A friend in need

By Kimbre and Erin

Prologue

By the start of the new month, the tension between the three angels was so overwhelming, Kevin thought for sure that he was going to burst if he had to stay in the same room with Andrew and Monica any further. His supervisor barely spoke a word to either of his friends, and whenever the youngest angel was around Monica, the little Irish angel appeared to be slipping deeper and deeper into herself; she barely ate throughout the day, and most of the time it was by the urging of Kevin to grab at least something to eat so she wouldn't starve. Although the younger Caseworker tried hard to lighten the mood around the beach house between the three of them, as the time passed however it became more and more difficult to try and joke around and make his friends smile.

Now, as the waves crashed against the shore and the rain pounded down on the small house they were sharing, Kevin looked out the window of his room and sighed. This very day reminded him of the same night this whole mess started to begin with; the night after Andrew's surprise party, when a joke on Monica turned into something horrific, and the youngest angel would never forget it. Although he did forgive the Irish angel, it was Andrew who hadn't been able to forgive her and Kevin's heart broke at the reminder that a day that was supposed to be special for his older friend turned out to be a nightmare for him instead.

Hearing the front door open, he knew that Monica must have returned from her assignment and wanting her to have at least some support, he sighed and headed out into the living room where Andrew was reading, having finished up his part of the assignment earlier. Kevin's part in this one had been small, only to set up where the two older angels would take over and now he just prayed that all had gone well.

Kevin smiled as he saw the Irish angel enter the house and she returned his smile with a weak one of her own as he tossed her a towel for her wet hair. He had been careful lately not to joke with her too much, knowing she was dealing with so much where Andrew was concerned and was even more sensitive of late,

"There ya go, Cupcake," He winked at her, as he took her coat from her, heading into the room where Andrew was to hang it up on the rack to dry out, and he could sense her reluctantly following him.

Her eyes glanced over at Andrew, who had barely raised his head, before she offered any information,

"Everything is fine. Becky reconciled with her brother just minutes ago, so it looks like a happy ending."

Forcing himself to raise his head all the way, Andrew didn't meet the Irish angel's brown eyes as he slowly nodded his head,

"That's good."

Feeling a few tears rushing to her sorrowful eyes, Monica quickly wiped them away as her heart raced. What was it going to take for her best friend to talk to her again, really talk to her, and forgive her? Taking a step closer, all the while watching out of the corner of her eye as Kevin departed from the room and headed down the hall to his own bedroom, Monica shakily approached Andrew and took a seat on the edge of the couch next to him,

"Andrew...please, please talk to me..."

"What do you want me to say, Monica?" He asked, still not looking at her.

"I don't know, but anything would be better than this!" She cried out, her frustration getting the better of her,

"Yell at me, scream at me, anything is better than having you ignore me! It's like I no longer exist and I hate that! I made a mistake, a terrible mistake, I know that and I'll never forget it as long as I exist, even without you throwing it up in my face every single day by your silence!"

Finally facing her and looking into her eyes, although he wanted to do anything but that, Andrew placed the book he had been trying to read on the coffee table and sat up so that he was looking directly at Monica,

"I just don't feel like talking about it, all right, Monica?"

"Why are you doing this?" The Irish angel whispered, her voice cracking as the tears flowed down her pale face,

"I thought...I thought at the party a month ago, you told me that we'd forever be best friends, and that things wouldn't change! You crossed your heart, Andy-"

"Monica, just stop! I don't want to talk about this! And that's final!" The older angel raised his voice as anger entered his green eyes.

"Well, that isn't fair!" She cried out, wiping at her eyes with the back of her hand,

"What am I supposed to do, huh? Just wait around until you decide that you want to talk about it? Till you are ready to talk to me? If you think you are punishing me for this, fine, but for how long, Andrew? What amount of time warrants my apology to be accepted? I would take it all back if I could, but I can't and you know that!"

"I said we are not having this discussion!" He spat back at her, ignoring the pain that was in her eyes.

"Well, unfortunately, Andrew, this discussion involves two of us and I'm not giving up on it so easily! At least right now, you aren't ignoring me!" Her voice trembled on the last two words as she met his eyes as bravely as she could.

"You can have this discussion as much as you want to, but I for one am not going to be involved in it!" Rising to his feet, the older angel started to walk away, but Monica quickly grabbed his arm to pull him back around to face her.

"I'm not about to have it end this way, Andrew!" She cried through her tears as she tightened her hold on his upper arm,

"I...I CAN'T let it end this way...why won't you talk with me like you always have?"

"I don't have the answer to that," He retorted, trying to pull away, but she held firm.

"You at the very least owe me an explanation, Andrew, because I'm tired of guessing. It's easy for you to be one to walk away from this discussion when you are the only one who holds the answers and that isn't fair to me," Her voice caught in a sob as she struggled to continue,

"Are you so ashamed of me, is that it? So much so, that you can't even look at me? After all our years of friendship, you at least owe me an explanation before you decide to throw it all away. Is that too much to ask of you?"

"In answer to that question, yes I am ashamed of you. Now let me go, okay?" He slightly lowered his voice, but deep inside, her words hit him like a ton of bricks.

"You may be the supervisor, but I'm not letting you go yet. Please, Andrew, you're my best friend and I don't want to lose that-"

"Tough, Angel Girl." He snapped, pulling his arm away firmly and turning on his heel to head back to his bedroom.

His words like a slap in the face to her, Monica felt the tears racing down her face as starred after him and the words that came out of her mouth were so soft and pain-filled, she wasn't even sure if he would hear her,

"Do I matter so little to you now, Andrew?"

Stopping in his tracks at those words, Andrew kept his back to her as he tried to hold back the tears that were threatening his green eyes. Although there was still deep anger in him, it was slowly starting to fade as it was being replaced with guilt. Noticing this, Monica took a soft step forward so that she was standing behind him, the younger angel whispered weakly,

"Andrew...please answer me..."

He closed his eyes, wanting nothing more than to turn around and pick her up in his arms and soothe all the hurt away from her. His love for her was so strong, but at the same time, his mind went back to the action she had taken against Kevin that night and a fresh wave of anger and disappointment came over him,

"You let me down, Monica," He replied his voice firm,

"Without even thinking twice about it. So ask yourself this: How little did Kevin matter to you in that moment for you to do what you did? Ask yourself that and maybe you'll find your answer." Without another word, he walked the remaining steps to his room and closed the door.

As he leaned against the closed door and folded his arms across his chest, Andrew closed his eyes and finally allowed the tears that had threatened his eyes fall. Shaking his tousled blonde head, the older angel walked shakily over to his bed, but just as he sat down, something caught his eye; with a swipe at the tears on his cheeks, Andrew reached over and picked up the framed poem that Cindy had dropped over several weeks ago. Closing his eyes in frustration, he recalled that day that his human friend had come by and had given the poem that Monica had written for him back to Kevin, and his youngest charge had in return handed it over to him. Without saying a word, the angel had just gazed at the broken frame and muttered his thanks to Cindy.

Now, looking down at the words his friend had written from her heart, Andrew shook his head wearily and shoved the poem underneath his pillow. As he wrapped his arms around the pillow, the blonde angel closed his tear-filled eyes and drifted off into a restless sleep.

Kevin awoke early the next morning and cautiously slipped out of his room, breathing a slight sigh of relief that no one appeared to be up yet, or at least that Andrew didn't appear to be up yet. Upon checking, he found Monica's bed hadn't been slept in and he sighed worriedly, having overheard part of the exchange last night that had taken place in the hallway as she had pleaded with Andrew for answers.

Walking over the patio door, he could see her sitting out on the beach with a quilt wrapped around her. Slipping out the door, he walked down the steps and down the beach to where she was, taking a seat in the sand beside of her,

"Have you been out here all night?"

Monica nodded her head sadly,

"Well, ever since the rain stopped as it's a whole lot better than being in there."

Sensing that she was about to say more, Kevin remained quiet, as this was a rare moment lately when she would share any of what she was feeling.

"I thought about going to find Tess or Rose, but I don't even know if they know what is going on or what I did and I don't think I could stand having anyone else angry with me, you know? Andrew is more than enough," She attempt a laugh, though it came out as more of a sob even as she forced back the tears,

"I don't even know what to do anymore."

"I wish there was something I could do to help, Cupcake," Kevin whispered, his brown eyes turning towards the ocean and he let out a soft sigh,

"But everything I've tried to say to him, he won't listen to me either..."

"I don't want him getting angry at you too, Kevin," Monica shook her head and she glanced tearfully at the youngest angel,

"I don't know...Brady told me it would take time for things to heal between us, but I never thought that Andrew would really want to throw away our friendship right now..."

"Monica, I don't think he really wants that," The youngest angel interrupted, turning to look at her,

"You know that he loves you-"

"Are you sure about that?" Monica choked out, her voice now hoarse,

"He did after all, throw away the poem that I wrote for him; and the only way he got it back was through Cindy."

"Despite it all, Monica, I am sure about that. He can't turn his feelings for you on and off like a faucet, you know that-."

"I feel like I'm invisible, Kevin," She whispered shakily,

"Where he used to be able to see into my soul, it's like now he just looks past me. He doesn't speak to me or acknowledge me unless I force him to. If he is so angry with me, I'd rather have him yell at me, then to treat me like I don't even matter at all and that's how I feel when he ignores me and I keep trying to understand why this is happening, but I can't, other than to think how sorry I am about hitting you, Kevin. And not just because of how this whole mess turned out, but because you are my friend and I had no right.."

Sighing softly, Kevin reached an arm out and wrapped it supportively around the Irish angel's shoulders, drawing her close for a moment. As she leaned her head against his shoulder and tightened the warm quilt around her, Monica closed her tear-stained eyes for a moment before opening them again and continued speaking,

"That night that I hit you, Kev...the look on both yours and Andrew's faces, I will never forget for as long as I live. Just like..." Here, the angel stopped, wondering if Andrew himself should explain this to the youngest Caseworker; but the curious look on his face caused her to draw in a deep breath and sit up straight.

"Just like what?" He frowned, his eyebrows furrowed.

Lowering her eyes to the sand, Monica helplessly shrugged her shoulders as she contemplated over telling Kevin what had happened on Erin's porch so many years ago. But the gentle hand of the youngest angel caused her to look up at him again and she opened her mouth, her words coming out in a shaky whisper,

"What happened that night...something all too familiar happened so many years ago."

His frown deepening, Kevin squeezed her shoulder gently and urged,

"What happened?"

"We were assigned to Erin and her birth daughter, Andrea. Andrea had an accident with her horse and her leg was completely shattered and had to be amputated," Monica's gaze fell back to the ocean as she continued in a tearful whisper,

"Andrew felt terrible that he could not have saved Andrea from getting hurt in the first place, and in turn, Andrea knew he was an angel and she was furious with him for allowing it to happen to her. We brought her home and she and I got along pretty well, which only infuriated Andrew further and there was a lot of tension between us…then one day, I was alone in the house with Andrea and…" The Irish angel gazed up the sky as tears streaked her cheeks.

"What happened, Cupcake?" Kevin asked softly, reaching for her hand for support.

"She asked me for a drink of water and while I was gone, she swallowed a handful of sleeping pills, Kevin. I didn't even know it until Adam showed up to take her Home, and then Erin, Andrew and Tess got there and…it was horrible…Erin of course was devastated, and Tess called 911 and Andrew, he was so angry with me for not knowing what Andrea was up to. I left the room and went to the porch and he followed me and it got really pretty ugly. I finally retaliated with some not so nice things, and…" The painful memory came back to her full force as she struggled to continue,

"He hit me. The police had just arrived and they saw it and asked me if I wanted to press charges and I was so upset and confused over what had just happened with Andrew and with Andrea that I said yes, and they took him away. I left then and didn't come back for four years."

His brown eyes widening over his Irish friend's words of truth to him, Kevin couldn't find his voice; instead, he just squeezed Monica's hand and waited for her to continue,

"Andrew and I didn't see one another for those four years, and he was unable to leave...cop's orders; they believed fowl play was involved, and until I made my presence known, he was unable to go anywhere." Lifting her free hand, she wiped at the tears on her face only to have them being replaced by new ones,

"It wasn't until I came back into town and I ran into Tess, that I knew that there were still charges against him, and that he was still at Erin's house. I knew I had to face him, and I thought he hated me...he was very upset, Kevin, and I didn't think that things would ever be the same between us again. It wasn't until that night, after I left Erin's house, that Andrew went to look for me and...and was involved in a very serious car accident." Her voice choked up as she forced herself to continue,

"He was in a coma, Kevin, and the doctors weren't sure if he would come out of it or not."

"Monica, I had no idea…" Kevin said softly, linking his fingers through hers and feeling her squeeze his hand, seemingly grateful and craving any kind of physical contact right now,

"How did it all work out in the end?"

"I saw him in the hospital and then went back to Erin's house and I prayed to the Father that if He would just allow Andrew to be okay, I'd stay out of his existence for good. A minute later the phone rang and it was Tess, telling me that Andrew was awake and asking for me, but I knew I couldn't face him. So, I left and dropped the charges against him and went to the cabin, which is where he found me several days later once he had been released from the hospital. We still had a lot to discuss and things to learn, but he was there for me and we worked it all out and he told me with this bracelet," Her eyes trailed down to the bracelet she still wore around her wrist,

"That history would never repeat itself. Maybe that is what I did that has him so angry…I repeated it on you."

"But Andrew should know that you didn't mean it-"

"You're right, I didn't mean it; and I know that you forgive me." She watched as the younger angel nodded his head, all the while his face still a mask of concern for all of them,

"But he is my supervisor now...and I know when he's disappointed in me, or angry. And right now, this is one of those times. And I just don't know how to repair the damage that's been done, Kev."

"Just give it a little more time, Cupcake," Kevin soothed gently, rubbing his friend's back,

"Now that you understand why he's upset, maybe now your relationship can start to mend."

"I don't know, Kevin," The Irish angel replied in a broken voice, tightening the quilt around her shivering form,

"I do know, though, that tomorrow morning we start another assignment, and I'll be looking forward to getting back in the swing of things so I won't have to think about this." Rising to her feet, Monica glanced back down at her younger friend and continued,

"I'm going inside. Thanks for listening to me..." Seeing him nod his head in reply, all the while attempting a smile, Monica turned on her bare feet and quietly headed back down the sand and back to the beach house.

Kevin watched her go and he let out a shaky sigh before turning around and staring back out at the crashing waves before him. Monica's story had definitely taken him by surprise, as he had never expected anything like that; throughout the 20 long years he had worked with Andrew and Monica, they had never mentioned this incident to him. Shaking his head silently, Kevin wrapped his arms around his legs and rested his chin on them, knowing that there was really nothing else he and his friends could do at the moment except to let it play out and see where it took them.

"I just hope it won't end in disaster..." He mumbled softly to himself as he continued to stare out into the distance.

Chapter 1

Kevin headed up to the house an hour later, after spending some time communing with the Father, offering up prayers of healing for his friends. As he opened the door to the beach house, he realized that Andrew was now awake and glancing down the hall, he saw that Monica's door was closed, as staying up all night gave her the perfect opportunity to sleep all day and therefore avoid their supervisor.

"Good morning," Kevin forced a smile as walked into the living room, wondering if he dared to try to speak with Andrew about this whole mess again,

"I was going to fix a little breakfast…do you want anything?"

Lifting his head from where it lay against the back of the recliner, Andrew rubbed his eyes sleepily and looked in the direction of Kevin's voice. Although it was still early, the older angel couldn't go back to sleep, so instead he decided to get up and think over the events of the night before. Now, he was surprised to see his youngest charge up so early as well and Andrew forced all of his conflicting emotions aside for the moment to at least try and smile at Kevin,

"No thanks, I'm not hungry at the moment."

Kevin shrugged his shoulders as he headed into the kitchen, unable to help but feel completely disgusted with this entire situation and he was having trouble holding his tongue. He couldn't help but to feel that this whole thing should have been between he and Monica and had that been the case, it would have been over with almost as soon as it had begun, instead of things getting progressively worse over the last few weeks. Grabbing a pan out of the cupboard, he slammed it down on the stove in his frustration, and then was not all that surprised to see Andrew appear in the doorway,

"Sorry," He mumbled, looking away,

"It slipped."

Sucking in a deep breath, Andrew closed his eyes briefly before walking into the kitchen and shutting the door behind him softly,

"Kev, I know that you're upset and probably angry as well-"

"You're right, I am," The youngest angel interrupted, not turning around.

