Smooth SailingPrologueOne month later…
"You're joking, right?" Monica asked, now fully awake after having fallen asleep on the couch of the cabin while reading. They had finally been given a few hours off after a rather gruelling work schedule the last several weeks, and she hadn't realized how tired she had been until she had nodded off.
But Andrew shook his head, his eyes a little wary of his best friend's reaction, before he looked over at Kevin who seemed far more excited at the aspect of the cruise ship,
"Sorry, Angel Girl, but I'm not. You know I wouldn't kid you about something like that, but this is where the Father is requesting us to be-on a cruise ship. We leave tomorrow morning."
"Now this sounds like an assignment I'll really enjoy," Kevin grinned, his light brown eyes sparkling with his excitement.
"What is this about an assignment?" Tess asked as she, Rose and Carla all suddenly appeared in the living room of the cabin.
"We're being sent on a cruise, Tess," Kevin beamed, seemingly already anxious to get started.
"Oh!" Tess smiled at him, before catching the look on her Angel Girl's face. She then removed her smile and looked a little more serious for her benefit,
Deciding to try and smooth over the slight riff in the room between supervisor and caseworker, Rose chimed right in,
"And just where is this ship headed, honey?"
"Hopefully not to the bottom of the ocean," Monica replied a bit dryly, unable to hide her concern over the aspect of boarding another ship.
"No, Angel Girl, you're in luck," Andrew replied, trying not to smile at her obvious dislike of this assignment already,
"We're Florida bound. Walt Disney World to be exact. From what I've been told, it's a sort of working vacation-some small assignments along the way, but nothing major."
"Third times a charm, right, Monica?" Carla piped up, hoping to make this better for her friends.
Monica held up 4 fingers with a sigh,
"The third one didn't do it for me either, and this one is number 4, Carla," She replied, trying to make light of the situation.
Andrew sighed softly, wanting to appease his gentle friend, but knowing she had been a little on the cranky side the last few weeks, as they had gone right from the Hendricksons' and Patrick's death to a grueling four weeks of non-stop assignments and they were both tired and more than a little edgy. As he moved to the couch, the Irish angel sat up to make room for him,
"Nothing terrible is going to happen on this cruise, sweetheart. I've been told that much."
"And the weather in Florida is perfect this time of year," Kevin offered, realizing he did not know all the reasons his co-worker and friend was so opposed to this, but hoping to sway her just the same,
"A little sun and some relaxation would do you both some good, I think," He added, having noticed the slight tension between them the last few weeks. They were getting along just fine, as he couldn't imagine the two of them being any other way with each other or him for that matter, but he had been able to feel the stress building up in them both of late.
"Not to mention all those sweet little children at Disney," Tess added, wondering if they were helping at all.
"Lots of children," Andrew replied enthusiastically, before he rolled his eyes playfully,
"All ready and eager to meet some giant mouse."
Raising her eyebrow at him, his best friend replied with what was almost amusement,
"What is it you have against giant mice and giant bumblebees exactly?"
Unable to keep from laughing, Andrew reached over and wrapped an arm around her neck to pull her closer, relieved as a giggle escaped her,
"They are both fine as long as it is not me wearing the costume and you'll do well to remember that, little one."
Tess chuckled, remembering that time, despite the fact that the other three angels looked slightly confused, but she made a mental note to tell them all about the trick or treating adventure at a later date.
"Not even the ears? I could buy you a pair at Disney you know," Monica quipped, remembering his extreme dislike of the antenna at Halloween.
"I'd watch it if I were you, Angel Girl," Rose smiled, winking at the two angels.
"Does that mean you're coming along?" Andrew countered, immediately sensing her resistance as soon as he said the words and he became serious once more,
"This trip will be fine, Monica. I promise you that, okay?"
She sighed heavily, before she nodded her head,
"You know I would never walk off an assignment, Andrew and while I may not like the thought of boarding another ship tomorrow, I will do it if that is where the Father and you need me to be."
Tugging her closer, he kissed the top of her head, as the room seemed to breath a sigh of relief,
"And if you behave yourself, I'll even let you buy me those mouse ears."
Later that night and unable to sleep, Monica walked down the steps and into the kitchen, deciding upon a glass of warm milk in the hopes that it would relax her enough to sleep. Though tired, the hectic schedule lately combined with her nervousness over the ship boarding in the morning had left her wide awake after all of her friends had gone to bed.
She poured herself a glass of milk and put the glass into the microwave and shut the door, setting it for one minute. It was then that she realized she was not alone. Turning around, she came face to face with her old Special Forces supervisor, Jamie.
"Hello, Monica," The elderly dark haired angel smiled warmly at her former charge.
"Jamie, hi," the Irish angel moved to hug the other angel, but as she pulled away, her dark eyes were pensive,
"I didn't expect to see you again."
Motioning to the table so that they could both sit down, Jamie waited until they were both seated to begin speaking,
"I came to talk to you, honey."
"What about, Jamie?" She asked carefully, feeling a knot forming in the pit of her stomach.
"Well, you've been working with Andrew for what? 10 years now? I guess I had hoped that eventually you would return to my division of Special Forces as we could certainly use you right about now." Jamie replied softly, watching as Monica's eyes widened before they lowered to the tabletop.
Monica was quiet for a moment, before she responded,
"I honestly hadn't given it much thought, Jamie. I've been pretty busy…"
"I heard about Patrick, sweetheart," Reaching out, Jamie laid a hand over top of Monica's and waited until the young angel looked up once more.
Nodding her head, Monica managed a smile,
"He's safe with the Father now," She replied simply, though she still felt a pang of regret at the absence of the Irishman in her existence, as it was a feeling she had scarcely had time to get used to.
Giving her hand a squeeze, Jamie continued cautiously,
"I don't want to pressure you, Monica, but will you at least think about returning? You have more than proven yourself again in Casework, and you were so good in Special Forces. Can you do that for me? Just think about it?"
Pulling her hand away, suddenly feeling very confused, Monica nodded her head slowly,
"Sure, Jamie. I'll think about it."
"Then that is all I can ask of you," Jamie smiled warmly as she stood to leave,
"I know you have an impending assignment, but maybe when it is finished, you could have an answer for me?" Seeing Monica nod her head once more, Jamie sighed softly,
"Then I'll see you in a week or so."
As her former supervisor left, Monica rested her head in her hands, her thoughts in turmoil and she felt too tired to even begin to sort them out. This was not a visit she had ever expected, nor a situation she had ever expected to be caught up in. The last ten years had been so good and it was now nearly impossible for her to even think about not working with Andrew or Kevin either for that matter. Just the thought of going back to work in Jamie's division of Special Forces was enough to make her shudder and though she had indeed forgiven Philip for the things he had done to her, to forget would be impossible and to relive it on almost every case, would be a complete nightmare for her. But if she didn't go back, did that mean everything that had happened to her all those years ago was in vain?
The sound of Andrew's voice disrupted her thoughts and she looked up at him and managed a smile, nonchalantly wiping a tear from her eye,
"Andrew, what are you doing up?"
"I could ask you the same question, you know," He replied, sitting down next to her,
"I heard someone come downstairs and I had a feeling it was you."
"I couldn't sleep and thought warm milk might help," She explained, getting up from the table and away from those green eyes that knew her so well to retrieve her glass from the microwave.
"Are you worrying about tomorrow?" He asked her gently.
"Just a little, but you told me it would be fine and I believe you," She replied, forcing herself to look back to him,
"But I'd better get some sleep or it may not be pretty walking up that boarding ramp in the morning," She joked half-heartedly.
"Something else is wrong, Mon'," He stated simply, his eyes locking with hers,
"I know you and I can see it."
Not wanting to lie, but not ready to discuss Jamie's visit with him just yet, she sighed softly,
"And you've accused me of being able to see too much about you in the past," She smiled. But his expression didn't change, so she continued carefully,
"Yes, Andrew, there is something on my mind, but I'm not ready to talk about it just yet, my friend. But when I do, rest assured that you will be the one I come to," Setting her glass down, she moved and walked up behind his chair to wrap her arms around him,
"I don't want you to worry, okay? But let that be enough for tonight. We both have an assignment in the morning, along with Kevin, and this can wait for now."
Sighing himself, he nodded his head, though he knew he would still worry, but she seemed more or less all right,
"All right, Angel Girl," He replied, feeling her kiss his cheek in thanks,
"But you know where to find me when you are ready to talk."
"You know I do, Andrew," Monica whispered into his ear,
"Thank you."Chapter 1
"Wake up, Sleeping Beauty," Andrew gently shook his best friend's shoulder the next morning and chuckled as she murmured in her sleep, before turning over on her stomach and covering her tangled auburn head with a pillow, all the while mumbling, "Go away," to nobody in particular. Gently shaking her again, only this time leaning close to Monica's ear, he whispered into it,
"Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go. C'mon, Angel Girl, that big ol' mouse is waiting for you."
Still not receiving anything other then a few mumbles from his friend, Andrew straightened back up and placed his hands on his hips, slightly shaking his blonde head at her sleeping form. Finally, an idea came to him and a broad grin appeared on his handsome face; knowing how ticklish she was, the older angel tip-toed back over to her bed and placed his fingers underneath the blankets still covering her and tickled her underarms. Doing this caused Monica to let out a high-pitched squeal and she bolted straight up out of bed, her auburn mane in disarray. Turning towards her best friend and seeing him clutching his stomach with laughter, the Irish angel tried to give him a mock dirty look, but only giggled instead all the while trying to speak,
"How could you do that to me, Andrew? You know how ticklish I am!"
"Well, Angel Girl, what else was I supposed to do?" He shrugged, an innocent look on his face,
"The ship leaves in 2 hours, and Kevin and I are just about ready. Rose, Carla and Tess are downstairs having breakfast, while you were up here snoring away-"
"I was NOT snoring!" Monica jumped up out of bed, her bare feet hitting the carpet. Placing her hands on her hips, she lifted her chin and looked up at her best friend and supervisor,
"I never snore, Angel Boy."
Andrew snorted and winked at the younger angel, who had a look on her face that almost caused him to fall over laughing,
"Well, let's just say that you resemble Kevin when you snore, Angel Girl..."
"OH! I'll get you for that comment, Mr. Halo!" Monica ran towards her friend and literally jumped on top of his back, feeling him grasp her ankles as she did so. Making a fist with her hand, she playfully knocked him on the head several times all the while trying to tickle him in return. Doing so caused him to fall over on top of Monica's unmade bed, both angels almost in tears now with laughter.
"What's going on in here? It sounds like the roof is going to cave in!" Kevin suddenly appeared in the bedroom and raised an eyebrow as he saw his two friends and co-workers tangled up in arms and legs on Monica's bed. Stepping closer, he now raised both eyebrows and asked slowly,
"Should I even ask...?"
"Yeah, Kevin, come on over here and help me tickle Angel Girl!" Andrew winked the caseworker's way, just as Monica let out a high pitch squeal in his ear. Seeing the youngest of the trio's eyes widen in surprise, and then twinkle with amusement and mischief, the blonde supervisor wrapped his arms gently so that he wouldn't hurt her in any way, around her shoulders and tickled her underarms while Kevin ran over and did the same with her bare feet.
"Kevin!" Monica laughed, all the while tears of laughter falling from her brown eyes,
"Kevin, if you continue this, I will kick you!" As the angel said those words, Kevin slightly released her and just as he did so, the Irish angel jerked free and moved over to Andrew once again, putting him a gentle headlock. As the three friends continued horse playing in the bedroom, a knock on the door startled them and Kevin fell to the floor with a thud.
Rose stood there, her blue eyes wide at the sight in front of her, but a chuckle soon escaped her lips and she shook her red head in amusement, just like Kevin had did a few minutes ago,
"I sent Kevin up here to see what was keeping you two angels; but now I see what's going on...Are you going to continue torturing one another, or are you going to finish getting ready so you won't miss the cruise?"
Jumping to his feet, like he was one of those little kids who was going on a vacation to Disney World, Kevin smiled broadly,
"I'm almost ready!" And with that, he dashed past a laughing Rose and back down the stairs. Pushing her long hair back over her shoulders, Rose turned to her two remaining friends and reached a hand out to Andrew,
"C'mon, Angel Boy. Let's let Monica finish getting dressed and packed; we'll be waiting for you downstairs, Monica, okay?"
Giggling, all the while her cheeks flushing red, Monica reluctantly released her best friend and smiled as he helped her to her feet. All of the worries about yesterday's announcement of the cruise, and even about Jamie's sudden visit late that night pushed aside for now, the Irish angel gave his hand a loving squeeze before placing her hands on his shoulders and shoving him towards the door,
"Okay, okay, shoo, Angel Boy. I'll be out in a few minutes."
As Rose and Andrew left the room, closing the door behind her, the oldest of the group just stared at Andrew for a few moments before chuckling out loud. Raising an eyebrow in mock innocence, Andrew shrugged his shoulders,
"It always amazes me how much you three act like little kids sometimes," She spoke, wrapping an arm around him as they headed towards the staircase,
"This cruise and trip to Disney is going to be perfect for you three."
As Tess' red Cadillac pulled up to the dock where the cruise ship was getting ready to set sail in 45 minutes, all six angels piled out of the car, each one grabbing bags of luggage. Monica was the one with the most, as she couldn't decide what exactly to bring and Andrew was shocked that she was now actually excited about going on this trip. Maybe the little tickle fest between them and Kevin had done her some good and she was able to push aside all of her worries for the time being and trust that everything would be all right on this cruise.
Grabbing two suitcases out of the trunk and wrapping one of his best friend's light bags around his neck, Andrew picked them up and followed all of his friends over to where the line was; passengers were standing there, ready to give their tickets to the ship attendant before embarking. It didn't take long for them to finally reach the boarding dock and Andrew set all the luggage he was carrying down with a sigh, Monica and Kevin following his lead. As Kevin hugged Tess farewell, and the Irish angel embraced Carla, Andrew turned to Rose and wrapped his arms around her in a huge hug goodbye,
"I'll miss you while we're gone, Rose...But I'll see about bringing you back a pair of Mickey ears."
Laughing into his shoulder, the red-haired Search and Rescue supervisor gave him a tight squeeze before he pulled gently away,
"Well, as long as you're wearing them as well." She winked as he rolled his green eyes playfully at her. Her face turning serious, she reached up and laid a hand against his cheek before kissing it gently,
"You take care of your Angel Girl and Kevin, honey, ya hear?"
"Of course I will," Andrew smiled back at her,
"You know the three of us will do nothing but relax and have fun. I'll send you guys postcards when we reach Florida."
Nodding her head, she ushered her friend over to Tess and Carla as she took turns embracing Monica and Kevin each, while the other two hugged Andrew goodbye. It took another 10 minutes for all the goodbye's to be put out before the blonde angel grabbed as much luggage as he could and motioned for his friends to follow,
"Looks like it's time to board, or they'll leave without us..." As the trio said their final goodbyes to their friends, whom they wouldn't see for a week and a half at the most, Monica and Kevin followed Andrew up the dock and towards the waiting ship and to their staterooms. Taking in their surroundings, and the luxury of the ship, the Irish angel smiled for real as she gazed around her. A sign to her right pointed in the direction to one of the pools, while to her left pointed in the direction of their rooms. The ship appeared larger then it showed on the outside, and it left her in awe.
As they finally neared their rooms, Andrew and Kevin were engaged in excited chatter about the upcoming week, while Monica was taking in every aspect of the room they would be staying in for the next day or two before they reached Florida. Two beds, which obviously would belong to her best friend and Kevin, were in one room and she pushed open a door off to the side, which led her to her own. The King size bed was set up in the middle, with flowers set up on the nightstand and a television against the wall. It took her a few moments to fully take in the entire room, and when she finally was finished, she actually felt relaxed for the first time ever on a ship.
"So this is your room, Angel Girl?"
Monica turned around to face her best friend, her face serious,
"Yes...And I really believe that all will be well this time, my friend. There is no doubt in my mind this time; I don't know how it happened, but now I feel fully relaxed for the first time since boarding this ship..."
Smiling proudly at her, the older angel stepped closer and wrapped his arms around his friend in a bear hug,
"And everything will be okay. I just know it."
Nodding her head as she embraced her friend back, the Irish angel smiled again as she started to feel excited, despite the decision she would have to make regarding Jamie, about the upcoming week.Chapter 2
By mid afternoon, the three angels had explored every aspect of the ship as it sailed through the water at a leisurely pace. The day was perfect and sunny as the threesome strolled along the deck, just taking in the beauty of the sky and water, which seemed to meld into each other, far off along the horizon.
Andrew and Kevin turned as Monica let out a gasp and pointed out into the water as she flew to the railing and leaned over as far as she could, much to Andrew's surprise.
As he and Kevin joined her, they saw the dolphins frolicking in the waves made by the ship, leaping in and out of the water that had caught their friend's eye and they all watched with fascination and laughter as the creatures played in the water.
"Aren't they lovely?" Monica smiled, her dark eyes sparkling.
"They sure do seem to be having a great time," Kevin admitted with a laugh as he watched the dolphin's antics.
As the dolphins seemed to disappear underneath of the ship, Monica climbed up another step on the railing as she searched for them, but then gave a squeal as Andrew grabbed her around the waist and set her back down on the deck.
"Careful there, super girl," He chuckled as he winked at her,
"Unless you want to unintentionally wind up swimming with them, you'd be better off with two feet on deck at all times," He chided gently, feeling more than relieved to be seeing the sparkle return to her eyes after the last two long months.
"Is that a suggestion or a direct order?" She asked innocently, shooting a wink Kevin's way.
"For you, a direct order," Andrew laughed, his eyes holding mischief,
"For Kevin, just a suggestion as he is not as prone to trouble as you are."
Monica's eyes widened in disbelief at his words, though her lips twitched with a smile,
"Kevin, do you think that is the truth? Am I prone to trouble?"
Kevin opened his mouth to reply, but grinned instead,
"Let's not go there, Monica, okay?"
Laughing in mock shock, she placed her hands on her hips and eyed them both defiantly,
"Well, I certainly don't go looking for it."
"No, Angel Girl, I'll give you that, you don't," Andrew replied innocently,
"Which is a good thing, as it seems to find you with no problem at all."
"You are so asking for it today," She threatened him playfully.
"So, who is up for a swim?" Kevin spoke up, deciding to change the subject.
"I am," Andrew replied with a grin,
"That cool water will feel really good as the water I'm in right now is a bit on the warm side," Winking at his best friend, he continued,
"But Monica is not a big fan of the water, so-."
"It's fine, you two," She interjected,
"There are plenty of lounge chairs by the pool, so I'll be just fine."
Taking her up on that offer, after changing the three angels headed down to the pool, Andrew and Kevin immediately diving into the crisp clear water, reveling in how good it felt on the warm day. The Irish angel brought a book down to the poolside with her, though she found her thoughts returning to her conversation with Jamie the night before and she finally closed the book after not being able to concentrate.
"C'mon, Monica," Kevin called to her from the deep end of the pool,
"You're technically on a huge body of water as it is and you aren't scared, so what's a little pool water?"
Seeing her smile and shake her head, Andrew swam over to the edge and folded his arms against the side of the pool, knowing he could be a bit more tactful than his younger charge,
"You know, sweetie, you have conquered one fear today. You boarded this ship with scarcely a blink, so why not try the water while you are at it?"
"Andrew, I'm not much of a swimmer, you know that-." She argued gently.
"I'll have you the whole time, I promise," He interrupted, already sensing that he was winning this battle of wills.
With a small sigh, she got up and moved to the steps in the shallow end where he beckoned her to come. As he stood up in the water, she took his proffered hand and held it tightly as she tentatively walked down the steps until the water was up to her waist. Though still slightly nervous, she smiled up at him as he took her other hand as well and led her out where it was a bit deeper but she could still touch the bottom of the pool.
"You're doing great, Angel Girl," Andrew praised her gently, smiling at the victory in her eyes.
Swimming over to them, Kevin smiled happily,
"As we are going to be on this ship for a few days, she might as well have a few swimming lessons, Andrew," He suggested and by the end of the afternoon, the two angels had their female friend back floating and had already begun teaching her the basic swimming strokes.
Finally by late afternoon, the threesome was exhausted from their day in the sun and they climbed out of the pool and grabbed towels, before heading back to their suite. Wrapping an arm around his best friend's shoulders, Andrew whispered into her ear,
"You're the bomb, Angel Girl."
"The bomb?" She asked, giggling as she looked up at him,
"Where did that one come from?"
"I heard some kids at the pool saying it today and it sounded like a good thing," He chuckled.
"So, I'm behaving then?" She asked curiously, and seeing him nod, she smiled in satisfaction,
"Those mouse ears won't be such a hard goal to achieve then, Andrew."
"The cruise isn't over yet," Kevin observed, playfully and was promptly rewarded by her sticking her tongue out at him.
Late that night, Monica sat in the chair by her window, watching the way the moonlight reflected off the water and thinking. Today had been perfect, but with the setting of the sun, her conversation with Jamie returned to her and she felt more confused then ever over what to do. Gazing over at the door that separated her room from the one Andrew was sharing with Kevin, she knew that Kevin was still out, wanting to get a taste of the ship's nightlife. But she and Andrew, still a bit weary from the last few months, had decided to head back after dinner and to call it an early night.
Getting up, the Irish angel, clad in a pair of comfortable pajamas, walked over to the door and knocked softly.
Glancing up from the book he was reading, Andrew sat up in bed and called out to her,
"C'mon in, sweetie."
Opening the door, she slipped inside, closing it behind her as she leaned up against it,
"Can we talk?" She asked hopefully, biting her lip in her uncertainty.
"Of course," Andrew replied, with a look that said she didn't even have to ask such a silly question. Patting the seat on the bed across from him, he waited until she had climbed up and was sitting cross-legged across from him, her hands resting in her lap,
"What's going on, Angel Girl?" He asked gently, and then waited patiently for her to begin talking.
"Jamie paid me a visit last night," Monica began softly,
"She asked me to come back."
Andrew sucked in a deep breath. He had not been expecting this in the least and judging by the look in Monica's eyes, neither had she, but he struggled to keep his own feelings about this inside,
"And what did you say?"
"She asked me to think about it while we were away," She replied, gazing down at her hands,
"I'm confused, Andrew. I don't know what I should do."
He was silent for a moment, before opening his arms to her,
"C'mere, little one," He said softly, waiting until she curled into his embrace. Hearing her give a soft sigh, he closed his eyes for a moment, almost unable to fathom her going back there to all that pain and heartache, or not working with her each and every day. He knew though that this was her decision and as her current supervisor, he had to make sure she thought it all out. But where was the line between supervisor and friend in this scenario?
"Tell me what has you so confused." He asked simply.
Closing her eyes against the beating of his heart, she began to speak in a soft voice,
"If it were as simple as 'yes or no', Andrew, it would be an immediate 'No'. Though I loved Jamie and she was wonderful to work with, I hated Special Forces. I hated reliving what had happened to me every single day. I hated feeling helpless to help these women. But if I say 'No', did I go through all of that with Philip for nothing?" Pulling away, she looked into his eyes as if searching to find the answer to that question in them,
"Over the last ten years, working with you and Kevin, I began to feel like me again, Andrew, but then if I think about all of that with Philip being for nothing, it makes me almost angry. Those were the worst years of my existence and to have them all be in vain?"
"You know how much I worried about you when you were working in Special Forces, sweetheart, but I can't make this decision for you, anymore than you could make the decision for me to return to Casework," Andrew said gently, reaching for her hand,
"That decision has to come from you."
"You don't have any opinion at all?" She asked hopefully.
"Of course, I do, but my opinions are not what are important here. You have to exist with the decision you make and I can't help you to make that decision," He explained softly. Seeing hurt flash in her eyes, he quickly reached to take her face in his hands,
"Hey, that isn't what I meant. You can talk to me about this anytime you want to, baby girl, and I will listen to you, you know that. I want you to talk to me about it as you think it through, okay?" Seeing her nod her head sadly as she blinked back tears, he continued softly, never releasing his hold on her,
"Here is what I propose. That you talk to the Father about it and you keep the lines of communication open with me, but for right now, try to enjoy this break. You're still tired and still grieving somewhat for Patrick, even though you know how happy he is now. It's been a long couple of months for both of us and a little rest and relaxation is in order. Now, I will do everything I can to help you with this, but I can't make the decision for you, sweetheart."
"I'm not asking you to do that, Andrew," Monica argued gently,
"I just wish…I don't know what I wish…"
"You'll find the answer, Angel Girl," He replied soothingly,
"I know you and you will. The other thing I want to tell you is how proud I was of you today; walking on this ship and swimming. A few years ago, Monica, you never would have done either of those things, and now look at you, baby. You need to have a little more faith in yourself, because when you do, look at what happens?"
"But I feel safe when I'm with you," She countered softly.
"And you know that the Father keeps us all safe and that nothing happens to us without a reason, Angel Girl," Andrew stated gently.
"So, what if the reason all of that happened to me was because I am supposed to return to Special Forces?" Her voice dropped to a whisper as she asked the question.
"That, is what you have to figure out," He replied just as softly, as he looked into her tired eyes. Getting up off the bed, he helped her to her feet,
"But right now, it is time for you to get some sleep," He ordered gently as he led her back to her room, covering her up with the blanket as she laid down, still seeing the troubled look in her eyes. Smoothing her wind blown hair back from her face, he kissed her forehead tenderly,
"I love you, little one and only sweet dreams tonight, okay?"
Nodding her head, the little angel sighed as she snuggled down under the covers, despite it all feeling tired all of a sudden,
"I love you too, Andrew," She whispered as she drifted off to sleep.
Slipping quietly from the room, Andrew closed the door softly behind him before he let out a sigh, his emerald eyes deeply troubled as he whispered,
"Oh Father, I don't want her to go."Chapter 3
"...So then, he finally agreed to just wear the bumblebee antennae, to make me happy," Monica was explaining to Kevin the next morning at breakfast, a twinkle in her brown eyes. Turning to Andrew, she winked mischievously at her best friend and giggled as his face grew tomato red. Facing the youngest angel again, she took a sip of coffee before continuing,
"You really should've seen the reactions we got-"
"Okay, Angel Girl, I think he's heard enough about that little adventure for now," Andrew blushed profusely and buried his face in his hands with a sigh. The three angels and friends were sitting on the outside breakfast table on the deck early the next morning, ready to start their second day of their cruise, and before long, Monica had engaged Kevin in conversation about that Halloween so many years ago with the Hendrickson twins and Andrew; her brown eyes twinkled with mischief every time she mentioned the bumblebee antennae she had convinced her best friend to wear on his head for her so that he could at least be part of the fun that night.
But much to Andrew's embarrassment, the Irish angel refused to quit talking about that night, and the older angel's face grew an even deeper shade of red. Shaking his head, all the while his face still in his hands, he listened and groaned as his friend explained everything else that had occurred, all the way up until later that night when he had gotten even with her with a trip to a Haunted House. As she finished, Andrew lifted his head up and shot his friend a mock glare, although he wasn't really angry. Embarrassed beyond belief, yes...especially after hearing Kevin's laughter ringing through the air; but definitely not angry.
"Thanks a lot, Miss Wings. I sure feel loved," He stuck his tongue out at her, and was rewarded with an innocent smile from her in return.
"Any time, Angel Boy," Monica patted her friend's hand across the table and laughed once again as his face turned tomato red.
"Kevin, I made her promise to keep that mouth of hers shut about that...and you know how she exaggerates-"
"Oh, not about this, Andrew!" The auburn-haired angel giggled as she took another sip of her coffee and then a bite of her biscuit,
"I told him everything exactly how it happened, all the way up to the look on your face..."
