "Nh-no," he said. "I'll just come back later. It's nothing earth-shattering." He trailed off when she glared at him even harder. Must have been the wrong answer. "I mean. I … uhm. I'm gonna go now."
Jane's voice was quiet. Unlike her usual boisterous self or her usual commanding lawyer tone. It held a hint of question, a hint of statement and a hint of something else he couldn't identify. Fred turned to her and cocked his head to the side, trying to figure out why that one word's utterance had his flesh pimpling with goosebumps.
"We can't keep doing this," she said. "It's not fair."
Stacey was looking between them again in confusion. Fred wasn't confused at all, but was shaking his head frantically. "We can't," he said, whining on the second word and not even remotely ashamed of the fact.
"Can't what? What is going on?" Stacey erupted. "You two are always whispering when you don't think I'm around. I have noticed, you know. I know there is something between you guys that you're not sharing with me. I hate it!"
She crossed her arms across her chest and held back tears of frustration.
They were her best friends in the whole world and were obviously keeping a huge secret from her. It hurt. It hurt worse than any betrayal she could imagine.
Being a guardian angel, Fred was still somewhat unused to the many emotional states of humans. Sure, he knew a little from the many, many souls he'd ushered into Heaven and Hell as gatekeeper, but this was different. This was a friend.
He looked up at Jane as the woman rushed around her desk to pull Stacey into an embrace. It was awkward since the blonde was so rigid. Jane met his eyes and hers were pleading with him to make this right.
But could he?
What would happen?
"Oh for the love of …" he muttered before moving to steer Stacey and Jane to the couch. After they had sat down, he moved to the door and latched it so that no one could enter. Then he returned his attention to the women. "I really don't think this is a good idea," he said. "I can't predict what might happen if we tell her, Jane."
Stacey bristled. "Tell me what? That you're … you're seeing each other or something?"
It was so ludicrous to Fred that he laughed.
Which wasn't a good choice of reaction. "Now you're laughing at me!" Stacey cried, trying to rise again, but finding herself held down by Jane. "You … you …"
To hell with rules …
Fred's one word answer stopped Stacey in her tracks. "What?"
She would have gone on, but Fred spoke before she could. "You wanted to know what our secret was, and that's it."
He hoped she wouldn't believe him. Or wouldn't ask anymore questions. Or wasn't even really here and this was all a dream. But it wasn't so and she did ask a question.
"I don't know what you are talking about Fred," she said. "But I sure as hell wasn't about to call you an angel, after you've been hiding something from me for so long!"
She hadn't gotten it.
Granted, he hadn't really revealed the secret in an understandable fashion.
Jane rolled her eyes at him and sighed. "No, Stacey, he's not saying you were about to call him an angel. He's saying that his secret is that he's an angel."
For a moment, the blonde said nothing.
Then she laughed. And laughed some more.
"Right, pull the other one, Jane," she said between bouts of laughter. "An angel? Oh my gosh, you are too much. Why don't you just tell me already instead of making up these crazy stories? Am I that unimportant to you?"
Fred looked up at the ceiling and groaned. "Stacey it's the truth," he said. "When Deb died, I was the gatekeeper she met. She hit the return key on my keyboard and so it became my job to come down here and watch over her."
But Stacey was shaking her head in anger again. "Stop it!" She cried. "Stop lying to me!" She hadn't registered that Fred had just spoken so candidly of Jane's secret – one Stacey had thought only she and Jane knew about. If she had, she might not have been shouting at the two to stop lying. "You know what, if you can't tell me then I'm out of here, Jane let go."
Jane did and Stacey stood up and swept past Fred. He didn't try to stop her.
When the door slammed shut behind her, he turned to Jane and deadpanned: "Well that went well."
Dropping her head to the couch, Jane took a deep breath. "She didn't believe us."
Fred sat beside her. "Of course not, Jane. I told you when you first came back that you couldn't tell anyone you were Deb inside. And why was that?"
"Because they would think I was insane."
"Exactly. So naturally telling Stacey I'm an angel would get a similar reaction," he said. Inwardly, he was shaking – waiting for someone to pull him back up to the gates and berate him for revealing himself to a mortal. Perhaps since said mortal didn't believe him, it didn't count as a violation?