"I know that the way I have treated you was wrong, and I'm sorry about that-"

"Andrew, you shouldn't be apologizing to me," Kevin turned around and looked his supervisor in the eye,

"You know who is the one who should hear it."

Forcing himself to not loose his cool at those words, the blonde angel shook his head and took a seat heavily at the kitchen table,

"And I think you know what my answer to that is going to be..."

"How can you be so blind, Andrew?" Kevin demanded, turning around to face his supervisor,

"On top of that, this never had anything to do with you. She slapped me, not you! And she has apologized to me more than once and I have accepted it, as I have never seen her more sorry. So what gives you the right to continue to rub salt into the wound, huh?"

"Listen, you don't get it!" Andrew finally raised his voice, rising to his feet and staring down at his charge. As he was about to open his mouth to continue speaking, Kevin interrupted, his voice firmer then Andrew had ever heard before.

"No, YOU don't get it!" A few tears formed in the youngest angel's brown eyes, although he tried to force them back, and he took a step closer to his friend,

"Andrew, Monica told me about what you did to her all those years ago at Erin's. She told me everything, from when you slapped her, to her having you arrested, and your accident. She told me that you forgave her, and she forgave you; she told me that you promised that 'history would never repeat itself', and although it did repeat itself a month ago at Cindy's, I deserved it! I said things to her, things that I shouldn't have said, and she reacted in anger! She's not the Father, Andrew, and you know it! Why can't you forgive her for this mistake that never had anything to do with you to begin with?"

"She told you about what happened on Erin's porch?" Andrew's eyes narrowed with anger at the news that Monica had divulged this information,

"She had no business telling you that, Kevin-," The older angel turned to start to go to Monica's room, but Kevin stopped him by grabbing his arm.

"She needed someone to talk to and she certainly can't talk to you right now!" He countered angrily,

"A few years ago, you were so worried about her internalizing everything and worried about what working with Jamie again would do to her. Well, what about what this is doing to her, Andrew? She barely utters a sound, she doesn't eat, and she stays up all night so she can sleep during the day so she doesn't have to face your silence. What? Is it only an issue if someone else is hurting her, but when it is you, that is a different story?"

Feeling like he had been slapped in the face himself at Kevin's words, Andrew opened his mouth to retaliate and reply back, but no words came out of his mouth. Finally forcing himself to meet his charge's frustrated brown eyes, the older angel didn't say a word as he felt a few tears forming in his angry eyes. Although deep down he knew that Kevin was indeed right, Andrew couldn't find the words to say to him; so instead, he pulled his arm firmly from the youngest angel's grasp and headed back out through the kitchen door and towards the back patio.

As Kevin watched him go, he slumped down into the kitchen chair that his friend had just abandoned and put his head in his hands miserably. He debated over checking on Monica or going after Andrew to try and continue to talk some sense into him, but the angel decided against it and continued to sit there, his eyes slowly starting to tear up.

"Hello, honey," the gentle sound of Rose's voice caused Kevin to look up into her sad, blue eyes.

"Rose, what are you doing here?" He uttered weakly.

"I came to check on you, Kevin," She responded softly, reaching for his hand,

"We all know what has been going on and Tess is checking on Monica now. We both know how hard these last few weeks have been for you both and for Andrew too, though he isn't willing to listen to anyone right now, unfortunately."

"Rose, can't you try and talk to him?" Kevin asked, looking through blurred vision at Andrew's former supervisor.

"Honey, I won't be able to help him any more then you can-" Rose started, but the youngest angel interrupted her, his eyes pleading.

"Rose, I'm doing all right besides everything that's going on with Andrew..." He stopped for a moment, his brown eyes filled with sadness, before he continued weakly,

"But I just want my supervisor back to the way he was at the party a month ago! Monica and I just want him back to the Andrew we know and love...and you're the closest thing he had to a mother, and he's always listened to you..."

"Kevin, there is nothing more that I can say to him that you and Monica have not already said. You have both spoken the truth to him and he isn't ready to hear it, even if the Father Himself were the one speaking it," She sighed softly, as she ran a gentle hand through his hair,

"You know how much I love that Angel Boy, but he isn't ready to listen to anyone, not even to me and the Father sent us to talk to you and to Monica. Andrew needs to understand that to forgive is not so much up to him, but to the Father. Monica has already apologized to you and has asked forgiveness from God, and that is what matters."

"But he won't forgive her, Rose," Kevin whispered miserably,

"And it is hurting them both so much."

"I know, honey," The older angel sighed sadly as she lowered her eyes to the table,
"But you must remember that like always, the Father is in control; don't ever forget that, Kevin, especially now. Andrew's so angry right now, and he's going to have to remember the Father's Love and His forgiveness first in order for him to forgive Monica."

"When will that happen, Rose?" Kevin whispered dejectedly, the tears now falling down his younger face.

"I wish I had the answer to that, sweetheart, but I don't," Sighing softly, she leaned forward and lovingly wrapped an arm around his shoulders,

"The Father is the only One who knows how this will end; and maybe, just maybe, your new assignment that starts tomorrow morning will help mend your relationships."

"I don't understand, Rose..." Kevin lifted his head from Rose's shoulder, frowning,

"How can an assignment help something like this?"

"Because we both know that the Father works in mysterious ways, honey, and that His ways are not always our ways. Andrew is holding someone's well being in his hand right now, and the Father sees that and while none of us really understand why Andrew is doing what he is doing, the Father does," She sighed softly once again,

"Sometimes even angels get off track, as you well know, and sometimes it can take a rude awakening to see the truth."

Kevin looked at her miserably,

"It sounds like things are going to get worse before they get better, Rose."

Hugging him close once again, Rose nodded her head, her eyes full of sadness,

"Unfortunately, Kevin, that could very well be the case."

Tess looked down at the sleeping Monica in front of her and sighed softly. She and Rose had been given direct orders to come to the beach house and check up on their friends, but the older angel was deeply saddened to know that neither of them would be able to reach Andrew; only the Father would be able to do that when Andrew was ready to listen. Now, He had directed the two oldest angels to speak to Monica and Kevin and check and see how they were holding up.

Taking a seat next to the Irish angel, whose face was streaked with tears, Tess reached out and stroked her tangled auburn hair,

"I'm so sorry this had to happen to you and Angel Boy, baby girl..." She whispered, sighing once more.

"Tess?" Monica murmured, hearing the familiar voice, as she slowly opened her eyes and sat up. Seeing the look on her former supervisor's face, she immediately lowered her eyes,

"You know?"

"Yes," Tess replied gently, watching her closely to see where this was going.

Tears filling her dark eyes once more, she shook her head in shame,

"I didn't mean to…it just happened…I…" Beginning to cry as she lowered her head to her hands, she continued,

"Please don't be angry with me…please? I can't take it, Tess, I can't…I know I deserve it, but please…just don't…"

"Hey now, Angel Girl, Tess isn't angry at you," Tess tried to soothe her as much as possible before leaning forward and wrapping the Irish angel up in her arms tightly,

"It's okay, baby, I'm not mad at you...Yes, you made a mistake a month ago, but the Father has forgiven you because you asked Him to; and He's already forgotten-"

"But not Andrew..." The younger angel whimpered through her tears, clinging tightly to her friend,

"Oh Tess, I just want him to forgive me...why can't he do that?"

"I don't know, sweetheart," Tess whispered with a sad sigh,

"Our Angel Boy is confused, I think, about a lot of things," She rocked the younger angel gently as she continued to cry,

"I know how much it hurts you two to fight, baby…"

"That's just it, Tess," She sobbed miserably, as she broke down into more violent cries.

"What, Monica?" She pulled away a little to look into her anguished face.

"We..we don't really fight, Tess…it's even worse than that…he…he ignores me, Tess! He ignores me…I can be in the same room with him and I feel like I don't even exist and it hurts…it just hurts…"

"I know it does, Angel Girl," The older angel pulled her former charge back into her strong arms and ran her hands tenderly through her hair,

"Just give him a little bit more time-"

"How much more time does he have to have for him to accept my apology?" She buried her face deeper into Tess' shoulder as she continued sobbing,

"It's like...it's like he doesn't love me anymore, and has forgotten all we've ever shared-"

"Now you listen to me, Miss Wings," Tess pulled away again, but continued to hold onto her friend's shoulders,

"Nothing or nobody, can ever make Halo Boy stop loving you; so you get those thoughts out of your angel mind right now, all right?"

"I can't help it…it's what it feels like! Everything just feels so out of control and I don't know what to do anymore or how to act around him as nothing I say or do makes him happy. If he is punishing me, how long does it go on?" Monica pleaded for answers, knowing that Tess really didn't have them, but desperate enough to ask.

"It isn't up to him to 'punish' you, Angel Girl, and you know that and the Father is still in control, even if it doesn't feel that way at the moment," Pulling away again, she looked into her Angel Girl's face, noticing how drawn and peaked she looked after a month of this,

"Why don't you let me fix you a bite to eat and some hot tea, baby? You look like you could use it."

"I'm not hungry, Tess," Monica whispered sadly, before she looked up once more,

"Please don't leave…"

"Baby, are you not feeling hungry because you don't want to face Andrew?" Tess raised an eyebrow at her former charge and watched as she lowered her head to the bed.

"That's part of it..." She mumbled softly through her tears,

"But just the thought of food right now makes my stomach churn; maybe by the time we start our new assignment tomorrow morning, I can try and eat while I'm working."

Tess watched her through worried eyes for a moment, before asking her sternly,

"And when was the last time you ate anything, Miss Wings?"

"I forget," She whispered sadly, closing her eyes for a moment,

"Maybe yesterday. I'm just so tired, Tess, but I don't want you to go. I feel so alone…"

Sighing softly, Tess shook her head as she replied gently,

"Angel Girl, I can't stay much longer..." She stopped there as she saw the dejected look on Monica's face, and with a sad sigh, the older angel gathered her friend back into her arms and rocked her gently,

"Baby, the Father has some more work for me to do, but Rose and I will be checking in from time to time, and maybe the Father will allow us to try and talk with Andrew about this. But for now, it's out of our hands, Angel Girl."

"I understand," Monica whispered sadly, unable to help but feel like she was being abandoned by having to stay here in this house with one she loved so much who wanted nothing to do with her and as an angel who was so accustomed to feeling loved, it had been a situation that she didn't know how to survive in lately. Pulling away, she laid back down and wrapped her arms around her pillow,

"Will you just sing something for me, before you go, Tess? Please?"

"You know I will, baby girl," Tess soothed gently, stroking the Irish angel's bangs out of her eyes, as she began to sing,

"Help me. God, I'm scared and I'm unprepared to face the night alone.

Hear me. Hear my prayer. My soul it aches and I've nowhere to go.

Help me, God.

In this dark hour I know only the power that made the stars, can mend my heart.

Oh I've tried on my own but I'm not that strong, you're all I've got.

"You're all I've got. Help me, God.

Sometimes, people leave and I can grieve cause life's not always fair.

Help me to hold on. Though I can't see You, I believe You're there.

I know You're there.

In this dark hour I know only the power that made the stars, can mend my heart.

Oh I've tried on my own but I'm not that strong, you're all I've got.

"You're all I've got. Help me, God."

As she sang in her deep, rich voice, the older angel watched sadly as Monica's eyes slowly started to close in an exhausted sleep; but tears instantly filled her brown eyes as she watched before sleep claimed the younger angel, she reached a hand out and grabbed the stuffed white angel bear sitting on the end table next to the bed. Wiping at her eyes sadly, the supervisor watched as her friend curled her arms around the bear and hugged it before she fell into a deep, dark sleep.

Chapter 2

Early the next morning, Andrew, Kevin and Monica stood together on a college campus a few hours away from the beach house. None of them looked as if they had slept well the night before as the two younger angels waited for Andrew to fill them in on whatever details he had on this assignment.

Glancing over at Monica, Kevin noticed how she shivered slightly in the cool, fall air and he sighed softly, having a feeling he was not going to like this assignment at all.

"The assignment in part, is a young woman named Kathy," Andrew began, his voice flat as he didn't look at either one of them as he spoke,

"She is a student here and is one of the college's star long distance runners, but she has several problems, one of them being her low self esteem. She'll be your assignment, Monica and you'll be living here on campus as well as taking part in the track and field program."

Feeling somewhat of a sense of relief that she wouldn't be around the beach house during this assignment, Monica felt calmer for the first time in many weeks and she glanced over at her best friend tentatively,

"When do we start?" She whispered, half afraid that he would either ignore her question or scold her. She held her breath as Andrew turned to face her for the first time that morning.

"Right now," He replied stiffly, turning quickly away to continue staring out at the college campus, his green eyes traveling to the dorms,

"Kathy's already expecting her roommate; and you'll know more about what's going on her life when the time comes." Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a set of keys and handed them to the Irish angel,

"Here are the room keys." As she accepted them, his stern green eyes met briefly with hers and Monica sucked in a shaky breath as her fingers brushed lightly with his; but he quickly jerked his hand away as quickly as it had happened and turned his attention to Kevin,

"And you, Kevin, will be working with the track and field instructor. He happens to push his runners extremely hard, and most of them don't know exactly how to stand up to him."

Kevin stifled a groan at the fact that this meant he would be spending some time alone with Andrew at the beach house, as he nodded his head. At least Monica would be out of the line of fire for the most part as he had a feeling she could use it. Pushing those thoughts aside for the moment, he again focused on the assignment, wanting as much information as he could get and knowing that the Irish angel was not about to ask anymore questions if she could help it,

"Pushes them hard how?"

Looking somewhat impatient, Andrew explained,

"He thinks he knows what is best for the young women on the cross country team; what they should eat, what they should weigh, how often they should work out. From the little I know, he caused many a health or esteem problem here on campus with the students, but no one has yet to call him on it."

Nodding in sad understanding, he ventured one more question,

"Will you be involved in this assignment as well, Sim…Andrew?"

A sad looked crossed Andrew's face for a brief moment at the nickname Kevin almost called him, and Andrew faced his youngest charge, answering his question quietly,

"I've only been told I'll just be around as back-up wherever needed. The Father told me that this is mainly your guys' assignment." Looking back and forth between Monica and Kevin, the older angel finished off quickly,

"I'll be around if either of you need any help." And with that, the oldest of the trio disappeared from their sight, leaving the two youngest angels standing alone on the campus, now in human form.

Letting out a breath that she felt like she had been holding in for ages, Monica managed a weak smile in Kevin's direction,

"Looks like you are going to be one of my coaches."

"Looks that way, Cupcake," He replied, thinking over the things Andrew had told him about the head coach, as they both started walking towards the campus. Looking over at her, he sighed softly, able to see the physical toll this whole thing was having on her,

"You're relieved, aren't you? At getting to stay here on campus."

"In a sad sort of way, yes," Monica admitted,

"It was so hard to be at the beach house with the way things were. I just hope that he isn't checking up on me every two seconds, trying to find something wrong with what I am doing, but I guess as long as I don't get kicked off the track team, he should have no reason to."

"I don't see why you would get 'kicked off', Monica," Kevin shook his head and smiled weakly at her,

"I've got faith in you, that you'll be able to pull this assignment off."

"Thanks, Kev," The Irish angel attempted a smile for his sake and sucked in a deep breath as they reached the dorms where she would be staying,

"I guess this is it...I will see you around campus later on, all right?"

Nodding his head, the youngest angel gently hugged his Irish friend before pulling away and looking into her sad brown eyes,

"Don't give up, Cupcake, all right? I for one, am not giving up on Andrew and will be trying to get through to him while you're gone." Giving her a gentle smile, the Caseworker gently nudged his co-worker to the front doors of the dorm before sighing and heading off in the other direction.

Monica tried the knob on her dorm room and finding it to be unlocked, she picked up the rather large duffle bag that had appeared beside of her, and dragged it through the now open door.

"Hi!" The young woman with short dark hair and hazel eyes who sat on one of the two beds in the room greeted her,

"You must be Monica?"

The Irish angel smiled as she released her hold on the bag and reached to shake Kathy's hand,

"Yes and you're Kathy, correct?" She asked as her eyes took in the rather thin but pretty young woman.

"Yup, that's me," She smiled, getting up to help Monica hoist her bag up onto her bed,

"I am so thrilled that they have finally roomed me with another runner! I never got to know my other roomies very well as with my workout schedule we only saw each other in passing. Now I'm hoping to have a workout buddy!"

Unable to hold back a chuckle at this young woman's enthusiasm, Monica walked over to her bed and took a seat across from her assignment,

"Well, it's nice to meet you, Kathy." Lifting her eyes, the angel looked around the spacious dorm room and smiled slightly,

"You seem to have won quite a few awards through track and field, huh?"

