Hi, Just a quick couple of points. To begin with this is only my second fan fic so I hope you enjoy it. I would really appreciate it if you could take the time to review, thank you! Secondly, this story has not yet been beta read. Also here is my disclaimer: I own nothing to do with Diagnosis Murder. I can but dream...:)
Take Me Home
"Andrew, if your assignment this time was to take me home, would you do it?" The words spun around his mind. He had spent hours running the question over and over and was no closer to an answer than he had been when it was first asked of him.
It had been a rare day off and Andrew had been delighted when he had received an invitation to spend it with Monica and Tess. They had spent the day picnicking beside a beautiful sun drenched lake surrounded by majestic snow capped mountains. The lake was so big it disappeared beyond the horizon and so clear it reflected all of the surrounding beauty with a clarity that left its beholders breathless. Its still and calm surface holding no trace of the vibrant currents beneath, reminiscent of a living heartbeat, found in the depths of one of natures most beautiful creations. The mountains stood tall and proud shielding their most precious of charges from all that may try to harm it. The foundations of these magnificent guardsmen snaked around the lake in a paternal act of unrivalled and eternal love, the tips vanishing beyond the brilliant blue sky.
The day had started with a long brisk walk, all three soaking up every minute detail of this alpine paradise knowing that the mental picture of this safe haven would calm and soothe on many a troubled day.
The staunch friends caught up with each other relaying recent assignments and regaling each other with stories of faith, tears and laughter. They recalled memories of past experiences shared and lightly teased each other with recollections of moments best forgotten. In high spirits and full of joy together the three of them sat down on the banks of the lake to enjoy a hearty and sumptuous picnic. The red and white checked table cloth was laid down ready to receive the day's delights and Tess's culinary talent shone through as all savoured every morsel of a plentiful and opulent repast.
Monica and Andrew had spent the afternoon bathing in the lake. Tess meanwhile had stayed on Terra Firma. Her joy untold at every splash and squeal, a result of the merriment shared by the closest she would ever know to son and daughter. Never had the friendship between the three felt as strong as it did this day. When all three were sated and satisfied Tess had packed up the hamper and started the long walk back to the log cabin in which the three friends were staying overnight. Whilst Monica and Andrew had stayed behind to watch the sunlight fade and the stillness of the night take its place.
As they lay there watching the sun's descent and purples, reds, oranges and yellows in shades yet to be named cross the sky Monica and Andrew allowed their minds to wander and their bodies to relax. Monica lay with her eyes closed trying to recall every second of the most wonderful day she had had in a long time. Andrew lay with eyes wide open silently thanking his creator for everything he had been blessed with that day not least the beautiful show nature was playing out before him. It was then that Monica had spoken and her words shook him to the core.
"I was just thinking Andrew if God saw fit to make today my last on earth and your assignment this time was to take me home, would you do it?"
Andrew recoiled shocked to silence for a moment. Then recovering himself he voiced the only coherent thought he could "Where did that come from?"
"Well I was thinking how special today has been and I realised that if I ever had to choose what my last day on Earth would be like and who I'd spend it with…well today came pretty close. So if the father should choose to call me home today I know I'd go feeling blessed and happy. The only thing I don't know is….."
"Is if I would take you home?"
"The truth is Monica I really don't know. I don't know if I could." Not knowing what else to say Andrew turned and walked away his head bowed, his eyes down and his heart heavy.
She stood rooted to the spot and watched him walk away. Until that moment she hadn't realised that she had taken it as a given that should she ever need an angel of death Andrew would be the one. Now that belief was crumbling before her eyes. Did he really feel so little for her that he would leave her standing frightened and alone rather than take her home? Her mind in torment… no final destination known… she started to put one foot in front of the other… just to do something… never having felt so dejected or hurt in all her life. She felt like she'd walked for miles, hours must have passed but when she finally looked up at her surroundings she found it looked exactly as it had when he'd walked away. Only now her perfect day had turned to heartache. All of a sudden she heard his voice "Monica"
"Andrew, if your assignment this time was to take me home, would you do it?" The words spun around his mind. He had spent hours running the question over and over and was no closer to an answer than he had been when it was first asked of him. The pain that had engulfed him when he tried to imagine being given that assignment, tried to imagine taking her by the hand, taking her home forever, never to work with her again, never to see her again was still there. He had stopped after a while not able to stand the emptiness of his imagined world without her. In total despair and completely devoid of answers he closed his eyes and prayed to the only one who could help him now:
"Father, please hear my prayer. I am lost and alone and I search for your loving guidance and eternal wisdom. Monica asked of me today a question for which I have tried to find an answer. I have searched my heart and my mind and still I falter. Father I must know should Monica ever be called home would I have the strength and courage to take her there? I am an angel of death and taking people home is my duty and my privilege. But the pain of escorting her and my world without her is more than I can bear to imagine. Father I know I am being selfish and thinking only of my own feelings. But I am scared that my own pain would prevent her from experiencing the beautiful, joyous homecoming I know it can be. At the same time my friendship with Monica may depend on figuring this all out. So I ask you father please help me find the truth I seek."