"Angel Girl, you better watch it or I'll get even with you for doing this..." Andrew warned in a threatening tone, his mind already developing a plan of action.
"And just what are you gonna do to me, Mr. Halo?" She smirked in reply at her best friend, and suddenly she gulped as she saw the look on his handsome face. He already had a plan, and it looked like he was about to use it at this very moment. Feeling butterflies in the pit of her stomach, she scooted her chair backwards and shook her head,
"Oh no you're not..."
"Oh yes, I am," Andrew winked at her as he got up from his own chair and walked around the other side to her. Before she could get up, he grabbed his friend and charge around the waist and lifted her into his arms, all the while hearing her squeals of laughter escape her as she kicked playfully. Shooting a smirk Kevin's way as he laughed, he started walking towards the area of the pool with the youngest of the trio following right behind him,
"You know, Angel Girl, it's a good thing you learned how to swim yesterday, and that you enjoy the water so much." Seeing her brown eyes widen in shock as he finally neared the pool, Andrew nodded his head and smiled broadly,
"Because I've got a little surprise for you." Shooting a wink at her and then at Kevin over his friend's head, he then tossed the squealing angel into the warm water with a huge splash.
As she resurfaced the water with a gasp, Monica shot her best friend a mock dirty look as he and the youngest angel laughed. Spluttering water and climbing out, the Irish angel placed her hands on her hips as she looked at Andrew and Kevin, her long auburn hair dripping around her shoulders,
"You want a water fight, Angel Boy? You got it!"
Moving behind him, and taking him totally off guard, Monica gave her friend a hard push and he started to topple over the edge of the pool. But before he could go in, the angel grabbed Monica's hand and as the two yelled in surprise, they both fell back in the pool with a splash. Shaking her soaking hair as she laughed at the drowned rat look her best friend now sported, she swam over to him and splashed him in the face with a handful of water. As he came back at her, Monica squealed with laughter and before they knew it, Kevin had dived in with his friends and before too long, the three angels were engaged in an all-out water fight.
Late that night, long after the sun had gone down, the lights were still on in the cruise ship and it seemed that almost every passenger on board had decided to go to the late night dance that was being held on one of the decks, the three excited angels included. Monica had found a notice while walking along the decks that afternoon about a dance late that night, and after much persuading for her friends to join her, they had finally relented and had followed her to this late night event. And Andrew did find himself enjoying it, much to his surprise, while Kevin was taking in everything around him, as it was indeed new to him.
Suddenly hearing a familiar song coming on, Andrew's ears perked up and he glanced over at his best friend to see a few tears filling her brown eyes, as memories seemed to wash over them. The song that was being sung now by the young-looking female in the center of the stage, was one that neither of them had heard in so many years, not since that night when he, Monica and Tess had gone their separate ways, and his dearest friend had been promoted to Supervisor.
Sensing her friend looking at her, the Irish angel wiped at her eyes and gave him a quivering smile in return, knowing exactly what he was thinking. Seeing him open his mouth, he started to ask her,
"Angel Girl, would you-"
"I'd love to, my friend," She finished for him, a smile spreading across her lovely features. Accepting his offered hand and rising to her feet, Monica followed the older angel out onto the dance floor with the other couples dancing and with great love and gentleness, Andrew took his friend into his arms as they swayed gently to the familiar song. The little Irish angel rested her head on his shoulder and wrapped her arms around him, closing her eyes as she took in the familiar lyrics.
For all those times you stood by me
For all the truth that you made me see
For all the joy you brought to my life
For all the wrong that you made right
For every dream you made come true
For all the love I found in you
I'll be forever thankful baby
You're the one who held me up
Never let me fall
You're the one who saw me through
Through it all
You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith caused you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me
You gave me wings and made me fly
You touched my hand I could touch the sky
I lost my faith, you gave it back to me
You said no star was out of reach
You stood by me and I stood tall
I had your love I had it all
I'm grateful for each day you gave me
Maybe I don't know that much
But I know this much is true
I was blessed because I was
Loved by you
You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith caused you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me
You were always there for me
The tender wind that carried me
A light in the dark shining your love
Into my life
You've been my inspiration
Through the lies you were the truth
My world is a better place because of you
You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith caused you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me
From where he was seated, Kevin watched as his two friends swayed slowly to the song that was being sung, and he felt a few tears fill his eyes as he listened to the words. Although he knew that he didn't know these two angels as well as they knew each other, the young angel did know however that the words that were being sung was indeed true to them, in every way. Watching as the two older angels never released one another while on the dance floor, even as the music picked up and a fast dance number started, Kevin smiled as he watched Monica whisper something into Andrew's ear. Looking down, he twiddled with cup that held his soda and sighed softly.
"You look kinda lonely here," An unfamiliar voice broke into his thoughts and he looked up into the face of a pretty, young female. She was smiling down at him, although she looked sort of concerned for him,
"Are you here alone?"
Shaking his head, Kevin nodded towards his two friends,
"No, I'm just taking a bit of a breather while my friends are out there dancing." Seeing the woman nod her head, but not following his gaze to the two older angels, he watched as she extended her hand to him,
"My name is Beth Harris, by the way."
After several minutes, Andrew and Monica headed off the dance floor and back to where Kevin was. The two angels were so engaged in conversation as the walked hand in hand back, that they didn't even notice that their younger friend was talking with a slightly younger-looking woman at their table. By the time they reached it, the Irish angel was chuckling so much that she didn't even recognize the woman for she really was until she got a good look at her.
As silence was brought upon the table, Monica's mouth dropped open and Andrew grasped her hand gently in his so that she wouldn't pass out, knowing what she was thinking. Looking back over at Kevin and seeing the look of confusion on his young face, Andrew found himself speechless as he waited for either Monica or the woman to speak up. The human was the first one to do so and the blonde angel nearly found himself growing dizzy as she spoke,
"Monica? Monica, is that really you...my angel?"
Gripping her best friend's hand tightly, Monica blinked her eyes rapidly and stared straight into the woman's dark eyes,
"It's been so long!" Beth smiled, rising to her feet and hugging Monica tightly.
"This is quite a surprise, Beth," Monica managed to say, trying to get over her initial shock at seeing this human again, the mere sight of her bringing back painful memories.
"I had hoped to run into you again one day, as there were things that I wanted to ask you about and to talk to you about," Beth replied, casting a glance at Andrew, who had rested his hands protectively on Monica's shoulders, she continued,
"So, I take it Kevin here is an angel too?"
Kevin nodded his head though his eyes held total confusion about this reunion. Though he had guessed already that Beth must have been a former assignment for Monica, what he didn't really understand was why she and Andrew looked so uncomfortable,
"Yes, Beth, the three of us work together."
Turning her attention back to the Irish angel, Beth asked softly,
"Can you and I talk, Monica? Would that be okay?"
"Sure, Beth," Monica forced herself to say, before turning back to her supervisor and friend and managing a reassuring smile,
"I'll see you two in the morning, all right?" Seeing the look in Andrew's eyes, she nodded her head as if telling him she was all right, before turning back to Beth,
"Let's take a walk."
Kevin watched the look on his supervisor's face as he watched his best friend and Beth walk out of the ballroom towards the deck. He could tell that Andrew was concerned but there was something more there as well,
"Andrew, what is going on?" He asked carefully as the older angel sat down and wrapped his hands around his glass of ginger ale.
Andrew let out a soft sigh,
"You know that Monica used to work in Special Forces, right?" Seeing his charge nod his head, Andrew continued,
"Well, Beth was the assignment that led up to her working there in the first place and the night before we left to come on this cruise, her old supervisor from Special Forces asked her to consider coming back to work for her. Monica told her she would think about it."
Kevin drew in a sharp breath at hearing those words. He loved working with these two particular angels and to think of one of them suddenly not being there was something he didn't really want to think about,
"Do you really think she would? She seems so happy working with us, Andrew."
"Yes, she does and she is," Andrew replied, the concern never leaving his eyes,
"But she went through a lot after Beth, Kevin. I can't really say much about the whole situation, as that would be up to Monica to tell you if she wanted to, but let's just say that she is worried about everything that happened to her being in vain if she doesn't return to Special Forces. That is her struggle right now."
Kevin was quiet for a moment, noting the way Andrew was playing with the watermarks left by his glass,
"You don't want her to go, do you?"
"It's her decision to make, Kevin…"
"That isn't what I asked you though," The younger angel pointed out gently.
Andrew was quiet for a moment, before raising his eyes to meet Kevin's, the sadness in them unmistakable,
"So, are you still working with that special group to help women who went through what I almost did?" Beth asked after the twosome had strolled along the deck in silence for a few moments.
Monica shook her head slowly,
"No, I've been working with Andrew and Kevin for the last few years," She replied, deciding not to go into her whole demotion, which had been a blessing in disguise,
"The work there was pretty grueling, Beth and I needed a break from it. So, what are you doing here?"
"I'm on my honeymoon," Beth smiled happily.
"Congratulations," Monica replied, sincerely meaning it, despite her mixed feelings about seeing Beth here again after so long.
"Monica," The human began once more, a look of seriousness now on her face,
"The last time I saw you, I was just a kid really and I'm not sure at that age that I could even fully comprehend what it was you did for me on board that ship. I mean, even though he was unable to physically hurt me, just the fear of what it was he would have done to me had you not been there was enough to make me not want to trust men. But then I met Josh and I learned to trust again and even to forgive that man who tried to hurt me," Turning to face the angel, Beth reached for her hands,
"Had you not been there for me that night, Monica, Josh may never have happened. You gave yourself up for me without even knowing me, because that is who you are and I just think it is wonderful that you continue to give to these women when it would be so much easier to forget what happened to you. You can change their lives, Monica, the same way you changed mine."
Feeling overwhelmed, Monica only nodded her head and managed a smile, not wanting to go into the many thoughts that were running through her mind at the moment, and especially after that last log Beth had just thrown on the fire for her.
"Well, listen, I'd better go as Josh will be wondering what happened to me. Hopefully I'll see you around before we dock," Beth smiled happily as she embraced the angel one last time before hurrying back towards the ballroom.
The little Irish angel watched her go before she walked slowly over to the railing and folded her arms over it as she gazed out at the moonlit ocean, wondering why everything that had anything to do with that time with Beth had to be so hard.
Kevin was unable to sleep that night after his conversation with Andrew, as he lay awake, waiting to hear the door on Monica's side open signifying she had at least returned for the night. Though his supervisor had been restless for a while, Andrew seemed to finally be sound asleep after their full day today. The youngest angel knew that they would be docking for a few hours late tomorrow morning in a small town along the coast and that he really should be asleep, but he couldn't help but to worry about his two friends.
Granted, he had only been a Caseworker for ten years and had never had to change positions before, but he was glad of this, as he loved his two co-workers dearly. Andrew was a wonderful supervisor and was always patient; quick to praise and slow to criticize and Kevin had learned so much from the example that the compassionate angel set. Monica, though sometimes impulsive, had a heart of gold and was so kind hearted to all she came in contact with. The relationship between the two of them warmed Kevin's heart as well. Monica was very in tune with Andrew's moods and she seemed to know immediately if something was troubling him. Andrew cared for his younger friend with a gentleness that touched Kevin deeply and made him forget that there had ever been any friction between them years ago.
Gazing at the clock and seeing that it was nearly 3:00AM, he got up and threw on a T-shirt over his shorts and slipped out the door in search of the Irish angel. After about ten minutes, he found her, asleep in one of the lounge chairs on the deck, shivering slightly in the cool breeze from the ocean,
"Monica," He whispered to her, shaking her gently.
Sleepily, Monica opened her eyes, surprised to find herself outside as she slowly sat up,
"Kevin. I must have fallen asleep. What time is it?"
"Nearly 3:00 in the morning. How does sleeping in a bed the rest of the night strike you? Unless of course, you'd rather sleep out here." He winked at her playfully and smiled as she giggled.
"A bed sounds lovely," She replied sleepily as she took his hand as he helped her to her feet,
"Is Andrew still asleep?"
"Yes and lucky for you," Kevin teased gently,
"You'd better watch it, Monica. You lost mouse ear points today for that Bumblebee Boy story and now you are out past curfew. Tsk, tsk."
"What are you, the score keeper?" She asked as they walked back towards their staterooms.
"Well, yeah! It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it, but just between you and me…" He grinned at her,
"I'm all for the mouse ears."Chapter 5
Late the following morning, the ship docked in one of the ocean towns along the east coast and the passengers were given a few hours to shop and sight see and the three angels were anxious to be on dry land for a few hours with some new things to see and do.
The town was full of specialty shops and small boutiques and soon the threesome were darting in and out of the shop doors, sometimes together and sometimes not, depending on who wanted to see what.
Kevin, as his two friends were discovering, had an insatiable appetite for any kind of human food, and this town was not disappointing to him at all as he soon carried bags full of fudge and cookies, even as he munched happily on a corn dog.
"Are you hungry there, Kev?" Andrew asked in amusement as he came out of a small shop and joined up with his two friends.
He grinned sheepishly as his face reddened slightly,
"Well, yes and no, but this human food is so good, I can't seem to help it."
Peering into one of his bags, Monica shook her head,
"Keep up this kind of shopping and you are going to have one big sugar high. You won't feel the need to ride anything at Disney as you'll be tired from bouncing off walls by the time we get there."
"Watch it there, cupcake," Kevin grinned at her,
"You don't want to tick off the score keeper if you have your eye on those mouse ears."
"Cupcake?" Monica rolled her eyes playfully,
"Though I do believe I saw a little bakery about two doors down that sold those."
"Really? I'll be right back," Kevin grinned as he bounded back down the street, despite the laughter of his two friends.
Chuckling softly, Andrew brought a bag out from behind him and handed it to his best friend,
"I saw this and knew it was you, Angel Girl," He explained with a smile as he watched her remove the straw hat with the blue ribbon from the bag.
"Andrew! It's lovely," She immediately put it on her head and smiled up at him, before she reached up to kiss his cheek,
"Thank you. I love it."
Smiling back at the younger angel, Andrew's face turned slightly red and he nodded, blonde hair swinging against his forehead,
"Any time, sweetie. I also found a little something that I think Kevin will get a kick out of...Wait'll you see this, Angel Girl."
"What is it?" Monica's curiosity picked up and her brown eyes widened slightly at his words. Standing on her toes, the little Irish angel tried to get another peek inside of her best friend's shopping bag, but he raised it high above his head so that she couldn't reach it.
"Nu-uh, Miss Wings. Not now," He winked at her and chuckled softly as she stuck her tongue out at him in return.
Just then, Kevin returned from the cupcake store, a napkin in his hand and he was munching happily on a chocolate covered cupcake with sprinkles on it. A dreamy look was in the youngest angel's eyes as he finally reached his friends again,
"You guys, this is so delicious! I'm surprised you don't like chocolate, Andrew..."
His face almost turning green at the mere mention of the word "chocolate", the older angel shook his head,
"Just like Monica doesn't like vanilla, my stomach doesn't settle well with chocolate. Don't ask me why, though..."
Monica and Kevin both chuckled at this, and Andrew shot his friends a Look that said full well that they both were losing points on the mouse ears now,
"Angel Girl...if you keep pushing it..."
Her brown eyes twinkling, Monica ignored her friend's last comment and changed the subject,
"So, Angel Boy...Kevin's back now. What's in the bag?"
Raising an eyebrow in question, the youngest angel stopped munching on his goodies and stared at his supervisor,
His green eyes also twinkling with mischief, Andrew dug his hand back into the bag where he had bough Monica's hat, and brought out a thick magazine. Seeing the confused looks on his friend's faces, Andrew just smiled mischievously and handed it to his youngest charge,
"Just like I saw that hat and thought of Monica...I saw this, and immediately thought of you, Kevin."
Grasping the magazine in his hand, Kevin looked down at it and nearly fell over laughing at what was on the front,
"The Angel Magazine: Everything You Need to Know, When You Need to Know it."
Monica arched a thin eyebrow and looked over his shoulder, her face soon turning red from laughter as soon as she read the title on the front of the magazine,
"Andrew, where on earth did you GET that from?"
Shrugging his shoulders, the angel nonchalantly pointed over his shoulder and winked at his friends and co-workers,
"At the angel store, that's all."
"The ANGEL store?" Both younger caseworkers repeated at the same time, and seeing their friend nod his blonde head, both Monica and Kevin took off in the direction Andrew pointed to. Andrew chuckled and shook his head as he saw them disappear quickly behind the door, soon following them. But although he was laughing, he still couldn't get something out of his mind; he just didn't want anything to ruin this day, so he wasn't going to say anything for now, as it was indeed Monica's decision to make and not his.
But he couldn't help but wonder what Beth had wanted to talk to his best friend about the night before. He just hoped that his dearest friend wouldn't return to that department with Jamie; she was now almost completely healed after all that Philip had done to her, and she was so happy. He just didn't want to see her go through that again.
"Father, if it be Your will...please help her make the right decision," He whispered to himself before he walked into the store that had to do with angels,
"It's not just because I want to continue working with her, but because I care about her, and don't want to see her hurt anymore...Thank You, Father."
"Next question, Andrew," Kevin turned the page of the magazine his friend and supervisor had given him that day, and chuckled as he saw the question. It was several hours later, and the ship was back on the water; Kevin was sitting on his bed, now quizzing Andrew on one of the quizzes in the Angel Magazine, while Monica was lying down in the oldest angel's lap, her auburn head resting against his shoulder. Gently stroking her hair from her face as he kept his arm around her, Andrew looked back at Kevin.
Looking back up, confused, the youngest angel frowned,
"In other words, ask away." The blonde angel replied, winking his way.
Nodding his head, Kevin looked down at the next question and asked,
"Okay then. It says...'An angel suddenly appears in your bedroom in the middle of the night, claiming that they're from God and that they have a message for you. What do you do? A: Smile and say, Thanks but no thanks. B: Scream and run for cover. Or C: Faint.'
By the time Kevin was done reading the question, both Andrew and Monica were both in tears of laughter. The Irish angel's eyes were closed and her face had turned a dark shade of red, as she couldn't control her laughter over the question. Andrew on the other hand, looked as though he was about ready to fall off the bed he lay on with Monica.
"Are you serious about that?" He finally found his voice, and he reached over, taking the magazine from his charge's hands. As he re-read the question, the angel rolled his green eyes and shook his head,
"But Andrew, you have to answer it," Monica piped up, swatting his leg,
"It's a quiz. You'll fail if you don't answer it." The angel giggled as she saw her best friend shoot her one of his famous Looks, and she put an innocent look on her face while shrugging her shoulders,
"Cupcake, if this is how you're going to act when we reach Disney..." Kevin chuckled as he watched Monica shoot him a mock dirty look as soon as he mentioned the new name for her.
"Look, bubba, he's gonna get those mouse ears," She stated, her brown eyes serious, although a twinkle of laughter was in them,
"Even if I have to sneak away from you two at Disney...He will be wearing them by the time we see the others."
"Angel Girl, would you like another dunk in the pool?" Andrew gazed down at his dearest friend and raised an eyebrow. Seeing her shake his head, the older blonde angel gently patted her head and continued to stare down at her,
"Well then, I suggest you continue to be good." He winked at her to let her know that he wasn't really upset. But suddenly an idea popped into his brain, and he looked from Kevin to Monica,
"You know...I may just wear those mouse ears, on ONE condition, Miss Wings."
"Uh-oh, you're in for it now, Monica..." Kevin mumbled softly to himself.
"I will wear those Mickey Mouse ears on the way back to the cabin, if YOU will buy a pair of Minnie Mouse ears and do the same." He forced his face to take on a serious look, and he suddenly couldn't take it anymore and he burst into laughter as Monica grabbed a pillow and smacked him over the head with it. Soon, Kevin had thrown his own pillow across the room and knocked the Irish angel onto her back on the bed.
Andrew leapt to his feet and grabbed his own pillow, shooting a warning look Monica's way,
"You have really asked for it this time, Angel Baby..."
Giggling at the name he called her, the little Irish angel ignored his warning and tossed her pillow into his face. But before she could get away, Andrew had grabbed her around the waist and lifted her high in the air as she squealed in laughter. Both angels almost in tears again from laughing so hard, Andrew carefully turned her around, but kept a hold of her as he hugged her tightly to him.
Somewhat startled by this, but almost immediately smiling, Monica wrapped her own arms around him in return and rested her head on his shoulder as he stroked her long auburn locks. On his part, Andrew sighed and glanced over his friend's shoulder at Kevin, seeing the understanding in his younger friend's eyes; he didn't know why he suddenly felt the need to hold his best friend close to him just now, but a feeling in the pit of his stomach kind of told him that before that week was over, Monica would have made her decision.
And he wouldn't like it.
Late that night, Monica lay awake, which had been her custom since boarding the ship. Once she was alone, the things that Jamie had asked her and the decision that she had to make came back into her mind as she tried to make sense out of all she was feeling. Her bedside lamp burned brightly as she lay on her back, one arm behind her head, staring up at the ceiling.
This was their last night on board until the return trip, as they docked in Florida tomorrow afternoon and would then be transported by bus to the Disney resort in Orlando. Though the Irish angel was looking forward to this time to play with her two friends, when the sun went down, her mind immediately went back to this decision and occasionally to Patrick, wishing he were here for her to talk to. The Irishman was more removed from the situation and Monica was sure he would have had some words of wisdom for her, were he only here for her to talk to.
Hearing a soft knock at the door, she looked over as she called out softly,
"Come in," and then she managed a smile when Andrew stuck his tousled head in the door.
"I woke up and noticed your light was still on, Angel Girl," He said quietly as he closed the door behind him so as not to wake up Kevin, who was snoring softly in his bed,
"Is everything okay?"
She sighed softly and forced back tears as she forced another smile,
"More or less, my friend."
Concern in his green eyes, he walked over and sat down on the edge of her bed, his arm moving to the other side of her small form as he looked into her eyes, knowing exactly what was on her mind,
"Talk to me, sweetie. What did Beth have to say the other night?"
With another sigh, she related the things that Beth had said to her, about her now being married and had Philip managed to hurt her that night so long ago, how she felt that would never have happened,
"Then she said how wonderful she thought it was that I have the opportunity to help women who have been through this instead of forgetting all about what happened…"
Tenderly, Andrew laid a hand on her cheek,
"Like you could ever forget it, Angel Girl." He said softly, his eyes holding sadness at this fact.
"No, and I never will. It's a part of me now, a part of who I am and was created to be," She replied, her voice holding no bitterness over that fact,
"And I think over the last ten years, I've done pretty well with it."
"Yes, you have; remarkably well," Andrew replied with a gentle smile.
"But then, I rarely have reason to think about it or dwell on it. It pops up sometimes when something reminds me, but nothing like before, Andrew, and I don't know if I have the strength to do that again every day. To relive it through women it has happened to as I try to help them recover," Her eyes grew misty as she looked up at him,
"And I don't want to leave you."
Andrew lowered his eyes for a moment, knowing what he wanted to say and what he needed to say and sadly knowing that they were two completely different things,
"I think that what you need to do is to take me completely out the equation, little one. This isn't about me, but about Casework versus Special Forces. If you stay in Casework because of me, when in your heart, you know you should be working with Jamie, it will only cause problems down the road and we don't want that."
"So, you're saying you think I should go back to work with Jamie?" Monica whispered.
"No, I'm not saying that at all. What I'm saying is don't use me as any basis for this decision, sweetheart. You need to listen to your heart and follow what it tells you. I just want you to be happy, Monica, whatever your decision may be. That is what is important to me," Somehow he kept his voice steady as he said the words even as he remembered how fragile she had been when working with Jamie before and the constant haunted look that was present in her brown eyes whenever he saw her. It made his heart ache just thinking about it and she was so different now, so prone to laughter instead of tears. But he knew if his sensitive best friend returned to Jamie's world, that would all vanish, he was sure of it, and she had come so far,
"Have you talked to the Father about this at all yet?"
Monica nodded her head,
"He told me it was up to me and He loved me no matter what I chose, but why does this have to be so hard, Andrew?"
"Because it all goes back to that time, baby girl, and that time in your existence was hard, more than hard. So, it stands to reason that anything having to do with it, even now, is not going to be easy." Seeing tears filling her eyes, he scooped her up into his arms,
"No tears, little one," He said softly, rocking her gently,
"We're on vacation and having a great time, don't let this ruin this time for you, okay?"
Monica nodded her head as she gave out a weary sigh,
"I am having a great time, Andrew, with you and with Kevin," A wry smile crossed her face,
"Though that 'cupcake' nickname has got to go."
Andrew laughed and gave her a tight squeeze, noticing her attempt to lighten things once more,
"Oh, I dunno, I think it's kinda cute, but then again, I think my Angel Girl is kinda cute."
She giggled as she pulled away, a slight blush rising to her cheeks,
"Yes, well wait till he names you after one of his favorite foods."
"He has a favorite?" His eyebrows shot up in amusement,
"I thought he just ate whatever he came in contact with. Good thing he is an angel or his boyish figure would surely be hurting." He winked at her,
"Now, you. Get some sleep. We check into the resort tomorrow and from that point on we have a lot to see and do," He waited as she lay back down and he pulled the covers over her before kissing her forehead gently,
"Good night, sweetheart."
"Good night, my friend," She whispered softly as she watched him slip back out the door.
Kevin looked up as he saw Andrew come back into their room. The older angel sat down on the edge of his bed and put his head in hands, letting out a soft sigh.
"Has she made her decision, Andrew?" Kevin asked softly, startling his supervisor as he looked up.
"No," Andrew replied sadly as he shook his head,
"She hasn't yet. She's weighing all her options heavily, I think."
"Have you told her how you feel, Andrew?" The younger angel asked, propping himself up on his elbow.
"I can't do that, Kevin. I have to separate being her friend from being her supervisor and this is a supervisor issue," Andrew explained.
"No offense, Andrew, but I disagree," Kevin replied firmly,
"I see this as both. As a supervisor, you guide her, but as a friend, you are honest with her about how you feel."
"I don't want to confuse her anymore than she is already, Kevin," He argued gently.
"What is it that has you so afraid of her going back to Special Forces?" Kevin asked, both out of curiosity and concern.
Andrew was quiet for a moment, actually feeling a little relieved at being given the opportunity to voice what he had been thinking,
"I'm afraid it will destroy her, Kevin," He replied, watching as the younger angel's eyes grew wide at these words,
"I'm afraid that all the healing that has taken place within her will come undone in a matter of weeks. I'm afraid that she will withdraw so far within herself that no one will be able to reach her again. I'm afraid she is going to take this position out of guilt or a sense of feeling like she has to."
"Then tell her that," Kevin stressed gently,
"And let her defend herself if need be, but at least tell her how you feel, as her friend. She is looking to you for that."
But the supervisor shook his head sadly,
"She needs to make this on her own and to feel confident in her decision. If I tell her all the reasons I'm afraid of her taking that position back, it will sound to her like I know she would fail eventually. I can't do that to her, Kevin; I love her too much to do that to her. Her confidence has come miles in the last ten years and I'm not going to be the one to cause her to take two giant steps backwards."
"Okay, but what if you keep quiet and she decides to go back and it does, for whatever reason, destroy her? How will you feel then about keeping your personal feelings for her out of this?"
Andrew met Kevin's eyes briefly, before lowering his own again. He knew the answer to that question-he would never forgive himself, but he decided against voicing that tonight.
Early the next evening, the three rather weary angels climbed off the bus at the Disney resort and were greeted by a resort hostess and led to their rooms, or rather suite of rooms. The resort halls were buzzing with parents and children as families headed to dinner or out to the pool for an early evening swim and the kid's excitement was contagious.