The smile never leaving the young woman's face, and not even realizing the slight sadness in her dark eyes, Kathy stood up and walked over to her nightstand that held awards and trophies,

"Yeah, I've always wanted to be in the Olympics ever since I was a little girl. It was all I ever talked about, you know?"

"That is definitely an aspiring goal," Monica smiled in return,

"I've heard that the coach here is a bit of a slave driver."

Kathy appeared thoughtful for a moment before she responded,

"He is, I suppose, but the school has always placed first in any track and field events ever since he has been here. He is demanding and he insists that his rules be followed or you're off the team. If the guys says you lose 5 pounds, you lose 5 pounds and then you get along just fine."

Frowning a bit, Monica curled her feet up on the bed after she kicked her shoes off,

"Don't you think that's a wee bit too strict, though? I mean, why would he want you as thin as a stick?"

Shrugging her shoulders, Kathy walked back over to her bed and took a seat again, facing Monica,

"It may be strict, but I'd rather go by his rules then get kicked off the team." Sighing softly, she then smiled brightly again at the Irish angel,

"So what about you? What brought you to this college?"

Monica considered her answer carefully for what would be the truth,

"Running, of course," She replied, though the running she was most interested in doing right now, was from her best friend, but her answer was as close to the truth as she could think of,

"Though it has been awhile and I'm afraid I may be a bit out of shape."

"Well, don't worry about that, Monica," Kathy reassured her,

"Coach Slade will have you beaten into shape in no time, I can guarantee you that one. And speaking of which, you need to get changed. The cross country team is due on the field in 15 minutes and I have no desire to do 100 push ups if we are late, so hurry."

Sighing deeply, Monica nodded her head and followed her assignment's lead and got up off the bed, starting to dig through her large duffle bag. After she had changed into a pair of biker shorts and a white t-shirt, the Irish angel looked at herself in the mirror and yanked her auburn mane back into a ponytail; as she stared at her reflection, she didn't miss the sunken look on her face and the exhausted look in her dark eyes. Closing them briefly and lifting up a silent prayer of strength, Monica turned away and grabbed the offered water bottle Kathy offered before following her out of the dorm room and to the field.

"I run a tight ship here, Kevin," Coach Slade was explaining firmly 15 minutes later out on the field. The tall, dark-haired man's arms were folded as he looked down at the young angel sternly,

"And if you want to help me out around here, I expect you to do the same. No girl begins the day without running around the track field five times, and if they're ever late, they are to do 100 push ups. Are we clear on that fact?"

"Yes, sir," Kevin responded, already seeing the issues with the coach as his eyes lingered for a moment on Monica and her assignment, who were just completing their first lap around the field,

"So, if that is the beginning of their day, what is left?" He asked cautiously.

"Plenty," The coach replied,

"The five laps are simply for warm up. After that, they run longer distances and are timed with the focus always being on each girl beating her best time," He looked out over the field,

"See the girl running with the new girl? That's Kathy and one of the best at this school, but she is on shaky ground right now unless she gets some of that weight off. Her new friend there needs to drop a few too in order to be faster or they will both find themselves on the ping pong team instead."

Biting his tongue to hold back a snappy remark at what the coach was saying about Monica and Kathy, Kevin cleared his throat instead and clasped his hands behind his back nervously,

"They both look all right to me-"

"Kevin, this is your first day, so you haven't seen Kathy in action; and that other girl Monica, is new to all of us, so I think you should keep an eye on her most of all. Kathy on the other hand, knows what has to be done." Turning back to the girls, Coach Slade clapped his hands roughly together as Monica passed them, panting, and he yelled at her loudly,

"Get moving, Monica! Quicker! Quicker! Or it'll be 100 push ups for you afterwards!"

Kevin watched helplessly as his friend pushed herself harder, but he felt more than uneasy about this assignment now. She was dealing with so much right now and now to have this coach already breathing down her neck caused the younger angel to feel more than concerned and he made a mental note to speak with Andrew about it later, whether the older angel liked it or not,

"Aren't you being a little hard on them?" Kevin asked hesitantly.

"We aren't the number 1 cross country team in the nation for no reason, Kevin," Coach Slade replied before stopping long enough to holler at Kathy,

"Weigh in today, Kath! Let's hope for your sake it dropped!" Turning his attention back to Kevin, he continued,

"You have to be tough with women, Kevin. They are weaker then men and often content to stay that way unless you push them to go beyond their limits and those that can't take it are better off not being here."

Kevin looked like he was about to object, but the look that he got from the coach made him keep his mouth shut, so with a sigh, the young angel took a seat on one of the field benches and continued to watch the young girls sadly.

Chapter 3

"Andrew?" Kevin walked inside the beach house later that evening, his heart pounding nervously in his chest. This was the moment he had been dreading since he had realized that he needed to talk with his older friend when he arrived back, and he really was not looking forward to it. Shutting the door behind him, the younger Caseworker headed into the living room and poked his head inside,

"Andrew? Are you in there?"

But the room appeared to be empty.

Moving around into the other parts of the small beach house, Kevin still couldn't find his supervisor, and a frown crossed his face as he could only wonder where he could be. Finally, after shrugging out of his jacket and hanging it up in the closet, the angel headed out onto the back patio and looked out at the beach; and sitting in the middle of the sand sat Andrew, his arms folded around his legs and his chin resting upon them. Descending the steps and stepping onto the sand, Kevin hurried forward, his brown eyes taking in his co-worker's slouched form and somewhat confused expression.

Sensing a presence, Andrew looked up at Kevin and attempted a smile,

"Hey, Kev. All finished for the day?" He asked quietly, wondering exactly what his youngest caseworker wanted that he would actually seek him out. Having had some time to think today, Andrew would have thought that Kevin would really want nothing at all to do with him,

"Did everything go all right?"

Slightly surprised at the different tone in his supervisor's voice, Kevin hesitantly approached him and took a seat on the sand next to him,

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about, Andrew..."

"I wanted to talk to you about some things as well," The older angel interrupted gently, his voice quiet as he lowered his green eyes to the sand.

"You can go first," Kevin offered, despite his own concern for what had happened on the campus today, wanting to know why there seemed to be a sudden change in his supervisor, though if that be the case, it could not have come at a better time.

Andrew sighed softly, his eyes on the ocean that stretched out before them,

"I wanted to tell you that I'm sorry about all of this," He began hesitantly,

"and I know you are going to tell me that I need to talk to Monica about that. But even though I still have some issues with her right now, I know I haven't treated her fairly and that I've been harder on her then I should have been…"

Feeling himself start to relax at his friend's words, Kevin drew in a deep breath and looked into Andrew's face,

"It's all right, Andrew-"

"No, it's not all right, and you know it isn't, Kev," The angel then turned around and looked directly into his charge's face,

"I really am sorry, and I understand if you won't be able to accept my apology right away; but I just wanted you to know how sorry I am, and I will talk to Monica. When this assignment is over and done with. There's a lot I need to tell her..."

"Andrew, now that you mention it, there are some things you should probably know about this assignment," Kevin began with a sigh,

"The coach is really a piece of work. He's kind of chauvinistic to be honest, thinking women are the weaker species and the only way to get them to push themselves is to threaten them with being kicked off the team. He's on Kathy about her weight and made a comment to me about Monica needing to lose weight too…she's dealing with so much right now, Andrew, and I'm worried about her, as well as about Kathy and the other girls."

Although guilt tore through the older angel's body about all that he had done to cause pain to his best friend, Andrew looked at his younger charge and tried to reassure him as best he could,

"Kevin, that's the reason why you two are on this assignment to begin with. To help these humans; I know that Monica will be able to handle this-"

"Andrew, you weren't there this morning when Coach Slade berated these girls and Monica! He threatened Cupcake to 100 push-ups if she didn't pick up the pace around the track field! She looked about ready to collapse any minute..."

Andrew frowned, thinking of how pale his best friend had looked that morning as well as just tired and rather peaked. But when it came to her assignments the last several years, she had been nearly flawless and he had no reason to doubt her now,

"I think she needs this time away from me, Kevin. I've put her through a lot the last few weeks and while we still have things to work out, a little time apart will probably be good. She handles her assignments beautifully and this one will be no exception."

Although a part of him wanted to reach over to Andrew and shake him, Kevin also felt some sense of relief that his supervisor and friend was slowly returning to his old self. But he knew that he shouldn't just let this conversation go just yet; after all, he knew what he had seen and his instincts that something was indeed wrong wouldn't leave his mind,

"Simba, I know that Monica handles her assignments better then anyone; I've been around for 20 years to see it...But as I know that she shouldn't be alone during this; especially during this! It isn't me she needs right now. It's you, her best friend; no matter what has happened this past month, as we all have made our mistakes, she still loves you and having time away from you is the LAST thing

she wants."

"I need her focused on Kathy right now, Kevin, that's all," Andrew explained patiently,

"From what I know, this girl could die and I don't want Monica distracted by she and I trying to work out our problems in the middle of this assignment," He sighed softly, knowing in his heart that this was only part of the truth. Yes, his feelings over what she had done were still causing him some confusion, but he also wasn't ready to face her after all the pain he had caused her. No, he was not running away, he had promised not to do that, though he also knew that he had not really been there for her the last month either as he had been mentally absent.

"I just can't stop worrying, Simba, that's all. She hasn't been herself since all this started and she was pushing herself so hard today for fear of being kicked off the team and heaven knows, Monica doesn't need to lose any weight, but I just think she is going to do whatever she has to do to hold her position on the team and I just don't have a good feeling about it."

"I know, buddy," Andrew whispered so softly, his voice barely audible. Looking down at his bare feet as he dug them into the sand, the angel tightened his arms around his legs and sighed somewhat shakily.

As he continued to stare at his older friend and fellow angel, Kevin replied in the same quiet tone of voice,

"You're worried as well about it, aren't you?"

Still not looking at his charge, Andrew replied after a few short moments,

"I am, Kev...I am."

*****

By the time Kathy and Monica had finished their "homework" of a 5-mile afternoon run, the Irish angel thought for sure she would collapse. She ached in places she had never ached before and it hurt to even collapse on her bed once they returned to the dorm room and the thought of the hot shower she longed for was completely overwhelming as that warranted moving.

"So is this an every day event?" She asked her roomie once she had caught her breath enough to speak again.

"Depends on Coach Slade's mood, to be honest. He was pretty grumpy today and I have never been more thankful to have lost a pound or I'm convinced he would have kicked me off the team," Kathy sighed as she looked over at her new friend with a deeply puzzled look on her face,

"But him wanting you to shed 10 pounds is crazy!" She looked at her roommates petite figure and shook her head,

"You don't look as if you eat as it is!"

Lifting her head slightly from where it lay against her pillow, Monica shakily ran her fingers through her tangled auburn mane and groaned,

"Just the thought of food right now, though, makes me wanta throw up..."

Collapsing onto her own bed, Kathy stared up at the ceiling and sighed in exhaustion,

"So I guess the suggestion of ordering in a pizza is out of the question then, huh?"

"It is if I'm going to lose 10 pounds and stay on the team," Monica replied with a sigh, trying to remember the last time she had eaten anything.

Kathy was quiet for a moment as if considering something,

"You know, that is what I once thought too, but then I found a way to eat and still lose weight and it is relatively easy. I mean, we have to at least eat in order to have the energy to run…"

"I'm not really hungry anyways, Kathy...so it doesn't really matter, I guess," The Irish angel weakly replied, turning her exhausted brown eyes to the ceiling.

Glancing over at her friend, the young woman frowned slightly as she saw the look on her face and pushing herself up onto her elbows, Kathy quietly asked,

"Besides this whole losing weight thing...I take it something else is the matter. You don't appear as perky as you did this afternoon when I first met you. What's wrong, Monica?"

The angel sighed softly, wondering if it was wise to unload her problems on her assignment. She had done that once before and no good had come of it, but on the other hand, she didn't want to lie and say that nothing was wrong either,

"A friend and I had a quarrel a few weeks ago and things still aren't right between us, is all," She replied, trying to keep her voice light,

"He's my best friend and it is hard to keep my mind off it sometimes."

"Best friend or boy friend?" Kathy asked with a wink.

Monica managed a smile as she shook her head,

"Definitely best friend."

"What happened, Mon'?" Kathy frowned as she sat up and watched a few tears well up in the angel's dark eyes. Hesitantly reaching over, the human laid a gentle hand on Monica's arm, but upon feeling her flinch a little, she removed her hand and just looked at her, waiting for an answer.

"It's kind of silly, really, Kathy..." Monica started, feeling herself getting choked up at hearing her assignment calling her that nickname, as Andrew called her that quite often,

"I did and said some things I shouldn't have to a mutual friend of ours; and the problem is that something happened many years ago, something very similar, and we promised that history would never repeat itself. But, it did that night, last month, and Andrew hasn't forgiven me for it."

"Well, maybe he just needs a little more time, you know? Men are funny that way sometimes and he may just need some time to work it out," Kathy offered, seeing her friend nod her head sadly. Getting up from her bed, she pulled Monica to her feet,

"C'mon, get a shower and then we are going out for a dinner fit for queens. I'm starving and haven't had anything since yesterday."

"Kathy, I can't," Monica implored her with a small laugh,

"I can't get kicked off the team, I can't," She shook her head, knowing that there was no way she was going to face the wrath of Andrew if that happened.

"You will still lose weight, Monica, I promise," Kathy told her, seeing the puzzled look on her friend's face, she continued,

"You have to eat or you won't be strong enough to run and will get kicked off the team for that and food only makes you gain weight…if it stays in your stomach."

Opening her mouth to start to object, the Irish angel shut it with a snap as she saw the desperate look on Kathy's face. Finally giving in, she sighed softly and slowly rose to her feet although her body was screaming in pain to lie back down,

"Okay, okay...I'll go with you, but I can't promise I'll eat the entire meal." As Kathy nodded her head in understanding and grabbed a clean pair of clothes before heading out the door to one of the bathrooms on their floor, Monica groaned and mumbled to herself,

"I just hope that I'll be able to keep anything down..."

Chapter 4

An hour later, the human angel and her assignment arrived in a small restaurant not far off of campus and after being showed to their seats, Monica slowly felt herself relaxing and accepted the glass of water that the waitress offered to her. As she took a sip, however, she nearly spit it out on the table a she noticed a tall figure coming through the entrance of the restaurant and she set the cup down with a groan before covering her face with her hands,

"Oh God, Coach Slade had to show up right now, didn't he?"

Kathy rolled her eyes, just before the coach came to a stop by their table,

"Hello, ladies. Dining on salads this evening, I presume?"

Seeing Kathy begin to nod, Monica interrupted before her friend could say anything,

"Actually, we haven't decided yet, but the steak is looking really good to me tonight."

Coach Slade actually took a moment to look amused at the challenging look in Monica's eyes before he replied,

"You may want to consider how much you want to stay on the cross country team before you decide what you want to eat, Monica."

"It's not like I'm going to eat that much this evening," Monica started to object,

"I'll have some fruit or vegetables with it-"

"And you may want to watch that mouth of yours as well, Monica," The coach snapped back, narrowing his eyes at the Irish angel as he watched her slightly squirm in her seat at the tone of his voice,

"Now, feel free to eat whatever you want, but if I see that you two girls have put on some weight, instead of LOSING it, by tomorrow afternoon, then you should know that we're going to have a little talk." Without saying another word, Coach Slade disappeared into the crowd and followed the waitress to his table.

"Well, you are certainly brave," Kathy remarked, once he had gone and she was able to giggle,

"I could have never said that to him."

"Well, I plan on having that steak and enjoying every single bite of it," Monica retorted, feeling slightly angry at what had just happened.

"You won't see a pound of it, I promise," Kathy grinned with a wink, as the waitress appeared to take their order.

An hour later…

Kathy and Monica both groaned as they sank down onto their beds,

"I am so full," Monica uttered, wondering if after having not eaten in several days, if she had overdone it tonight.

"But the look on the Coach's face as you enjoyed that T-bone was priceless," Kathy commented with a giggle as she got up from the bed and grabbed something out of her nightstand drawer,

"Here, this will help if you've never done this before."

The Irish angel caught the small bottle Kathy tossed at her and read the label,

"Syrup of Ipecac? Isn't this used to induce…" Her face paled slightly, now understanding what Kathy had been talking about all evening.

"Yup, it sure is," Kathy winked the angel's way and not even noticing the look of shock on Monica's face, reached back into the drawer only to retrieve a second bottle for herself,

"It works, Monica; you really should try it."