He was jolted from his reverie when a harsh rap on the window drew his and Jane's attention. Teri was outside, gesticulating wildly and pointing toward a not-so-happy Parker standing at the door. He'd obviously been knocking, but not getting a response. Teri, always willing to practically knock through the window, had had no such trouble.
"Crap," Jane muttered. She shoved Fred as she rose and both scurried to the door.
"Bingum," Parker said, raking his eyes over Kim's assistant – what's his name again? – before focusing on the young lawyer. "Intake meeting. My office. Now."
He spun on his heel and walked a few steps until he realized he was walking alone. Looking back over his shoulder, he said, "Now, Bingum. You do know what now means, right?"
She jumped. "Right, sorry. I'm right behind you."
Turning to Fred she said, "We've got to make this right. Tonight."
And then she scurried again, this time after Parker.
Fred watched her go. "Tonight," he whispered, that uneasy feeling back in his stomach as he walked the short distance to his desk and sat back down.
At Jane, Stacey and Fred's apartment …
They stood in front of the door uncertainly.
Neither Fred or Jane knew what was going to happen when they walked in that door. Fred turned to Jane. "Are you sure we should do this? I mean, I don't know how many more strikes I get before I'm out, Jane. If we tell Stacey, and she believes us, I … I can't even guess what could happen."
True be told, he was a little scared.
"Fred, we can't keep hiding from her. It's going to drive a wedge between us and I don't want to lose my best friend. I just hope nothing bad happens. I don't want to lose you either," Jane said, gripping the man's shoulder. "I've grown kind of attached to my guardian angel."
He couldn't help the small smile at that and they found the courage in that exchange to enter the apartment.
Stacey was standing, arms crossed, in the entry. Staring straight at them.
"Kissing out there, were you?"
Fred's eyes bulged and Jane nearly dropped her bag.
"NO!" She cried. "As if I would kiss Fred."
His mock outraged "hey" cut off pretty fast when they realized Stacey was serious.
"Stace," Jane said. "It's not like that. We are just friends." She went out on a limb. "Besides, Fred's madly in love with you anyway."
Fred did stumble this time. "Jane!" He exclaimed, a red tinge immediately tinting his cheeks.
Stacey's frown wilted a little. But not entirely. "I'm still angry," she said. "I really want to feel included and I don't."
Jane stepped forward with purpose and gripped both of Stacey's shoulders and met her eyes straight on. "We were telling you the truth, sweety. Fred really is my guardian angel. Deb's guardian angel. I don't know how we can make you believe us."
Stacey frowned. "Well don't angels have powers?"
Fred groaned and slapped his hands onto his face. Jane chuckled. "No," she said. "To quote our esteemed angel himself, 'I'm a guardian angel, not a wizard.'"
"At least you were listening," Fred grumbled, peeling his hands back to gauge Stacey's reaction. She didn't appear as hostile, but was far from her usual self at the same time. "Look, I don't have any abilities. I sometimes just know when Jane is going to do something decidedly unwise, but that's it. I'm pretty much just a normal guy otherwise."
Stacey suddenly moved forward and in front of Fred. And then she poked his shoulder. Hard.
"Ow!" He exclaimed, moving to rub the offended area. "What'd you do that for?"
She frowned and her glare returned. "Oh come on," she said harshly. "Do you expect me to believe that the guy I just hurt with my finger is a guardian anything? Let alone a guardian angel? I mean, how can you guard Jane if you can't take a poke?"
It was Fred's turn to frown. She had a point. "Well," he said, "it's not in my job description to save her from bodily harm. I'm here to steer her clear of making judgment mistakes and stuff like that. I … I ran into her office today because It's my duty as her guardian angel to try to talk her out of telling Grayson that she's Deb."
And it finally hit Stacey. He knew.
"Wait just a minute!" Stacey rounded on Jane. "You told him about Deb? And yet you won't tell me what the heck you two are hiding? I thought we, Deb, have been friends for ages!"
Fred moved to separate the two women. "Stacey she didn't tell me! I really was the gatekeeper who met her when she died. So of course I know Deb is in Jane's body. I've known since day one. As a matter of fact, I tried to stop her from telling you."
That wasn't the right thing to say. He was putting his foot in it today, for sure.