"Here you are," Tiffany, their hostess smiled as she unlocked the door with a card which she then handed to Andrew,
"I hope you will find your accommodations satisfactory."
"Thank you," Andrew replied with a smile, watching in amusement as both of his charges all but tried to push past him in order to check out where they were staying. As Tiffany hurried back towards the lobby to greet the next guests, Andrew turned to the two younger angels,
"You two are losing mouse ear points fast, now will you two please behave?" He winked at them playfully, as he opened the door slowly and peeked inside and gave a low whistle.
"Andrew!" Monica fumed, growing impatient to see what the Father had planned for them.
"Chill, cupcake, chill," Kevin grinned, laughing at the mock glare she gave him over the nickname that she was now stuck with.
Chuckling, Andrew opened the door wider as they all stepped inside and gazed wide-eyed around them. There was a massive living area with sofa's and love seats as well as an entertainment center with a television and stereo. There was a huge Mickey Mouse shaped mirror hanging on the wall and unable to resist, Monica grabbed Andrew's arm and led him over to stand with his back facing it. Grinning at Kevin, she quipped,
"He looks good in them, right?" She giggled, looking up at the mirrored mouse ears, which though huge, stood above the angel's head.
Andrew gave a low whistle and shook his head in mock sternness,
"I am now up two points on the ears, cupcake." As she stuck her tongue out at him, his eyes twinkled with mischief,
"Now three…going for four, Angel Girl?"
Kevin wiped tears of laughter for his eyes at the vision of Andrew with the ears, combined with his calling their co-worker, "Cupcake" much to her dismay,
"C'mon, you two there is more to see," He indicated the bedrooms, which each had their names on the three separate doors in gold lettering with a star behind it, MGM style.
"My own room!" Andrew lamented with a laugh,
"But however will I live with the sound of Kevin's snoring lulling me off to sleep?" Hearing a snort from his youngest charge, Andrew opened the door to his room and surveyed his surroundings,
"Well, no one can say that the Father doesn't have a great sense of humor," He remarked to himself, seeing how his room was done up like a jungle straight out of "The Lion King." Murals were painted on the walls and the four posters on the king size bed were made out of what resembled trees. But it was all done very eloquently, but with Disney's own flair for imagination.
Seeing Kevin coming out of his room, Andrew raised his eyebrow in question, seeing how his friend and charge was laughing.
"I have the Beast's castle," Kevin explained with a chuckle,
"But you should get a load of that bed-totally majestic!"
The twosome sneaked peaks at each other's rooms with laughter flowing the entire time,
"Well, we sure can't say that the Father did not want us to have a good time," Kevin grinned as Andrew nodded in agreement,
"Now where did Cupcake go?"
The two angels walked to Monica's room and grinned widely, seeing the little Irish angel sitting in the middle of her bed, which seemed to resemble a giant seashell, her brown eyes wide with awe. The room was done up "Little Mermaid" style and seemed to transport them to the bottom of the ocean. She had turned on her light and the lampshade rotated and gave out wave-like reflections on the wall that played with the painted murals of mermaids and dolphins.
"What do you think, Angel Girl?" Andrew asked softly, seeing the way her eyes were shining.
"I think it's beautiful," She smiled as she looked around her once more,
"I've never been to the bottom of the ocean before, but I'll bet this is what it looks like."
"I'm hungry," Kevin remarked, causing his friends to break into laughter as he rolled his eyes.
"I can't imagine that even being possible, Kev," Andrew laughed winking at his best friend,
"Okay Ariel, let's go and feed this angel."
"At least Ariel is better than cupcake." She remarked as she took Andrew's hand as he helped her out of the giant seashell bed.
"Ahh, perhaps," Kevin quipped playfully,
"But cupcake is the name that is sticking for you, Cupcake."Chapter 7
The rest of the day passed by way too slowly for the three angels, especially Monica as she was getting anxious and excited for the next day when they would take the bus to Disney World. Butterflies were fluttering around in her stomach, and when the night finally came, the Irish angel couldn't seem to get to sleep. She had kept Andrew up most of the night chattering away about mouse ears, as she refused to go into her own room, and the older angel rolled his green eyes as he had put his head under his pillow to try and shut her up. But it was no use; his best friend wouldn't stay quiet, as she kept talking about how excited she was to head there the next day and meet all those Disney characters, and buy him some Mickey Mouse ears. Her chatter had eventually brought Kevin out of his own room, and before Andrew knew it, both of his charges and friends had kept him up most of the night and he barely had slept a wink by the time morning came.
'Great, now I know what it feels like being a parent...' He thought to himself the next morning as he felt one of his friends shaking him awake and bouncing on his bed. Groaning, he covered his head with a pillow once again.
"Angel Girl, will you stop that?" He mumbled to the one on his bed, who continued to bounce,
"It doesn't settle well with my stomach you know..."
Hearing some giggling above the covers, Andrew groaned inwardly as he realized that it wasn't just Monica who was in his room; but Kevin as well. He then heard the youngest angel's voice through the sheets; his own voice as excited as Monica's had been the night before.
"Oh come on, Andrew! It's 10:00! We don't wanta miss anything now, do we?" He winked over at his other co-worker and watched as she covered her mouth with a hand,
"Like, say...those mouse ears? Right, Cupcake? We don't want them all sold out before we even get there."
Finally giving in, Andrew threw down his pillow and brought his tousled head up to meet the excited, somewhat child-like looks on his friend's faces,
"Okay, okay, just quite bouncing all right? And you, Miss Wings..." Here, he pointed over at his dearest angelic friend and although he tried to hold it in, he couldn't resist a smile at the innocent look Monica shot his way,
"Remember what I told you. You get the Minnie ears, I'll get the Mickey ears...but only if you start behaving before I even get out of bed..."
Shrugging her shoulders, Monica reluctantly climbed off the bed and stretched,
"Well, Kevin and I are ready to hit the road. So we're just waiting on you, Simba."
"SIMBA?" Andrew raised an eyebrow at both of his friends, but eventually rolled his green eyes as he looked around his room. Okay, so he couldn't complain; after all, his best friend now had two nicknames, so he guessed he deserved it,
"All right, all right, you two...Get outta here so I can get ready."
Sharing triumphant looks with one another, Monica and Kevin exited their friend's bedroom and closed the door behind them as they headed out into the living room to wait for him. The youngest of the duo clamped a hand on the Irish angel's shoulder and winked at her,
"Good name for him, Cupcake."
"Holy mackerel, this place is huge!" Kevin stood rooted to the spot an hour later, after they had given the tickets to the people at the ticket booth, and had finally entered the "happiest place on earth". His brown eyes widened in surprise as he took in the acres of lot around them. Shops and food stores were everywhere they turned, along with rides galore. Taking a step away from Andrew and Monica, as they too took everything in, the youngest of the trio grabbed his camera from his backpack and took a snapshot of the castle that they stood in front of. It towered high over their heads, along with everyone else's who were staring up at it as they entered,
"You guys, I know we just got here, but I love this place already!"
Trotting over to one of the stores, he soon spotted an ice cream shop and his stomach growled,
"I'll be right back, I think a strawberry ice cream cone is calling my name..." And without waiting for a reply from his supervisor or Monica, he ran in the direction of the store, leaving his friends behind giggling.
"That boy and his stomach," Andrew shook his blonde head as they followed Kevin's lead. Wrapping an arm around her shoulders and drawing her close to him, his green eyes twinkled as he gazed at everything around them,
"But boy, was he right. I've never stepped foot here before, but I've heard from many assignments what a fabulous place this is, and you can't not smile here. I think they were all right..."
Suddenly before he could continue, he felt his best friend hop up and down, as she seemed to see something out of the corner of her eye. Slightly fearing it was a store that held mouse ears, he turned slowly to where she was pointing and couldn't help laughing at who was coming close to them.
The Disney characters, Belle and the Beast from "Beauty and the Beast".
"Andrew, we have just GOT to have a picture taken!" She squealed excitedly as the people dressed up as the beloved characters came closer to the two angels. Feeling like a little kid, like the time when she was the Hendrickson's daughter, the little Irish angel smiled as the character dressed up as Belle held out her arms and Monica trotted over and allowed her to embrace her gently.
"Hey there, love," She spoke in a friendly voice as she released the angel and then offered a hug for Andrew,
"Welcome to the Happiest Place on Earth. I think you know this young fellow right here." She nodded over at the man dressed up as the Beast, and grinned at the two human angels.
"Could we get a picture of this?" Monica's face spread with a smile as she turned pleading eyes over to her best friend,
"Well, as soon as we get somebody to take the picture-"
"Did I hear my name called?" Kevin's voice then interrupted him and the two angels turned around to see him trying to juggle three ice cream cones at the same time. One, he handed to Monica, which had sprinkles on the top, and the other, which was strawberry, he handed to Andrew. The other, which was three layers and three different flavors, as he couldn't make up his mind, he kept for himself. Diving face first into the ice cream, he waited for someone to speak.
"Kevin, could you take a picture of the four of us?" Andrew handed a camera, which he had pulled out of his pocket, to his youngest friend,
"And then I've GOT to get a shot of you with the Beast, you know?" He shot a wink at his youngest charge and chuckled as he stuck his tongue out at him.
Waiting until Andrew and Monica situated themselves in between the two beloved Disney characters; Kevin placed the camera to his eye and grinned,
"All right you guys, say 'Cheese'! And Andrew...SMILE, dude! I don't need a tongue hanging out..."
Giggling uncontrollably as she saw that her best friend had his tongue hanging out at Kevin, Monica wrapped an arm around his waist and tickled him lightly,
"Yeah, Angel Boy, smile!" Still laughing as she watched him roll his eyes, the Irish angel wrapped her other arm around the woman dressed as Belle and then smiled at the camera.
As the camera clicked, Andrew took back the camera and shoved Kevin over to where the Beast stood. His green eyes twinkled with mischief as he watched his charge groan, but reluctantly agreed to stand beside him,
"All right, Kev. No cross-eyed looks now, ya hear?"
Deciding to cross his eyes anyway, despite of what his friend said, Kevin then stuck out his tongue and left it hanging there even as the camera snapped. Hearing Monica giggling behind Andrew, he mock glared at her as she teased him,
"You know, Kev, if you keep your eyes that way, they'll freeze like that."
"Very funny there, Cupcake," He crossed his eyes again and gave her a Look. As the three chuckled, Andrew tucked his camera back into his pocket and the three friends waved goodbye to the Disney characters.
"Well, that was fun," Monica grinned as she took Andrew's hand in her own and swung it happily, while with the other she took a bite of her ice cream cone
"What next? Did I earn the privilege to buy you those mouse ears, Angel Boy?"
Seeing her best friend's face turn a slight shade of red as Kevin laughed, nearly choking on his ice cream cone, Monica put on a look of pure innocence,
"I see the store right up ahead, ya know? We can do it right now and get them fit so that they'll fit perfectly on your head." She shot a wink over at Kevin, who by now had almost dropped his ice cream on the pavement. But he was able to get a hold of himself long enough to speak and nudge his supervisor with his right arm.
"Yeah, man. I'd really like to get a load of this."
"All right! All right!" Andrew's face turned an even deeper shade of red with embarrassment as he shook his head at Monica. How could he ever deny her anything?
"But remember our deal, Ariel..."
"Oh, Andrew, those look darling on you!" Kevin smirked as he watched Monica fit a pair of Mickey Mouse ears on their friend's blonde head. He clutched his stomach as the Irish angel turned Andrew around to face him and placed her hands on his shoulders, all the while the older angel's face turning as red as his shirt,
"How much are they asking for them?"
"Actually, they're cheaper then I thought," Monica winked at him, a huge grin on her angelic features,
"But that doesn't matter; I'm buying them for him anyways, and I can already hear the Father laughing up Above..."
Shooting a mock dirty look his best friend's way, his face grew redder as Monica laughed even harder,
"Very funny, Angel Girl. The Father enjoys this, does He not?"
"Oh yes, He's laughing up a storm right now," She giggled as she turned her attention back to the stand of mouse ears,
"Now lemme see...Minnie ears, Minnie ears..."
"You best believe you're buying those Minnie ears," Andrew grumbled to himself as he gazed at his reflection in the mirror. The black mouse ears looked slightly big for his head, but Monica enjoyed it, and Kevin did too, it appeared. He shook his head and sighed; but just as he was about to say something else, an idea struck his mind and he smiled mischievously as he turned to face Kevin, who's arms were crossed and was looking at him with a smirk on his face,
"Hey, Monica." As the faced him once again, he turned his attention back to the youngest of the trio,
"I've got an idea. It just wouldn't be fair for us to wear mouse ears and not have Kevy Boy over there wear anything, you know?" Seeing the look of horror on Kevin's face as he shook his head, Andrew grinned and continued,
"I saw a stand over there that sold hats with Donald Duck's beak on them. I think Kev would look just LOVELY in one, don't you think, Ariel?"
"Oh no you don't, Simba..." Kevin backed away, but Andrew caught his arm before he got any further.
"Oh yes we are," And with a wink and a chuckle, Andrew watched as his best friend finally picked out a pair of Minnie Mouse ears and then grasped Kevin's other arm gently. As the youngest angel groaned, the blonde supervisor tilted his head to the side and grinned over Kevin's head at his best friend; this was going to be a fun trip, one that he would always remember.
The afternoon flew by as the angels investigated the different lands of Disney, making sure to ride everything from Peter Pan to the Pirates of the Caribbean to The Haunted Mansion. They day was spent in laughter and after awhile, Andrew found he didn't even really mind the mouse ears so much, even though his charges had insisted on having his name embroidered on the hat as well. But he was having a great time and so were his friends and he was especially delighting in the sparkle in his best friend's dark eyes.
By late afternoon, they had seen nearly everything with the exception of Space Mountain and The Lion King show and they were debated which to do first.
"Space Mountain," Monica quipped excitedly,
"I really wanted to do it the first time we came to Florida with the Hendrickson's but we were called away the day they came here. We got to see one or two of the parks with them, but not this one," She explained to Kevin as they walked through the busy park.
"I think we should maybe wait on that one," Andrew ventured warily,
"I'm kind of in the mood for a show, how about you two?"
"I'm up for Space Mountain too," Kevin quipped, taking another bite of cotton candy and letting it dissolve in his mouth.
Monica looked up at her best friend curiously,
"You aren't afraid of riding it, are you, Angel Boy?" Seeing a brief look of fear in his eyes, she laughed,
"You ARE afraid of riding it!"
"No, I'm not," He replied, hoping he sounded convincing,
"I just don't like to ride what I can't see," He indicated the globe where the ride was contained.
"Aw, c'mon Andrew," Kevin grinned, winking at Monica,
"We won't let you fall out."
"You two go ahead, that way no one has to ride alone," He responded, taking a seat on a nearby bench.
"I'll ride alone. I don't mind." Kevin countered, crossing his arms in front of him and eyeing his supervisor.
"You're out of excuses, Simba!" Monica laughed, grabbing his hand and yanking him to his feet,
"You are riding this with me!"
"Monica, really, I'd rather not," Andrew argued, trying to escape her tight grasp.
"You not going to be a chicken, are you?" She raised an eyebrow in challenge,
"And you can't threaten me with mouse ears any more, so you have nothing to wager with."
"You have to go, Andrew. After all, you are the supervisor and our leader under the Father," Kevin remarked thoughtfully, though he still saw the same stubborn expression on Andrew's face.
"Don't make me have to do my chicken impression," Monica grinned impishly,
"Especially not here in front of all these children who are standing in line to ride this."
Feeling his face flame red, and not at all happy about this ribbing, Andrew shook free from Monica's grasp,
"Fine," He stated, ignoring the nervous churning of his stomach.
Stifling a giggle, Monica led the way to the line for the ride. As they waited in line, a little girl turned to them and smiled,
"I'm a little scared. Have you ridden this before?"
"No," The Irish angel replied with a returned smile,
"But you know what? It's okay to be a wee bit nervous. My friend, Andrew here, is a wee bit nervous as well."
The little girl giggled softly,
"But he's a grown up and they aren't supposed to get scared."
"Well, I tried to tell him that, but he won't listen," She explained, ignoring the glare her best friend was giving her, though she was sure he was already plotting his revenge on her….
…"That was awesome!" Andrew exclaimed thirty minutes later as the threesome came off the coaster,
"Who is ready to go again?" Despite his initial fear, the oldest angel had loved every minute of the roller coaster in the dark with its sharp turns, drops and loops and he felt completely recharged as his adrenaline was now flowing from the rush of the ride.
"I'm ready!" Kevin laughed, putting his duck hat back on that he had been clenching in his hand for the duration of the ride,
"Man, that first drop was great!"
"And the loops!" Andrew countered, laughing as he remembered,
"I have got to ride that again! You guys ready?" Seeing Kevin nod, they both turned around realizing that their Irish tongued friend had been very quiet as they had exited the ride. Andrew immediately noticed that she was a pale shade of green after the experience and he forced back a laugh at the miserable expression on her face.
"I think I'll sit this one out," She managed to say, slumping down onto the bench she had not long ago yanked Andrew from.
"Oh Angel Girl," Andrew grinned as he sat down beside of her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders,
"I am going to give you SUCH a hard time about this later."
She managed a weak smile as she leaned into him,
"I'm so sorry, Andrew."
"Wow, cupcake," Kevin shook his head,
"You are one unattractive shade of green."
"Please don't mention cupcakes right now, Kevin," Monica whimpered softly, causing her two comrades to burst into laughter.
"I think it is time to take in that show," Andrew winked Kevin's way and watched as his youngest charge nodded in sympathetic agreement,
"We'll come back later in the week and have our second ride." He stood up and helped his friend to her feet, relieved that some of the color was coming back to her face and he didn't miss her look of gratitude at not teasing her right now.
"The Lion King" stage show was fantastic, though the Irish angel found herself feeling a little sad at Simba's predicament as he struggled to decide whether to go back and take on his role as King of the Forest. She knew that a lion and an angel really had little in common, other than each being one of God's creations, but she was indeed sympathizing with Simba at the moment.
Hearing a small sigh escape her, Kevin leaned over and whispered,
"Everything okay there, cupcake?"
Managing a smile, she nodded her head,
"I'm fine, Kevin," She replied, wondering just how much he knew. Turning her attention back to the show, she felt Andrew reach for her hand and she gripped it back tightly, knowing that he knew exactly what she was thinking.
By the time the fireworks were over that evening, Andrew and Monica were both exhausted after their lack of sleep last night, though Kevin appeared to still be running off a sugar high as he chattered the entire bus ride back to the resort, even as the Irish angel fell asleep leaning up against her best friend, who was struggling to remain attentive to his youngest charge but finding it difficult.
Arriving back at their suite, Andrew carried his sleeping Angel Girl back to her room, while Kevin switched on the television to the channel that carried all of the Disney information, the hyper angel already planning tomorrow's activities, as he called out a "Good night" to his supervisor as Andrew yawned and headed to his own room for the night.
Two hours later, Kevin looked up from where he sat on the sofa munching on popcorn to see Monica shuffle out of her room, rubbing her eyes sleepily. He watched as she sat down beside of him on the couch and took a piece of popcorn and popped it into her mouth.
He was quiet for a moment before he decided to speak,
"Andrew told me you've been offered your old job back."
Monica nodded her head as she curled up on her end of the sofa, her head resting against the armrest, still wondering how much he knew about the situation.
"He didn't tell me anything about it really; only that it was Special Forces and that you went through a tough time awhile back," He explained, watching her intently.
Monica was quiet for a moment before meeting her eyes with his,
"Do you want to know what happened?" She asked softly.
"Only if you want to tell me," He replied gently, watching as she took a deep breath and in a soft whisper began to speak. He listened as she started her story on board a ship 14 years ago and he never uttered a sound as she divulged everything about Philip, Beth, how she dealt with it, how Andrew had left her twice and how she had finally wound up demoted. His respect for the gentle angel grew as he listened to her struggles with coming to terms with what had been done to her, and even felt a new respect for Andrew for coming to grips with not leaving her again and for supervising her with nothing short of respect and love.
When she finished, there was silence in the room for a moment before she uttered words that chilled him, even as he noticed the pained look in her dark eyes,
"Don't say anything to Andrew yet, but I think I've made my decision. I think I'm going to return to Special Forces."Chapter 9
"Are you sure about this, Monica?" Kevin frowned, concern filling his heart as he looked at the Irish angel next to him. Reaching for the television remote, he pointed it to the TV screen and shut it off, turning all of his attention on Andrew's best friend,
"What made you make your decision?"
Sighing softly, Monica closed her dark eyes and leaned her head back against the couch, taking in Kevin's question. Truthfully, she really wasn't all too sure if this really was the choice she wanted to make, although a big part of her did think that it was. But the other part wanted to so much continue to work with her best friend and Kevin; she had come to grow rather fond of the youngest angel, despite all of the teasing that he did, and the nickname "Cupcake" that he had given her the other day.
But that part that felt she needed to return to Special Forces was larger, and she felt that she would be a disappointment to others, and even to Beth, if she didn't return. And then there was Andrew...He really didn't tell her much of how he thought about this decision, and there seemed to be no way for her to get his feelings out and in the open, unless he came right out and told her. The slightly older angel sighed softly and shook her head.
"Monica?" Kevin repeated her name and she opened her sad eyes to look at him. His own eyes were flooded with concern and even sadness over her decision,
"Are you all right?"
A trembling smile appeared on the angel's mouth as she forced herself to nod her head,
"I'll be all right, Kev. And it's kind of hard to explain what made me make this choice, you know? But right now, I think I'm feeling rather tired again, and tomorrow's going be another long day. I think you should get sleep too, or at least try to..." Before she rose to her feet however, Monica turned serious eyes back over to the youngest angel and her co-worker and whispered desperately,
"But you have to promise, Kevin, not to say a word to Andrew about this, all right? At least...at least not yet."
Kevin's stomach churned and he gulped, not liking this at all. He knew that Andrew would have to know eventually, and once he did, his supervisor would be anything but happy, as he remembered his conversation with the oldest angel just the other night. Finally after several moments, he raised his eyes and met his co-workers pleading ones,
"All right, Monica. But you also have to promise me that you will tell him...either before this cruise is over, or as soon as it ends. I don't want any tension between us..."
Laying a hand on top of his, the Irish angel felt a few tears well up in her brown eyes as she spoke,
"I will tell him after I inform Jamie; I just...I just don't know how."
The next morning as the three friends took the bus to MGM Studios, one of the many places surrounding Walt Disney World, Andrew was rather surprised to find his best friend quieter then she had been the day before, and even more clingy, as if he would suddenly disappear from her sight. Shooting a glance between the seats of the bus at Kevin, as Monica gripped his hand tightly, Andrew frowned slightly as he saw a look of worry on the his youngest charge's face. This was unlike him, being quiet and not chatty like he had been the morning before.
But much to his confusion, some of that seemed to change as the bus finally neared MGM and they climbed out to get in line with all of the other people waiting to get in, his two charges and friends became chatty all over again, but Monica refused to leave his side as she continued to hold tightly to his hand. But she did, however, seem more excited as they finally entered and took in their surroundings, just like the previous morning when they entered the Magic Kingdom.
"Now this place is neat..." Kevin gazed in awe at all the different places surrounding them; it looked as though they had just walked right into the movies,
"Where would you like to head first, Cupcake and Simba?" Although he tried to keep his tone nonchalant and cheerful the entire time, he didn't feel it after what Monica had told him the night before. But he was determined to have a good time, for both of his friend's sakes, even though he was worried. Nodding his head over to a souvenir shop, he grinned,
"Let's stop in there first and buy something! Didn't you tell Rose the day we left that you'd send her a postcard?"
His green eyes widening as he remembered that he had promised his older friend that, Andrew nodded his head and smiled broadly as he and Monica followed Kevin into the store,
"After this, though, I for one really want to see that 'Beauty and the Beast' Live show...I saw a sign back there that said it was on Sunset Boulevard, I believe?"
"And then we just have to do the 'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids' show!" Monica jumped up and down excitedly as she continued to grip her best friend's hand, even as they entered the store,
"That looks totally neat, don't you think so?"
"Yeah, I'd really like to see Cupcake over here get shrunk," Kevin winked over at the Irish angel and chuckled as she stuck her tongue out at him. Inside, though, he breathed a sigh of relief that some of the tension that was in the air earlier, was now gone and they could just have a good time right now. As they entered the souvenir shop, Andrew headed instantly over to the postcards, trying to find the perfect one for Rose. A smile spread over the blonde angel's handsome face as he spotted the perfect one; it showed Sleeping Beauty's castle late at night, with fireworks in the background.
After the angel had paid for it, he took a seat on a bench outside and grabbed a pen from his backpack. After thinking for a few moments on how to start, he then started scrawling:
Dear Rose, Tess and Carla,
Everything is going extremely well here. We arrived safely at Orlando, Florida two nights ago and since then, we've been having a ball. Monica has developed a new nickname while we've been here: Cupcake. You can ask Kevin about that when we see you again next week...He's developed an appetite I never knew an angel could get, and I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't get any sleep at all last night. He was bouncing off the walls by the time we got back from the Magic Kingdom.
Monica has finally convinced me to buy those Mickey ears, but I made a deal with her: She could buy them, as long as she buys a pair of Minnie ears, and we urged Kevin to buy a Donald Duck beaks hat. You should see him in it when we return; he looks hilarious! I wish you all could see the rooms back at the hotel that the Father provided for us. Mine was done up to look right out of "The Lion King", Kev has the Beast's castle, while Monica's looks like right out of "The Little Mermaid". She loves it, and I'm glad she's happy with it.
Right now, I'm sitting outside of the souvenir shop writing this, as we're going to be hitting MGM Studios in just a few minutes; I'm just taking advantage of the time I have to write this, while Cupcake and Kevy Boy are buying their own souvenirs. We wish you could be here with us, but we're taking plenty of pictures, so you all will be able to see some of what we saw. My favorite ride so far has most definitely been Space Mountain, although I hate to admit, I was scared for a few minutes to ride it...Angel Girl finally convinced me, and I ended up loving it.
Although the three of us are having a ball here, I am worried about a few things, though. Monica seems to be quieter then yesterday, and even more clingy. I almost fear that she's just about to make her decision about Casework or going back to Special Forces; but I'm not going to ask her yet. I'm gonna wait until she comes to me. Kevin thinks differently, though...I'll keep you informed as the week passes. Well, I guess I better get going as Monica has just come out; although we're all having fun, we miss you.
I love you.
"Where's Kevy Boy? Still shopping?" Andrew chuckled as he stuffed the written postcard back into the backpack, along with his pen, as he faced Monica who had just come out of the store with a Disney bag in her hand.
Giggling as she glanced over her shoulder at Kevin, who was now in the process of looking at the lollipops, which had a Mickey Mouse face on it, along with different colors,
"Food shopping to be exact. The last time I saw him, he was looking at the candies, and I believe he still is..." She winked at her best friend as he shook his head and laughed out loud. The little Irish angel continued to stare at him with a loving look on her face, until he looked back at her and tilted his head to one side.
"What is it, Angel Girl?"
"I bought you a little something this time," She whispered, reaching into the bag,
"The other day when we went shopping, you bought me that beautiful hat, and I just love it. I wanted to buy you something this time. Now, you didn't know it, but yesterday, I got one of the rolls of film developed of pictures that we took yesterday. I wanted to give you a little something special to remember this week..." She then pulled out a gold frame, which was in the shape of a Mickey Mouse head, on it, and handed it to her best friend.