"Kathy, I don't know..." The Irish angel started to object, but the look on her assignment's pretty face stopped her.

"You don't want the coach getting mad at you again, do you, Mon'?" She folded her arms across her chest and shot her a challenging look.

Monica's heart raced as she starred at the little brown bottle in her hand. No, she certainly didn't want to face the Coach if she gained any weight, especially when he had informed her she had ten pounds to lose. Nor did she want to have to explain to Andrew that she was kicked off the team and she shuddered at the very thought of his reaction,

"No," She heard herself whisper as she unscrewed the lid to the little bottle.

"You'll want a water chaser," Kathy told her, handing her a bottle of water,

"It tastes pretty bad."

With her hand shaking, the little Irish angel took a gulp of the liquid and nearly choked at how terrible it tasted. If the medicine itself didn't make her throw up, the taste surely could. Reaching for the water, she gulped down several mouthfuls, trying to rid the horrible taste from her mouth,

"Now what?" She asked weakly, the taste of it making her sensitive stomach slightly queasy.

"It will kick in soon," Kathy informed her after having taken her own dose from the bottle,

"Then you won't have to worry about all those calories from dinner."

Placing her hand over her churning stomach, Monica sat down heavily onto the bed and leaned her head forward, feeling worse and worse as the seconds passed,

'What have I gotten myself into?' She thought to herself as she started to feel somewhat dizzy, and before long, the Irish angel felt her dinner start to come up; with tears starting to sting in her dark eyes, Monica rose from her bed and grabbed the nearest object next to her. The trashcan.

As she leaned over it, the human angel closed her eyes and tried to breathe as normally as she could; but it didn't take long before she felt her world going dark and she had passed out.

Andrew sighed softly as he sat alone in the living room of the beach house after Kevin had left to head back to the college. The two angels had spent a lot of time talking over the course of the weekend and things were slowly easing back to normal between the two of them and Andrew was eternally grateful for that.

He was still worried about the things that Kevin had told him about the coach though and he shook his head whenever he thought about this human telling his petite best friend she needed to lose weight. The Father had created his friend with natural beauty and surely Monica knew that there was no need for her to make any changes to God's plan.

"A penny for your thoughts?"

Looking up, Andrew managed a grin as he saw Rose now standing in the living room. Rising to his feet, he moved to hug her,

"Even if they are worth a quarter?" He asked teasingly, though he really wasn't feeling all that jovial.

"Angel Boy, you know you're worth more then that," She remarked teasingly as she gave her friend a tender squeeze in return. As she hugged him in silence for a few moments, the two angels finally separated and Rose took a seat next to him on the couch,

"How have you been doing, honey?" She asked, her voice soft as she reached for his right hand.

"A bit better than I was," He admitted, shaking his head,

"I don't know what got into me, Rose, to treat the two of them the way that I was, especially poor Monica. I know she did what she did out of anger and she was completely humble in her apology to him," He sighed softly as he continued,

"I guess in thinking about how close she and I came to losing everything after that day on Erin's porch I just couldn't believe she would do such a thing and risk her relationship with Kevin, which would risk our working relationships with each other."

"Anger can be a hurtful emotion, honey," Rose observed, as she gave his hand a gentle squeeze,

"Her and Kevin's anger with each other and then your anger with her…it all comes down to someone getting hurt unfortunately."

"I see that now, Rose," Andrew replied, staring down at the floor and sighing softly,

"I haven't gotten this furious with her since that time when she was demoted and I became her supervisor; I just can't believe it happened all over again..."

"You know that you're going to have to talk this over with her, honey, right?" Rose carefully asked, looking into his face until her blue eyes met his green ones.

"Yeah, I do, Rose and I intend to do that as soon as this assignment is over. A lot is at stake in this one and I don't want her distracted," He explained, thinking about his best friend.

"And you don't think she is distracted now by all that has happened, honey?" She asked gently,

"She loves you so much and when things are wrong between you it consumes her as well as you."

"I know, Rose," He replied, his voice breaking as he spoke,

"But for some reason, I know that she's not going to be too happy if I go and talk to her now. I just can't understand how she can keep on forgiving me, much less love me, after all the things I've put her through! It's been happening way too much lately, and I just want it to stop..."

Wrapping her arm around his shoulders, she pulled him close to her as she replied softly,

"I think Kevin hit this one on the nose a little while back, Angel Boy. We often expect more and even push harder those that we love the most. As a supervisor, you want Monica to be the best that she can be and as an angel whose vulnerability often leads to her finding trouble, you don't want to see that happen to her again. With the Father's help, you often bring out the best in both she and Kevin, but because of your close relationship with her, maybe you push too hard sometimes when she does something wrong in order to assure that it won't happen again. What you need to do instead is to trust her when she apologizes and know that she never really intentionally meant for things to go so terribly wrong."

"I do want her to be the best she can be, and I know that you're right," Andrew replied quietly as he clutched his former supervisor back tightly,

"But how do I start?"

"Just take it one step at a time, sweetheart, and have faith in her," The older angel replied as she squeezed him around the shoulders lovingly and kissed the top of his head,

"And know that I'm always here if you ever need some advice; I may no longer be your supervisor, but I'm still your friend, and I will always help whenever I can."

"I know that, Rose," Andrew whispered in return,

"And thank you for that. You always know what I need to hear, when I need to hear it."

"Anytime, honey," The older angel smiled warmly at him as she rose to her feet and tugged him up with her,

"Now, I'd like to take a walk along the beach with my favorite Angel Boy, before I head back to work. How about it?"

Andrew smiled, now feeling a little better since having talked to her,

"I'd say that is a great idea, Rose," He replied, as he held out his arm for her and as she linked her own arm through it, he led her out the door.

Chapter 5

By Monday, Kevin was starting to grow more and more concerned about Monica's lack of eating and the pressure Coach Slade was putting on her and Kathy. As the youngest angel sat at the top bench of the bleachers, his brown eyes focused on the girls who were either running laps around the field or working out in general, and he couldn't help but notice that his Irish friend looked a lot thinner then she did the last week. Although he tried to push the worry aside and assure himself that Monica was eating well, just healthier then she had in the past, Kevin couldn't stop worrying and every time the coach pushed Monica and Kathy harder, the more the angel's stomach churned.

Down on the field, Monica felt sweat trickling from her forehead as she forced herself to finish up the 100 push-ups Coach Slade had ordered from her; although she had finished her 5 laps around the track field that day, it wasn't fast enough for him and he had ordered for the angel to do 100 push-ups in a certain amount of time, and if she didn't finish he could have another "assignment" for her to do. Now, as she counted under her breath and finally reached 100, Monica almost felt herself collapse on the lawn but forced herself to not do that as she felt Coach Slade's stern eyes on her. Weakly climbing to her feet, the Irish angel reached down and shakily accepted the water bottle one of her teammates offered her.

"Class is over in about a minute, Monica," Kathy whispered to her, seeing the strain on her friend's face.

As Monica nodded her head, the voice of the coach called out to the team, announcing that class was indeed over for the day, but he concluded with,

"Except for Monica. I want another 5 laps out of you, starting now. Kevin, make sure that she does them."

The angel starred at the track blindly, not knowing how on earth she would ever be able to make it and she had a feeling that this was all stemming from her confrontation with Coach Slade in the restaurant a few days before. Sensing his eyes on her, she began to run, forcing her legs to move.

The weekend had been a double-edged sword for her. Ever since Kathy has introduced her to her weight loss "program", the two had eaten nearly every meal, only to get rid of the food afterwards. While a part of her felt completely in control of something about her existence at the moment, the other part of her, the human physical part of her, felt downright lousy. Her throat ached from throwing up, and her energy was almost non-existent, despite the fact that she and Kathy pushed themselves each and every day, not only with class, but with a morning and late evening run as well, both determined to stay on the team. It was also very confusing for her that Kathy was her assignment and now she knew why she had been assigned to her, but instead of helping her, she had placed herself in the same situation Kathy was in, yet she knew she couldn't get kicked off the team and still help her friend, so Monica felt as if she was in the middle of a vicious circle that no one could ever know about.

As she finished the 5th lap, she bent over, her hands on her knees as she struggled to catch her breath, her entire body aching and all she wanted to do was to curl up in a corner somewhere and sleep away this whole nightmare.

Feeling a gentle hand on her back, Monica wearily lifted her head and pushed a strand of auburn bangs out of her eyes and met Kevin's concerned eyes. Glancing around her to make sure that nobody was nearby, the Irish angel tried to smile at her friend, but was too tired to force herself to do that,

"Hi, Kevin."

"Monica, he's pushing you too hard," Kevin began bluntly, his hand continuing to rub her back and he felt sweat underneath the t-shirt she wore,

"Nothing I say is making him think otherwise, and I know how worn-out you must be. Why don't you try and talk with him, Cupcake? This has got to stop..."

"There is no reasoning with that man, Kevin," She managed to say, still trying to catch her breath as she longed to sit down as her legs were shaking, but the bleachers seemed miles away,

"And I can't risk getting kicked off the team. How could I help Kathy if I did? How could I ever face Andrew?"

At the mention of their friend and supervisor's name, Kevin drew in a deep breath as he found this to be the perfect opportunity to try and get Andrew and Monica to talk with one another,

"Monica, about that-"

"I would never be able to face him again, Kev," She interrupted shakily, finally giving in and sinking to the grass, her legs still trembling madly,

"And things would never be back to normal around here."

"That's what I'm trying to tell you, Cupcake," Kevin replied softly as he sat down beside of her,

"He's starting to come around. We had some good conversations this past weekend and he knows he was in the wrong about a lot of things-."

A brief look of hurt passed over her face at his words as she wondered why her best friend had not come to her with this information, but she quickly covered it,

"I'm glad that things are going better for the two of you, Kevin. I really am."

Noticing the look on the Irish angel's gentle features, Kevin reached for her shaking hand and gave it a soft squeeze,

"I know that you're wondering why he hasn't come to you, Cupcake...the reason is that he believes that if he does, you won't be able to concentrate as much on your assignment; he's planning on coming to you and set things straight with you when this assignment is over with. I've tried to convince him that you want to see him now, but you know how stubborn Simba is..." He watched as the slightly older angel nodded her head sadly and lowered her exhausted brown eyes to the ground, her other hand fingering the grass.

"I just miss him so much," She whispered sadly, her eyes still turned away from Kevin.

"I know you do," He replied softly, taking in her face and frowning as he once again noticed how pale she looked and the dark circles around her eyes. Was this all due to the situation with Andrew or was something more going on that he didn't know about?

"I think he misses you too, Cupcake, in fact, I know that he does. He's just waiting for the right time to tell you."

"I think there's no more perfect time to tell me then now," She mumbled to herself, and the youngest angel's brown eyes widened in shock at her words; but before he could comment on it, Monica rose to her feet, although she was still shaking, and looked down at her friend and co-worker,

"Excuse me, Kev, I think I should get back to Kathy."

And without any more words, the Irish angel walked slowly across the field and away from Kevin, who was shaking his head in confusion and worry.

Kevin's heart was heavy as he entered the beach house that night as his mind went over all that had happened that day and the feeling that something was just not right wouldn't leave his mind either.

"Kev?"

Andrew's concerned voice caused him to look up as he saw his supervisor sitting in the kitchen, his green eyes meeting with those of his younger charge,

"Hey, Simba," He greeted his friend as he sat down at the table across from him.

"Not a good day?" Andrew asked, leaning back in his chair, his face showing his concern.

Kevin shook his head sadly,

"The coach is really riding the girls hard, but especially Cupcake. She wound up with 10 laps today and 100 push ups and Andrew, I thought for sure she was going to collapse when it was all over."

His handsome face paling at his younger friend's words, Andrew slowly leaned his head forward and rested it in his hands, all the while his heart thumping like wild horses. As he was about to open his mouth to object and assure Kevin that Monica was just fine, he stopped as he remembered the words that Rose had spoken to him the other day and he felt tears filling up in his green eyes as he imagined his best friend on that campus, being abused by that coach,

"I really don't like the sound of this, Kevin..." He whispered hoarsely, his head still down.

"The thing is, Andrew, that I get the feeling that there is something I don't know about. She looks terrible, I mean, the physical change in her in just the last few days is frightening, and I don't know what it is exactly. I don't know if it is just the strain of everything that is happening, combined with the stress of dealing with Coach Slade," He shook his head before he added,

"She's terrified of being kicked off the team. She's afraid of not being able to help Kathy, if she even knows what is wrong yet as she hasn't told me, and she's afraid of facing you should that happen."

Not the least bit surprised that his best friend was afraid of seeing him, and wondering how he would react, Andrew nodded his head slowly and took several deep breaths before finally speaking. Lifting his tear-filled eyes to his youngest charge, he whispered softly,

"Sounds like I've done a lot more damage then I intended to..." Closing his eyes briefly, he continued in a whisper,

"I'll go to her first thing tomorrow morning, and see what I can find out about this, okay, Kev?"

A smile spread across Kevin's face as he nodded his head,

"I think that is the best idea I've heard in a long time, Simba,"

The following morning, Monica emerged from the bathroom, her eyes red-rimmed and her face laden with shame over what she had just done once again that she had promised herself last night she was finished with. But after Kathy had left for class this morning, the Irish angel had been so hungry that she could no longer stand it and she had gone to the cafeteria for a huge breakfast.

Though it had all tasted wonderful, once she had finished and returned to her dorm room, fear and confusion had set in along with the realization that tomorrow the coach would be weighing her in and she knew her weight had to be down in order to hold her place on the team. Though she had argued with herself about not making herself sick, she had lost the battle once more.

Leaning her hands on her dresser, she looked up at herself in the mirror and swallowed hard against the soreness of her throat,

"What is happening to me, Father?" She whispered sadly, before lowering her eyes once more.

Before she could even begin to try and listen to what the Father was telling her, Monica nearly jumped out of her skin as she heard a gentle knock on her door. Half of her expecting it to be Coach Slade, wanting to weigh her right now, and the other half thinking it could be Kathy who may had forgotten something for her class, the Irish angel glanced at herself once more in the mirror; although she didn't like what she saw, she forced herself to head to the door and open it. The face looking down at her caused Monica to nearly yelp and she backed up as she looked into Andrew's face.

"Hey, Mon'," Andrew whispered gently, his green eyes holding concern and worry, although at the same time he looked as though he could have gotten a few more hours of sleep.

Not having any idea of what to say, she immediately lowered her dark eyes as her heart raced, even as she tried to find her voice,

"What are you doing here?" she stammered nervously,

"I don't think I've done anything wrong, have I?"

Trying to keep himself as calm as possible as he looked at his best friend, Andrew stepped slowly into the dorm and shut it behind him as he spoke quietly,

"No, Monica; you haven't done anything wrong...I wanted to just check up on you and see how you were doing. Kevin...he's worried about you."

Giving a forced laugh, the Irish angel shrugged her shoulders and took a seat on her un-made bed,

"There's nothing to worry about."

Andrew was quiet for a moment as he watched her, seeing the things that Kevin had mentioned about her appearance and he began to feel frightened for her, though he couldn't quite place his finger on why,

"I see differently, Mon'," He replied gently, but before he could say anymore, she interrupted him.

"You know, don't take this the wrong way, Andrew, but why do you care?" She countered shakily, turning her exhausted eyes to meet with his,

"I mean, for the last 5 weeks you haven't cared how I felt about anything, you've barely even acknowledged me with a look, yet alone words and let me tell you something. Feeling invisible isn't much fun, especially when you know that you aren't nor does it resolve anything, but you refused to see that," Though the Irish angel hadn't meant for these emotions to come out like this, now, with him being here, expressing concern for her well-being, the bottled up hurt that he had not allowed her to express over the last several weeks, refused to stay silent any longer,

"You know, it amazes me how we can come so far, with you promising not to leave again, but then as soon as I make a mistake, and I admit, it was a terrible, horrible mistake, but as soon as that happens, you disappear again. Maybe not physically, but emotionally and I think it hurts even more then it did when you would leave. For me to see you right in front of me, but not be able to talk to you or touch you, it hurts, Andrew, it hurts a lot," Drawing in a deep breath, she wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand, refusing to cry in front of him, as she moved to the mirror to throw her hair up in a ponytail,

"So, if you are here because you are worried that I'll mess up the assignment, don't be. I won't mess it up. If you are here because Kevin is worried about me, you can let him know that I'm fine. But don't come in here expressing concern for me now when for 5 weeks, you could have really cared less."