Slowly opening his eyes Andrew heard the message that was the answer to his prayer. In that moment the angel of death knew beyond all doubt the truth he had searched for so desperately. Sorrow gripped him as he thought about the many mistakes he had made that night and the pain he had caused the beautiful auburn haired angel he cared for so deeply. He had to find her, tell her what he now knew. For the first time he took stock of his surroundings, buoyed by the fact he was closer to the spot he had last seen her than he had first thought. He retraced his steps trying to form the words he would say to her in his mind and hoping with all his heart he had not allowed panic and doubt to rob him of one of the strongest and most important friendships it had been his pleasure to know. Then she was there, just ahead of him, leant slightly against one of the enormous trees that graced this beautiful paradise. Suddenly fear swept through him and unable to do anything else Andrew stood and watched her. As the seconds dragged by her energy seemed to desert her little by little. Her tiny frame looking to the aged trees for more and more support as her tired body leant more and more heavily against its crutch. Unable to stand it any longer Andrew stepped forward. "Monica"
All of a sudden she heard his voice "Monica". Her body straightened, stiffened but she remained silent. "Monica I'm sorry. I know I have hurt you deeply tonight but if you will give me the chance I'll try and explain". Not knowing what to say and not having the energy to walk away Monica stayed still and silent. Taking this as his cue to continue Andrew pressed on. "Monica spending today with you and Tess has been amazing. The most perfect day I have spent with anyone in a very long time. When you asked me what you did it came completely out of the blue and I guess I panicked. That isn't an excuse but it is the truth. I didn't know how to answer. So I didn't answer at all".
"Oh but you did Andrew. You did answer. You turned your back on me and on our friendship and walked away. Is it that you think I don't deserve to go home or you just couldn't be bothered?"
Distraught that Monica could ever think either one of those things the speech he had prepared in his head fell apart and Andrew could do nothing else but speak from his heart and hope it was enough. "You know Monica angels don't have many things that are precious to them. We never stay in one place long enough to put down roots, we rarely own things that really mean anything to us, we'll never know what it is to love in the romantic sense or what it feels like to mourn those lost to us. All angels really have is each other and the father. So for many years now there have been only three things that have seen me through each day, three things I hold precious to me, three things I can't imagine living without. I know you'll understand when I say the first is the father. The second is Tess. She's incredible and I am proud to call her my friend. But the third Monica is you. Your god given gift of truth inspires me every time I hear it. Your innocence helps me to see the world in new and exciting ways. You have seen me weak and still stood by my side. But tonight you have seen the worst of me. I turned away from you Monica because I was scared. Scared that my own pain and loss would prevent you from experiencing the homecoming you deserve. Scared that I couldn't be the angel of death you deserved. I was so busy questioning my own strength that I forgot about the fathers, until I did what I should have done from the start. I spoke to him. Monica I know now that with the father's strength sustaining me I would be honoured to take you home if ever called to." Andrew paused hoping Monica would say something, anything. He prayed for the smallest of signs to let him know there was still hope, still a chance she could find within her heart the forgiveness he so desperately wanted. But still she remained silent.
She had heard every word; she didn't think she would ever forget them; the tears in her eyes testament to the conflicting emotions fighting for supremacy within her. She wanted so badly to tell him everything was going to be ok. But the pain was still raw and she just couldn't bring herself to do it. So she said nothing.
He was losing her and he knew it. But he just couldn't give up. One last try, he had to give it one last try. Their friendship was worth fighting for; he only hoped she felt the same. "If you want me to walk away I will. But I care too much about you and value our friendship too much not to give this one last try. Turning away from you was a huge mistake. But I can't change it now. I am truly sorry." Just a few more words and it would all be over. He had to carry on, finish what he'd started. He didn't know exactly when looking at her had become so hard. But now as he prepared himself to make his last desperate plea he found it as close to impossible as he had ever known. "Monica, please answer me. I have to know. Can you forgive me or is our friendship over?" He'd done it. He had asked her straight out. Now his breathing appeared to shallow and stop as he waited what seemed like forever for her answer.
She couldn't stay silent any longer. But she had never felt so confused. Andrew was probably the last person she thought would ever hurt her, so when it cut, it cut deep. But she knew he had been telling the truth just now. She knew he was giving of himself to make amends, she knew he cared for her. She knew that now. Did she care for him? Oh yes, more than she had ever realised until tonight. Could she imagine working her assignments without him? Imagine losing that strong, calming presence almost invisible but always there. Imagine his experience, intelligence and compassion lost to another; never to dry her tears or lead her in a dance again. No! Her journey was not yet complete; she still had much to learn. Without him the path yet to be taken was a much colder, darker place. Her answer now was clear.
"The way of the father is to forgive those that hurt us. As an angel I follow that lead. So yes Andrew I forgive you. But know this I do so not just because I am bound to but because I want to. The path I have yet to travel is long and the lessons I must learn unknown. That you walk with me and are there to guide and support me through every new challenge I face makes the journey so much more special."
Despite everything that had happened a smile slowly crept on to Monica's face, a beautiful smile that seemed to light up the whole world. Puzzled and slightly worried about such a reaction after the events of the night Andrew hesitantly spoke
"Don't you see Andrew? It really was perfect."
"What was perfect? Monica, are you ok?"
"I told you earlier that today was as close to perfect as I have ever known and should it be my last here on Earth I would go home blessed. But peace and serenity left me when I nearly lost you. Now though I feel the father's all encompassing love again, because today really was perfect. Now where doubt existed certainty reigns; because now what we held back from each other has been given voice. Both you and I know without question how the other feels about us. So you see Andrew of all the gifts the father bestowed on us today the best was intensifying the depth of our friendship; encouraging us to speak from the heart and listen just as intently. You love me as a friend should and I love you too. That knowledge is enough to brighten the darkest of hours and we leave the final moment of this day stronger and happier than the first."
"There are few that could find something so beautiful in the pain we both went through tonight. But it is the measure of your incredible spirit that you are amongst them. The father smiled on us today and I will treasure it always. But the hour is late and the heat of the sun is quickly losing its battle with the chill of the moonlight. Plus Tess will be sending out a full search party complete with sniffer dogs if she doesn't see at least one of us soon. So would you allow me the honour of escorting you back to the cabin?"
Laughing at his quip about Tess despite knowing he was only half joking Monica responded "Absolutely, take me home Andrew!"