Andrew took it into his hands and a broad smile appeared on his face as he stared down at the picture that Kevin had taken of him and his best friend, with Belle and the Beast at the Magic Kingdom the previous morning. The picture had turned out beautifully, and the sun had seemed to catch the Irish angel's long auburn hair and seemed to make it shinier then usual. A few happy tears welling up in his green eyes, he reached his arms out and wrapped them around his friend tightly,
"Thank you, sweetheart. I had no idea you would do that..."
"I wanted it to be a surprise," She smiled as she hugged her friend tightly back, trying to keep a tear out of her eye,
"I found a store yesterday that got your film developed really quickly, and while you and Kevin had decided to go on the Matter horn, I did this instead. And I just had to buy this frame for it; 'cause it now reminds me of you." The angel gave him a tight squeeze as those tears that threatened her brown eyes now rolled down her face,
"Because I love you so much."
"Cool!" Kevin exclaimed looking up the building that stood before the three angels,
"The Tower of Terror!"
Andrew looked up at the building and grinned, remembering the last time he and Monica had ridden this years ago with the twins,
"You'll love this, Kevin!" Taking his best friend's hand into his own, they made their way to the short line and followed the crowd into the hotel lobby where the brief introduction was made before they were ushered off to their elevator car.
Still feeling nervous after the Space Mountain experience from yesterday, Monica wrapped her arm around Andrew's before she clutched the bar tightly,
"Did I like this ride, Andrew, because I can't remember…?" She whimpered softly as the ride began to ascend in the darkness.
"It'll be just fine, Cupcake," Kevin grinned, as the ride began to move forward and three ghostly figures appeared before them. The youngest angel listened to them, before he gave a startled yelp as the ride began an accelerated free fall downwards at a breath-taking speed.
Andrew laughed at Monica's shriek, before the ride flew upwards once again and again plummeted them downwards, only to ascend to the very top once more, giving them a brief glimpse of the park, before screams were heard again as the ride flew down one last time.
As the threesome disembarked, they were all laughing as they exited into the ride's gift shop, chattering excitedly about their latest adventure. Giggling, Monica picked up what appeared to be a large eyeball, complete with pupil, veins and what resembled blood. Squeezing it, it gave out a sickening sound that caused her to wrinkle up her nose in distaste.
"Angel Girl, that is disgusting," Andrew remarked as he looked at the distasteful object in his friend's hand.
"I know," She giggled, pulling some money out of her pocket,
"And I think it is just perfect for Tess when she is having a bad day."
Kevin and Andrew burst out laughing as the Irish angel went to pay for the gift. She returned quickly, and unzipped Andrew's backpack, slipping the bag with the eye inside.
"Now what, you two?" Andrew asked as they exited the building and started walking back down the street.
"Well," Kevin glanced down at his tour guide,
"There is The Great Movie Adventure up ahead and The Voyage of the Little Mermaid, which Cupcake here will want to see, no doubt."
Monica shot him a pretend glare, but before she could reply, Andrew spoke up playfully,
"Yeah, we have to remember to do the girly stuff too, Kev."
Monica stopped walking and glared at them both as they laughed,
"You two are so mean!" She called up to them, though her eyes were still laughing.
"Get off my back, Angel Baby," Andrew tossed back playfully over his shoulder,
"I have a lot of making up to do after that harassing you gave me yesterday over Space Mountain."
"Off your back, huh?" Monica asked as they walked ahead of her. She then broke into a run and jumped on her best friend's back, wrapping her arms around his neck to hold on to him,
"Now you have something to complain about, my friend!"
Hooking his arms under her knees, he hoisted her up onto his back as he chuckled softly,
"Naah, Angel Girl, not really." He replied, winking over his shoulder at her.
Smiling at him, she rested her cheek on top of his shoulder, enjoying the piggyback ride, even as Kevin shook his head in wonder. He sighed softly, seeing the contented look on the Irish angel's face as she closed her eyes briefly, and he said a silent prayer that something would cause his friend to change her mind about her decision.
With some help from the Father, after Andrew mailed off his postcard to Rose at MGM Studios, it arrived at the cabin only hours later and the three angels anxiously read what their friend had to say. They chuckled at the obvious antics that were happening between the three of them, and they only stopped laughing once they got to the last paragraph.
"Special Forces?" Tess remarked, her expression anything but happy,
"Why don't I know anything about this?" Seeing confusion on Carla and Rose's faces as well, she could tell that this was news to them too.
"Because I asked Monica right before she left to go on vacation."
The sound of Jamie's voice caused them all to turn around and face the Special Forces supervisor as she continued,
"She is supposed to give me an answer when she returns."
Tess, Rose and Carla all exchanged worried glances, before Tess spoke up once more,
"Jamie, I'm not so sure that her returning to that division is such a good idea. It nearly destroyed that little angel the first time."
"That's why the decision was left up to her, Tess," Jamie explained gently.
"Monica is extremely sensitive, Jamie," Rose said softly, her eyes showing her concern for Andrew's dearest friend,
"She may feel she has to say yes under a sense of obligation because of all she went through, but that doesn't mean it is the best decision for her. Working with Andrew the last several years has been a blessing for them both. She's been coming around more and more and that blanket of sadness and pain she was wrapped up in is almost completely gone now and none of us have any desire to see it return."
"It was heartbreaking." Carla whispered, her green eyes pained at the decision her friend had to make.
Jamie was quiet for a moment, listening to all they had to say,
"Monica was very good in my unit; one of the best. I understand your concerns for her and I have my concerns as well, and I want her to make an honest decision and I'm sure she will. But I had to offer her the job back, otherwise everything she went through and all that pain you are all speaking of, would be in vain. My unit needs the help, and no one really wants to put any other angels through what my charges have been through."
"I can understand that, Jamie," Tess began with a sigh of exasperation. It wasn't that she didn't like this angel, quite the contrary, but Tess knew for Monica to go back there would be a grave mistake, for Monica, for Andrew, for all of them,
"But we've seen a happiness and peace about that angel the last few years that we didn't ever think we would see again. Her year spent at Home helped to heal her and now working with Andrew and Kevin has done wonders for her confidence. I'm afraid Jamie, that if she decides to return to you, all the healing she has done will come undone and quicker than any of us can imagine and that she isn't going to be any good to anyone, ever again."
"Then I hope she talks to all of you before she makes her decision," Jamie sighed softly,
"I have to accept her answer and the selfish part of me wants her back, but I have no desire to see her suffer like that again either. I honestly look for her to decline, but the choice is up to her," Smiling sadly, Jamie nodded to each of them,
"I'd better go."
As the Special Forces angel left, Carla blinked back tears,
"She has to tell her no. I'm scared for her if she goes back, and it will devastate Andrew and Kevin to lose her."
"Don't you worry, honey," Rose said softly, wrapping her arm around the blond angel's shoulders,
"Andrew will help her to make the right decision. He knows better than any other angel what she went through because of Philip, as he went through so much of it with her and I know, he won't allow her to go through that again. You know how much he loves her and he's been so happy the last few years as she has put so much of this behind her."
"My only concern with that, Rose," Tess remarked softly,
"Is that as her supervisor, he decides to only guide her, instead of telling her how he really feels and while the supervisor needs to guide, the best friend also needs to be honest. I just hope our Angel Boy know that."
At nearly 9:00 that night, the three angels sat amongst hundreds of people as Disney's show "Fantasmic" finally started. They all watched wide-eyed across the lake at the man-made mountain as Mickey battled the good and evil held in his imagination.
"Oh, Andrew, look," Monica whispered as walls of water came up around the lake and scenes from Disney cartoons were shown on them, as if the water walls were a movie screen.
"It's incredible, Angel Girl," He whispered, wrapping an arm around her as they watched,
"The things this place does to encourage kids to use their imaginations is truly a wonderful thing."
"Imagination was a wonderful gift that the Father gave to His children," Kevin remarked, watching in awe as the boats sailed through the lake, holding many of Disney's most beloved heroes and heroines.
Andrew nodded his head to the seats in front of them and they all smiled, watching the looks on the children's faces as they sat, completely enthralled by the show. But by the end of the show, the awe turned to cheers as fireworks were set off over the mountain, the dazzling light lighting up the outdoor arena.
As the show ended, Kevin scrambled up to go and grab another hotdog before the park closed, while the two remaining angels sat and waited for the crowd to thin out a bit even as they awaited Kevin's return. As Monica's head rested against his shoulder, he felt her give out a small sigh and worry filled him once more as he wondered if she had made her decision.
Wrapping his arms around her, he kissed the side of her head,
"Sweetheart, about this decision…"
"You know what, Andrew?" She interrupted gently,
"I don't want to even think about it anymore until our vacation is over. I still have a few more days, and I just want to enjoy them with Kevin and with my very best friend in the entire angelic realm. Let's just use our imaginations and pretend for the moment that she didn't ask me to consider it."
Running his fingers through her hair, Andrew nodded his head, agreeing to do as she wished, though the nagging feeling just wouldn't leave his heart that there was something she wasn't telling him. But he put it aside for now as he drew her closer to him, though he couldn't help but think that if he let her go, he would never see her again.Chapter 11
"Mommy! Mommy! Watch me!"
Andrew, Kevin and Monica laughed as they watched a little girl float on her back the next morning in the huge pool. Although still rather early, all three angels were looking forward to a day at the Typhoon Lagoon and wanted to get there as soon as it opened. Now, Andrew was lying on a Mickey Mouse towel that Monica had bought for him the other day, the sun beating down on his back; the little Irish angel was dressed in a one-piece swimsuit with a pair of jean shorts on over them. Her auburn hair was pulled back into a ponytail and sunglasses were on her nose, and she was lying on a Minnie Mouse towel right beside of her best friend's.
Kevin, on the other hand, was applying on sunscreen and was getting ready to head off into the pool with all of the humans. The youngest angel appeared so child like, as he was wearing a pair of Goofy swim shorts and a Mickey Mouse t-shirt. Taking one last sip of his soda pop beside him, Kevin reached a hand out and tried to pull Monica up with him,
"C'mon, you guys! Come with me!"
Groaning, the Irish angel gently pulled her arm away and shook her head,
"No thanks, I wanta just enjoy the sunshine from back here for the time being." She offered him a small smile, before chuckling,
"Enjoy being with the kiddies!"
Shooting a hopeful glance in his supervisor's direction, Kevin pouted as Andrew shook his head,
"Ah, come on, Andrew! Don't wimp out..."
"Hey, you better watch it there, Kevy Boy," The older angel warned, shooting a Look his friend's way,
"I'll be there in a few minutes."
Shrugging his shoulders, Kevin grabbed an inner tube and sprinted out into the waves, his excited laughter ringing through the air. Andrew watched him disappear into the waves and then turned towards Monica,
"That boy...I swear, he has more energy then any angel I've known!"
"That he does, Simba," Monica lowered her sunglasses to wink at her friend and giggled as he shot her a mock look of annoyance,
"What? You call me Cupcake, so I can call you Simba. Fair is fair, right?"
"Angel Girl...Maybe I should just take those Mickey ears back-"
"Oh no you can't!" She frowned and removed the dark glasses from her face,
"Remember, your name is embroidered on them; so you'd have to have an explanation as to why you wanta return them. You'd look silly for putting the answer, 'Because my best friend is being bad', now wouldn't you?"
"You have asked for it now, girl!" Andrew rose to his feet and scooped up a squealing Monica in his arms and then raced towards the waves. Monica's laughter rang through the air as she clung tightly to him, refusing to let him go even as they entered the warm water. Even as the older, blonde angel tried to dunk his friend, the Irish angel was stubborn and instead, pulled Andrew down with her. Kevin laughed from afar as he watched this, and swam over to where his friends were. Jumping on his supervisor's back, the youngest angel soon found himself dunked back into the water, and a few moments later, all three angels came spluttering up in fits of laughter.
But suddenly, before any of the angels had time to say anything, a shout on the other end of the pool caught their attention and Andrew's green eyes widened in shock and fear as he saw a huge wave come crashing down on a group of kids. Most of them were able to swim out of the way before it crashed, but as the former Search and Rescue angel watched, a little girl was caught in the midst of it and before anyone knew it, it had crashed down on top of her. Not wasting any time, as his Search and Rescue instincts kicked in, the oldest of the trio ushered his two friends back up to shore,
"Get back! I'm going in after that girl..."
"Be careful, Andrew," Monica's heart leapt into her throat as she watched her best friend dive into the waves and disappeared under them. The humans that were gathered at the Typhoon Lagoon that morning had now gathered back onto shore, to avoid being hit by another huge wave and all eyes were now turned on the young human angel who was swimming out to help the child.
Minutes felt like hours as Monica clutched Kevin's hand tightly in her own, while she awaited her best friend's return. Finally, his familiar figure emerged from the huge waves and in his arms, he was carrying a little blonde-haired girl, who appeared no older then 10. The two remaining angels breathed a sigh of relief as she let out a cough and was laid down on Andrew's towel; the angel immediately took action and as Kevin and Monica watched with wide eyes, their supervisor and friend was able to get the little girl breathing properly again.
Just then, a man and a woman came running up to them, along with a group of paramedics. The woman appeared shaken up over what had just occurred and she knelt down next to her daughter, wasting no time in gathering her into her arms,
"Oh baby, my sweet baby...are you okay?"
Letting out a weak cough, the soaked little girl nodded her head as she hugged her mother tightly,
"I'm all right, mommy..."
"If it wasn't for this young gentleman over here, you might not have made it, Charlotte," Her father whispered, running a hand through his daughter's wet hair as his voice cracked with emotion. Turning towards the angel, he extended his hand to Andrew, shaking it firmly,
"Thank you so much, sir...You're like her guardian angel..."
Andrew lowered his head and blushed slightly before turning his green eyes back over the girl he had just saved; the paramedics were gathered around her and were now helping her to her feet, so that they could check her over. Turning back towards Charlotte's father, the angel nodded his head and replied,
"It was my pleasure. I'm just glad she's all right..."
As the paramedics and the family disappeared through the crowd, and the people gathered around them started to dissipate, Andrew heaved a sigh of relief and lowered himself down onto his towel while resting his head in his hands. Monica sat down beside of her friend and wrapped an arm around his shoulders, while resting her head next to his,
"I'm proud of you, my friend."
Grasping her hand gently in his own, Andrew whispered somewhat shakily,
"I haven't done that in a long time...I think that's enough of excitement for me today at this place. I don't know about you guys, but I'm ready to go."
Exchanging glances with Kevin, and seeing him nod his head in agreement, the Irish angel quickly dried herself off and then handed a towel to her two friends and co-workers so they could do the same,
"I'm game. But we've still got a whole day ahead of us...why don't we visit the Magic Kingdom again? We can't have you feeling down the rest of the day, you know, Simba?"
Unable to chuckle at those words, Andrew wrapped an arm around his best friend's shoulders and pulled her close,
"Okay, you win."
Kevin swung his own bag over his shoulder and trotted up to catch up with his older friends,
"And when we reach the Magic Kingdom, I vote we go on Space Mountain again!"
After Andrew had changed his clothes after the three angels had returned to their hotel suite, the blonde supervisor ran a towel through his still damp hair and sighed deeply. Although he was happy that he was able to save that little girl's life earlier, he was still rather shaken up about the whole ordeal; he hadn't been in Search and Rescue in over 10 years, and it felt rather weird to suddenly be doing it again. Sighing softly, he glanced at his reflection in the Mickey Mouse shaped mirror above his dresser before turning around and heading towards Kevin's room.
Before they left to head off to the Magic Kingdom again, he needed to talk to his charge and friend about something important and he needed to get it out of his system. Raising a hand, the handsome angel knocked on the door and waited until Kevin yelled for him to come in. Opening up the door, Andrew walked in and couldn't resist a chuckle as he saw his youngest friend sitting on his bed, a brownie in his hand and his eyes were glued to the TV screen,
"So you're watching the Disney channel before we leave?"
"Couldn't resist, Andrew," Kevin winked his way and upon seeing his supervisor's expression turning serious, the youngest of the duo grabbed the remote and turned off the television,
"You okay, man? I take it you didn't come in here to scold me about my eating habits..."
Taking a seat in front of Kevin on the bed, Andrew took a deep breath and finally started,
"Kev, I have this feeling that there's something that Monica isn't telling me..." Not paying any attention to the slight look of horror appearing on his charge's face, Andrew continued,
"I want you to tell me the truth. Did Monica...did she tell you anything, you know about her decision?"
Gulping, Kevin forced his eyes to remain on his friend's, although his heart was pounding loudly in his chest. Why did Monica have to ask him to keep this a secret? That was the last thing he wanted to do, especially now after hearing Andrew's question. Trying to figure out an answer that wasn't a lie, but an answer that also wasn't betraying the Irish angel's trust, the brown-haired caseworker was silent for a few minutes before he spoke quietly,
"Yes, she did talk with me the other night...But I promised not to say anything. I'm sorry, Andrew; but that's what she asked of me...I didn't want to make a promise, but she was so determined, and she wants to tell you in her own time." Kevin sighed as he watched his supervisor lower his head and he didn't miss the look of sadness in his green eyes,
"I am sorry, man." He repeated and watched as his older friend raised his head and forced a small smile.
"It's all right," He replied somewhat weakly, trying to put at least some cheerfulness back into his voice,
"That's all I wanted to know, Kev." Suddenly changing the subject, Andrew reached out and smacked his charge's knee gently and rose to his feet,
"Now c'mon, we need to get going before the bus leaves." Winking his way, the angel departed from Kevin's room, leaving him alone once again.
As his supervisor left, the youngest angel sighed deeply and stared down at his half-eaten brownie. His earlier cheerfulness was now gone, and replaced by sadness; he knew that Andrew was suspicious about his best friend's decision, and also scared, too.
"Monica, why did you have to tell me this..." He mumbled softly to himself as he shook his head and rose to his feet. Slipping on his shoes once again, he forced a cheerful smile back on his face as he exited his room and back out into their living room to wait for Monica.
"Are you sure you won't ride it again, Angel Girl?" Andrew asked hopefully as the threesome stood by the line for Space Mountain later that day,
"Maybe it is better the second time?"
"Andrew, I nearly lost lunch the first time and am not willing to risk it," She laughed in return,
"You and Kevin go and I'll be right over there on that bench waiting for you when you come off. Now go."
He sighed, despite the fact that he was looking forward to riding the roller coaster again,
"All right, but you get to chose the next ride."
"As long as it isn't 'It's a Small World'," Kevin teased, watching in amusement as she stuck her tongue out at him for what had to be the 20th time this trip,
"We'll see you soon, Cupcake!"
Shaking her head as her friends disappeared into the line, the Irish angel made her way over to the bench and sat down, watching the families that past her in interest. She smiled at the way the children tugged on their parent's arms as they pointed to where in the park they wanted to go, and the excitement that shone on their little faces. Sighing softly, she wondered if there would ever be a time when she would be around families or children again once she returned to work with Jamie. She wondered when she would be able to see the Hendricksons' again or her friends…or Andrew.
Just as she felt tears threatening her eyes, she realized that she was not alone at her bench as she felt a slight movement behind her. Turning around, Monica didn't see anyone, until she looked down and saw a pair of blue-green eyes peering up at her. The wee one couldn't be more than 6 years old, her face framed with lovely light brown locks of curly hair.
"Well, hello," The angel smiled, looking down at the child who seemed to be hiding,
"My name is Monica. Might you have a name?"
"Delaney," She whispered, her eyes holding a trace of fear though Monica had a feeling that the fear was not for her.
"What a beautiful name," She replied, proceeding carefully, lest the little creature would flee.
"Thank you. You have a pretty voice," Delaney replied, even as her eyes looked around her as if searching for someone.
"Are you looking for someone? Have you lost your family?" Monica asked gently.
Not seeing who she was looking for, the little girl got to her feet and walked tentatively around to sit down beside of the angel,
"I ran away from them," She whispered nervously.
Now feeling alarmed, Monica forced herself to remain calm until she found out exactly what was going on with this child,
"And why would you do that? They are probably worried about you."
"No, they aren't," She began hesitantly, though something told her she could trust Monica,
"They aren't really my family. Well, he is my dad, but he took me from my mom and step daddy a few days ago when I was playing in my yard. Daddy doesn't like my mommy and he really doesn't like me either."
"Does your mommy know where you are?" Monica asked carefully, looking into the child's eyes, which were rapidly filling with tears.
"No. Daddy never told her he was taking me. He just made me get into the car with him and his girlfriend and her two kids. The judge said I was supposed to be living with my mommy, not with daddy. His girlfriend hates me and so do her kids, but I don't know what to do…" The tears she had been holding back now fell unto her cheeks.
Reaching out gently, Monica drew the weeping child to her and hugged her tenderly,
"Will you trust me to help you, Delaney?" She asked softly and smiled as the little girl nodded her head. Pulling away, the angel got up and took Delaney's hand into her own,
"C'mon, lets go."
"Where in the world would she have gone?" Andrew asked for the third time as he and Kevin waited near the bench where their friend was supposed to have been. They had been waiting for over fifteen minutes and there was still no sign of her anywhere and it was obvious that Andrew was growing more and more concerned.
"She's an angel, Andrew," Kevin reminded him gently,
"I'm sure she is fine."
"You don't know Monica and trouble, Kevin," Andrew half joked,
"She doesn't look for it; it finds her. Besides, it isn't like her to wander off like this when she said she would be waiting for us right here."
"Well, maybe she decided you needed Pooh Bear ears to go with your Mickey hat," Kevin grinned, trying to lighten the mood, but he saw that it wasn't really doing much good and he had a feeling he knew what Andrew was thinking,
"Andrew, I'm sure she hasn't really gone anywhere. She isn't supposed to give Jamie her answer until after we get back and if she were leaving, she wouldn't do it without telling you first."
Andrew nodded his head, though he still felt a trace of doubt, as he was terrified that was what had happened and he wasn't sure if he could bear it,
"Well, I can't just stand around here any longer. Lets go and try to find her."
"You know, you may save you both a lot of trouble if you would just be honest with her, Andrew," Kevin ventured as they started walking.
"She needs to make the decision, Kevin and from what you are telling me it sounds as if she has already made up her mind," He forced back tears as his eyes scanned the crowds for any signs of his best friend.
"And if she has, there is still time to change it," Kevin argued, but knew he wasn't getting anywhere and he sighed as Andrew didn't respond.
"Monica, that's him!" Delaney whimpered, as her eyes caught sight of her father, who had obviously seen them as he was headed in their direction with an angry look on his face.
Monica swallowed hard as she tried to think of what to do. She had been taking Delaney to Guest Services so that the police could be called, but they weren't there yet and now they were headed for serious trouble,
"We need to run, sweetheart. Quickly!" Keeping a tight grip on the little girl's hand, Monica bolted in and out of the crowds in an attempt to lose the man, all the while her eyes searching for a place to hide, but she knew that parks were not made for hiding places. Seeing a short line to a ride and noticing that she didn't see Delaney's father in sight for the moment, she pulled the little girl inside the building and realized she had yanked them right inside of the "Haunted Mansion".
"It's dark in here, Monica," Delaney whimpered, clutching her hand tightly.
"Yes, it is," Monica replied nervously, reaching down to pick Delaney up in her arms,
"I'm not too crazy about it myself," She added, remembering the horrible haunted house that Andrew had made her go inside of by herself many years ago on Halloween. She didn't even listen to the narration that was going on around her and the other people, but suddenly the doors opened and she was pushed into the boarding area and soon found herself in a moving car, with Delaney pressed tightly up against her, hiding her face.
The ride wasn't awful, though grave yards were certainly not Monica's favorite place to be, real or imaginative and watching skeletons trying to escape caskets made her shudder and close her eyes as she waited for this to be over. By the time the end came, she had quite enough as they passed a mirror which showed she and Delaney with a ghostly companion seated in between them, and she looked over her shoulder in alarm, only to not find him there.
"It's over, honey, now, lets find some help," Monica urged as they climbed out of the car and she led the little girl over at an attendant,
"Excuse me, but we need some help?"
The young man smiled at her and nodded his head as he listened to Monica telling him about the little girl who held tightly to her hand. He gave a low whistle as he knelt down to Delaney and smiled,
"So, you are Delaney, huh? You are one big celebrity as your name has been all over the news for three days now. Your mom is really trying hard to find you."
"She is?" Delaney smiled even as tears filled her eyes.
"You bet she is and we're going to get her for you as soon as we can," He stood back up and looked at Monica,
"Lets go and call the police. There is a place for you two to wait until they get here where her dad won't find you," He led them back a corridor and into a room that seemed to be the control center for the ride as well as a break room for the employees. He smiled as Monica sat down and Delaney crawled into her lap.
"You'll be back with your mom in no time, wee one," Monica smiled, relief flowing through her now that she knew Delaney was finally safe.
"It's starting to get dark and she is going to be harder to find," Andrew groaned, frustration flowing through him now as they had been looking for an hour,
"What would possess her to wander off like this?" But even as he said the words, he knew his best friend had plenty on her mind and maybe she had just needed a little time to herself, but it still wasn't like her to just disappear like this and she had to know he would be worried about her.
"Well, Cupcake can be a little flighty," Kevin joked, though he was starting to worry as well. He would have thought they would have found her by now and he was starting to wonder if maybe Jamie hadn't turned up here as he could not imagine what else would have caused her to leave. He could see the deep worry on Andrew's face and he laid a hand on his shoulder,
"We'll find her, Andrew. She has to be here somewhere."
"Yeah, well, I've got news for her," Andrew muttered, his fear almost causing him to feel angry, though he knew he really wasn't angry with her, but extremely worried,
"When I find her, those mouse ears are going back."Chapter 13
Almost as soon as Andrew said these words, the two angels heard a familiar voice behind them and the blonde supervisor's green eyes filled with tears of utmost relief as he saw Monica racing towards them, her pretty face slightly pink from running. Andrew was the first to reach her and he immediately grabbed his best friend around the waist and lifted her up off the ground in a huge hug.
Slightly shocked at this, the Irish angel wrapped her arms around him in return as she started to speak,
"Andrew, I'm so sorry for leaving like that, but-"
"Where the heck where you, Monica?" Andrew demanded as he interrupted her, setting her back on her feet and folding his arms across his chest. Although he was beyond relieved to have finally found her, he couldn't help feeling slightly angry; he needed an explanation from her now,
"It better be good, Angel Girl..."
The little Irish angel's brown eyes widened in surprise at her best friend's anger and she turned to face Kevin, whose eyes held both relief and slight nervousness. Gulping, as she knew that she was in trouble, Monica shrugged her shoulders and tried to explain this as best as she could,
"Andrew, something came up and I had to leave for a few hours...It took longer then expected…"
"What do you mean, something came up?" Andrew frowned in her direction, his arms still folded.
"What I mean is that I had an assignment to do, Andrew," Monica looked directly into her best friend's stern green eyes and was relieved that as soon as she mentioned this, the anger in them was slowly leaving,
"A little girl was in trouble, and she needed my help! Her father had kidnapped her from her mother, going against court orders, and I needed to help her! I was all she had, so I did what I was supposed to do. Andrew, I wouldn't have left if it wasn't important, you know that..."
Andrew unfolded his arms and his shoulders drooped as he listened to what his dearest friend and charge was telling him, and a slight feeling of guilt crept into his heart for having been so harsh. Sighing deeply, he offered Monica a weak smile and spoke,
"You're right, Angel Girl; I do know that...I'm sorry for losing my temper. I was just so worried about you, you know?"
Offering him a smile in return, as she was glad that his anger had only come out of worry for her, the Irish angel reached out and wrapped her arms around him again in a tight hug,
"It's all right. It's understandable, my friend."
As the two friends finally separated, Andrew let out a deep sigh and looked over at Kevin,
"You were right, too, Kev. I'm sorry for having such a short temper..."