Although he was taken aback by her words and her refusal to cry in front of him, Andrew knew that he deserved it and he lowered his green eyes to the carpet before speaking quietly,

"Mon', I do care about you-"

"Well, then why did you ignore me then, Andrew, hmm?" The Irish angel whirled around and although she wasn't yelling, her voice was firm and shaking with emotion,

"Do you even realize how much it hurts to have your best friend do that to you?"

"No," He admitted honestly, his expression pained,

"You have never done that to me, so I don't know."

"It makes you feel insignificant, Andrew," She whispered, her voice tinged with hurt,

"My feelings didn't matter," She pointed a trembling finger at her chest as her voice shook,

"I didn't matter. I even asked you if I meant so little to you and you couldn't even answer me. I didn't even have a say in whether we discussed any of it or not and it wasn't fair, Andrew. It wasn't fair."

"I know it wasn't fair, Monica!" Andrew responded helplessly, feeling a few tears forming in his green eyes,

"I wasn't fair to you, and I haven't been for the past month now. I realize that, Angel Girl, and I'm SORRY!"

"That's what I kept trying to tell you, Andrew, but you didn't believe me," Monica retorted back, swinging her ponytail over her shoulder and folding her arms stiffly, although they shook,

"Now if you'll excuse me, I'd like to be alone now, please." Lowering her brown eyes, the Irish angel moved away from her best friend before the tears could fall and turned to face the window. Hearing Andrew come closer to her and place a tentative hand on her shoulder, Monica bit her lip to keep her tears at bay as she whispered hoarsely,

"Just go, Andrew."

Opening his mouth to reply, the blonde angel stopped before any words could come out and nodded his head sadly. Turning away, he headed towards the door; but before he closed it behind him, he shot one final look at his best friend and saw that she was quietly weeping beside the window. Wanting more then anything to wrap her up in his arms and hold her, Andrew knew he couldn't do that just yet after the words she had expressed to him just now. He had hurt her too deeply now, and he knew that she wouldn't want him to hold her any time soon. Ignoring the tears that were starting to trail down his cheeks, the angel sighed sadly before closing the door behind him and leaving the dorm.

Chapter 6

An hour later, Andrew appeared beside of Kevin near the track field, his green eyes instantly distressed as he saw his best friend with Kathy alongside her, doing push ups.

"They were late," Kevin explained sadly, noticing his supervisor's questioning look,

"The coach will now ride them for the rest of the two hour class without letting up," He turned hopeful eyes to Andrew then,

"How did it go with Cupcake?"

"Not good at all," Andrew sighed miserably as he watched the way his best friend's arms shook with each push up,

"I've hurt her more than I had realized, Kevin, and she isn't taking too kindly to my concern after the last few weeks."

Sadness filling his own brown eyes, Kevin reached over and laid a gentle hand on his friend's shoulder,

"She keeps claiming she's all right, Simba, and although I know that she's still hurting over the last few weeks, I know that something else is up that is causing her to suddenly not want you around. She's pushing herself way too hard on that track field, and I don't know what else to say to that coach to make him come to his senses," Giving his supervisor's shoulder a gentle squeeze, the youngest angel sighed as he turned his attention once again on Monica and Kathy, who were being yelled at by Coach Slade for being too slow.

"Just for that, that's 100 more push ups for you two!" He clapped his hands and yelled sternly down at the human and angel,

"Move it, movie it! I want you two ladies to SWEAT, you hear me?"

Andrew felt anger burning in him at what the coach had just said, but despite the tears he could see in his friend's eyes, Monica shakily doubled her efforts. The only thing stopping him from pulling her from this case was the fact that she and Kathy had obviously established a relationship between them.

"Oh no, you don't," Coach Slade continued as Monica and Kathy went for their water bottles, but he kicked them out of their reach,

"Not until you're finished, you got that?"

Unable to take anymore, Kevin walked away from his angelic supervisor and towards the coach, a furious look on his boyish face,

"Coach Slade! You can't do that, man. You cannot deprive them of water!"

"I can, and I will!" The coach snapped back, glaring at the youngest angel in contempt,

"Remember what I told you at the beginning, shrimp? Now, back off and let me do my job-"

"You're NOT doing your job! How can you do this to them!" Kevin cried out, turning his attention to his Irish friend and then shooting a glance over his shoulder at Andrew, who started to jog towards them,

"Coach Slade, they have to have some water, or they're going to pass out!"

"Excuse me," Andrew stated, suddenly appearing in human form, and his expression anything but happy,

"But I hope these are not the normal means with which you train your team, Coach. While I know you have the top team in the nation, I would hate to disrupt that for the school by having to report you to the board."

The coach's demeanor seemed to change somewhat, not really knowing who this newcomer was and not wanting to risk anything,

"No, of course not. These two are just troublemakers at times is all and I was proving a point. If you'll excuse me, I have to see to my other girls."

Before Andrew could respond, Coach Slade turned around and walked across the field to the other girls, leaving the two angels alone staring at Monica and Kathy. Unable to take anymore, the older of the two trotted quickly over to where his best friend had just now nearly collapsed on her knees on the field, all the while Kathy trying to urge her to continue. As he slowly knelt down next to her, he noticed Kathy looking up at him in confusion, and Andrew glanced her way with a shaky smile before turning to his best friend,

"You okay, Mon'?"

Looking up with exhausted eyes at the sound of his voice again, Monica turned her head and sucked in a shaky breath as she looked deep into his concerned green eyes,

"Andrew...? It's okay; I'm okay...now just let me finish these so Coach Slade won't yell at us again..."

"Just rest for a minute, all right?" He urged her gently, as he handed her the water bottle that the coach had tried to take away, unable to miss the grateful look in her eyes before she drank thirstily. She was still breathing exceptionally hard as sweat ran down her face and he could also see the confusion in her tired eyes about him being there.

"So, you're Andrew?" Kathy asked, as she finished up the last of her push ups and had drank from her water bottle between taking gasps of air.

His eyes widening at her question, Andrew slowly nodded his head and sighed deeply,

"Yes, I am. You must be Kathy?"

"Yeah, that's me," The human answered, taking another drink out of her water bottle,

"Monica has spoken about you..."

Gazing down at his best friend, Andrew didn't reply to those words as he could only wonder what Monica had said about him. Blinking back tears of sadness, the older angel gently ran a hand through his friend's tangled hair in as much a soothing manner as possible,

"I know that coach is pushing you something horrible, sweetheart," He whispered to her as he steadily met her eyes,

"But please don't overdo it, Monica, okay?"

Seeing that Kathy had stood up and was talking to Kevin for a moment as she stretched, Monica turned her eyes back to Andrew,

"I have to do what he says or I lose my spot on the team and that can't happen," She replied softly, yet shakily. She could still feel his hand on her hair and though part of her wanted to jerk out of his reach, the other part of her wanted to curl into his arms and cry out all her grief, as she had so missed his touch. She chose to do neither.

"I keep hoping something Kevin will say will get through to him before something terrible happens to Kathy or one of the girls."

"Monica, I just want you to know that you staying on the team is the least of my worries right now," Andrew softly replied, although his voice was starting to choke up,

"I really am worried about you, and I want to be able to help you if something is going on."

"What makes you think anything else is going on, Andrew?" Monica shrugged her shoulders innocently, like she had done over an hour ago back in the dorm room. But before she could continue protesting, her best friend gently interrupted as he grasped her shoulders and turned her to meet his green eyes.

"Monica, I can see it in you. Angel Girl...I know I haven't shown it this past month, but I still love you, and don't want you to hurt yourself with this assignment," Andrew began seriously, his eyes boring into her exhausted ones.

Blinking back the tears that were welling up in her dark eyes, she shook her head,

"I'm fine, Andrew," She replied softly, trembling slightly at his touch and her eyes still reflecting her confusion about him,

"There is no need for you to worry."

"Angel Girl, you look like you've been wrung through the ringer! Kevin's noticed as well..." Andrew stopped stroking his friend's hair and placed his other hand on her shoulder,

"Please, Mon', I can't help being worried, and I don't want you to be afraid to tell me anything..."

"I know he's strict, Andrew, but that's why Kevin is assigned to Coach Slade. If something is wrong, I'd tell you," The Irish angel lowered her brown eyes briefly before she felt Andrew's hand underneath her chin and bringing her head back up to face his eyes.

"Promise you will?" He whispered as tears shone in his concerned eyes.

She was silent as she met his eyes, feeling trapped. It would be so easy to lie and to promise she would tell him what she had no intention of telling him ever, especially after how horrific the last five weeks had been. But she didn't want to lie. Despite everything that had happened, despite how invisible he had made her feel, she had promised him, herself and the Father she would never lie again and so far she had kept that promise.

"Angel Girl?"

His voice brought her back to reality as she lowered her eyes,

"I can't make that promise, Andrew, without lying and I won't do that."

Lowering his eyes and removing his hands from the Irish angel's shoulders, Andrew leaned back on his heels and sighed softly before lifting his head once more to look into her flushed face,

"Monica, I am so, so sorry about everything...Will you at least try and allow me to fix things with you? I hate myself for how I treated you this past month, Angel Girl; you didn't deserve any of it..."

"That's one thing I can promise, Andy," Monica choked out, feeling a few tears welling up in her brown eyes at his words,

"I'd like that."

"Thank you," He replied softly, wanting so much to hold her, but not wanting to push her, seeing hurt still visible on her face,

"Thank you for giving me the chance to try and fix things between us. One day soon, I'd really like things to be right again with us," Sighing softly, he brushed a stray piece of hair from her eyes,

"I guess I should go."

As she watched her best friend about to rise to his feet, Monica couldn't take it anymore and reached out to grab his wrist. Forcing back a sob, the little Irish angel weakly reached over and wrapped her arms tightly around him; although the embrace wasn't as warm or long as past hugs had been between them, Monica felt a huge weight being lifted from her heart as she felt her friend's arms tentatively wrap around her in return. Biting her lip, she then gently pulled away and lowered her eyes again to the ground,

"I'll see you later, okay?"

Without even thinking about it, Andrew reached out and touched her pale cheek softly,

"You will," He whispered, before he vanished from her sight.

Closing her eyes briefly, she allowed the tears to finally spill out from under them, even as she shakily wiped at them with her hand.

"C'mon, Monica," Kathy's voice caused her to look up at her friend,

"We have to get back to work as I have a feeling the coach is not going to react too kindly to us now that our 'protector' is gone."

Accepting Kathy's hand as she pulled her to her shaky feet, Monica nodded her head in understanding but chose not to reply. Instead, she did her best to pull herself together just in time to see Coach Slade turn around and glare angrily at the two. Taking a quick drink from her water bottle, the angel turned away to avoid his angry look and followed Kathy's lead by taking another lap around the track field.

Chapter 7

Andrew lay awake in bed that night, his eyes still open and staring up at the ceiling although the room the enfolded in complete darkness. Sighing softly, he tucked the covers up tighter around himself as his mind traveled back to that day and those two totally different talks he had with Monica; she had surprised him that afternoon on the track field, as he had expected her to push him away again. But much to his relief, his friend agreed to try and let him make things right between them again, although he knew he didn't deserve it after all he had done to her that last month.

Wiping a hand across his face, the older angel sat up in bed and wrapped his arms around his legs as the image of his best friend and charge's gentle features flashed before his mind. The exhaustion was written all over her face, and her eyes and cheeks appeared to be sunken in, and she even looked thinner then the last time he had seen her. After what he and Kevin had witnessed Coach Slade doing to her and Kathy, he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was not all right, but she didn't feel comfortable talking about it with him.

"Can't sleep, honey?"

Rose's voice sounded in the room and Andrew turned around to see his former supervisor standing in his doorway and she wore a concerned look on her elderly features.

He managed a tired smile as he reached over and turned on the light,

"No, Rose, I suppose I can't. Too much on my mind at the moment."

Walking over and taking a seat on the edge of the bed, she looked into his tired green eyes,

"Anything you want to talk about, Angel Boy?" She asked gently.

Andrew sighed softly as he tried to arrange his scrambled thoughts in some semblance of order to be able to speak of them,

"I talked to Monica today, twice actually. The two conversations were as different as night and day, but during all of this, I also saw much bigger problems and I'm not sure of what to do about them."

"Like?" Rose gently prodded, reaching for his hand and holding it gently in her own as she urged him to continue.

"Like, I know she's not telling me some things, and she doesn't feel comfortable doing that," Andrew whispered, his voice laced with concern,

"She told me she was all right, and that there was nothing wrong, but I saw things differently. I saw the way she looked, Rose; the deep, dark circles underneath her eyes and she appears to have lost a little too much weight the past few days. Same with Kathy. I heard the way the coach was speaking to them, and it wasn't pretty to say the least; he even kept them from drinking water this afternoon, after they had finished 100 push-ups! I know that Monica's suffering from this, and she won't tell me what else is going on...I know that I don't deserve to have her confide in me after all that I did to her, but I still care about her and love her; and I told her as such. But she kept claiming that she was all right."

"Sounds to me like you have some work cut out for you, honey, starting with rebuilding her trust in you," Rose replied gently, though her eyes held concern at all he had told her,

"Tess and I were here to see she and Kevin a week ago, before this assignment started and Tess told me later just how broken your Angel Girl was by what was going on between the two of you. She was thinking you didn't love her any longer and Tess said she was just craving physical contact and didn't want to be alone. Tess had a feeling then that there was something more that just wasn't right, but she didn't know what it was, so I have a feeling whatever it is has been going on even longer than this assignment has."

"Rose, I really want to help in any way I can; and I know that it may take a little time for her to trust me again...but she won't have any of it right now," He shrugged his shoulders helplessly as he looked into his older friend's gentle face,

"What can I do? I'm supposed to be her supervisor and her best friend, and I was anything BUT that this past month...and now she's suffering even more then I ever intended, probably both physically and emotionally, and I can't be there for her right now to make things right!"

Taking his chin in her hand, Rose met her eyes squarely with his and spoke firmly,

"I'll tell you what you do about it, Angel Boy. As stubborn as you were the last month about not being there, you now become just as stubborn about being there for her. She expects you to not be there, because of the last few weeks and it is up to you to prove her wrong, even if she is not willing to confide in you yet. You know her well enough to know that when she has been hurt, she puts up walls to keep it from happening again, so it is up to you to break them down, little by little, without giving up, even if she pushes you away. You know in your heart, that is the last thing she wants, but she is afraid right now. You have a natural God-given way about you for being gentle and compassionate and that is what she needs to see from this point forward. If she is keeping something from you, she has to know it is okay to tell you what it is without fear of you turning away from her."

Biting his lip as he tried to keep himself calm, Andrew replied wearily,

"I'm not going to turn away from her..."

"Now that you've told me that, honey, show that to Monica because she needs to see it more then she needs to hear it," Keeping her blue eyes locked on her former charge's for a few moments, she waited until Andrew nodded his head in understanding before releasing his chin from her hand and wrapping her arms around him tightly,

"God's watching out for her, Andrew, and loving her too. You remember that, all right?"

"I will, Rose," He whispered, hugging her tightly,

"And thank you."

True to Kathy's word, two days later, Coach Slade was being completely unmerciful. Both girls had been weighed in first thing that morning, and though Kathy had lost 7 pounds and Monica 8, he had berated them both for not losing 10 and now he seemed determined that the difference would be made up in his class today.

200 push-ups later, he was yelling about their speed as they ran the course, pushing them harder than he ever had before and while Kevin was working with a few of the other girls, the coach had thrown the water bottles in the trash can as he had continued to berate the two of them, taking out his frustration from the other day when Kevin and Andrew had intervened on their behalf.

Monica had never felt worse as she pushed herself harder and harder, fighting off waves of dizziness as she struggled to remain focused. Her throat, which was so sore from purging after every meal she and Kathy ate, was now so dry she could hardly swallow, which resulted in coughing, even as she somehow managed to keep up her pace with Kathy.

After what seemed an eternity, the day had finally ended, and Monica thought for sure that she would faint on the track field any minute now. Hearing a loud rumble above her head, she looked up to the darkened sky and saw that it had slowly started to rain outside, and before too long it started to come down in sheets upon them. Ignoring Kathy's urging to follow her to the changing room, the Irish angel headed over towards the benches and slumped down on the bottom one. As her auburn hair became plastered to her face from the rain and she was shivering uncontrollably, Monica didn't move from where she was rooted. Glancing around her and not seeing anybody in sight, the Irish angel weakly reached into the backpack she had brought with her and pulled out a tuna sandwich she had made for herself earlier that afternoon. As she took a few bites of it, the angel started to feel almost sick to her stomach at the very taste; her face turning pale, she put the half-eaten sandwich back into its little baggie and tossed it into the garbage next to her; but as she threw it out, she also leaned her head inside the can and stuck her finger down her throat, forcing her food back out.