"Oh so you would have deprived me of my best friend!"
He backpedaled as Stacey advanced on him, finger out and loaded for another jab. "No," he stammered. "I mean, yes, but not like … to hurt you. She wasn't supposed to tell anyone. It's part of the rules. There are rules. Which we're breaking for you right now!" He stopped backing up and a fire lit in his eyes suddenly. "I'm breaking the rules for you … again. The last time I broke the rules for you I got sucked right out of here and back to gatekeeper and everyone down here forgot about me except Jane. Even you did, right after we finally went out on a date!"
Stacey stopped her advance. "We haven't been on a date," she said, cocking her head to the side.
"Yes you have," Jane said. "You just don't remember it. I swear Stacey, we're not lying to you. Fred's taking a huge risk telling you this. Last time he really did disappear. The only reason he's back is because he was so distracted by thoughts of you he was sending good people to Hell and bad ones to Heaven and they finally sent him back down – as a mortal."
"I gave up Heaven for you," Fred muttered. "Only reason I'm back to guardian is because Jane here is always getting herself into situations. I got my wings back to keep her in line."
Jane and Stacey's voices melted into one rather loud one that screeched the word. "Fred, do you have wings?" Jane asked. "That'd go a long way to convincing Stacey."
He shook his head. "No," he said. "It was just a figure of speech. No big, white, fluffy things. I told you, I'm mostly like you." An idea struck him then and he stepped closer to Stacey. "You are so mad because you think we aren't being good friends and aren't being honest with you," he said. "Well be a good friend and believe us. We're telling you the truth. That's what friends do."
She wanted to argue. Was about to start laying into the man before her. But something stopped Stacey. As she gazed into Fred's eyes she saw something. Eyes reflect images and normally she would see herself. But this time she didn't. She saw white. A lot of white and rows of computer desks. The people were all clad in white too. Some wore dress clothes, others – bathrobes.
"Your eyes," she whispered. "I see … I don't know what I see…" she trailed off, leaning closer.
He just let her, uncertain what she was looking at but deciding her current state of mind was better than the railing angry one earlier.
Two people appeared in the image. One was Deb and the other – was Fred.
Stacey gasped. "Oh my God," she said, stepping back as her hand fluttered to her face.
Jane was confused until she too met Fred's gaze and saw the image of their meeting at the gates. Fred's eyes appeared to be literal windows to his soul. It was mesmorizing. He seemed to be confused, however, and she explained the phenomenon for his benefit.
He blinked rapidly in surprise and the images were gone.
"OK," he said haltingly, unsure what to make of this distinctly inhuman quality he had just exhibited. "So, now what?" Stacey stood at arms' length from him. She looked torn. "Are you gonna be all right?"
She answered by stepping forward. "You gave up Heaven because you loved me?" She whispered. "You really gave up Heaven. Not just the cliché. You really did. I can't … I don't … why?"
He shrugged, trying to be nonchalant. "That's love I guess," he said. He moved on quickly, intending to derail that conversation. "SO, again, now what? How about food? I'm hungry. Really hungry. Earth-shattering news does that to a guy. What say we have dinner?"
He bustled off before Jane or Stacey could respond.
The blonde did end up breaking the silence soon after. "Jane?"
"Your guardian angel is a bit goofy, you know. But … I like him. He suits you."
Jane studied Fred's figure dashing about the kitchen. "Yeh, he does."
Turning to her friend, she cocked her head and peered up at Stacey. "Are you all right? Really?"
"I'm fine," Stacey said with a smile. "I mean, I have a best friend in another woman's body and now a guardian angel for a roommate, too. Really, all I'm missing are a few ghosts and maybe a demon or two."
They laughed and joined Fred for a hot meal and relaxed – finally – camaraderie.
A/N: There you go. Just a little something I felt like writing up. Being inclined to write AU, I would have much preferrd writing an "angels have powers" fic, but I held back! I might still do that though. I'm trying to keep to one-shots in this fandom since it has very few active followers, judging by the 25 (now 26?) stories and getting feedback keeps me going so long fics are out. At least for now. I'll leave those for my other fandoms! Which reminds me, I have a few unfinished fics to go work on! Thanks for reading!