Patting his supervisor's shoulder, the youngest angel nodded his head in understanding,
"Don't sweat it, Simba. As long as you keep those mouse ears..." He shot a wink at him, ignoring the look of confusion on Monica's face, and he sighed in relief as Andrew chuckled softly and nodded his head; they didn't want the Irish angel to know what their friend had been about to do with that hat,
"So, do we get to choose another ride, or would you guys like to head off to see a show? After I stop and get a bag of popcorn that is..." He shrugged innocently and each of his friends started laughing once again at their co-worker's eating habits.
"I think a show would do us all some good now, after all the excitement today, don't you think?" Monica grabbed her best friend's hand and held it in her own as the trio started walking once again.
Nodding his head, Andrew agreed completely,
"I totally agree. There has been enough excitement these past 24 hours to last us the rest of this week."
"You're ordering room service at half past midnight?" Andrew's green eyes widened in shock as Kevin spoke over the phone after they had returned to their hotel suite late that night. Both he and Monica were terribly tired, but Kevin was once again living off of all the sugar he had that day, and now he was bouncing off the walls,
"Kev, don't you ever sleep?"
Covering the mouthpiece with his hand, the youngest angel smiled innocently,
"Surprisingly, yes." He then turned back to the person on the other end and finished off his order before hanging up,
"So are you two sleepy heads going to bed, or do you want to wait and have some pizza with me?"
"This angel is heading off to dream land," Monica yawned widely and stretched her arms above her head,
"My seashell bed is calling my name..."
"And my Simba bed is calling mine," Andrew joined in, all the while shaking his head at his youngest charge. The youngest angel had thrown himself onto the couch and started digging through the many bags of souvenirs he had bought that day and through the week,
"What the heck did you order?"
"Oh, just a large pepperoni pizza and some Oreo ice cream. That's all."
"That's ALL?" Monica repeated, holding her stomach as she laughed,
"Kevin, you're gonna get sick by the time this trip is over with in 2 days..."
"I'll live, Cupcake," The young caseworker winked her way as Monica shook her head, still laughing, and headed off into her room after shooting a tired "Good night" her friend's way. Andrew then followed right behind to his own room and disappeared behind it, but not before sticking his head out and giving his charge a mock warning look,
"Well, I hope you have a nice sleep...if you are going to sleep at all." Laughter floated between the two angels as Andrew finally closed his door and minutes later, was sound asleep.
Monica awoke several hours later and was surprised to find herself slightly hot, and a few tears had formed in her brown eyes while asleep. Lifting her hand, she shakily wiped at the wetness in her eyes and once again, curled back under her covers and wrapped her arms around her pillow. But after another half hour passed, sleep didn't come and the Irish angel was still wide-awake.
Finally unable to take it anymore, she pushed back the covers and climbed out of the giant seashell bed, padding towards the door to Andrew's room. As she passed the main living room of their suite, a small smile formed on the corners of her lips as she saw Kevin sound asleep on the leather couch, an empty pizza box beside him and a half-eaten carton of ice cream on the coffee table. The television was turned down on low, and the youngest caseworker was snoring softly.
As she tentatively opened the door to her best friend's room, Monica felt a few more tears fill her tired eyes as she saw Andrew sound asleep in his bed. Not wanting to wake him up, the younger angel tiptoed over to his bed and knelt down beside of it, until she was looking into his sleeping face. Lifting a hand, she gently smoothed back her friend's silky blonde hair and sighed softly as she lowered her head. How would she ever be able to leave him for Jamie after this trip was over with?
"I love you so much, my friend..." She softly whispered as she rose to her feet and climbed up onto the bed with him and lay down on top of the covers. Resting her head underneath his chin, Monica closed her dark eyes and laid her arm across his chest, even as the tears continued to fall. Before she knew it, as she continued to lie there, the younger angel fell into a deep sleep.
Andrew sleepily opened his eyes the next morning as sunlight streamed in through the window, and was immediately surprised to see his best friend curled up next to him, her head nestled just beneath his chin. Sighing softly, as he wondered what had brought her in here last night as he had slept, he kissed the top of her head gently. He could see the tear stains on her face and he knew in his heart she had made her decision and he also knew that it was tearing her up inside, despite the fact that she was putting on a strong front.
He thought about what Kevin had said; about there still being time to change her mind on this, if she had indeed made the decision to return to Special Forces. But would it be fair of him to tell her his fears for her? He didn't want to do anything to dash the self-confidence that had finally returned to her after Philip and the mistakes she had made on a few assignments years ago after this had happened. She had been so uncertain about everything she did once they had started working together again after he had regained his memory and it had taken several long talks between them and a lot of positive reinforcement before she had begun feeling more sure of herself.
But now, to tell her how he felt about her taking this position again; how he was sure it would destroy her eventually, it seemed so unfair to him to put that on her. But then, how fair would it be to not tell her and then have the worst come true? Certainly there had to be a part of her that wondered if she would be able to handle this, of that he was almost certain.
Hearing her whimper softly in her sleep, he lightly brushed the hair from her eyes as she quieted and snuggled closer to him. He felt tears burning in his eyes as he watched her, wondering how he would ever be able to let her go.
"Please stay, little one," He whispered, knowing that she was fast asleep and could not hear him, but feeling like he had an opportunity to say what was on his heart, even if she never heard a word, he continued,
"I don't want you hurt again, sweetheart. That whole time was so awful; always seeing that pain in your eyes, how afraid and uncertain you were and I don't want to see you go through that again. You have nothing to prove, baby, and no one is expecting this of you," He kissed the top her head once more, listening to her even breathing, as a tear slipped down his face,
"I love you so much, Angel Girl and I do not even begin to know how to let you go if you choose to do this." Resting his chin against the top of her head, he sighed once more.
Minutes later, as the sun rose further in the sky and a stream of sunlight crept across her face, Monica stirred and slowly opened her eyes, surprised at first to see her best friend smiling gently down at her, before she remembered coming in here last night,
"Morning," she said, somewhat sheepishly, causing her friend to chuckle.
"And to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?" He asked with a smile as she stretched sleepily.
"I couldn't sleep last night," She explained, trying to remember what exactly had caused her to wake up last night,
"I think I had a bad dream, but I can't remember." She saw the brief look of concern that flickered in his green eyes, and decided to change the subject,
"So, what is on our agenda for today, Simba?"
"Well, Cupcake," He began with a wink, seeing her wrinkle up her nose in distaste of the nickname,
"As it is our last day here, and to be perfectly honest, I'm about all parked out, how about we just grab some shopping down in Disney Village, have dinner there and then hit the night club? Kevin was talking about it the other night, saying there are different floors and different kinds of music on every floor. It has to be worth checking out."
"That sounds wonderful," Monica replied, closing her eyes for a moment and letting a soft sigh escape her.
"You okay, baby girl?" Andrew asked gently, wishing she would tell him what she had decided, even though he was certain that he already knew.
"I'm fine, my friend," She replied. Glancing at the clock and seeing how early it was, she closed her eyes once more, deciding on just a little more sleep.
But though she had said she was fine, Andrew was not convinced.
Clutching a huge Mickey Mouse lollipop in one hand and a box of mouse eared shaped chocolates in the other, Kevin approached his two friends in the Disney shop and immediately seeing the looks on their faces over what he was holding, he feigned innocence,
"Hey, it's for the return boat ride, okay?"
"Like there isn't enough food on the cruise ship, Kev?" Andrew asked, trying to suppress a smile.
"Well, yeah, but not this stuff…" He replied with a grin, before he decided to change the subject,
"So, what did you two buy?"
"The teapot from 'Beauty and the Beast' for Rose, a Pooh Bear for Carla and for Tess," Monica giggled as her best friend rolled his eyes.
"How do I let you talk me into these things, Angel Girl?" Andrew shook his head, though there was laughter in his voice.
Grinning, Monica pulled a stuffed Eeyore out of the bag. Seeing Kevin's puzzled expression, Monica pulled the tail off the Disney donkey and they listened as Eeyore, in his own pathetic way replied,
"Please don't pull my tail."
Kevin burst into laughter,
"Tess when she is sulking about something, right?"
"Yes!" Monica chirped, giving Andrew a satisfied "I told you so" look.
"Okay, okay, you win," Andrew laughed, shaking his head,
"But when she isn't happy with a depressed donkey and a squishy eyeball, I don't want to hear about it!"
The trio was still laughing as they walked outside, with Monica squeezing the toy to make him say different things, before Kevin looked up with a grin and pointed,
"Kevin, we're going to dinner soon-." Andrew warned, unable to believe the insatiable appetite of his charge.
"Yeah? So?" Kevin called over his shoulder as he headed for the ice cream parlor. What he didn't realize was that he was being followed.
Andrew and Monica doubled over with laughter as they watched the character Goofy follow their friend, imitating the bouncy walk he used whenever food was in sight. Goofy's long arms swung by his sides as he followed Kevin into the ice cream shop, the angel never hearing his friend's roars of laughter.
Later that night, the threesome had headed to Pleasure Island and had tried out every floor and every kind of music, before settling down at a table where the music was primarily country.
Though he had protest at first when Monica and Kevin had pulled him to his feet to learn country line dancing, they had a wonderful time laughing and learning the different dance moves with the many other tourists on the dance floor. Kevin seemed to have two left feet, but Andrew and Monica picked it up relatively quickly and were soon "Boot Scootin' Boogie-ing" on the dance floor with the best of them.
They were nearly breathless when the mood changed to a much slower song and Andrew stopped his dearest friend from returning to their table, by catching her up in his arms as they began to sway with the music. They both closed their eyes as they listened to the soft melody.
"How do I get through a night without you?
If I had to live without you, what kind of life would that be?
Oh, I need you in my arms, need you to hold,
You're my world, my heart, my soul.
If you ever leave, baby, you would take away
Everything good in my life
And tell me now-
How do I live without you?
I want to know.
How do I breathe without you?
If you ever go.
How do I ever, ever survive?
How do I, how do I, oh how do I live?
Without you, there'd be no sun in my sky,
There would be no love in my life.
There would be no world left for me.
And I, baby, I don't know what I would do,
I'd be lost if I lost you,
If you ever leave,
Baby, you would take away everything real in my life,
And tell me now…"
As the song played, Monica's mind went over the day today and how much fun it had been and how much she had laughed. But not just today. Working with them everyday was a joy, even when the assignments were rough. Kevin could always make her laugh and Andrew…her dearest friend was always there with a warm hug or a word of encouragement. She loved making him smile, loved making him proud of her, loved being with him. He had always been her gift from the Father and now she was going to leave him behind to return to what she knew she had to do.
"If you ever leave,
Baby you would take away everything,
I need you with me,
Baby don't you know that you're everything,
Real in my life?
And tell me now…"
Feeling his best friend's shoulders tremble with tears as she buried her face against his chest, Andrew tightened his arms around her and rested his cheek against the top of her head. He knew that her telling him her decision would only be a formality at this point. He already knew what she had chosen and she knew that he knew. Tears filled his eyes at the fact that the pain was returning to her already and at the fact that he was going to lose her to Special Forces. But though there was so much he wanted to say, the words didn't come. His fear of hurting her with what he felt was the truth was too great.
Kevin shook his head sadly as he watched his friends out on the dance floor. What was it going to take for Andrew to tell her what he felt and to give her more than just Beth's opinion of what she should do? The one thing the youngest did know however was that they were quickly running out of time for this to happen.Chapter 15
By the next afternoon, the three angels and friends were aboard the cruise ship once again, only this time back to where they had first begun a week ago. Although they were anxious to see their friends again, and share the details of the trip with them, they were also sad to be leaving Florida behind; and also, the three angels were quieter then usual, and weren't talking as much, especially Andrew and Monica. Kevin, on his part, knew what it was about and also knew what had to be done despite what his supervisor had told him. Andrew's best friend was about to leave them for Special Forces, when the only advice she had been given was from Beth and nobody else; the youngest angel couldn't help but feel frustrated with his friend that he wouldn't say a word to Monica about his true feelings.
After a half hour of searching for his supervisor on the large cruise ship, Kevin was about to give up and wait for him to return on his own time until he saw the familiar figure of Andrew sitting on a chair, overlooking the crashing waves below them. His blonde hair was blowing in the wind and he appeared to be deep in thought. Not wanting to startle the older angel, Kevin drew in a deep breath and approached him, taking a seat next to him,
"I've been looking for you everywhere, Andrew."
"I know what you want to talk to me about, Kev," Andrew replied softly, his voice pained, but he wouldn't look his charge's way,
"But it's not gonna happen-"
"Andrew, why are you being so stubborn about this?" Kevin's normally calm voice grew louder and it took Andrew by surprise as he looked up at him for the first time,
"You know...you KNOW, that you're going to lose your best friend to Special Forces by the time this cruise is over with, and you're not saying anything to her about your feelings! Yes, I see where you're coming from about what could happen if you don't say anything; but things would get worse, Andrew, if you just shut up and don't say anything! You've known Monica so much longer then I have. You've been through bad times and good times; you went through that whole Philip disaster with her, and then were there for her the last 10 years during her healing! Now, I know that it is her choice, but I fully don't believe she wants to do this, Andrew! Special Forces will destroy her if she returns, and you know it...Andrew, where do you draw the line between supervisor and best friend?"
"Kevin, I don't think you get it!" Andrew stared at his youngest charge through pain-filled green eyes,
"If I tell her how I feel, and she decides to stay with us, then all that happened to her all those years ago with Philip...it will be in vain, and it'll be like she went through it for nothing-"
"So you'd rather not tell her, but see her get destroyed all over again, huh?" Kevin's eyes unwillingly filled with tears as he stared at his older friend,
"You know, I don't get you, Andrew...I know that you're my supervisor and all that, but right now, I'm just trying to be your friend instead and point you in the right direction. And I know that the right direction is going to Monica right now, and spilling your guts to her. Before it's too late..."
And with that, the youngest angel rose to his feet and walked away, leaving Andrew sitting by himself near the bow of the ship. As Kevin's back disappeared around a corner, the blonde angel lowered his head into his hands and sobbed.
Monica paced back and forth in her stateroom on the ship that afternoon, running her hands through her long auburn mane. The Irish angel was alone in her room now, much to her relief, as it gave her some time to think things through more; it would be just a few days before they reached dry land again, and by then, she had to have a complete decision made...although she was almost 100% sure which decision she was going with.
Turning around to pace in the other direction, the angel stopped in her tracks and nearly jumped as she saw Jamie standing there in front of her, looking at her with loving eyes. Monica didn't know what to say at first, as she was shocked enough at seeing the Special Forces supervisor in her room with her right now; but she finally found her voice after several moments,
"Hello, sweetheart," The older angel smiled reassuringly in her direction, taking a step closer to her,
"How are you doing?"
Gulping, the auburn-haired angel nodded her head slightly and looked deep into Jamie's eyes,
"I'm doing all right."
"How was your trip?" The supervisor took a seat on Monica's bed and ushered for her former charge to join her, which she did,
"I hear you had a good time with Andrew and Kevin?"
Nodding her head and forcing back a few tears at the mere mention of her best friend's name,
"Yes, Florida and Disney World were spectacular; we've got lots of souvenirs, gifts and plenty of pictures. And also Andrew's Mickey ears..." Jamie laughed softly, and Monica forced herself to join in.
"That's great to hear, dear," Jamie reached for the younger angel's hand and held it gently in her own, deciding to get right to the point of why she was here and all the while hoping for the best,
"I know you must be wondering why I'm here right now...you probably didn't expect to see me until you reached dry land again."
Shrugging her shoulders, the Irish angel forced another small smile,
"It's all right, Jamie; I think I know why you're here anyways..."
As if reading her mind, the Special Forces supervisor's face turned serious, as she looked straight into Monica's gentle face,
"Yes. Have you made your decision, honey? I'm not trying to pressure you, please know that; if you need more time to think it through, just let me know."
Sucking in a deep breath and letting it out, Monica closed her brown eyes and said a silent prayer for strength before she opened them again. She knew that the next words she would speak would seal her decision, and she wouldn't be seeing her best friend as often after this trip. But she pushed her fears aside for the time being and met Jamie's eyes,
"Actually, I have made my decision. I'm going to return to Special Forces."
A half hour after Jamie had left Monica's stateroom, the Irish angel was sitting near the window as Andrew knocked on the door and came into the room. The younger of the two friends looked up from where she was seated and smiled sadly at her dearest friend,
"Hi." She whispered softly.
"Hey, Angel Girl," He whispered back, his voice slightly choked up and Monica could immediately tell he had been crying earlier,
"Can I talk to you for a few minutes?"
"You know you can," Monica replied back, softly, pulling a chair up next to her and ushering him to take a seat,
"Are you all right, Andrew?"
Sitting down next to her, the blonde angel reached for his charge and friend's hand, ignoring her last question,
"Sweetheart, I've got some things I need to tell you...some things I should have told you earlier when you first asked. But I wasn't thinking correctly, once again, and I need to do it now."
Frowning almost worriedly, Monica squeezed his hand tightly as it started to tremble a bit,
"What...what is it?"
Squeezing her hand tightly back, Andrew looked deep into her brown eyes and started talking, his voice thick with emotion,
"Angel Girl, I'm really sorry I didn't give you my full opinion on you returning to Special Forces or not. I didn't want to sound selfish, as I wanted this to be your decision and not mine, and I didn't want you to think that if you decided to stay where you are-with me and Kevin-that what happened with Philip would be in vain. I love you so much, sweetie, and to be completely honest with you...I'm worried to death that if you return to Special Forces, it will destroy you eventually; that all of the healing that has taken place the last 10 years will suddenly be gone. I'm so worried that you're going to be hurting all over again if you return to that department, and I can't stand it, Angel Girl. I wish I had explained this to you sooner, but I felt like I had to be the supervisor and not the friend I should have been. I'm sorry, baby girl; I'm really sorry..."
Monica was speechless for a few minutes as she stared open-mouthed at her best friend. She didn't know what to say; and she wasn't sure if she was going to be able to speak until she felt Andrew's hand squeeze hers once again,
"Monica? Please...Say something."
Feeling the tears that had threatened her eyes for the past half hour now fall freely down her cheeks, the Irish angel's lower lip trembled as she spoke quietly...almost too quietly,
"I don't get why you had to tell me this now, Andrew...Why now?"
"Honey, I told you that I wanted this to be your decision, and yours alone. I didn't want to sound selfish, Angel Girl-" He started to reply, but was interrupted by his friend's soft voice again. But what she said now took him off guard and although he had expected it, it still felt like a slap in the face.
"That's not what I mean, Andrew...I just told Jamie a half hour ago that I'm going back to Special Forces once this cruise is over."
"You've already told her 'yes'," Andrew whispered, not quite believing what he was hearing, but he knew it was true by the look of sheer devastation on his friend's face.
"She was here a little while ago, wanting to know if I had made my decision," Monica replied through tears,
"And I had, Andrew…"
"But why would you make this decision?" He cried out, trying to understand what she had been thinking,
"Don't you remember what working there did to you the first time? It tore you apart, Monica, little by little, until there was almost nothing left of you! So, why would you choose to go back?"
"Because it is what I'm supposed to do!" She replied brokenly, rising to her feet,
"Why else would Philip have happened? We know why he happened; he happened because angels were needed to work in this division of Special Forces! How can I just ignore that when it is expected of me?"
"No one expects this of you, Angel Girl! No one! That's why it was a decision. No one expects you to go through that again, except for maybe you for some reason!" He wiped at his eyes blindly,
"Is that it? Do you think you are supposed to go through it all over again?"
"I don't know!" Monica cried out, sobbing openly now, as she was more confused than she had been in a long time,
"Maybe. How can I let all those terrible years of trying to get over what he did to me be for nothing? Something good has to come out of it, Andrew! Don't you see that? I can't just pretend it never happened now that I'm better because it did happen and to deny that would indeed be pretending, because it isn't something I can ever forget, Andrew!"
"Sweetheart, I'm not asking you to forget it, because I know you can't. What I'm asking is for you to remember the angel you were 10 years ago. That angel was so buried underneath grief, that we couldn't reach you anymore. And already, right now, I see a look in your eyes I haven't seen for so long, Monica. I can see how afraid you are, even if you want to deny it verbally," The sight of her standing before him crying, tore at his heart as fresh tears filled his green eyes,
"I understand what you are saying about not wanting it to be for nothing, I do. But, Angel Girl, let's say that you do this and you help some people, but lose yourself again in the process? Is that worth it to you? And it's not that I don't have faith in you; I have all the faith in the world in you, but I also know you. I know how sensitive you are, and how much Philip hurt you, and how much it hurt for you to relive what he did every time you helped someone else who had been through it. It broke your heart, Monica, over and over again and I, for one, don't want you to go through that again, because I'm afraid when it is all said and done that there will be nothing left of my best friend!"
His words tearing at her, she turned away, covering her face with her hands as her shoulders shook with sobs and her tears only came harder as she felt his gentle hands on her shoulders.
"I know you based this decision primarily on what Beth told you, but sweetie, Beth knows nothing of what you went through, because you stopped it from happening to her. Beth doesn't know that you had to spend a year at Home because you were unable to continue down here because of what you did for her. Sweetheart, look at me, please?" Gently, he turned her around to face him as he took her tear-streaked face into his hands,
"I want you to tell me something. Putting everything else aside; Beth, me and everyone one else that you feel expects you to do this, and tell me what you want. Is this honestly what you want to do?"
"It doesn't matter what I want, Andrew," She sobbed, her entire body trembling,
"It's too late…I already told her yes…it's too late…" Breaking free of him, she bolted to the door, only knowing that she had to get away from those green eyes that could see into her soul. Ignoring his calls for her to stop, she opened the door to her stateroom and ran out into the night.
"You have no idea where she went?" Kevin asked softly at dinner. He had only managed to convince Andrew to come to the dining room at all because they had hoped that the Irish angel would turn up, but so far, she hadn't.
Andrew shook his head sadly, warding off tears as he gazed down at his barely touched dinner. Not even Kevin seemed to have much appetite tonight as the youngest angel had taken to poking at his meal with his fork, not having the heart to eat,
"No, Kevin, I don't. She's in a lot of pain right now and sometimes when she is hurting like this, she finds a quiet place to be alone and that is what I suspect she has done."
"But she shouldn't be alone," Kevin reminded him carefully.
"Look, Kevin, I've done all I can. She isn't willing to go back on what she told Jamie and she told Jamie she was returning, for whatever warped reason she came up with. I can't do anymore for her than I've already done. She's made her choice."
The younger angel was quiet for a moment, considering his next words carefully,
"You know, if I thought you really meant what you just said, I'd be giving you some grief about it. But, fact is, I know you aren't angry with her. What you are is afraid for her and for yourself, because you're afraid that when she comes back from this, she will be too far-gone and you won't be able to help her like you have this last time. You're afraid you are going to lose her for good this time, just like she has thought that about you in the past," When Andrew didn't respond to argue with him, Kevin knew that what he thought was correct,
"You know what else? I wasn't around to see how quickly things went downhill after Philip hurt her, but I did see the end result that day in the Hendrickson's home when Denise took me there. I didn't even know Monica then, but I knew she had been to, if you'll pardon the expression, hell and back and I could tell that just by looking at her and then three days later, you left her," He saw the painful tears welling up in his supervisor's eyes at this reminder, but he continued anyway,
"What I'm saying is don't leave her now, Andrew. No, you aren't walking away from her, but deciding that there is nothing more you can do is almost the same thing. If she is determined to do this, you can help instill a little confidence in her and maybe that will help her to be all right when she returns to Special Forces. And who knows, she may get there and realize she made a terrible mistake before too much damage can be done," Kevin stood to his feet as he prepared to leave and reaching over, laid a hand on his supervisor's shoulder,
"Don't burn your bridges with her, Andrew, out of fear. Don't shut her out now when you two need each other. You two have something special-I've always known that. Make sure that she knows that she can always come back and that you will be there."
Andrew watched the younger angel depart as tears fell from his eyes, before he got up and walked out to the deck, looking out over the moonlit ocean, the sea air mingling with the salt of his tears.
Rose watched Tess from a distance as her friend seemed to be deep in thought, but she had been that way off and on ever since they had received Andrew's postcard and heard the news from Jamie about asking Monica to return,
"Tess?" The older angel took a seat on the sofa beside of her friend,
"I can tell you are worrying."
Tess managed a small smile,
"I can't help it, Rose. Those two angels have always been my babies and that one baby has seen enough pain over Philip to last the rest of her existence and I think I'm just a little angry right now, that it keeps coming back to haunt her in one way or another. She gets to put it behind her for so long, and then something like this brings it all back again. Then I worry about my Angel Boy, because what affects Monica, affects him as well. I just wish I knew what her answer would be."
"Andrew will make her see the truth, Tess. He loves her and he knows she can't go through that again," Rose sighed softly, her own heart aching for the two angels.
"I hope you're right, Rose," Tess replied softly, shaking her head,
"I so hope that you're right, for both of their sakes."Chapter 17
By the time night fell, Monica couldn't bring it in herself to return to her stateroom where Andrew and Kevin where. Instead, she continued walking around the huge cruise ship, and eventually she made her way over to the pool and took a seat on the edge of it; slipping off her shoes and socks, she let her feet dangle in the warm water. Lowering her head until her long auburn mane hung in her face, the Irish angel folded her arms around herself and just stared down at the water. Andrew's words to her earlier that day, both about his true feelings towards her returning to Special Forces and also right before she had left the room, had rung through her brain since it happened and she didn't know what to think anymore as she was more then confused.
Unfolding her arms, Monica sighed softly and placed them on the concrete on which she sat. She was so deep in thought that she didn't even realize the gentle presence that had taken a seat next to her until the voice spoke up gently, although his voice was tinged with sadness,
Not looking up at her best friend, even as the tears started to fall from her brown eyes, the younger angel whispered to him,
"I'm sorry for leaving like that, Andrew...and for not returning for the night. But I just needed time to myself..."
"I know that's what you feel, Mon', but I couldn't leave you out here alone, especially after it started to get dark," Andrew gently told her, reaching for her hand and felt a sense of relief as she immediately grasped it,
"Where've you been all day?"
"Here and there," She replied, her eyes still focused on the water below them,
"Nowhere important. Just thinking about what you told me early this afternoon is all..."
"Baby girl, I really am sorry for not telling you sooner-"
"I know, Andrew," There, Monica finally raised her head and looked straight into his eyes, although she wanted to lower it as soon as she saw the tears in his loving green eyes,
"And I know what you thought...But..."
"Angel Girl, I didn't come here to berate you or anything," The supervisor gently interrupted, removing his hand from hers to wrap his arm around her slim shoulders and she leaned heavily into him as he spoke,
"I just didn't want you to be alone tonight...and I wanted to tell you something that I didn't tell you back in the stateroom." His friend's silence made it clear that he could continue,
"I want you to know, sweet girl...that if you ever feel the need to return to Casework with me and Kevin, you don't even have to ask. You can always come back to us if Special Forces gets to be too difficult for you, and I wanted to reassure you in case you had your doubts. This is your best friend telling you this, and not your supervisor..."
Feeling hot tears trickling down her pretty face, the Irish angel tightened her arm around her best friend as she rested her head against his soft shoulder,
"I know, Andrew...I know..."
Closing his teary green eyes as she didn't say anything else, Andrew nodded his head and after giving her another tight squeeze, pulled away gently and looked down at her,
"Are you coming back to the stateroom? Kevin's already in bed, snoring away...it has been a long day, and we both could use our rest..."
"I'm just going to stay here for a few more minutes, my friend," She replied, the emotion in her Irish lilt unmistakable,
"I'll be in in a bit, if that's all right."