Afterwards, the weakened angel slumped to the ground and leaned up against the garbage can, staring up at the sky and letting the rain come down on her. What she didn't notice, however, was that Kevin was standing nearby, holding an umbrella over his head, and the youngest angel had seen all that had happened with his friend in the last few minutes.

"Monica." Kevin made his presence known in a soft voice, watching as she turned her hollow brown eyes to him,

"What's going on, Cupcake?"

Judging by the look on his face, Monica knew what he had seen as she began to explain,

"I thought I was hungry, but it was making me feel sick, probably because of the workout we were given today. It was tearing up my stomach, Kev, that's all."

Kneeling down in front of his Irish co-worker, the umbrella now over both of them, Kevin looked straight into her eyes and said seriously,

"Monica...I saw what happened. You didn't just throw up-"

"Kev, I'm fine, okay? I'm just not as hungry as I thought, that's all," She waved her hand in the air and turned her eyes away from his.

"Cupcake, why don't you just admit it?" The youngest angel urged firmly, his eyes starting to tear up at what he had just witnessed,

"You were making yourself throw up, weren't you?"

Her heart felt as if it would beat right out of her chest as she lowered her eyes, once again, fighting the urge to lie, but she felt terrible enough about herself at the moment without adding to it,

"Yeah," She whispered finally, not meeting his eyes.

Kevin looked at her in stunned silence, despite what he had seen, having wanted her to deny it,

"Cupcake, why?" He uttered, once he had found his voice once more.

"Because I can't stop it," She whispered, shivering from the cold and now from fear.

"Did Kathy urge you to do this, Monica?" Kevin whispered, fearing the answer to his question.

Keeping her hollow eyes lowered to the wet ground beneath her, Monica nodded numbly and repeated,

"Yeah...She-she thinks it will help me to stay on the team, and now that I've started...I can't stop..."

Feeling tears welling up in his brown eyes at his friend's words, Kevin wasn't sure as to what to say so instead he reached forward and helped Monica to her feet; feeling how weak she was, as she nearly toppled to the ground, Kevin wrapped a supportive arm around her waist to help her along,

"C'mon, I think you should stay at the beach house tonight-"

"No, Kevin, take me back to the dorm room," She ordered weakly, her brown eyes dazed,

"Please, just take me back there. Kathy's going to worry about me..."

Panic stricken over what to do, a realization came over him as he looked at her once more,

"This started before Kathy, didn't it? You weren't eating before this assignment ever happened, Monica-."

"At first, I was just too upset to eat," Monica explained wearily,

"Then…then it became the one thing I could control, because I couldn't control anything else that was happening…" Looking into his eyes, her expression turned desperate,

"You can't tell Andrew. He can't know, Kevin."

"Monica, please-" Kevin started to object, but the desperate Irish angel interrupted shakily.

"Promise me you won't say a word to him, Kevin, please," She pleaded, her voice cracking with emotion as she spoke.

"Monica, I can't promise that; he's already worried enough about you as it is," He tried to point out, his heart pounding loudly in his chest with fear over what was going on,

"If he asks me if I know anything, I'm not keeping it from him, Monica..."

"You have to, Kevin," She begged, beginning to cry,

"He'll never forgive me for this…He can't know…I'll fix it, Kevin…I'll stop it, just don't tell him, please!"

Letting out a shaky breath, Kevin contemplated over what to say to her and finally just settled on the few words,

"I'll do my best, Cupcake; but I won't lie to him when or if he asks me if I'm keeping him in the dark over something." Turning away from her, he led her over to Andrew's car that he had borrowed that day and helped the Irish angel into the passenger seat; as he closed it behind him, he blinked back a round of hot tears as he recalled what had just happened and he could only hope and pray that Monica would be able to stop this from happening before it was too late.

Chapter 8

"Rose?" Andrew looked a bit startled to see his friend this time, as it had only been two weeks since her last visit, but he felt a little bit guilty. After their last talk, he had tried to see Monica once or twice, but she always seemed too busy to really talk to him and he couldn't help but to feel she was avoiding him. He knew the hurt he had inflicted on her ran deep, but he was still hoping for the chance to make things better between them.

"Hello, honey," Rose said softly, her eyes holding a trace of sadness,

"I'm afraid I have a bit of news," Seeing his eyes widen in concern, she continued softly,

"Carol died quietly in her sleep last night, Angel Boy. I was told to come and let you know."

Feeling like he had been punched in the stomach at those words, Andrew weakly sank down on the living room couch and stared up at his older friend,

"What did you just say?" He asked, although he knew exactly what she had just said; but he just couldn't believe that this could happen so suddenly...

"I was told to check up on Brady and Cindy; and they gave me the news this morning, Angel Boy," Sighing, she took a seat next to her friend and tried to meet his eyes that still held shock and disbelief in them,

"Adam took her Home early this morning; you know that she was getting up there in her age, honey, and she's now with the Father Himself."

"And with Patrick," He whispered softly to himself with a tearful sigh.

"Yes," Rose replied, sitting down next to him and wrapping her arm around his shoulders,

"It was very peaceful, Andrew, and she was in no pain. Cindy and Brady are holding up pretty well, thankfully and of course, the triplets are trying to understand as best as they can."

"But how's Monica going to take it?" He uttered softly as he leaned into his former supervisor and closed his eyes briefly as he felt Rose's hand gently running through his hair,

"I know that she's going through more then she's letting on, and this will only cause her more pain..."

Sighing softly, Rose gave him a gentle squeeze and whispered sadly,

"You will have to tell her soon, though, Angel Boy. She and Kevin have to know..."

"I know," He whispered, not sure what else to say as he felt a few more tears running down his face. Lifting his hand, he wiped them away in frustration and sighed shakily,

"We're just going to miss her so much..."

"The funeral is Monday and I believe the college begins Fall break then, so my suggestion would be for the three of you to spend that week with Cindy and Brady. Maybe that will give you and Monica a little time as well to clear the air about some things." Rose offered hopefully, desperately wanting to see this special friendship back on the right track.

Andrew nodded his head,

"Maybe you're right. I just need to find the words to tell her about Carol first."

"They'll come to you when it's time to, Angel Boy," She soothed gently, looking into his face; but before she could say anything else, the sound of the front door opening caused their attention to turn to the figure walking inside and Andrew sucked in a deep breath as he saw Kevin coming into the living room.

"Hey, Andrew," He greeted his supervisor, his voice tired and also more worry,

"Hi, Rose."

"Hello, honey," Rose smiled at the youngest angel, unable to help but notice the concern that was already etched on his face.

"Is everything okay, Kev?" Andrew asked, wanting to know the answer to that one before he told his charge about Carol.

His heart thumping in his chest as he shrugged out of his jacket and hung it up on the nearby coat rack, Kevin trudged further into the living room and took a seat on the chair next to the couch that his two friends were occupying,

"Just the usual, you know?" He began, feeling guilty that he couldn't tell his supervisor right now what Monica's problem really was,

"Coach Slade's only getting worse each day, and nothing I say will make him come around. He just keeps pushing them harder then before; because Cupcake was 3 minutes late for warm up, he had her run around the track twice, and when she returned, she was punished with 100 push-ups! I just don't know what to do anymore, and it's starting to get to me..."

Andrew's expression was pained as he nodded his head in understanding,

"I know, Kevin. It's getting to me too, but we have a break next week with the college on fall break and it seems we'll be spending it with the Sullivan's," He drew in a deep breath before he explained,

"Carol passed away this morning."

His eyes widening in surprise at his friend's words, Kevin looked over at Rose, who nodded her head in confirmation.

"She died in her sleep this morning, honey," The oldest of the trio explained softly, her arm still wrapped gently around Andrew's shoulders as she saw the tears starting up in her friend's green eyes again,

"There was no pain at all, and not only is she with the Father now, but she's back together with Patrick."

"I-I can't believe this..." The angel rested his head wearily into his hands as he found himself speechless. How could Carol be dead? It had just seemed like yesterday that he had last seen her, she was perfectly fine.

"She was up in the years, honey, and she had led a good life, but her body was tired," Rose replied softly.

Kevin nodded his head sadly, unable to help but to think that despite his own sadness at this news, what it was going to do to his Irish friend. He remembered what Monica had said about feeling in control of this one thing in her existence and now here was one other thing that would spin out of control for her. He wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt that she would be able to stop this binging and purging cycle, but he was finding it difficult, yet he didn't want to betray her trust by telling Andrew just yet, despite his feelings that their supervisor should know the truth,

"I need a little air," Kevin mumbled, getting to his feet and walking out the back door.

Watching his youngest charge go, Andrew sucked in a shaky breath and knew that he had to go after Kevin; he knew it deep in his heart that his friend knew something else and wasn't telling him. Turning back to Rose, the younger angel sighed deeply as he whispered tiredly,

"I'll be right back."

Running her hand gently through his blonde locks, the elderly supervisor nodded her head and released him. Sighing softly, she watched as Andrew headed slowly towards the back door and walked out and down the steps towards the beach. Rising to her feet, she placed a hand against the glass of the door and gazed out at her two friends, watching as her 'Angel Boy' came up behind Kevin,

"Father, please help them...I'm so worried..."

Gently laying a hand on his youngest charge's shoulder, Andrew wiped at his eyes quickly before saying,

"Kev?"

"I just needed some air, that's all, Andrew," Kevin softly replied, his back still facing his friend as he crossed his arms across his chest while his brown eyes gazed out at the ocean waves.

"Why do I get the feeling that it is more than that?" Andrew asked softly.

The younger angel was quiet for a moment before speaking carefully,

"What do you do, Andrew, if someone tells you not to repeat something? What if that person is in danger, but they want the chance to change it themselves without involving anyone else?"

His eyebrows arching, Andrew tried to find his voice as he contemplated what his charge was asking him. Finally able to speak, the older of the two softly replied,

"Assignments have told me to do stuff like that before...but I just told him or her that I wouldn't lie, and that if I was asked what was going on, I would tell the truth." He fell silent for a few moments before he looked Kevin directly in the eye,

"What do you know, Kevin?"

Kevin continued to stare out at the ocean, torn between telling Andrew and wanting to give Monica the chance to fix things herself. But what if she couldn't? Yet with the way things still were between she and Andrew, not even telling Andrew could do much good,

"It's Monica," He whispered, feeling tears fill his eyes,

"She's a cross between anorexic and bulimic right now, Andrew. She quit eating before this assignment ever began, when you weren't speaking to her and now with being on the assignment, she has started binging and purging."

Once again feeling like he had been slapped in the face, Andrew felt himself growing nauseated and sunk down onto the sand, placing his head in the hands to try and stop his world from spinning,

"What...?" He uttered slowly, wanting to believe that he had just misunderstood Kevin.

Kneeling down next to his supervisor and looking through blurred vision into his face, the youngest angel forced himself to continue,

"Coach Slade has only made things worse, Andrew. If she or Kathy eats anything more then lettuce or drink anything more then water, he'll punish them, which causes Monica to slip even further away."

"Why would she do this, Kevin?" Andrew uttered, his heart racing with fear for his best friend as he struggled to absorb what his charge was telling him.

"She told me it started because she was just too upset to eat, but as time went by, she felt like it was the one thing in her existence she could control, as she couldn't control how you felt about her or the things the coach said to her. She told me that she can't stop it; if she tries to eat, she feels sick," Kevin wiped at his eyes blindly as he continued,

"She lost 8 pounds last week, Andrew and it still wasn't enough for the coach. It's like, she's trying to please somebody, even if it is him. She didn't want you to know and she begged me not to tell you."

"I can't believe she would do this to herself..." Andrew spoke, more to thin air then to anyone else.

"I caught her a few days ago, forcing herself to throw up her meal," Kevin whispered through his tears as he saw tears trickling down his older friend's pale face,

"She looked ready to object to it and say that nothing was wrong; but she told me..."

"I have to get her out of there, Kev," The older angel tearfully whispered, running his hands through his tangled blonde hair,

"Her life is more important then this assignment..."

"Andrew, listen," Kevin replied shakily,

"If at all possible, don't tell her you know yet. She's going to be devastated by this news about Carol and I'm afraid that having to face up to you knowing the truth at the same time is going to be too much for her. Maybe with this week at the Sullivan's, she'll admit the truth to you, especially if you two can do some work on your damaged relationship. Let her deal with Carol first, you know?"

Falling silent at his younger friend's words, Andrew didn't say a word as he ran a shaky hand through his hair, all the while trying to force himself to go along with what Kevin was saying. Finally after several minutes, he reluctantly nodded his head and turned his pained green eyes to his charge for the first time since he heard this news,

"All right."

"Remember what she told you 9 years ago, after the hotel explosion?" Seeing his friend's slightly confused expression, Kevin laid a hand on the angel's shoulder and finished in a shaky voice,

"When you were hoping that you would be able to put that nightmare behind you, she told you that between her and I, and God, you couldn't possibly go wrong. She was right; and now it's time for you and I to help her put this whole nightmare behind Cupcake. With your friendship and love, and God's Love, she can't go wrong. Let's just remember that, all right?"

Andrew nodded his head numbly, images of his gentle friend flashing before his eyes as he tried to fathom the amount of pain she was in right now. How had he allowed things to get this bad?

"Meet us at Cindy and Brady's, Kevin, all right?" He said softly,

"I'm going to go and break the news to Monica and then take her there as well." Rising to his feet shakily, he laid a hand on Kevin's shoulder,

"Thank you for telling me, Kevin," He whispered, despite the tears in his eyes,

"We'll meet you there."

Nodding his head weakly, Kevin gave his friend a tight hug before turning around and watching the older angel head down the beach, his head hanging low, and before long he had disappeared from sight. As he stood there, the youngest angel whispered up a silent prayer to the Father to be with both of his friends, and that Monica would handle the news of Carol's passing much better then he expected. Letting out a shaky sigh, all the while the tears refusing to end, the youngest angel slowly headed back up the sand dunes and back to the beach house where Rose was waiting.

Chapter 9

Monica shivered as she pulled the blanket tighter around her, as she sat alone in the dorm's lounge. Most of the students, Kathy included, had headed to bed, but the Irish angel had been having trouble sleeping and fearful that her tossing and turning would keep her roomie awake, she had grabbed a blanket off her bed and headed here, hoping for time to think and to try to talk to the Father. She felt so cold though, that it was hard to put her thoughts into words to Him, even though deep inside, she knew that He knew what was in her heart.

Today, just as the many days before this one, had been horrible, a repeat of all the others, so much so that they all seemed to blend together into one great mass of confusion. Her heart was filled with so much shame, hurt and confusion that she felt unable to even reason with herself any longer on why she was doing the things she was doing, only that she felt powerless to stop them and she felt as if things were moving so fast that she just kept pleading for them to stop, if only for a moment, so she could breath.

Pulling the blanket even tighter around her, she starred without really seeing the images on the television set, which she had turned down an hour ago, wishing she could just cry, but the tears refused to come.

Finally after several more minutes of sitting in silence with her eyes glued to the television, the weakened Irish angel grabbed the remote and clicked the "Off" button. With a weary sigh, she rested her head back against the leather couch and grabbed a nearby pillow to hug. Before she could close her eyes, however, and at least try to sleep, she sensed a familiar presence and she turned her head to see Andrew standing in the doorway, his hand on the door jam. Even from a distance, Monica could see that his green eyes were reddened from earlier crying and he appeared to be trying to look as calm as possible. Not at all shocked by his presence here, the human angel turned her eyes away and whispered weakly,

"Hi."

"Hi, Angel Girl," Andrew whispered in reply, as he approached her slowly. Were it not for his promise to Kevin earlier, he would have broken down into sobs right then and there at the mere sight of her, as it seemed as if he were only now, really seeing her for the first time in weeks. Even in the darkness, the hollowness around her eyes stood out against the gauntness of her pale face and he could see the way she was shivering though the room was quite warm. He longed to take her into his arms and love all the pain from her soul, but he knew he couldn't do that yet. She had built her walls high the past few weeks and to break them down would take time. He only hoped that there was enough time to do that.

Kneeling down in front of her, he looked up into her face, even as she avoided his eyes,

"I have some sad news, Monica," He began softly, saying a prayer for strength,

"Carol died in her sleep last night, sweetheart."

Monica's eyes widened at what he was saying, as she felt her world becoming even smaller and more suffocating. Her heart beating erratically, she shook her head, not wanting to hear what he was saying,

"No," She whispered as she began to tremble more violently,

"Andrew, please no…"

Lowering his head and hesitantly reaching for her hands, Andrew sucked in a deep breath and forced back the tears he wanted to let go as he replied shakily,

"I wish it wasn't true, Mon'...but Rose just told me a few minutes ago. I'm so sorry, Angel Girl; I know how much you're going to miss her. So will I..."

"Please tell me this is some kind of joke, Andrew," Monica wearily replied, not wanting him to let go of her hands right yet as she felt herself shaking from head to toe,

"She was just fine the last time we saw her..."

"It was her time, Monica," He replied gently, feeling the icy coldness of her hands in his own as he held them tightly, wanting to fill her with his warmth, as he knew what this coldness was stemming from, God only knowing the last time she had eaten. But he couldn't say any of that, no matter how much he wanted to,

"She's with Patrick now and you know how much she has missed him."

Monica struggled to catch her breath, wanting to break down into sobs, but the tears didn't come despite the fact that she felt them in her heart,

"I don't understand anything anymore," She whispered, more to herself than to Andrew.

"I know, sweetie-"

"No, you don't," She wearily interrupted, finally meeting her friend's tear-filled eyes,

"You don't know how I feel right now; I-I don't even feel like me anymore, and now Carol..." She quickly lowered her eyes down to their conjoined hands and drew in a shaky breath,

"Nothing makes sense."

"Angel Girl, the news about Carol is hitting us all hard, myself and Kevin included," The older angel whispered brokenly as he rubbed her fingers with his hands,

"Can you at least try and tell me what exactly you're feeling right now? I want to help in any way I can."

"What I'm feeling?" She whispered, her eyes holding a dazed look as she continued to stare down at their joined hands. She couldn't tell him how she was dizzy most of the day, or how she occasionally passed out, or how after running the track, her heart would beat so erratically it terrified her. She couldn't tell him how no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't stop binging and purging, or how she couldn't sleep at night or even how she couldn't understand this sudden change in him to suddenly want to be here for her after she had felt invisible for weeks. She just couldn't tell him.

"I don't know," She whispered shakily,

"I don't know what I feel anymore."

Rising to his feet and taking a seat next to her, Andrew, although hesitant, reached an arm out and wrapped it tenderly around her shoulders although he felt the stiffness in her,

"Can you at least try, sweetheart? I know you probably don't believe me right now, but I really do care...and I want you to see and know that..."

"I-I can't, Andrew," The human Irish angel replied, her voice barely audible as it was so quiet. Unable to stop herself, she finally leaned into her best friend and rested her head tiredly against his shoulder,

"I just can't right now...you wouldn't understand..."

"I would do everything in my power to understand, Monica," He whispered to her, kissing the top of her head.

"I just want everything to go back to the way it was at the party," She uttered weakly, closing her eyes for a moment,

"And it's never going to be like that again…"

"Listen to me," Andrew gently tilted her chin so his eyes met with hers, which were swimming in pain,

"It will be like that again, okay? I know that you have no reason whatsoever to trust me right now, but I promise you," His emerald green eyes held her gaze steadily as he repeated those words more firmly,

"I promise you that I will do all I can to make this all better, no matter how long it takes, okay?"

"I want that so much, Andrew...I-I miss you," She finally was able to release a few of her tears and she allowed them to roll down her pale, sunken in face. Lifting her head off of his shoulder, she looked through blurred vision up into the older angel's tear-filled eyes,

"I just miss you..."

"I miss you too, sweet girl," He uttered hoarsely, tears escaping his own eyes,

"I miss you so much," He pressed his lips to her forehead as he offered up prayers for her safety. Pulling away, he stroked her cheek gently,

"We need to go to the Sullivan's, Monica. You're on break next week, so we'll be spending it with them, okay?"

"I need to let Kathy know," She replied shakily,

"She's staying here for the break and I just need to let her know," A look of uncertainty passed over her face,

"Is that okay?"

"Of course it is, Monica," Andrew reached a hand up and wiped at the tears on his best friend's cheeks before quickly wiping at his own eyes,

"I just want you to know that you don't have to ask my permission, sweetheart, all right? I know after everything, it seems like you have to...but I've been a real jerk, and I'm going to do everything in my power to prove to you that I'm going to change, Angel Girl." Seeing the still sad look on the Irish angel's face, Andrew sighed shakily before helping her to her feet,

"I'll wait here for you until you're ready to leave, okay?"

Longing to throw herself into his arms, she instead nodded her head,

"I won't be long," She whispered.

Andrew watched her go through tear-filled eyes, noticing how she briefly braced herself at the door as she became unsteady for a moment and it broke his heart to know that his dearest friend in this world was starving herself all due to the pain that had begun the night of his party which had grown over the last two months into something that made her almost unrecognizable,

"Help me to help her, Father," He whispered aloud,

"Or I'll never forgive myself."

Several hours later, the two angels slowly pulled up in front of the Sullivan's house and as Andrew put the car into park and shut off the engine, he sighed sadly and gazed over at his best friend who was in the passenger seat with her hands folded in her lap and her head down. Laying a gentle hand on her shoulder, he waited until she turned his way before he spoke,

"C'mon, sweetie. Let's go in..." As he slowly got out of the car and walked around to the other side to help Monica out, his arm draped around her shoulders as she was only wearing a thin jacket over her sweatshirt, and the two headed up the steps and towards the front door.

Silence filled the air as Andrew rang the doorbell and before long, a young face appeared behind the screen and the older of the two angels nearly sobbed at the saddened look on Wendy's delicate features. Not saying a word, the young child slowly opened up the door and allowed her two angelic friends inside, but before anyone could speak, she had tightly wrapped her arms around both Andrew and Monica, and held tightly to them as she spoke softly through her tears,

"You heard about Grandma, didn't you?"

"Yes, honey, we did," Andrew replied gently, as he picked Wendy up in his arms,

"And I know how sad it makes you feel that she isn't here any longer, but you do know that she is very happy with God in heaven, right?"

"I know," Wendy whispered sadly,

"I'm just really going to miss her."

"We all will, sweetheart," Monica whispered shakily, already beginning to feel overwhelmed.

"Hey, you two," Cindy managed a weak smile as she came out to greet her angelic friends,

"Wendy, why aren't you in bed?" She scolded gently, seeing the tears in her daughter's eyes.

"I heard the door and knew it was Andrew and Monica," Wendy whispered sadly,

"I just wanted to see them…"

"I'll put her to bed, Cindy," Andrew offered, managing a smile as Cindy nodded her head.

"Will you tell me a story about what my Grandma might be doing in heaven right now?" the little girl asked hopefully as she rested her head wearily against his shoulder.

Feeling a few more tears welling up in his eyes, Andrew nodded his head sadly as he looked over Wendy's head at Monica and Cindy before whispering into the little girl's ear,

"Of course I will, sweetheart." As Wendy wrapped her arms tighter around the angel's neck as he climbed the stairs towards her bedroom, the remaining human and angel were just able to make out the sound of their friend's gentle voice whispering to the little girl as she already started to drift off to sleep in his arms. Upon hearing the bedroom door close from upstairs, Cindy reached an arm out and wrapped it gently around her angelic sister's shoulders.

"Are you doing all right, Mon'?" She asked with uncertainty, as the last time she had seen either of her friends, there had been trouble brewing; Kevin had only explained a few things to her and Brady when he had arrived at their house that afternoon, but now she wanted to hear it from Andrew or Monica themselves.

"I'm okay," the Irish angel replied, not meeting her human sister's eyes,

"What about you though? This must have come as a shock to you…"

"It did, but you know, she has talked about wanting to be with God and daddy for so long now, that I can't help but smile, even if I'm crying because I'm going to miss her, to know that she is finally there," Cindy frowned, looking at her sister and friend once again,

"Are you sure you're all right? You're looking a little under the weather to me.."

"It's all right, Cindy," Monica kept her eyes lowered as she fiddled with her lightweight jacket,

"Although things have been kind of hectic lately...with our new assignment and all..."

Tilting her head to the side, the human laid a gentle hand on her angelic sister's shoulder and waited until she lifted her head to begin speaking again,

"How about with you and Andrew?" She asked carefully,

"He doesn't seem as angry as he had been two months ago...and what is this about your new assignment? You know you can talk to me about anything, Monica..."

Feeling overwhelmed once more, Monica searched for a way out of this line of questioning, but before she could come up with anything, Brady came through the kitchen door.

"Hey there, little angel," He smiled tiredly as he greeted her with a hug, though a concerned look passed over his face as he wrapped his arms around her and he felt how frail she was,

"I fixed you and Andrew a bite to eat, figuring you would be hungry after your long ride. Hopefully there will be some left as I left Kevin alone in the kitchen with the food."

Feeling her stomach lurch at the very mention of food, and her face paling, as she smelt food coming from the kitchen, Monica opened her mouth to try and respond but no sound came out for a few moments. After much hesitation, the Irish angel shrugged her shoulders and mumbled as she lowered her sunken dark eyes,

"I-I'm not hungry right now...but thanks anyways..."

His eyebrows furrowing together at her words, and also as he took in every detail of her, Brady looked straight into her eyes and replied seriously,

"Little angel, what's wrong? I'm not blind, you know?"

"It's just been a really long day, Brady and this assignment has taken a toll on me, and now this news about Carol…I'm just really tired and would really like to just go to bed, so if you'll excuse me…please tell Andrew and Kevin that I said 'good night'," Before anymore questions could be asked, the Irish angel managed a weak smile as she headed upstairs and to one of the spare rooms.

"Wow," Cindy said softly, running a tired hand through her blond hair,

"What was that all about?"

"Something that I wish she would talk to us about." Andrew's voice appeared in the living room and both humans turned around in time to see him come down the stairs and walk towards them. As he came closer, the older angel took a seat heavily on the couch and let out a long sigh.

Taking a seat next to her second angelic friend, Cindy laid a hand on his shoulder and looked into his red-rimmed eyes,

"Any idea what's going on? She looks so sick, Andrew..."

Sighing again, the angel ran a hand through his short hair and leaned his head back against the couch cushions,

"She is sick physically, Cindy. You're not wrong about that..."

Brady was quiet for a moment before he met his eyes squarely with Andrew's,

"Is she bulimic or anorexic, Andrew?"

"What?" Cindy cried out, looking at her husband in disbelief.

"A combination of both, Brady," Andrew replied, his voice choked at just hearing those words again,

"But how did you…"

"One of my early residencies in Ireland was at an eating disorders clinic," He explained to them both as he sat down in the chair across from them, looking up as Kevin walked quietly into the room as well,

"When I hugged her, I could feel how much weight she had lost and one look at her, well, all the signs are there."

"She hadn't been eating before she and I went on our new assignments, Brady," Kevin piped up, and with a sigh he took a seat on Andrew's other side on the couch,

"But things got worse after she met Coach Slade at the college..."

"Why didn't I just pull her out of there when I had the chance to?" Andrew uttered weakly to himself as he ran a hand across his face to smear away the tears,

"You said that you were so worried about her, Kev; but I decided to 'wait' until the assignment was finished to talk to her-"

"Buddy, she's out of there now, and she's here with us. That's all that matters at the moment, and with Cindy and myself being doctors and all, she'll get the help she needs. We'll make sure of it," Brady replied gently, although his voice was filled with worry, as he reached over and laid a hand on his friend's knee,

"Just make sure that you take it carefully, my friend, and don't push her too much. I can tell that she doesn't know that you know about this, does she?"

"No," Andrew replied sadly as he shook his head,

"We decided to let her deal with Carol's passing first as we didn't want to give her more than she could possibly handle. She's already handled more than she ever should have."

"Let me talk to her," Brady offered softly,

"We'll wait till after Carol's service, of course. In the meantime, no pressure on her, all right? She needs to feel loved and safe right now and from what I understand, she has been without these two things for awhile now for whatever reason."

"Whatever you think is best, Brady," Andrew replied, rising shakily to his feet, unable to feel anything but sadness, fear and guilt over this situation,

"I'm headed to bed. I'll see you all in the morning."

As he ascended the steps, he hesitated outside of his best friend's door, just able to make out the soft sound of muffled sobs. Opening the door, he slipped inside and sat down on the edge of her bed, his hand reaching out to stroke her now dulled auburn hair and she wept softly into her pillow.

Though she never acknowledged his presence, she didn't pull away from him either, as he continued the soothing motion with tears running down his own face, until she had finally cried herself to sleep.

Chapter 10

"Why can't human beings live forever, Andrew?" Angelica asked sadly as she rested her chin on her arms at the kitchen table in the Hendrickson home the next morning. The little girl and her siblings were sitting with the angel in the kitchen, looking through photo albums and letters to and from Carol, to get ready for her memorial service in 3 days. Brady, Cindy and Kevin were upstairs on the second floor, and much to Andrew's concern, Monica had chosen to stay at the Sullivan house that morning, instead of going with them to Carol and Patrick's old house. Although he had tried to tell her that he thought she should come with them, the weakened Irish angel had eventually won, and Andrew had finally relented, remembering Brady's words the other night of not pushing her too hard.

Flipping to the next page of the photo album, Andrew sighed softly as he came upon a picture of both Carol and Patrick, along with Cindy and Wendy. Monica and himself were on either side of the couple, and the older angel was carrying Cindy on his back in a piggyback ride. The smiles on all of their faces brought a few tears to his eyes and as he wiped them away, he turned to face Angelica again and softly tried to answer her question,

"Humans cannot live forever, honey. They're bodies die eventually, mostly from old age; I know you guys miss your Grandma desperately...so do I...but believe it or not, you will see her again." He tried to smile for her sake as he watched the tears start up in her saddened eyes.

"God must love Grandma a lot to want her to be with Him, huh Andrew?" Paddy piped up.

"Yes, He does, Patrick," Andrew replied, reaching over to tousle the little boy's dark curls,

"The Father loves all of His children very much and He knows when their bodies get old and tired and they are ready to come home with Him. He knew that about your Grandma. He knew that she had done all the things He wanted her to do here on earth, so it was time for her to come Home to be with Him, and even though you'll miss her, there is no better place to be then heaven."

"I can't wait until I see Grandma again, and get a chance to meet Grandpa," Wendy sniffed as she wiped a hand over her eyes to smear away the tears,

"He was a neat guy, wasn't he, Andrew?"

Smiling weakly, the blonde angel nodded his head and looked up from the photo album to meet each of their eyes,

"Oh yes. You really would've loved him; you know that you're named after him, right, Paddy?" He winked at the young boy and was happy to see a smile cross his young face as he nodded his head.

"I just wish we could've said goodbye," Angelica stated, her eyes looking down at her hands,

"And tell her that we love her..."

His heart breaking at the young child's words, Andrew scooted his chair back and patted his lap for Angelica to sit on and she came over without a word, taking a seat there and resting her head on his shoulder,

"Sweetheart, she knows that you love her. She always did...Even as you said those words just now, she heard you and she loves you right back."

Even Wendy managed a smile at those words,

"And no one should know that any better than an angel, huh Andrew?"

"That's exactly right, honey," He replied with a wink in her direction, marveling at the way children could understand and seemingly bounce back from their sadness once they understood things on their own terms.

"Grandma did look really tired the last time she was here," Paddy replied thoughtfully,

"But I'll bet she is all rested up now as God probably gave grandma her very own chair in heaven."

Andrew chuckled at the little boy's words, but he then felt Angelica tugging on his sleeve once more. Gazing down at her, he saw the worried expression on her little face.

"Andrew, Monica looks really tired," She whispered tearfully,

"She isn't gonna die, is she?"

Taken aback by her question, Andrew forced back another round of tears as he stared down at the little girl,

"Sweetheart, angels are beings that sometimes appear human, but in reality they aren't. One of the differences between humans and angels, is that angels can't die. I know that Mon' will be okay; she just needs a lot of help right now..."

"Then why do you look so sad, Andrew? If Monica's going to be okay, you look like you've just lost your best friend," Angelica whispered through her tears as she saw the angel's green eyes start to tear up as well.

"In a way, I have at the moment; because I did some things unintentionally to her, and with all the things going on with her assignment, she's not ready to talk to me about it yet." Sighing, he continued hoarsely,

"When angels take human form, we sometimes take on the same emotions that humans do, and right now, that's what's happening to Monica."

"Andrew?" Cindy appeared in the kitchen with an envelope in her hands that was tied with a pink ribbon. Her eyes had tears in them even though she smiled,

"I never even knew these existed, but in going through mom's things, we found these and I thought you might like to have them."