Although he hated to leave her alone again, but also knowing this was what she wanted and requested of him, the older angel reluctantly nodded his head before pulling her back into his arms tightly,
"All right. But I love you, Monica. Don't you ever forget that..."
"You know I won't," She whispered, squeezing him back just as tightly, her forehead resting against his shoulder blade,
"And I love you too."
The two angels sat there for several more minutes before they released one another and Andrew rose to his feet and grabbed his socks and shoes. Leaning down, he gave his best friend and charge one final kiss on the top of her head before whispering,
"I'll see you in the AM, Angel Girl." And as she nodded her head, the oldest angel turned on his heel and headed back to the stateroom as fast as his feet would allow, before he broke down into sobs.
The next day and a half passed relatively quickly for the three angels, as the trio tried to spend as much time as possible together, although Monica insisted most of the time that she wanted to be alone. Most of the times that Kevin or Andrew suggested that they take a walk around the ship on their last day there, or take a swim or head to one of the many dance clubs, the Irish angel gently refused and had walked away to be by herself. This had then caused the oldest of the trio to grow sad all over again and he too, had headed back to his stateroom, leaving Kevin alone to take in his surroundings by himself; but the youngest angel never stayed gone for very long, as he always returned less then an hour later.
Now, the large cruise ship had finally reached dry land again and Andrew had to ward off more tears as he realized that the time was just about to come when he would lose his best friend to Special Forces all over again. As the trio finished grabbing all of their bags, souvenirs from Florida and suitcases, they headed out onto the deck with all of the other passengers gathered about and blended right into them. Although each were glad to be back on solid ground again and to see Tess, Rose and Carla again, they each also felt an overwhelming sadness as well...
Andrew was the first one ahead of his friends to disembark the ship and as he headed down the plank, the first face he saw was Rose. Having no idea until now just how much he had missed his friend and former supervisor, the blonde angel hurried forward but being careful not to drop the bags he was carrying. As he reached her, he carefully set them down on the ground and was immediately enveloped in his older friend's arms,
"Rose, I've really missed you..." He whispered into his shoulder.
Holding him as tightly as she dared to, Rose smiled weakly,
"We've missed you too, sweetheart." Glancing over his shoulder, she watched as Monica ran straight into Carla's arms, and Tess greeted Kevin with open arms. Finally releasing her 'Angel Boy', Rose looked into his green eyes with worry,
"Are you all right, Angel Boy? We got the postcard..."
Trying his hardest to ward off the tears that threatened his green eyes, Andrew shot a glance over at Kevin and Monica, and after catching his youngest charge's look, he turned back to his friend and answered,
"We'll explain it all to you back at the cabin, Rose. Not here...not now..."
Seeing the sadness in his eyes, Rose raised a hand and ran it through his blonde locks gently,
"All right. Whenever you would like to tell us."
"We will have to tell you everything today, Rose, there's no question about it..." Andrew sighed and then forced a smile on his handsome face for Rose's sake,
"But, we do have some gifts for you three that we got at Disney, and plenty of pictures; Cupcake over there did convince me to get those Mickey Mouse ears, so you'll also get to see that..."
"Okay, Rose, Mr. Halo, enough chatter!" Tess interrupted, her voice holding some laughter in it. As Andrew faced his older friend, he grinned as she held her arms out to him,
"I haven't seen you in a week either, baby, so give ol' Tess a hug." As the blonde supervisor headed straight into his friend's arms, Monica switched and went over to Rose to greet her.
Grasping the young Irish angel's hands in her own, Rose looked deep into Andrew's best friend's brown eyes,
"How are you doing, honey?"
"The trip was wonderful, Rose...But I've got some things I need to tell you all when we return to the cabin." Nodding over at the other angels, Monica released the oldest angel's hands and let out a trembling sigh,
"This is going to really difficult to do, but I have to do it..."
Confusion filled Rose's features, but she nodded her head and wrapped her arm around Monica's shoulders as they headed back over to their four friends. Kevin was right now in the process of talking with Carla, some of the hyperness now coming back into his voice and the little blonde angel who's looks resembled Andrew's so much, was practically howling with laughter,
"Kev, you've got some appetite, I'll tell you that right now..."
Shrugging innocently at her, he was about to say something when Tess interrupted gently and placed a hand on the youngest angel's shoulder,
"Babies, I think it's time we get back to the cabin. We all would like to hear about your trip to Disney, and also some questions need some answers to..." She nodded over at Andrew and Monica; the older of the two had his arm draped around his dearest friend's shoulder and he carried a suitcase in his free hand as they started to head over to Tess' red Convertible. Kevin sighed worriedly as he watched the Irish angel rest her head exhaustedly on their friend's shoulder and wrap her arm around his waist. Even from a distance, he noticed that his Irish co-worker's brown eyes were filled with tears.
Finally, at Tess' urging, he grabbed some of the bags and suitcases from the ground with his other friend's help and followed them back to the car. But he couldn't help feeling worried about when they returned to the cabin, and Monica would spill her guts to the others about her decision to return to Special Forces.
Kevin chattered most of the way to the cabin about their trip, managing to keep most of the angels laughing about the threesome's antics in Florida, with the exception of his two co-workers. Andrew had cracked a small smile once or twice and as he had told the story about the mouse ears and duck hat, Monica had laughed slightly, though Kevin was able to detect the tears that she was holding back.
By the time they had arrived back at the cabin and unloaded the car, Tess, Rose and Carla knew that something was very wrong. They had all assembled into the living room, still talking slightly about the trip. Monica felt Andrew wrap his arm around her shoulders as they sat together on the sofa and the Irish angel knew that she was running out of time to say the things that she needed to say as she knew that Jamie would soon be here to take her to her old job in Special Forces.
As the conversation lulled, all eyes turned to the two angels, though it was finally Rose who spoke up gently,
"You said you had something to tell us, Angel Girl."
Drawing in a trembling breath, Monica kept her eyes lowered as she nodded her head, trying to find the strength to say the words,
"Jamie asked me to return to Special Forces. She asked me right before we left to go on vacation so that I had time to think about it," Feeling Andrew reach across with his other hand to grasp hers, she somehow managed to continue,
"She came to see me a few days ago and I told her 'yes', that I would come back."
"And just what inspired that decision, Miss Wings?" Tess demanded, her concern for the angel fueling her temper.
"Because it is what I am supposed to do, Tess," Monica replied softly, never once raising her eyes to meet those of anyone in the room,
"It was always the plan from the moment Philip happened."
"It was the plan at one time, Monica, but plans change, especially when the angel involved in that plan was nearly destroyed by it the first time," Tess countered, wishing her friend would look at her.
"I can't let it all be for nothing, Tess. If I don't do this, there was no reason for it to happen in the first place and I can't bear the thought of that…" Monica stated flatly, trying with everything in her to not fall apart.
"The reason was that you saved Beth-." Tess began but Monica interrupted her as she finally met the eyes of the older angel.
"Beth was the how, Tess…how it happened, not the why," The Irish angel countered,
"The why was because angels were needed to work in Jamie's unit and I was chosen as one of those angels and for ten years now, I've ignored that fact. I can't do that anymore; it isn't fair to the other angels who are still working there and…"
"And what, sweetheart?" Andrew asked gently, running his thumb over her hand that he held in his own.
Monica lowered her eyes once again as she voiced what she had been thinking,
"It isn't fair to all of you. You all helped me to heal and were so patient, even when I was screwing everything up. You all did so much for me and I don't want to let you down by not returning now that I am better."
"Monica," Rose said softly, kneeling down in front of the Irish angel and laying her hands on her knees,
"Honey, we were there for you because we love you, not because we expected you to return to that line of work. There are no conditions on our love, Angel Girl, and you should know better than that."
"Monica," Carla piped up softly, tears glistening in her green eyes,
"Please don't do this…"
"I have to, Carla and I've already told Jamie I would. It's where I am supposed to be." As the tears lingered dangerously close to the surface, Monica looked up suddenly and saw Jamie standing near the fireplace.
"Jamie?" Andrew said, his voice barely a whisper,
"I'm afraid so, Andrew," Jamie said regretfully,
"She is very much needed and soon."
Not knowing how on earth he was going to say this goodbye, Kevin quietly walked over to the sofa and sat down on the other side of Monica, just feeling the need to be close to his two friends that he had spent nearly every waking moment with the last ten years.
Tess looked over at Jamie, her voice quiet,
"Jamie, can you and I have a little chat on the porch while Monica says her good-byes?"
"Of course, Tess," Jamie nodded her head as she followed the other angel out the front door.
Rising shakily to her feet, Monica found herself face to face with Rose, who had risen with her. Shrugging her shoulders helplessly, she found her voice once more,
"Bye, Rose. Keep an eye on my best friend for me, okay?"
Tears in her own eyes, the older angel enveloped Monica in a tight hug,
"You know I will, little angel," She whispered, looking over Monica's shoulder to the blond angel who was fighting to keep his emotions intact, but Rose could tell he was ready to fall apart completely at what was happening all too quickly.
Pulling away, she approached Carla next and hugged her tightly as the younger angel broke into tears,
"Don't cry, Carla," Monica whispered shakily,
"I'll be all right and I'll see you as soon as I can, I promise."
Unable to speak, the younger angel managed a nod as she reluctantly pulled away, allowing Monica to approach Kevin.
The angel who had much like a little brother to her now had tears in his eyes and it was almost more than Monica could bear as she forced a smile,
"You don't give Andrew too much trouble, you hear me?"
Managing a laugh, even as a tear escaped his eye, Kevin replied,
"Well, I have to make up for all the trouble you usually cause him, you know," He winked at her before catching her off guard and hugging her tightly,
"I'm going to miss you so much, Cupcake. Please be careful, okay?"
Monica nodded her head, feeling the tears gathering in her tired eyes as she finally turned to face her best friend. Not knowing what to say and feeling a sob escape her, she stood up on tip-toe and wrapped her arms around him tightly, feeling him holding her tightly and lifting her slightly off the ground,
"I love you so much," She whispered into his ear.
Closing his eyes against the tears, he only held her in silence for a few moments, wondering when the next time would be that they would be able to share such a moment. Finally forcing himself to pull away, he also forced his next words, in hopes that somehow they would help her in the days, weeks and months to come,
"I'm proud of you, baby girl," He uttered tearfully, taking her face into his hands and looking into her pain filled doe-eyes,
"Just so proud. This takes so much courage, Monica, more than I think I could ever have in a similar situation," His fingers brushed at her tears as his expression began more serious than she could ever remember seeing him,
"But with that being said, don't be a martyr, Angel Girl. If it's too much, you tell Jamie, all right? Promise me!"
Sobbing openly now, the Irish angel nodded her head as Andrew pulled her fiercely back into his arms,
"I love you, sweet girl," He whispered to her, the tears now escaping his eyes, as he knew he had to let her go and having no idea what condition she would be in the next time he saw her and that terrified him.
"What's on your mind, Tess?" Jamie asked gently as she sat down on the porch swing, her eyes never leaving the other angel.
Tess was quiet for a moment, trying to calm herself enough to speak rationally,
"Jamie, first off, please don't think that I have a problem with you, because I don't. I know that your unit has a job to do and that job is extremely difficult for all involved. But with that being said, you need to understand that I love that little angel you are taking with you today, as does everyone else in that cabin. We all witnessed what this did to her the last time and it broke our hearts, Jamie."
"Tess, I understand that, of course I do and I understand what Monica is going through and what she went through-."
"Do you?" Tess countered, her brown eyes steeled with resolve that Jamie would understand completely once she was finished with her,
"Did it ever happen to you, Jamie? Did anything like Philip ever happen to you?" Seeing Jamie lower her eyes, Tess continued,
"I didn't think so, so let me tell you a few thing that you may not know about Monica. That baby has a heart of gold, but that heart is extremely sensitive and it gets hurt easily. Philip took something from her that she can never get back, but with the Father's love and the love of her friends, especially Andrew, we have had the privilege of hearing that baby laugh again over the last few years. Now that may not seem like a big deal to you, but believe me, it was a small miracle because the last time she came back from working with you, she was completely broken and no one could reach her. She was dying inside, baby, and didn't even know how to ask for help. She couldn't even cope down here any longer, that's how bad it was!" Tess drew in a deep breath, willing herself to calm down but the memories of that time were still painful for all of them,
"Now, I know your unit needs help and I am all for her being there, providing she can handle it, but nothing, nothing is worth her losing herself over this all over again. So don't you let it happen, Jamie. I'm entrusting you with someone who is very precious to me, to all of us. She has a best friend in there, who loves her with everything in him and who is scared to death for her right now. You've admitted to letting her down in the past by letting her get so caught up in these cases without a break that she loses herself. Don't let it happen this time, Jamie. Because when I see that little angel again, I want her in one piece and not that broken little soul who returned to us last time. Do we have an understanding?"
Fighting back tears over Tess' words, Jamie nodded her head,
"I won't fail her, Tess. I only wanted her back if she wanted to come back and she says she does…"
"A sense of obligation is a powerful thing, baby," Tess advised, more gently this time,
"I think if Monica would tell us what she wanted, this would not be it."
The two angels were interrupted as the front door opened and Monica stepped out onto the porch, her eyes red from crying and the tears still flowing as she looked up at Tess with uncertainty,
"Tess, I'm sorry that you feel the way you do…" She stammered, wishing she knew how to make things right before she left.
"Come here, baby girl," Tess whispered softly as she held out her arms to the Irish angel, watching as relief flooded Monica's exhausted eyes before she was wrapped up in Tess' tight embrace,
"I love you, Angel Girl, and if you feel you need to do this, I'm not going to stand in your way. But I want you to be honest with yourself in the days to come, baby. You just remember that, all right?"
"I will," Monica whimpered, knowing that the moment was at hand and it was time to go. Reluctantly pulling away, she looked up at her friend,
"Tess, please go and be with Andrew. I know as soon as I walked out that door, he…" her voice caught in a sob,
"He just needs you guys now, Tess."
"And you know he has us, baby," Tess replied softly.
"Are you ready, honey?" Jamie asked, watching as the angel nodded her head sadly, a glimmer of fear and dread in her brown eyes.
As the two angels disappeared, Tess felt her own tears fall from her eyes,
"And the Father has you, baby girl. Please remember that, Monica…"Chapter 19
As Tess entered the cabin several minutes after her 'Angel Girl' had left with Jamie, the older supervisor felt tears welling up in her brown eyes all over again as she saw the rest of her friends in the living room. Andrew was seated on the couch, his face buried in his hands and even from where she stood by the door, the shaking of his shoulders was unmistakable; Rose was seated next to him, a comforting arm wrapped tightly around his shoulders, but Tess could tell that it did no help for him.
Allowing her tears to fall from her brown eyes, the mahogany-skinned supervisor walked slowly over to where her friends were and took a seat on Andrew's other side, glancing over his head at the Search and Rescue angel, her eyes locking on Rose's. Laying a loving hand on her 'Angel Boy's' arm, Tess was the first to speak above the sound of his heart-breaking sobs,
"Angel Boy...God is looking out for her."
"I know," He was able to choke out through his tears, lowering his hands and glancing from Tess to Rose and then to Carla and Kevin,
"But...I'm scared to death for her, Tess. I just..."
Hearing his voice breaking off, Tess didn't waste another moment in wrapping her arms around her younger friend in a tight hug,
"It's okay, baby," She soothed, although her own heart was breaking for both of her Angel Babies,
"Let it out, Andrew. Let it out..." And for the next few minutes, the supervisor allowed her charge to do just that until it seemed that he was finally able to gain control of his emotions for the time being. Gently releasing him, Tess wiped at the tear streaks on his cheeks and tried to meet his green eyes,
"You going to be okay, baby?"
Instead of answering her question directly, Andrew turned away and spoke in a whisper as he rose to his feet,
"I need some air...There's some place I need to be; I'll be back in a few minutes."
"Andrew, are you sure you're all right?" Carla laid a hand on her friend's shoulder gently, looking into his tear-streaked face.
Forcing a weak smile on his face, Andrew nodded his head numbly and reached up to squeeze the little blonde angel's hand tightly,
"Yeah..." Glancing over at his remaining charge, the blonde supervisor sighed and weakly asked,
"You all right, Kev?"
As he tried to hold back another round of tears after Monica's departure, Kevin nodded his head slowly and forced a smile for his friend's sake, as he knew Andrew must be hurting for the Irish angel more then any of them and he didn't need him breaking down as well,
"I will be, man."
Sighing deeply, Andrew made his way over to his youngest charge and gave him a quick, friendly hug before pulling away and heading to the closet to grab his jacket. Turning back to the remaining angels in the living room, he said as bravely as he could,
"I'll be back later."
And with that, the angel turned around and headed out the door and to the one place where he had dedicated to his dearest friend in the angelic realm...the one place where he would now have to go to without her.
Several minutes later, Andrew stood at the foot of the mountain that he had dubbed "Monica's Mountain" many years ago and stared off into the distance. He remembered the day that he had brought his best friend up here, and told her how much the view resembled her and the beauty of it all. As the memory came to his mind, the tears started up again and rolled down his cheeks.
"Oh Andrew, it's beautiful," She whispered, taking the sight in with her brown eyes. It was still early in the morning and the sun was still rising far ahead of them, which made it even more beautiful to her,
"Now I see why you wanted me to come here…it's gorgeous." Feeling her friend wrap a loving arm around her shoulders, Monica responded by circling her own arm tightly around his waist and giving him a squeeze.
"Angel Girl, this isn't the full reason why I woke you up this early," He chuckled and gave her a squeeze. Noting the look of confusion on her pretty features, the older angel continued,
"I wanted you to see this because it always reminds me of you, baby girl. It brings me peace to know that I can go to it whenever I need to and to think; it can hear me complaining about whatever is on my mind, Monica, and I just love spending time here…just like I love spending time with you. And you're always here to listen to me, and you bring peace to my heart and soul whenever I'm with you. This view, Angel Girl…" With his free hand, he waved it across the scenery,
"If you weren't an angel, then I'd say that this is you…"
Andrew hugged her fiercely to him, always marveling at the fact that no matter what stupid mistakes he may make regarding their
friendship, her unconditional love for him never changed,
"You know," He whispered,
"Outside of the Father and His work, there is nothing more important to me than you are, Angel Girl. I just want to make sure you
"I do, because I feel the very same way," She replied softly, closing her eyes for just a moment, content just to be here in his
arms as it was the safest place on earth.
"How about a walk?" He asked after a few minutes and he pulled back to look into her face.
"Only if we can go up to your mountain one more time," Monica replied with a smile, watching as he got up and then offered her
his hand to help her to her feet.
As he took her hand and they started across the field into the woods, he replied,
"That particular mountain is yours, Angel Girl," Seeing her puzzled look, he continued,
"A long time ago I named it Monica's mountain as it was the place I went when it was impossible to go to you."
The two angels exchanged a smile and then suddenly looked up as a flock of white doves rose from the trees and ascended into
the cloudless blue sky.
Sighing sadly, Andrew closed his green eyes briefly and crossed his arms across his chest, closing his jacket tighter around himeself.
Taking a step closer, the blonde angel took a seat on the edge of the mountain and wrapped his arms around his knees, drawing
them close to his chest and resting his chin on them. Allowing the tears in his eyes to fall freely, he stared up at the blue sky and
whispered, hoping with all his heart that Monica could hear him wherever she was now with Jamie,
"I miss you so much, baby girl..."
Suddenly feeling something beneath him, he squirmed slightly and reached down, picking up the object. The tears rushed down his
face like rain as he saw, in his hand, the angel bear that he had given to Monica all those years ago when she was the daughter of
the Hendrickson's, and his dearest friend had kept it from then on. Hugging the white angel bear tightly to him, he lowered his face
into it's soft fur and sighed deeply. Finally raising his blonde head, the young angel then held the stuffed bear out in the palm of his
hand and as he watched through tears, it suddenly turned into a white dove and, cooing, landed onto a branch staring down at him.
Andrew just continued to sit there for several more minutes, just staring up at the beautiful dove before it finally took flight once
again and flew away, leaving the angel alone on the edge of the mountain.
Monica stood with Jamie some minutes later on the other side of the states, watching some scenes of human beings unfold before
her very eyes. Both supervisor and trainee were quiet as they just watched, both obviously in their own little worlds. The Irish angel
on her part, didn't have it in her to say anything to Jamie just yet, as she was at the moment trying to make out something she was
hearing deep in her heart.
The familiar voice immediately brought tears to her eyes, and her heart ached for her best friend all over again,
"I miss you so much, baby girl."
Wiping at the tears in her brown eyes, the little Irish angel stared up at the sky just as a white dove flew overhead and she inwardly
cried back out to her best friend,
"I miss you too, Andrew. Just so much."
The next two days were an exhausting whirlwind of torment for the Irish angel. Jamie had been right about one thing and that was her unit had needed the help as Monica was taken from one assignment and thrown into another. So far, she had held her own and despite the painful memories that kept flooding back to her, she held onto her belief that she was doing the right thing by being here.
She felt like she had at least been able to help a few of these women, but after each assignment, her heart ached terribly and she missed her friends, one in particular. After spending the last ten years with Andrew and Kevin, she missed not having that constant contact with them, but she tried to push these thoughts aside in order to do the job she was sent here to do.
Now, the angel appeared in a park in a small town, late at night, her eyes looking around her for who her assignment was to be. The darkness and the stillness left her feeling unsettled, as in angelic form, she began walking until she heard a noise that sounded like a struggle in the woods up ahead of her. Breaking into a run, her heart pounding like a thousand drums in her chest, Monica stopped suddenly as she came across the reason why she was here.
Tears filled her eyes as she watched the man assault the girl who could not be more than 14 years old, even the child struggled with everything in her. Her pretty face was bloodied from an earlier beating and Monica felt anger well up in herself so quickly, it took her breath away. Kneeling down at the girl's head, Monica spoke to her, even as her assailant continued doing the unthinkable.
The girl looked up at her, seeing the light that surrounded her, and though in too much pain to speak, her eyes asked the questions.
"I'm an angel, Rachel," Monica whispered, tears racing down her own face,
"I'm here to be with you through this horrible time," Reaching down, she stroked some of the blood-matted hair from the teenager's face.
"Make it stop…" Rachel wept, before giving out a cry of pain that shook the angel to the core of her being.
Looking up sharply, Monica realized in horror that after this man had been finished with her, he had plunged a knife into her heart, before standing up, righting his clothing and walking away as if nothing had ever happened.
"No!" She cried out, gathering the lifeless girl into her arms as her tears came hard,
"Rachel, hang on, sweetheart, please…" But already Monica knew it was too late as she felt the life ebbing away from the girl. After several minutes and knowing that Rachel had gone Home, Monica laid her gently back on the ground and covered her face with her hands as she wept brokenly. Images of Philip and Beth filled her mind, though she struggled to push them away as she wondered why she had been sent here at all. She had been of no help to Rachel, other than to let her know that an angel was with her. She hadn't even been given the opportunity to help her understand that she could not intervene. Now, it might be days before someone found the girl's body, while her killer walked free.
Shakily rising to her feet, Monica backed away and finally broke into a run, tears blinding her, until she reached a picnic table and sank down onto the bench, as the realization came to her that the last two days had felt like weeks and she felt so very alone. Had she made a terrible mistake or was she just failing and how on earth was she going to know the difference?
"I guess it's back to work tomorrow, huh, Andrew?" Kevin asked as he sat in the living room with his supervisor.
"Yeah," Andrew replied with a small smile, though the ever-present sadness and worry was etched all over his face. Looking up, he saw his charge sigh softly and how he had not eaten a bite of the sandwich that sat on the table,
"What are you thinking, Kev?"
"About how it isn't going to be the same tomorrow with Cupcake," The younger angel replied sadly,
"The three of us were a team, Andrew, you know?"
He nodded his head, thinking about Kevin's words and just how different things were going to be. He just wished it were a change that he didn't have to accept. Fear gripped his heart then as he sat up, trying to concentrate.
"Andrew?" Kevin's voice was filled with alarm, as he knew about the connection that his supervisor and his co-worker shared, though he didn't completely understand it
"What is it? Is it Monica? Is she okay?"
Tears filled Andrew's eyes as he shook his head,
"She's not okay, but I don't know what exactly is wrong…only that she is hurting so deeply that I can feel it somehow…" Rising to his feet, he ran a hand through his blond locks,
"I hate this, Kevin! I hate this so much! Why did Jamie have to come back here? Monica has been through enough with this to last her the rest of her existence! She spent ten years putting the pieces back together and one visit from Jamie and it all goes bad all over again! Doesn't Jamie understand that she cannot handle this no matter how much she wants to be able to? That it all comes back to her at the mere thought of what happened to her and for me to know that she is hurting and not being able to help her is killing me!"
Feeling tears in his own eyes, Kevin searched for words that would somehow magically help, but he knew that there were none and he looked up with relief as Rose came out of the kitchen, hoping that maybe the older angel would have some words of wisdom for their friend.
"Honey?" Rose asked softly, seeing the torment in his eyes, as she laid a gentle hand on his arm.
"She's in pain, Rose," Andrew said hoarsely, his voice thick with emotion,
"And there isn't a thing I can do about it." Turning on his heel, the angel walked up the stairs to his room and closed the door behind him.
An hour later, Monica raised her head wearily from where it rested in her arms on the table and brought her hands up to wipe the tears from her eyes,
"Father," She whispered weakly, her eyes looking up at the night sky,
"I don't know what to do. I don't know what You want me to do. I know You said this is my decision, but what if I made the wrong one? I don't want to let everyone down; those women who need help, Jamie, my friends. Please, just tell me what to do…"
Though she felt the Father's love around her, there were no answers, as she knew as she had known all along that this was her choice to make. Feeling the knowledge fill her heart that she had another assignment, Monica rose exhaustedly to her feet, her eyes traveling one more time to the woods where Rachel's body lay,
"I'm sorry, Rachel," She whispered tearfully, before looking up at the sky once more and closing her aching eyes,
"Oh Andrew, how I wish you were here." She longed to pour out everything she was feeling, but knew that she couldn't do that to him, not when he was so worried already. No, it was better left unsaid then to torment him with the truth. Her heart ached for him and for the sense of protection she always felt when he was near, but she knew that was not to be this time. She had chosen this, knowing she had to face it without him.
Trying to find some strength in a memory, she kept her eyes closed, thinking back to what felt like weeks ago, when in reality it had only been a few days.
[I] "Get off my back, Angel Baby," Andrew tossed back playfully over his shoulder,
"I have a lot of making up to do after that harassing you gave me yesterday over Space Mountain."
"Off your back, huh?" Monica asked as they walked ahead of her. She then broke into a run and jumped on her best friend's back, wrapping her arms around his neck to hold on to him,
"Now you have something to complain about, my friend!"
Hooking his arms under her knees, he hoisted her up onto his back as he chuckled softly,
"Naah, Angel Girl, not really."
What I'm saying is don't use me as any basis for this decision, sweetheart. You need to listen to your heart and follow what it tells you. I just want you to be happy, Monica, whatever your decision may be. That is what is important to me."
"I'm proud of you, baby girl," He uttered tearfully, taking her face into his hands and looking into her pain filled doe-eyes,
"Just so proud. This takes so much courage, Monica, more than I think I could ever have in a similar situation…"[/I]
Feeling tears start to fall once more, the little Irish angel shook her head, wondering how on earth she could still make him proud of her, yet not allow herself to be destroyed by staying here with Jamie.Chapter 21
Rose stood on the other side of Andrew's bedroom door a few minutes after he had went upstairs and tentatively knocked on the door, half expecting her friend to yell at her to "go away". But to her relief, she received a half-hearted "come in" instead. Sucking in a breath and slowly letting it out, trying to figure out what exactly to say to Andrew, the elderly red-haired supervisor turned the knob on her friend's door and poked her head inside, looking around for him.
The young blonde angel was standing at the window, looking outside at the yard and the sky. Even from afar, Rose could tell he was deep in thought and sadness filled her gentle heart for him. Closing the door softly behind her, the angel walked slowly up behind him,
"I miss her, Rose..." Andrew whispered in return, his back still facing his former supervisor. Lowering his head, he sighed softly and tried to hold back a round of hot tears,
"I just miss her so much, and I can't be there when I know she's in pain; I also keep trying to figure out why I didn't tell her how I was feeling earlier when I had the chance..."
Still standing behind him, Rose gently wrapped her arms around his waist and gave him a loving squeeze,
"Do you want to talk?"
Grasping her hands from behind, Andrew held onto them tightly and allowed himself to lean slightly into her as he nodded his head weakly,
"A part of me doesn't want to, but a bigger part knows I have to."
"Then let's have a seat, honey," Still holding onto him, the Search and Rescue angel gently turned him around and ushered him over to his bed. Reaching for his hands, Rose situated herself on the bed until she was looking directly into his tortured green eyes.
"Rose, I made a terrible mistake while on our vacation," He started, lowering his tear-stained eyes for a brief moment before meeting his friend's loving eyes once again,
"Monica asked me what I thought about her moving back to Special Forces, and she wanted my opinions. And I didn't give them to her, Rose...Instead of being her best friend, I was being her supervisor, telling her to take me out of the picture and follow her heart. I wasn't honest with her...and Kevin knew it. He tried really hard to convince me to tell Monica the truth of my feelings, but being the stubborn angel that I am, I-I didn't do it, and waited the entire week before I finally decided to do it..." Noticing that his friend was nodding her head and not saying anything, Andrew knew that she was giving him a chance to speak and he opened his mouth to finish,
"But I was too late, Rose." His voice choked up then, and the tears came to the surface once again even as he continued to speak,
"When I finally told her how I felt, she had already made her decision, and had already told Jamie yes. I was devastated, Rose, and so was Kevin...but although I tried to get her to see where I was coming from, she was dead set on going back there. But I could tell a part of her was scared-a huge part of her-and she didn't fully want to go back with Jamie. But I had no choice then; so I just told her that night that...if she ever wanted to come back, then she didn't even have to ask. We would always welcome her back. But now...now, I know that she's frightened beyond words, and hurting. I know she had just done a very difficult assignment, and her heart is breaking all over again. And I can't stop it..."
His last words came out in a rush as his tears dripped down his cheeks, and before long Rose had gathered him into her arms gently and rocked him back and forth, letting him release his emotions there,
"Oh honey...the Father is with your Angel Girl-"
"I know He is, I'm not doubting that," He interrupted, clinging weakly to his older friend,
"What I'm most scared about is the unknown...What kind of pain will she be in when I see her again? And will we ever be able to reach her again...?"
The next couple of assignments went by too slowly for Monica, as the hours ticked by and the Irish angel felt like she would never see the end of this. By the time she glanced at her watch as she left her last assignment's house for the day, she sighed as she realized it was just after midnight. Glancing up at the dark starry sky, she continued to walk until she felt like she would collapse in exhaustion; what stopped her, though, was seeing Jamie just up ahead coming towards her. As she neared, Monica didn't miss the sympathy in her blue eyes and the caring look on her face.
"How are you doing, honey? The Father has had you incredibly busy today..." The supervisor started, tilting her head to the side and getting a good look at her charge, hoping that Monica would tell her the full truth and nothing but the truth.
"I'm exhausted, Jamie...exhausted and emotionally drained. I need some sleep..." Monica's angelic body and turned human almost immediately after her last assignment, and she felt the exhaustion all over her,
"And I just need some time to think about some things..."
Taking her young charge's hand in her own, Jamie offered her a gentle smile and in the blink of an eye, the two angels had appeared in a motel room. Two beds were set up next to each other, and a television was set up in a corner, while a bathroom and shower room were near the back. Glancing around, Monica's shoulders slumped and she let go of Jamie's hand to sit down heavily on one of the made beds, the older angel soon following.
"Do you want to tell me what you need to think about, Monica?" She asked, remembering Tess' words to her two days earlier. Since the Irish angel had returned to her unit, she had kept a close eye on her to see how she was doing, and the Father was testing her with some difficult assignments to see if she could handle it. Now, seeing the total exhaustion and even pain in her brown eyes, Jamie frowned worriedly as she could only imagine what Monica was thinking.
"I honestly would rather just sleep on it tonight, so to speak, Jamie..." The auburn-haired angel replied sadly, sighing softly to herself,
"I've also got a lot of talking I need to do with the Father..." Lowering her head to look down at her hands, Monica closed her eyes as she felt Jamie reach over and rest a hand on her arm.
"You miss Andrew something awful, don't you, sweetheart?"
Trying to ward back the tears, but finding it unsuccessful, the Irish angel nodded her head and finally met her supervisor's kind eyes,
"More and more each day. Kevin, too, as well as the others..."
Sighing herself, Jamie nodded her head before rising to her feet, stretching her arms above her head,
"Well, I suggest you catch some shut eye, Monica. I've got it on the Highest Authority that tomorrow is going to be another long day, and I want you to be well rested, honey, okay?"
Nodding her head, Monica watched as the older angel's back disappeared behind the bathroom door and as soon as she was gone, the Irish angel also rose to her feet and headed towards the window looking out over the city. Laying a palm against the glass, she rested her forehead against it and sighed sadly as the tears only continued to flow from her brown eyes. Suddenly feeling something brush up against her foot, she opened her eyes and looked down; there at her feet, was the angel bear that Andrew had given to her so many years ago back when she was the Hendrickson's "daughter". Letting out a small chuckle, she bent down and picked it up, hugging it to herself tightly,
"You seem to be going all over the place lately..." She whispered into it's soft fur.
Yawning widely, Monica then headed back towards the bed, the stuffed bear still in her arms, and pulled the covers back. Not even bothering to change into a pair of pajamas that the Father had provided, she curled up under the covers and turned off the light beside of the bed. As she lay there, her body wanting to sleep but her mind unable to, the young angel's mind kept thinking about that last glimpse she saw of her best friend before she left the cabin several days ago. His face wouldn't leave her mind; the tears in his green eyes would forever be etched in her memory...
Choking on a sob, the little angel blinked her eyes and stared up at the ceiling, whispering up words that only the Father would be able to hear in the stillness of the motel room,
"Oh Father, I really don't know what I want anymore..."
"You two are headed out?" Tess asked the next morning as Kevin and Andrew came down the stairs, both of them knowing that they had to return to work, regardless of how strange it felt for just the two of them to be going on assignment.
Kevin nodded his head and gave a small sigh,
"Looks that way, Tess. Duty calls."
Looking at the bag that her Angel Boy was carrying in his hands, Tess eyed him curiously,
"What have you got there, baby?"
Andrew smiled a sad smile as he held out the bag to her,
"I just got around to unpacking last night, Tess and we picked these two things up for you in Florida. Well, Monica picked them out actually because in one-way or another they reminded us of you. I already gave Rose and Carla their gifts, so what's left is yours."
Opening the bag, Tess first removed the squishy eye, a look of distaste on her mahogany face,
"Well, this is certainly…interesting…"
"Squeeze it, Tess," Kevin grinned, unable to help himself. He watched in amusement as the older angel gave the eye a squeeze and it gave out a disgusting sound,
"Monica said you might enjoy it on a bad day." Kevin added, his smile fading somewhat as he remembered his friend's giggles when she had found the eye.
"Hmph," Tess chided, though both younger angels could see the look of amusement in her eyes. Putting the eye aside, she reached into the bag and pulled out the stuffed Eeyore and smiled,
"Now, this is more like it. He's a cute little thing," Noticing that the tail was Velcro, she pulled it off and listened as Eeyore sadly stated,
"Please don't pull my tail." Raising an eyebrow at the two angels, she then asked,
"And just what about this reminded her of me, may I ask?"
"I think it was something along the lines of you when you're sulking about something, Tess," Andrew said carefully,
"Kind of like that time when I 'killed' your car."
"You did kill my car, Mr. Halo and don't you ever forget it," Tess retorted, as she turned her attention back to the toy in her hands, fighting back tears at the thought of her Angel Girl,
"Thank you, I think."
Sensing Tess' sadness, Andrew knew he had to get out of there before he broke down again, so he laid a hand on Kevin's shoulder,
"I guess we'd best get a move on, Kev," Turning his attention to Tess, he managed a smile,
"We'll see you soon, Tess," He said softly, moving to give his former supervisor a tight hug.
"That you will, baby," She replied, ruffling his hair. Pulling away, she looked into his eyes,
"And Angel Boy…if you hear anything, anything at all…"
"You know I will tell you, Tess," He replied sadly as his eyes met with hers.
Nodding her head, she hugged the younger angel as well,
"Keep your chin up, baby."
"I'm trying to, Tess," Kevin sighed softly,
"I just wish I'd get my appetite back.."
Late that night, Monica burst out of the back door of the bar, her stomach churning and tears streaking her face. Not even caring if she was alone in the alley, she spotted a trashcan and promptly lost the little she had managed to eat that day, before she leaned heavily up against the brick wall and sank down to the ground, heart wrenching sobs escaping her. She could hear the thunder rumbling overhead, but the little angel didn't care anymore as she was sick with what she had just witnessed and even sicker over the fact that she had run off the assignment, unable to take anymore.
Looking up through blurred vision, Monica met Jamie's eyes as her supervisor knelt down in front of her. Shaking her tangled auburn head, she only covered her face with her hands as she continued to sob.
"Monica, sweetheart, what happened back there?" Jamie asked patiently, love for her charge evident in her eyes,
"You walked off the assignment and I had to find an emergency replacement for you. That girl in there needed you…"
"I couldn't…I couldn't watch it anymore, Jamie!" She cried out as she looked up at Jamie, her mind filling with the visions of what she had just witnessed,
"Dear God, they have her held down and are taking their turn with her! What can I say…that is going to make THAT better? How can they be so hateful? I don't understand…." Covering her face once more, she only continued to cry as if her heart were breaking,
"I didn't have it…as badly as she does…how is she expected to live her life after this?"
"Honey, I know this is hard…"
Looking up once more, her emotions completely raw, she shot back at Jamie through tears,
"No, you don't! You don't have any idea how hard this is! What was I supposed to tell her in there? That God loves her? I know He does, but how is she supposed to believe that while they were…while they…" Unable to even say it, the Irish angel rocked back and forth on her heels, completely consumed in pain over what she had just witnessed and done. Before she could even think about what she was saying, her next words were out,
"I can't do this, Jamie…I wanted to be able to…but I can't…I can't! I'm not strong enough and I don't think I ever will be for this…it hurts too much…I want to be able to help…I do…but not like this….not like this…I'm sorry…I'm so sorry, but I can't…I can't…"
Tears in her own eyes as the angel before her broke down completely once more, Jamie reached over and laid her hands on her shoulders,
"I understand, sweetheart and I don't want you here if it hurts you this much. This job is hard, honey, and there is no shame in it being too much for you to handle," Knowing that her words were not helping all that much as Monica never even looked up at her as she continued to cry, Jamie continued gently,
"If you aren't resigning, little angel, then I am firing you. I can't bear what this is doing to you and despite how busy this unit is right now, it is not worth it for you to lose yourself in it. Now, go, Monica," Squeezing the angel's shoulders gently, Jamie then rose to her feet.
"Jamie…" Monica sobbed, her confusion overcoming her as well. What was she supposed to do now? Where was she to go and how could she face her friends?
"I have to go, sweetheart," Jamie forced herself to say, not wanting Monica's sense of obligation to take over her true feelings. The supervisor knew with everything in her that this angel did not belong here and though to walk away from her right now hurt terribly, Jamie knew it was the only way to get her to go.
Her tears came harder as Jamie walked back into the bar, now feeling more than lost and alone. Leaning her head back against the wall as she cried, she closed her eyes and whispered,
"Father, what do I do? Where do I go?"
As soon as she said the words, the little Irish angel found herself on the beach outside of the house that she and Andrew had shared when he had lost his memory. An ocean stormed raged all around her, competing with the storm that was raging inside of her, as she pulled her trench coat more tightly around her.
Tears blinding her, she stumbled to the house and up the deck steps, the rain pelting down on her, but she didn't care. Once inside, she leaned up against the glass door, the whipping wind outside mingling with the sounds of her sobs before she forced herself to move as if in a daze back the hall to her room. Dripping from the rain and not bothering to remove her coat, Monica flung herself on the bed in a torrent of tears and cried until exhaustion finally overtook her.
Andrew sighed softly as he and Kevin sat in the small café, having a few hours of free time while their assignment slept. He had constantly had the feeling that his best friend was in pain and it was now so familiar to him, it was just a dull ache in his heart. He watched Kevin, who was absent-mindedly picking the chocolate off his uneaten doughnut, both angels deep in thought.
Andrew's head jerked up at the sound of Jamie's voice, shocked to see her standing there before him, a look of utter sadness on her face,
"Jamie? What is it?" He uttered, feeling tears burning in his eyes as his heart pounded in his chest.
Drawing in a deep breath, the angel sat down with the other two and began softly,
"There are some things you should know…"Chapter 23
After several minutes of listening to Jamie explain all that had occurred these last few days, and also what had just transpired a few minutes ago, Andrew found himself utterly speechless, but also not surprised one bit. Glancing over at Kevin and then back to Jamie, as she continued, the blonde angel wiped at the wetness in his green eyes blindly,
"I knew she was feeling a lot of pain, Jamie..."
Laying a hand on his and then reaching for Kevin's, Jamie nodded her head and gently interrupted him,
"Much more then you probably realize, Andrew. I had to let her go; I just wanted to keep an eye on her these last few days to see how she was doing on her assignments, but I soon realized a few minutes ago that this was the only answer." Sighing softly, she released both of the angel's hands and rose to her feet,
"I think you need to go to her, honey. She's at the beach house, as I was told."
And with a small, sad smile for Monica's friends, Jamie disappeared from the cafe, leaving Andrew and Kevin alone again, only this time, it was anything but quiet. The youngest angel was the first to speak, as his eyes were wide with shock,
"I can't believe she fired her..."
"But it appears to me that Mon wanted to go even before Jamie did that," Andrew whispered, furrowing his brow as he spoke,
"Kev, I need to go to her...Why don't you head back to the cabin for the night, and we'll continue this assignment tomorrow...After all, Amanda's resting right now, and I've got it on the Highest Authority that she'll be all right for tonight."
Nodding his head without a second thought, Kevin rose to his feet,
"Go to her, Andrew. I know that if anyone needs you right now, it's Cupcake..." He watched with a small smile as his supervisor chuckled lightly at the nickname, and he rested a hand on his friend's shoulder,
"I'll see you tomorrow, man. I'm gonna tell the others..."
Nodding in reply, Andrew offered his charge a quick hug before releasing him and heading for the door; his heart pounded loudly in his chest, as he was anxious to see his best friend and hold her again.
No more then a few minutes later, Andrew reappeared on the steps of the beach house back porch. Rain was pouring down around him and he wasted no time in ducking through the back door and going inside. Even when he closed the door, he could hear the pounding and crashing of the ocean waves, and the thunder rumbling in the distance. Rubbing his arms to warm himself up, as he wasn't wearing a jacket at the moment, the blonde angel glanced around the living room to see if his best friend was anywhere in sight.
But she wasn't.
Taking a shaky step forward, Andrew looked through the entire house and still didn't find the little Irish angel. Finally, he noticed that the door to her bedroom was closed and he took a step towards it. Gently pushing it open with a shaky hand, the supervisor glanced inside the room and tears burned his green eyes as he saw his dearest angelic friend sound asleep on her bed, her clothing drenched and her auburn locks in disarray. His heart breaking at the sight of her, as she was whimpering in her sleep, and she kept tossing and turning in her bed, Andrew kept the light off and closed the bedroom door behind him quietly so he wouldn't disturb her.
As he took a seat next to her on the bed, Andrew lowered his head down to hers and gently kissed her forehead. Never moving it, he gently pressed his forehead against her own head and a smile crossed his handsome face as she stopped tossing on the bed as if she almost knew he was there. Reaching out a hand, he sighed sadly as he gently brushed back her wet bangs; although he was so happy to see her again, his heart was still pounding like a thousand drums in his chest, as he hoped beyond hope that the last few days in Special Forces hadn't done too much damage.
"Oh sweet girl, I love you so much," He whispered gently, and as soon as he spoke, he watched as his friend's brown eyes slowly flickered open and looked up at him. Almost expecting it to be a dream as she saw her best friend's handsome face looking down at her, Monica pushed herself up from where she lay on the bed and rubbed her eyes. Although the last time she saw him was only a few days ago earlier that week, it felt like an eternity for the little Irish angel. As she lowered her hands, and seeing that Andrew was still seated next to her, his green eyes flooded with tears, Monica let out a deep breath and choked out,
Choking back a sob, the older angel opened his arms wide to her and urged her forward,
Not wasting another moment to be in her best friend's waiting arms, the younger angel hurled herself straight at him and wrapped her arms tightly around his neck,
"Hold me, Andrew...just hold me..."
"I've got you, sweet baby, I've got you," He whispered tearfully into her hair, rocking her gently on the bed as they sobbed together,
"Oh Angel Girl, I missed you dreadfully...I've been so worried."
"Andrew..." She whimpered softly, tightening her arms around his neck,
"I'm so glad you're here...I didn't think I'd see you again...for a long time..."
"But I'm here, and I'm not going anywhere." He only continued to rock her in his arms for several minutes, never once loosening his grip on her,
"It's going to be all right, Angel Girl; it's going to be all right..."
"Do you…know what happened…?" She managed to say, never releasing her hold on him.
"Yes, baby, I know," He whispered, closing his eyes against the tears over her grief. Knowing she needed to get this out so they could talk, he continued gently,
"You've had a terrible week, sweetheart and it's okay to cry, so just let it go, Monica," Relief filled him as he heard her sobs intensify as the last thing he wanted was for her to internalize any of what had happened this week,
"That's my girl," He whispered, kissing the top of her head as he continued to rock her, his hands running through her wet hair. The minutes ticked by before she began to calm somewhat and Andrew pulled away gently, touching her cheek with the back of his hand,
"How about you go and get out of these wet clothes and into a hot shower and then you and I will have a long talk, okay?" Seeing her nod her head sadly, he helped her to her feet, noticing that she was trembling slightly, and he helped her out of her coat,
"Come out to the living room when you're ready, sweetie."
Leaving her alone to shower and change, Andrew walked out to the living room and hung her coat on the rack near the door, before starting a pot of coffee in the kitchen for her. His mind was whirling going over all of the horribly violent cases that Jamie had told him Monica had this week and his worry for his gentle friend deepened.
Gazing out the window, he saw that the storm continued to rage and he turned and walked over to the sofa, setting a cup of hot coffee down for her on the table. Just as he sat down, he saw Monica come slowly down the hall, having changed into a dry pair of pajamas. Though her eyes were tired and swollen and her face pale, she appeared calmer, though still sad and he saw fresh tears gather in her eyes as they met with his,
"C'mere, baby girl," He said softly, waiting until she sat down next to him and curled into his arms,
"What are you thinking, Angel Girl?"
Her cheek resting against his chest, she somehow found her voice, though it was scarcely a whisper,
"Jamie fired me, Andrew…I tried so hard…I did! I thought I could do it…I wanted to be able to, but…it hurt so much! I walked off the assignment tonight…I just couldn't…" Clutching his shirt tightly as she found herself weeping all over again, she shook her head,
"Tonight was awful…and Rachel…she died in my arms a few nights ago, Andrew…she was only fourteen…but even so, I should have been able to handle this…I should have been able to and now I've left everyone down and have lost my job yet again…"
Feeling her tremble with tears, Andrew hugged her tightly to him,
"You know what? I think it's time you heard a few things, Monica, so I want you to listen to me, all right?" He pulled back from her to look into her face as she cried,
"Shhh, little one, it's all going to be fine. I promise you that, but I need for you to calm down," Taking her face into his hands, he swiped at her tears as she took several deep breathes, willing the tears to stop. As she began to quiet, Andrew handed her the cup of coffee he had brought out for her, not missing the flash of gratitude in her reddened eyes as she took a long sip and returned it to the table,
"Better, sweetie?" He asked softly, brushing the hair from her eyes as she nodded her head. Leaning back once more, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and looked down at her as he began to speak,
"First off, Angel Girl, you have not let anyone down. We all love you so much and have been so worried about you, with good reason, sweetheart. We all knew firsthand what this did to you before and we were probably more afraid for you then you were for yourself," Seeing doubt flicker in her tired eyes, he smiled gently,
"Monica, none of us, Tess, Rose, Carla, Kevin or me, expects you to be anything other than who you are. You are whom we love, honey, not what you do to serve the Father. I mean, do you think for one second that if you decided to work in Search and Rescue or you wanted to become an Angel of Death, that I would love you any less?" Seeing her shake her head, he kissed the top of her head as he continued,
"No, of course not. I could care less what it is you do, because it is you that I love, Monica; the angel that the Father created you to be. Now you have this feeling that because of what happened with Philip, that you were meant to work in Special Forces, but that just isn't true. You tried, and you gave it all you could, but it isn't meant to be, baby, no matter how much you wanted it to be so. You were ready to leave tonight before Jamie ever forced your hand with this, isn't that right?"
"Yes, Andrew, but-."
"No," He shook his head firmly and he moved to be able to take her smaller hands into his own,
"There are no 'buts' about this, sweetie. Had you stayed, it would have destroyed you in the end, I can tell that just by looking at you right now and sweetheart, I don't think it would have been that long before that happened and the thought of that scares the living daylights out of me," He felt himself getting choked up at the thought of it as he looked into her tear-filled eyes,
"I don't ever want to lose you, Mon', not ever. That is something that I've come to realize even more so over the last ten years and had you stayed with Jamie, there is no doubt in my mind that eventually, I would have lost you for good."
Monica lowered her eyes as tears escaped them, still feeling so confused,
"It sounds as if…as if you don't have much faith in me, Andrew…I…" Her voice trailed off as she squeezed his hands tightly.
"That isn't what I meant at all and you know it, Angel Girl," He countered sternly, cupping her chin in his hand and forcing her to look at him once more. His expression softened as he saw the confusion in her dark eyes as she tried to make sense out of this whole nightmare,
"Why do you expect so much of yourself in regards to this whole situation, Monica? This girl you were assigned to tonight…would you ever expect her to be doing the kind of work you've been doing this week and reliving what happened to her over and over again?" He watched as a small sob escaped her at the memory as she shook her head,
"Then why do you expect this from yourself, little one?"
"She wasn't an angel…" Monica whimpered miserably.
"And you are not perfect," Andrew countered gently,
"None of us are. Sweetheart, I left the AOD position because it had gotten to the point where it hurt too much when my assignments refused to accept the love that God had for them and I knew when it began to hurt more and more that it was time to get out and to find another way to serve the Father. Don't you see how true this is with you too? The Father wants all of His children to be happy, Monica, angels included. He hates to see our hearts broken and pain in our eyes, you know that and have told it to humans so many times, but yet you expect something different for yourself?"
"But it hurts so much, Andrew, that what happened to me was all for nothing," Monica whispered, her voice trembling,
"What was the purpose of it if I am useless to help in Jamie's unit? Why did it have to happen to me at all?"
Seeing her break down, Andrew drew her into his arms, tears escaping his own eyes at her pain and wishing with all his heart that he had a way to erase that horrible time from her memory forever. His heart cried out to the Father for this answer to her question as he rocked her gently.
"She has the answer, My angel. She just needs to find it out for herself."
Andrew nodded his head sadly as he rested his cheek against her hair and whispered words of comfort and love to her softly until she had cried herself into an exhausted sleep. Gently gathering her into his arms, he stood up and carried her back to her room. Laying her down on the bed, he drew the blankets up over her sleeping form,
"Sleep, baby girl," He whispered, smoothing the hair back from her face,
"Things will look brighter at the start of a new day tomorrow." Kissing her cheek, he stood to leave, only to hear her whimper his name. Returning to her side, he sat down on the edge of the bed and stroked her hair,
"I'm right here, sweetheart."
Watching as she groggily shifted over to make room for him, her indication that she didn't want to be alone, he laid on top of the blankets, propping himself up on his elbow to tenderly continue stroking her still damp auburn hair,
"It's okay, little one. I'm here…I'm right here."
Nestling her head beneath his arm, feeling the warmth of him and the feel of his hand in her hair, she finally fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Kevin walked through the door of the cabin the next afternoon, totally exhausted after having finished his and Andrew's assignment by himself. Running a hand through his brown hair, the young angel closed the wooden door and headed to the living room where Rose and Tess were seated and engaged in deep conversation. The red-haired supervisor looked up at the sound of Kevin entering the room and smiled in his direction.
"Hello, honey. How'd it go?"
Sighing deeply, the youngest angel nodded his head and took a seat in the arm chair beside the fireplace,
"I'm tired, but the assignment is finished...It went easier then I thought it would; I thought it'd take longer then two days..."
Reaching over and patting his hand, Rose grinned lovingly at him,
"We all had total faith in you, Kevin, and I know Andrew did as well or else he wouldn't have had you finish it up by yourself."
"Is he back yet?" Kevin asked, looking at the two older angels.
Shaking her head, Rose exchanged a look with Tess, who answered the youngest angel's question,
"Not yet, baby. I got the Word that he and Monica are still at the beach house talking things out; but I have a good feeling about this, Kevin. Although our Angel Girl did get fired last night, I know Andrew will be able to help her come to grips with it, and you three will be back together working before too long..."
Sitting straight up in his chair, brown eyes wide, Kevin's mouth spread into a smile,
Nodding her read head, Rose returned the smile,
"Really, honey. We wouldn't lead you wrong, especially when we got the news from the Father Himself-"
"Can I go to the beach house and see them?" The angel rose to his feet, his eyes dancing merrily at the possibility of working with both of his friends again and some of his former cheerfulness was starting to return.
"I have no problem with that, baby," Tess replied, shrugging her shoulders and winking at him. Reaching down to pick up a bag that was sitting at her feet by the couch, the mahogany-skinned angel grasped it and handed it to Kevin,
"And while you're there, you can give these to those two babies." Seeing his confused expression as he glanced into the bag, Tess chuckled and continued,
"I developed the film of pictures that you three took on your trip. I know that our little Cupcake could use a smile on her face, as well as our Angel Boy, so while you're there, you can give these to them."
His brown eyes sparkling with excitement for the first time in about a week, Kevin leaned down and gave Tess' cheek a quick kiss,
"I will, Tess. Thanks."
Squeezing the youngest's shoulder, the supervisor nodded and smiled in Rose's direction,
"Now get going, baby. I know that Monica for one would like to see you..."
"Knock, knock! Anybody home?" Kevin opened the door to the beach house several minutes later and poked his head inside. A smile spread across the angel's face as he headed into the living room and saw his two friends sitting side by side on the living room couch, engaged in conversation. Andrew's arm was draped around his best friend's shoulders and Monica was giggling at some things that he was saying and just seeing the Irish angel smiled caused Kevin to do the same. Taking a step forward and making his presence known, he stepped in front of them,
"So when can I join in the fun?"
Taken by surprise at the sudden sound of her co-worker's voice, Monica felt a smile spread across her lovely face as she rose to her feet and headed towards Kevin,
"Kevin! What are you doing here-"
Not allowing his friend to finish speaking, the youngest angel had soon wrapped his arms around the older Irish angel in a huge hug. Monica felt a few tears fall from her eyes as she embraced Kevin back tightly, who whispered into her ear,
"I missed you so much, Cupcake."
Chuckling softly at the hated nickname, Monica pulled away and looked at him through her tears,
"I missed you too, Kev..."
Looking over at his supervisor, who had risen to his feet and walked over to join them, Kevin continued speaking,
"As I've told Andrew while you were gone, Monica, it's never the same without one of you guys around...I mean, if you left for another department, Andrew, I'd have felt the same way I did when Cupcake here left...if you know what I mean."
Smiling broadly in his friend and charge's direction, Andrew rested a gentle hand on his shoulder and patted it,
"I know what you mean, buddy."
"Are you doing any better, Monica?" Kevin turned his attention back to the Irish angel and stared at her worriedly,
"We have been so worried about you since..."
"It's okay, Kev," She gently interrupted, smiling over at her best friend and taking his hand in her own,
"I know I'll be okay soon. Right now, I'm just happy to have you both here again." She squeezed Andrew's hand tightly as he gazed compassionately down at her,
"So what's in your hand, Kevin?"
Almost forgetting about the pictures Tess had given to him before he left the cabin, the youngest of the trio glanced down at the
bag he still held in his hand and raised his eyebrows at his friends,
"Oh yeah, I almost forgot about this! Tess told me to give this to you; she said she developed the pictures we took of our trip to Disney last week, and she wanted you to see them..."
"Oh my, now this I gotta see," Andrew groaned as he accepted the offered back and headed towards the couch again, still holding onto Monica's hand. Taking a seat beside both of his friends and charges, the blonde supervisor retrieved the packet of photos from the bag and lifted out the first stack. As the three friends flipped through the photos of their trip, laughter floated through the air in the small beach house for the first time in what seemed like ages.
"It's good to see that your appetite is coming back, Kevy Boy," Andrew winked over at his youngest charge and clapped him on the back as he took a rather large bite of the turkey sandwich he held in his hand. The three friends had decided to have a small picnic out on the beach later that night, as it was too warm to eat inside, and now Kevin was eating his third turkey sandwich that evening while also drinking down a liter bottle of Coke,
"I was starting to wonder when you would wolf down some more food..."
Sticking his tongue out at his older friend playfully, all the while winking at Monica who was clutching her stomach in laughter, Kevin then took another large bite of his meal,
"I know, I was starting to wonder if I would ever be me again..."
Feeling full, especially after watching Kevin eat most of the food in the picnic basket, Monica leaned back on the large blanket that was set up on the sand, and straight into her best friend's arms. Andrew wrapped his arms around her from behind and let her rest her head against his chest, her hand gently lying on his knee. Kissing the top of her head lovingly, the oldest angel smiled down at her before shaking his head at his second friend,
"You know, Kev, I've started to think of a new name for you...After you two named me Simba, and Angel Girl down here got dubbed Cupcake..." He chuckled as his best friend stuck her tongue out him before turning his attention back to the youngest caseworker, his green eyes twinkling with mischief,
"I've got the perfect one for you, buddy, considering your appetite...I like Wonder Boy."
Nearly choking on his fourth sandwich that he had just unwrapped and was starting to wolf down, Kevin turned to his supervisor and narrowed his eyes at him,
"Okay, Simba, you wanta play rough?"
Not wanting to be get involved in any part of this, Monica leaped to her feet and backed away from her friends, in case there would be any pieces of food flying before too long. Clutching her stomach in laughter, the Irish angel watched as the two male angels each shot sarcastic remarks at one another, before Kevin grabbed the remaining of his turkey sandwich and threw it at him. Shaking her auburn head, Monica couldn't resist and although she had originally planned on staying out of this "fight", she giggled instead and grabbed the remaining of her own sandwich and tossed it back at Kevin.
The three angels playfully continued to toss their food at one another for the next couple of minutes before it all winded down and Monica took a seat once again on the blanket, Andrew soon following her,
"Well, that was fun while it lasted...Now you don't have anymore food to gobble down, Kev."
Laughing out loud at that comment, Andrew shook his head at both of his friends. Sighing in exhaustion, the older angel urged his best friend close to him again and after she had settled into his strong arms again, her arms wrapped snuggly around his waist, Andrew stared up at the starry sky and whispered to nobody in particular,
"I just love nights like this...especially those star-filled skies that the Father created, you know?"
Grinning at both of his friends, Kevin crawled over to where Monica was seated in Andrew's embrace and stretched out, laying his tousled head on the Irish angel's lap, also staring up at the dark sky. Feeling Monica's soft hand in his hair, the youngest caseworker smiled sleepily and whispered,
"I know what you mean, Simba. I love it, too...Just as much as I love working with you guys."
Monica awoke with a start and bolted up in bed. Her breaths came in short gasps and then slowly calmed as the dream began to fade. Glancing over at the clock on her nightstand, she sighed as she saw that it was just after 4:00 in the morning.
Lying back down, the Irish angel found herself now unable to sleep and after a few minutes, she threw off the covers and padded into the kitchen to fix a pot of coffee. Monica rubbed her eyes sleepily as she listened to the monotonous dripping of the coffee into the pot as her thoughts went back over the last few days.
Yesterday, she had forced herself to put aside her grief and to just focus on being with her friends, which is what she had needed as a welcome diversion from the confusion she was still feeling inside. But once Andrew and Kevin had bid her goodnight and she had gone to bed, she became deeply troubled once more and sleep had been a few hours coming.
Though she did feel better just being out of Special Forces, the things she had seen over those few days tore at her heart and once again, she found herself faced with the question of "Why did this happen to me?" The thought of it being in vain devastated her as she had always thought the reason had been so that she could work in Jamie's unit, but now she knew that was not the case.
Pouring herself a cup of coffee, Monica donned her jacket, putting it on over her pajamas and walked out onto the deck. The little angel breathed in deeply, as she listened to the sound of the waves crashing against the shore and looking up, she could see light just starting to break across the dark sky, the patches of black and orange nearly taking her breath away.
"A brand new day," She whispered aloud, fighting back tears as she longed for her own brand new day. After all, the Father's children had new chances with every sunrise to make their existence better.
As the sun surged across the ocean, Monica came to a sudden realization and once again, her breath was nearly taken away.
Yawning, Andrew walked into the kitchen later that morning, puzzled green eyes coming to rest on the nearly empty coffee pot and he knew that could only mean one thing.
Glancing around, he saw his dearest friend sitting crossed legged in a chair out on the deck, still clad in pajamas and a jacket, a notebook in her lap as she seemed to be writing furiously. Concern and curiosity getting the better of him, the supervising angel walked over and slid open the sliding glass door to step outside onto the deck.
"G'morning, Angel Girl," He stated softly, watching as she looked up at him. He noticed immediately that she looked extremely tired, but at the same time there was something else in her eyes that he wasn't sure he recognized. Not quite peace, but…
"Good morning, yourself," Monica smiled softly as she closed the notebook, her tired brown eyes meeting with his.
"Seems you've been up for awhile, sweetie," He observed as he rested his hands on her shoulders,
"At least long enough to drink almost a pot of coffee."
Leaning her head back, she looked up at him and smiled sheepishly as she held up two fingers.
"Two pots of coffee?" Andrew raised his eyebrows, unsure of whether to be amused or stern with her over her coffee and caffeine addiction,
"That's a little extreme, don't you think? Exactly how long have you been awake?"
"Long enough to drink two pots of coffee," She replied with a wink up at him, before adding,
"I had a wee bit of trouble sleeping."
Andrew nodded his head in understanding, knowing her well enough to know that she was still struggling,
"So you decided to start a journal?"
Monica ran her hand thoughtfully over the cover of the notebook,
"No, Andrew, not exactly," She replied softly.
The older angel moved to sit in the chair across from her, his eyes showing his concern for her,
"Sweetheart, what is going on?"
Smiling softly, Monica reached for his hands and gave them a tight squeeze,
"I need something from you and from Kevin today," She began carefully, not wanting to risk this coming out wrong and sounding hurtful,
"I need a little uninterrupted time to work on something. There is something I need to explore and I don't know yet if it is an answer or not, but I need the time to figure it out. I'm not asking you two to go anywhere, in fact, I want you both here, but I just don't want to be asked any questions about what I'm doing. Do you think that would be okay?"
Hearing the hopeful twinge in her voice, he sighed softly and reached up to stroke her cheek,
"Yeah, baby, that would be okay, as long as you are okay."
"I'm getting there, my friend and there might be moments today when I am a little sad, but I need to be right now. I need to remember some things I'd rather forget, but there is a reason for it. I'm asking you to please be patient and let me do what I need to do. Deal?" She gave his hands another squeeze, her dark filled with her love for him.
Knowing he had little choice and that he wouldn't deny her of this anyway, Andrew smiled at her,
"So you have no idea what she is up to?" Kevin asked that afternoon as he and Andrew sat out on the deck, soaking up some of the magnificent sunshine.
"Not a clue, Wonder Boy," Andrew replied with a sigh. It had been a long afternoon and true to her word, there had been moments when his dearest friend had been working diligently on whatever it was, when she would be swiping at tears and those moments had torn at his heart. Thus, he had suggested that he and Kevin come outside for a bit, so it wouldn't feel so impossible to honor her wishes.
"And where did the laptop come from?" Kevin asked, bewildered. Seeing the pointed look his supervisor gave him as he glanced upwards in answer, the younger angel nodded,
"Oh, right. Gotcha," He grinned sheepishly as he reached for another doughnut and offered one to Andrew who refused with a chuckle.
"Kevin, one of these days you are going to explode, and that is not going to be pretty," Andrew grinned as he shot his youngest charge a wink.
"Naah," Kevin laughed as he took a bite of his treat,
"Angels can't explode," He paused as if wondering,
"If they can, you would be the one to prove the theory," Andrew quipped, glancing inside at his best friend once more. She was still typing, still clad in her pajamas, her auburn locks thrown back in a haphazard ponytail. He watched as she paused to rub her eyes with her palms tiredly, before her fingers hit the keyboard once again and he sighed.
"She's a secretive one, our Cupcake," Kevin remarked, following Andrew's gaze,
"And how many pots of coffee has she gone through today?"
"I think she is on pot number 5," Andrew remarked, his promise to her keeping him from scolding her, plus he knew the caffeine was helping to keep her going,
"Tess would have my head if she knew."
"I won't tell," Kevin replied solemnly, surprised when Andrew let out what sounded close to a snort,
"What was that for?"
"You'd have a lot of room to tattle with that sweet tooth of yours," Andrew chuckled,
"Once we go back to work, I am introducing you to something called fruit and her to something called decafe."
"She is coming back to work with us, right?" Kevin asked, deciding to ignore that last comment.
Letting out a worried sigh, Andrew's eyes traveled inside of the house once more,
"As far as I know, Kev. As far as I know."
It was nearly 2:00 in the morning when the last page printed and the exhausted angel starred at the binder in her hands. She wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed; her back ached, her fingers were cramping and all the coffee she had consumed today, combined with lack of sleep, had her feeling a little shaky. But she knew she would not be able to sleep without talking to Andrew now that she was finished.
She knew he was probably sound asleep as he and Kevin had gone to bed nearly three hours ago and she debated waiting until morning, but she was so nervous now that she knew she would never be able to sleep regardless of how tired she was until she knew what he thought. Groaning softly as she got up out of the chair, she shuffled into the kitchen, rubbing her eyes and put on a pot of water for tea. As she leaned up against the counter waiting for it to boil, she wondered once again if what she had worked so hard on would even go over well, despite the gentle nudge that the Father had given her this morning.
Ten minutes later, she softly opened the door to Andrew's room and sighed when she saw he was fast asleep. Slipping inside, she set the cup of tea she had made for him down on his nightstand, before walking over to the other side of the bed and crawling up to sit on her legs beside of him. Tentatively, she reached over and have him a gentle shake,
"Andrew?" Hearing him grumble something in his sleep, she tried again, a little more firmly this time with her shake,
"Andrew, I need to talk to you."
Still mostly asleep, Andrew groaned and rolled over to ignore her,
"Give me a break, Angel Girl," He mumbled, still caught up in the dream of being in Florida and her and Kevin keeping him up all night.
"Andrew, I know it's late and I'm sorry, but it's important," Monica pleaded.
Something in her voice, caused him to wake up then as he bolted up in bed, running a hand through his tousled blond hair,
"Angel Girl?" He said softly, seeing her there in the darkness next to him,
"Sweetie, is everything all right?"
"I think so. I just need to talk to you and you need to turn on the light. There is something I need for you to see." As tired as she was, she couldn't keep the tinge of excitement from her voice.
Rubbing his eyes, Andrew reached over and turned on the light, managing a sleepy smile as he saw the cup of hot tea sitting there,
"Well, you didn't plan this at all now, did you?" He teased gently, before seeing her pensive expression,
"Talk to me, Monica. What is it you have been working on all day?"
Biting her lip nervously, she held out her hands and handed the binder to him, watching as he took it and after exchanging a look with her, he opened it up.
As the supervising angel paged through what appeared to be a training manual, his eyes widened as he read the different topics, each followed with explicit instructions, all dealing with victims of r*ape,
"Monica, what is this?"
Her aching fingers worked nervously as she managed to find her voice,
"It's something I want to present to Jamie," She began softly,
"Her unit needs help and I know now that I am not the angel to provide that, and even if I were, they need more help than just one. But with that being said, I couldn't imagine any other angels having to go through what I did and what the others did in order to be able to understand what these humans are going through. So, I went through it all today; every emotion, every feeling, what helped me and what didn't and I put this together in hopes that Jamie and Special Forces will use it instead of making any others choose what I chose and what the others chose. I figure it is about a 4-week training period to teach the angels who volunteer for this what these women that they are going to help have gone through, so they don't have to experience it first hand to understand." She drew in a deep breath as she awaited his reaction.
Andrew kept his eyes lowered as he cleared his throat,
"And who will be teaching this course if Jamie agrees to it?"
"Well, I'm hoping that if there is still a place for me working with you and Kevin, that you could spare me for a few weeks to do this every few months, until Jamie can get someone else to learn the material and replace me as the trainer," She explained, growing concerned as his eyes remained focused on the file in his hands as he continued to page through it.
"How did you come to this, Monica?" He asked softly.
She was quiet for a moment, contemplating her answer,
"I think for the last 14 years, I have been waiting for something or someone to fix this for me…to make it all worth it for me. I realized this morning, with the Father's help that I chose to do this 14 years ago, to help a teenage girl, so what made me think that the solution as to how to deal with it or how to make it all worth it, would come from anyone other than me? I was the one who had to make what Philip did to me worth it, not Jamie and not Special Forces. I knew I didn't want to be there, but didn't see how I could live with myself if it all was in vain. Doing this, today, made it all worth it, if only she accepts it. No one else in the heavenly realm has to ever go through that again and that would make it all worth it to me." Still seeing him not looking up, she began to feel panicked,
"Andrew? What are you thinking? I need to know…"
As he looked up at last, Monica saw the tears that had flooded his eyes and tears filled her own eyes at his words,
"I'm thinking, little one, that I have never in my existence been prouder of you than I am right now." He choked out, pulling her into his arms and hugging her as tightly as he dared,
"I can't imagine Jamie turning this down, sweetheart. It's a near perfect solution. I'm just so proud of you, Angel Girl, just so proud. There are no other words, Mon'. And Kevin and I are counting on you coming back to us as that is where you belong, though it will not be an issue for you to teach this course you devised and I have that on the Highest Authority, Angel Girl."
Holding onto him tightly, the exhausted angel smiled through her tears as she whispered a silent "Thank you" to the Father,
"Andrew, for the first time in so long, I feel at peace about this, providing Jamie accepts it. The last 10 years have been wonderful, but in the back of my mind, it was always there, you know? But now…I can't even explain how it is I feel, Andy…it's just…it's like being free. And you, you've helped me so much and I know you will say you didn't really do anything, but Andrew, you did. You gave me my confidence back as we worked together and you made me see that what happened to me didn't change how much you loved me, and Andrew, those things were so important and they are in the training manual, written with you in mind and geared towards angels helping the victims families to help their loved ones get through the trauma of this, like you helped me. Without you and the Father and even Kevin…I'm just so grateful, Andrew."
Planting tiny kisses on the top of her head, Andrew whispered to her,
"Whatever I did to help you, sweetheart, was entirely my pleasure. There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you, Angel Girl and you know that." Pulling away, he looked into her eyes,
"You look ready to drop, Monica."
"I'm really, really tired," She uttered tearfully, yet managing a smile at the same time.
"I can't imagine why," He smiled gently at her as he reached over to turn off the light before lying back with her in his arms,
"Now, go to sleep and tomorrow you and I will have a little conversation about 7 pots of coffee in one day, even if it was for an incredible cause," He smiled again as she gave a weary chuckle, but it wasn't even a minute later that she was fast asleep in his arms. Before he closed his eyes, he offered up a prayer of thanks to the Father for helping to bring his best friend full circle at long last and for the first time in a long, long time, Andrew fell asleep knowing that she would be just fine.
By the end of that week, three well-rested angels walked, chattering nonstop, up the steps back to the cabin. Kevin stuck his tongue out at his supervisor over the use of his new nickname, and chuckling, Andrew shook his blonde head and put his hand on the doorknob. Keeping a hold of Monica's hand, the oldest angel pushed the door open and poked his head inside,
"Is that my angel babies I hear?" Tess cried out, coming out of the kitchen as Rose and Carla looked up from where they sat in the living room. Seeing the three angels entering the cabin with Andrew in the lead, the older angel wasn't sure of whom to grab first, so she pulled her Angel Boy into her arms and embraced him tightly,
"We've been wondering when you three were going to show up!"
Laughing at the force of her embrace, Andrew hugged his older friend back before he released her and gave her a gentle kiss on the cheek,
"Well, we're here now, Tess. Wonder Boy and Cupcake couldn't wait to see you three again." The blonde angel winked at his two charges and friends before heading into Rose's waiting arms. As he felt his former supervisor wrap her arms tightly around him, Andrew
looked over her shoulder and chuckled as Carla flung her arms around both Monica and Kevin at the same time.
"I wish that you three would just stay put with us in this cabin instead of disappearing!" Although she appeared to be scolding, Andrew heard the teasing in her voice.
"I know, Rose, but we had a little work to do over the last few days," He replied with a smile,
"But the good news is that everything is going to be just fine…better than fine even. How about the best it has been in a long time?"
Breathing a huge sigh of relief, Carla released the youngest angel and her former supervisor, and walked over to Andrew to embrace him tightly as well,
"Can I tell you how good it feels to hear those words coming out of your mouth, buddy?"
Laughing, Andrew wrapped his arms around his young friend in return and nodded his head,
"Lemme tell you, Car...I never thought I'd see the day."
Tess smiled as she came face to face with her Angel Girl, delighting in a sparkle in those doe-like eyes that she had not seen in a long time, not even during the last ten years when things had improved so much. Hugging the little Irish angel tightly, Tess spoke softly,
"We were worried about you, Angel Girl."
"I'm all right, Tess," Monica replied softly in return,
"And for the first time since everything happened, I can say that and honestly mean it."
"We are so very proud of you, Little Angel," Rose spoke up then as she walked over to where Tess was releasing the Irish angel from her arms,
"The Father told us about your idea, and about how Jamie agreed to it...Monica, I'M proud of you, I hope you know that, sweetheart."
Smiling a real smile for the first time at Andrew's former supervisor, Monica flung her arms around the elderly angel and hugged her tightly,
"Thank you, Rose."
Seeing Andrew grinning broadly at the exchange between his best friend and his former supervisor, Kevin piped up,
"Yeah, we're all pretty dog-on proud of Cupcake," He winked at Monica as she sighed over the use of the nickname before he headed towards the kitchen,
"I'll be right back. I'm starving."
At those words, Andrew and Monica burst into laughter and the older of the two shook his head in wonder,
"When is he never hungry? But I really think some fruit is calling your name, Wonder Boy...no more donuts or cakes-"
"Wonder Boy?" Carla raised a thin eyebrow at that name and smacked Kevin on the back,
"Hey, that suits him perfectly, Andrew!" He winked in the youngest angel's direction and giggled as he narrowed his brown eyes at her,
"Hey, it's the truth..."
"It sure is," Monica quipped, taking the opportunity to get back at her co-worker for that horrible nickname he had laid on her,
"As we all WONDER where he puts half the stuff he eats."
"Want me to put the coffee on for you, Cupcake?" Kevin asked, an evil glint in his eye as he prepared to go into the kitchen.
"Only if it is decafe," She purred back innocently, delighting in his disappointed expression at failing to get her into trouble.
But the disappointed look didn't stay on Kevin's face for long as Tess piped up,
"It's good to see you cutting back, Angel Girl," Tess began, but only raised an eyebrow as she saw how Andrew had raised a hand to his mouth and was stifling back some laughter. She then raised both eyebrows and faced her 'Miss Wings',
"All right, Cupcake, what's Angel Boy laughing about over there...? Lemme guess. You overdosed on coffee this past week..."
"More then you realize, Tess," Kevin chortled, winking over at his supervisor and seeing the slightly red look on Monica's face as he faced her,
"And Simba over there...I still need to get revenge on him for that time at Disney when he forced me to have my picture taken with the Beast from 'Beauty and the Beast'! Talk about cruel and unusual punishment on such a nice fellow like myself..."
"Oh and I'm sure you are completely innocent in all of this," Carla giggled, watching as Monica had taken this opportunity to slip out of Tess' line of fire to take a seat beside of Andrew on the sofa,
"Poor Andrew and Monica probably had to fight for food to stay alive in their human forms with you around! They are both looking a little peaked if you ask me!"
Shrugging his shoulders innocently, Kevin then disappeared inside of the kitchen to grab some food and not even a few minutes later, he returned with a huge piece of pie in his hand, while licking his fingers with the other. Putting on an innocent look for his supervisor, he held the plate out to him.
"I thought I told you FRUIT, man..." Andrew pretended to look peeved at his charge and shook his blonde head as Kevin instead stuck his tongue out at him and took a seat on the arm of the chair Carla had occupied. The little blonde angel who resembled Andrew's look to a T, also shook her head and dipped her finger into the piece of pumpkin pie and licked her finger.
"Can't keep me away from that stuff either," She winked over at the youngest angel and giggled as he gave her a mock glare,
"Although I don't think I'm half as bad as Mr. Wonder over here..."
"You know, Kevin," Monica mused aloud,
"Had you been smart, you would have gone for peach pie as that has fruit in it," She winked at her younger friend and ignored the exasperated sigh Andrew gave.
"Good point, Cupcake," Kevin replied, deciding to go for the brass ring in this conversation,
"And had you been smart, you wouldn't have drank 7 pots of coffee in one day knowing how Tess feels about that. What really amazes me is that Andrew let you do it."
"Hold it, hold it!" Tess held a hand up and broke in,
"Did you just say...SEVEN pots of coffee?" A stern look appeared on the older angel's mahogany features and her eyes bugged out,
"Since when did Mr. Halo ever allow you to have 7 pots of coffee-"
"This last week he did," Kevin interrupted and winked at his supervisor, who was shooting dirty look after dirty look his way. He chuckled as Tess rose to her feet and crossed her arms in front of her chest, staring down at Andrew and Monica. The little Irish angel's face had turned pink with embarrassment, but she also appeared to be holding back fits of laughter as she shrugged her shoulders innocently.
"I was on a roll?" Monica offered meekly, inching a little closer to her best friend and looking up at him for help.
"Yes, I did allow it under the circumstances," Andrew stammered, trying not to burst into laughter at the look on Tess' face, which was nearly a shade of purple,
"Part of being a supervisor is knowing when the rules need to be bent a little and she and I did have a nice long discussion the next day about the benefits of decafe. Just like Kevin and I will be having a little discussion on the benefits of keeping ones mouth shut."
"You mean, like when Monica told me about the bumblebee costume?" Kevin nearly choked on his piece of pie as Andrew's face turned a deep shade of red and Monica leaned forward and nearly fell into her best friend's lap with laughter. The blonde supervisor's face turned an even deeper shade of red as he watched Tess shake her head and start to chuckle under the circumstances. Rose and Carla, however, still appeared lost in the dark and before he could speak, Kevin piped up again,
"You mean to tell us, Tess, that you didn't tell those two about the bumblebee antenna?"
"Well, baby, I kinda forgot about it..." Tess started and she had to laugh at the look on her 'Angel Boy's' face.
"Oh Andrew, I'm really sorry," Monica managed to say between fits of giggles, knowing Kevin had her on that one and her poor best friend just had to suffer the consequences once more. Feeling the need to stick up for her friend, she glared at Kevin,
"By all means, eat! At least when your mouth is full of junk food, you aren't talking."
"Seven pots of coffee, seven pots of coffee…" Kevin chanted as if he were a subliminal message trying to remind Tess to apply the heat once more, but before he could get any further, he choked on a laugh as his eyes widened, as Monica flew out of her seat heading in his direction. Shoving his nearly empty pie plate at Carla, he leapt to his feet and struck a ninja type stance to defend himself, his eyes twinkling with mischief and laughter.
Raising an eyebrow in his youngest charge's direction, Andrew gave him a Look and grumbled,
"I don't see anything funny about this, Wonder Boy..."
"Oh but I do!" He then took his seat once again and was about to take the plate back from Carla, when the youngest angel noticed that it was now empty. His eyes widening again, he stuck his lower lip out in a pout and crossed his arms in front of his chest,
"You finished off my pie, woman!"
Nodding his head, Andrew applauded his blonde friend and chuckled as the attention was now taken off of him and the embarrassing Halloween costume, and was now back on Kevin,
"Thank you, Carla. You did good."
"You're welcome and it was good," Carla grinned with a giggle, noticing how Andrew's comment had caused Kevin to take his attention off Monica.
Kevin let out a yelp as the Irish angel descended upon him, trapping him in the chair as she tickled him mercilessly. His cries of laughter filled the room as tears came to his eyes from laughing so hard,
"Get her off me! This is what happens when good cupcakes go bad! Down, cupcake, down!" He screeched, his face bright red from laughing.
Ignoring his cries and pleas, Monica only continued to tickle him mercilessly,
"Well, this is what you get for the day we left on the cruise! Remember when you tickled me nonstop to wake up? You didn't have to join in with Andrew, you know..."
Rose and Tess watched from afar and the oldest of the duo shook her red head and wiped at the tears of laughter from her eyes as she watched Andrew rise from his seat and head over to where his two younger friends and charges were at. Rose gripped Tess' arm in laughter as she watched their 'Angel Boy' take off Kevin's shoes and grabbed his ankles so that he could tickle his padded feet.
"Remember what Cupcake said that day we left, Simba!" Kevin screamed in laughter as he shook his legs so that his supervisor would release his ankles,
"If you don't let go, I'm going to kick you! And you know I will!"
Finally in one abrupt motion, Kevin managed to tuck his feet up under him as he desperately gave Monica a shove that knocked her down onto the floor with a startled yelp, though Andrew managed to break the worst of her fall as he was directly under her.
"See?"Kevin chortled, trying to catch his breath,
"It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt!" But he had to grin, seeing his supervisor wrap his arms around his best friend as they both struggled to catch their breaths.
"You know, Rose," Tess remarked with a small smile,
"I'm not sure you could pay me enough to supervise the three of them, but they do seem well suited for each other."
"That they do, Tess," The older angel agreed, her eyes coming to rest on Andrew and Monica for a moment as the Irish angel leaned back into his embrace,
"But I do believe that from here on out, the sailing is going to be a lot smoother."