Taking the envelope from her, Andrew opened it and drew in a shaky breath as he found himself looking at pictures of Monica as a little girl. Looking through them, he found some of him with her, her face holding an impish grin as she stood behind him, her arms wrapped around his neck as they both laughed into the camera,

"I had no idea Carol had these…" He whispered,

"It was such a long time ago."

"Can I see?" Wendy rose to her feet, as did young Patrick and each of them stood on either side of the angel while Cindy looked down as he flipped through the pictures. Coming across another one that was taken at a pizza parlor, Andrew blinked back tears as he recognized the young-looking Monica, who was sitting on his lap with a small arm around his shoulders. He couldn't help laughing as he realized that both of their tongues were sticking out and he shook his head in awe at Cindy having found these pictures.

"Was that really Monica?" Paddy questioned, his dark eyes wide in shock as he turned around to look at his mother,

"I know you and dad told us the whole story, but it seemed kinda weird...now that I see these pictures, though..."

"Yes, honey; that's Andrew's little Angel Girl in those pictures," Cindy softly replied as she remembered the day that her two angelic friends told her the truth about Monica coming to earth as her parent's daughter before she and her twin sister were born.

Andrew ran a finger along his friend's face in the picture as he sighed sadly,

"Cindy, I should head back and check on her. I know she didn't want to come along today, but maybe I should have stayed behind with her as she has been alone a lot the last two months."

Cindy nodded her head in understanding,

"That's fine, Andrew and I completely understand. Do you want Kevin to come along with you, because I can get him for you if you do."

Shaking his head, the older angel replied softly,

"It's all right, Cin. I'd honestly like to try and have some time alone with her, ya know? "

Giving her head another understanding nod, Cindy watched as her angelic friend gently set Angelica back on her feet and then grabbed his jacket off the back of his chair. After carefully sticking the stack of pictures into his coat, he turned back around to his friends and attempted a smile,

"I'll see you guys back at the house. Just tell Kev for me where I headed, please?"

"I will, Andrew," Cindy reached over and gave the angel a quick hug before ushering him out the door. As he disappeared, the human sighed deeply before turning back to her children and led them back upstairs with her to the second floor.

Monica rose shakily to her feet in the bathroom and turned on the water in the sink to splash cold water on her face. With the house empty, she had tried to eat, as she had been so hungry. She had even been careful not to eat too much so she wouldn't feel full and then she had tried for nearly 30 minutes to force herself not to throw up, but nothing helped and so once again, she had forced the food back up and out of her system, the process exhausting her.

Raising her face to the mirror, tears filled her eyes at what she saw as she clutched the counter to steady herself,

"Father, why can't I stop this?" She whispered shakily,

"I'm scared…just so scared…"

Drawing in a trembling breath, her throat so sore she was almost accustomed to it being that way, she walked slowly out into the hall. Shivering, she grabbed the comforter off her bed and then headed out to the sun porch, hoping the mid-day sunshine would warm up her freezing body. Curling up on the sofa on the screened in porch, she drew the comforter tightly around her and leaned her head back, allowing the tears to make shiny paths down her ashen face.

She didn't even sense Andrew's presence until a hot mug of tea was set down on the table next to her. Looking up, she briefly met her tired eyes with his,

"Hey," She whispered, untangling one of her hands from the comforter to wipe at her tears,

"I thought you were helping Cindy and Brady go through Carol's things?"

"I was," He replied, sitting down next to her so he could face her,

"Then I decided that there was someplace else I wanted to be more."

"You don't have to be here, Andrew," Monica shook her head and forced an exhausted laugh from her lips,

"I'm living...just a little cold, that's all."

"Here, have some of this, sweetie," Reaching for the hot cup of tea and placing it in her free hand, he waited and watched as she stared down at the liquid, almost contemplating over where or not to even taste it. After several moments, she brought the cup to her lips and took a tentative sip, but before long, a racking cough escaped her and Andrew placed a hand on her shoulder, while with the other, gently patting her back,

"It's okay...it's okay..."

Leaning her head back against the sofa again, she didn't reply as she handed the cup back to him, the tears starting up again in her brown eyes. Hearing a soft sigh escape her best friend, but then setting the cup back on the table, Monica didn't say a word until she heard Andrew's voice again.

"Angel Girl, there are some things I'd really like to talk with you about," He started carefully, waiting until she turned his way to continue,

"I'm still hoping that you'll let me try and make things right between us again..."

A lump rising to her throat at his words, she only nodded her head, not trusting herself to speak.

"Monica, I don't know what got into me. What happened was between you and Kevin and I guess it just brought back all those memories from Erin's porch so long ago. I'm not even sure I was ever even really angry with you, but more upset with myself all over again about that, but I turned it around on you," He sighed softly as he reached over and tucked a stray piece of hair behind her ear, the gentle gesture bringing tears to her eyes,

"I know I hurt you in those weeks to follow and I wish I could take it back. I never meant to make you feel invisible or that your feelings didn't matter, because they and you have always mattered, Angel Girl."

"You wouldn't even accept my apology," She whispered tearfully, looking down once again,

"You said you were ashamed of me. I didn't know what else to do, Andrew…"

"I know, Mon'," Andrew uttered in reply, raising his hand and bringing her chin up so their eyes met again,

"And I'll never forgive myself for what I've put you through; sweetie, you didn't deserve it, and I'm so very sorry. I know you probably don't believe it now, but I'm hoping and praying that one day you'll come to realize how sorry I am..."

Lowering her head again, the Irish angel sucked in a deep breath as she went over in her head all that her friend and supervisor was telling her, and all of her conflicting emotions came back. She knew that he was sorry; she could see it on his face. But what was the sudden change? And why was he apologizing now, when the time she had needed to hear it was 2 months ago? Finally lifting her sorrowful, exhausted brown eyes to meet his green ones, she uttered weakly,

"I don't really know what to say..."

"You don't have to say anything," Andrew replied gently,

"I'm not expecting you to forgive me now, Monica, I just want you to hear what I'm saying and to know that it is the truth. I just want us to start rebuilding our friendship again because your friendship means so much to me, sweetheart, and I know that I don't even deserve to have it. I'm sorry it took me so long to see what an idiot I was being and just how much I was hurting you."

"I just want it all to go away…" She uttered, her voice catching in a sob.

His vision blurring as he listened to the words that his best friend spoke, Andrew couldn't take it anymore and although he knew he was treading on thin ice, reached over and wrapped his arms tightly around the weary Irish angel and pulled her close to him. Although she felt stiff in his arms for a few moments, she eventually started to relax some and before long, she had collapsed against him, her thin arms wrapping weakly around him as she mumbled into his chest,

"I just want it to go away...why won't it go away..."

His heart pounded in his chest as he held her frail body as tightly as he dared,

"Why won't what go away, baby girl?" He whispered to her as he rested his cheek against the top of her head,

"Tell me and let me help you, sweetie, okay? Trust me that I can, Mon', all right? I want to help you more than anything and I can see that more is wrong then just this. I love you, little one, and there is nothing I would not do for you."

"I can't tell you right now, Andrew," She replied, her voice barely audible as she spoke,

"I just can't..."

Opening his mouth as he was about to reply, he decided against it as he once again remembered Brady's words to him the other day, and his human friend telling him that he was going to have a talk with Monica later on; after all, Brady and Cindy were doctors, so hopefully the Irish angel would be able to get the help she needed if the humans told her what they knew. Sighing softly, the supervisor gently kissed the top of Monica's head before replying instead,

"It's okay, Angel Girl. It's okay..." He gently soothed as he ran his hand over her head,

"Don't hold it back, sweetie; it's okay to cry..."

"If I start to cry, Andrew, I won't stop," She whispered, not moving from where she laid in his arms,

"But would it be okay if I could just stay here a little while longer as it feels so safe and I've missed it so much?"

"You don't even have to ask, my girl," He uttered as tears streaked his cheeks. Folding his arms tighter around her, he leaned back and rested his cheek against the crown of her head while she rested her head against his strong shoulder,

"I love you."

Chapter 11

"You had quite a houseful, Cindy," Tess smiled gently as she helped to clean up after the dinner that had followed Carol's memorial service,

"A lot of people loved your mother, baby."

"Yes, they did," Cindy smiled tiredly as she dried yet another platter after Tess had washed it.

"The service was beautiful," Carla offered, exchanging a look with Rose, as she put on a fresh pot of coffee.

"I think mom would have approved," Cindy remarked with a small sigh,

"I just keep picturing her up in heaven with daddy and the thought of it makes me smile, despite how much I'll miss her."

"I have it on the highest authority that she is very happy, baby," Tess remarked, smiling at the human. Her smile faded somewhat as she watched Monica bring in another dish from the dining room and the casserole dish seemed to be all she could handle carrying noting by the way her hands trembled as she laid it down on the counter,

"Angel Girl, you look ready to drop, so why don't you go and have a seat, all right? We're about all finished up in here anyway."

"I'm fine, Tess," Monica tried to look as assuring as possible, but it didn't go unnoticed by anyone in the kitchen. But before either angel or human could say anything, Andrew had entered the room upon hearing Tess' words and he gently wrapped his arm around the Irish angel's too thin shoulders, his heart breaking once again as he noticed how frail she was.

"C'mon, Mon'. Go out into the living room and have a seat," He whispered gently, leading her out of the room and down the hall to the living room. As he carefully set her down on the couch, he knelt down in front of his best friend and took her hand in his; rubbing it in his own, he was surprised to feel that she was nearly almost all skin and bones,

"Angel Girl...you haven't eaten at all today; how about I get you a little something right now? You look so pale..."

"I'm really not all that hungry, Andrew," She replied shakily, the very thought of food making her stomach lurch.

"Monica, listen to me, okay? You're starting to scare me here," Noticing how she was shivering once more, he grabbed the quilt off the back of the sofa and wrapped it around her,

"At least let me fix you a sandwich."

Feeling at a loss, and knowing it would be easier to get rid of the sandwich later, she finally nodded her head,

"Sure, maybe a half a sandwich."

Squeezing her hand gently, Andrew rose to his feet and headed back into the kitchen. As he closed the door behind him, he leaned against it briefly and closed his eyes to ward off more tears from coming; shaking his head, he headed over to the counter, avoiding the looks his friends were giving him as he grabbed the condiments from the refrigerator and cupboards to make his friend's sandwich. Feeling a gentle hand on his shoulder, the blonde angel finally turned around and saw Rose standing by his side, a concerned expression on her gentle features,

"Honey, we know what's going on with Monica." She sighed softly as she continued,

"Brady and Cindy have filled us in on everything..."

Turning to face his friend and seeing Tess approaching as well, he shook his head as tears filled his eyes,

"Why won't she just eat, Rose?" He uttered miserably,

"My best friend is wasting away to nothing and there isn't anything I can do about it!"

"You are doing something, honey," Rose began gently, but he cut her off before she could continue.

"What? I'm fixing her a sandwich of which I have no doubts she will make herself throw up later, because that is easier than arguing with me about whether or not she eats at all. She doesn't even have the strength to argue! She's destroying herself and to watch it is destroying me!"

"Baby, please calm down," Tess tried to soothe as she came up next to her younger friend and laid her hand on his shoulder. But he interrupted, his voice breaking as he spoke.

"How can I calm down when she's wasting away before my very eyes, Tess?" He demanded, never bothering to wipe the tears that were blurring his vision,

"I'm trying so hard to help her, and to get her to tell me herself what's going on, but she's only getting worse and I don't know what to do!"

"Buddy, listen to me," Brady stepped forward and rested his hands on Andrew's shoulders,

"I'm going to have a talk with her tomorrow, but let me explain something to you about this disease. You cannot do this for her and you are doing all you can to help her. This started out as something that she felt she was in control of when everything else was completely out of control in her existence. But it isn't like that now. She knows now that it is controlling her and I can guarantee you, she is terrified. She won't tell you because she is too ashamed to do so. It isn't that she doesn't want to eat, she does! But this disease takes on a life of its own, Andrew. I know how hard this is for you because of how much you love her, but you have to stay calm for her because everything inside of her is screaming right now and she has no idea how to let it out."

Silence followed Brady's words of truth and after looking from his friend to his fellow angels, Andrew pulled away from the human's grasp and placed the sandwich he had made onto a plate; turning around, the blonde angel walked quickly towards the door and back into the living room where Monica was still seated on the couch in the same position he had left her.

"Here, try and eat this, Angel Girl," He offered quietly, although he knew that she wasn't going to keep any of it down. But he knew that he had to try, although Brady's words still rang in his head.

The little Irish angel starred at the plate in her hand for a moment, fighting herself to eat it. She could feel Andrew's eyes on her as she forced herself to pick up half of the sandwich and bring it shakily to her lips. Desperate tears burned in her eyes as she took a small bite, before laying it back down on the plate as she chewed it slowly,

"Thank you," She said softly once she had forced the bite down her sore throat and now wanting to take the attention off the sandwich as she wasn't sure of how many more bites she could manage,

"Are Cindy and Brady doing all right?"

Kneeling down in front of his best friend again and resting his hands on her knees, the older angel sighed as he answered softly,

"They're holding up better then I had expected...Kevin is upstairs with the triplets right now, keeping them busy, and you know he does that perfectly well." He tried to joke to at least make her smile a little but, but her sorrowful brown eyes continued to stare down at the plate in her hands and she never so much as attempted a smile. Seeing this, Andrew sighed sadly and took the plate from her shaking hands and set it back down on the coffee table,

"Sweetheart, what I can do to see that beautiful smile of yours again?"

She was quiet for a long moment as she fought off tears once more as she reached shakily for his hands, closing her eyes at the sweet feel of his touch that she had missed for so long,

"We have to find it first, Andrew," She whispered shakily,

"As it seems to have vanished with everything else that was good in me."

"What are you talking about, huh?" He whispered, letting go of one of her hands to touch her deathly pale face,

"You are good, Monica. Through the Father you are good. You are His angel and He created you perfectly."

"Somewhere along the way, Andrew, it all fell apart," Monica replied sadly,

"And I don't know how to get it back," Drawing in a trembling breath, she finally met his eyes,

"I'm really tired."

Seeing the exhaustion written all over her face, along with everything else, Andrew sighed softly and tried to come up with an idea of where she could sleep. Finally nodding his head, the older angel rose to his feet and reached out to run his hand through the Irish angel's limp auburn mane,

"I don't see why Cindy or Brady would mind you sleeping here for the night. Kevin and I will stay here for the night, and then in the morning we'll head back to their house, all right?"

Forcing herself to nod her head, as she felt ready to collapse at any moment, Monica reached her arms out and wrapped them around her friend's neck as he lifted her into his arms and started to carry her up the stairs and towards her old bedroom. Resting his cheek against her head, Andrew's eyes flooded with tears again as he realized just how light she was, and how much weight she had lost.

As he tucked her into bed, he watched as her eyes closed in complete and utter exhaustion and he knew that today, though she had not shed a tear, had taken a toll on her, as it had on them all in one way or another. Smoothing her hair back from her face, he leaned down and gently kissed her cheek,

"Good night, sweet baby," He whispered as tears once again fell from his green eyes.

"Hey, little angel," Brady smiled the next afternoon as Monica wandered wearily into the living room.

"Where is everyone?" She asked softly, sitting down on the other end of the sofa from where he was sitting.

"They've all cleared out for a bit," He began, his dark eyes steadily meeting hers,

"In order to give me a chance to talk to you." Seeing her bloodshot eyes widen at his words, he continued, his voice gentle yet firm,

"When you are planning on telling them what is going on, Monica?"

"I…I don't know what you're talking about-," She stammered shakily, but Brady cut her off before she could say anymore.

"I think you do and what I'm talking about is the fact that you have been basically starving yourself for the past two months."

"That's not true, Brady-"

"Little angel, I'm a doctor. I'm not blind, you know?" Brady pointed out, sadness filling his heart as he watched Monica scoot further away from him on the couch,

"It's obvious that you're somewhere in between bulimia and anorexia; why haven't you gone to anybody about this, and when are you planning on letting Andrew help you?"

"He can't help me," She whispered, knowing that she had been caught,

"He'd never forgive me for this and besides, I can get better on my own…"

Brady nodded his head,

"And you're doing a fine job of that so far," He observed, watching as she lowered her head immediately at his words,

"My guess is that you started this when you were so upset over him being angry with you and ignoring you and nothing you could do could change those things. So, you took into your hands the one thing you could control which was eating. Nothing you could do seemed to please Andrew, so you felt that maybe controlling food was the one thing you could do correctly. Then this coach turned up and made you feel not good enough or thin enough to be any good at running on his team, so you fought to please him anyway you could. Am I close, Monica?"

"What else could I have done, Brady?" She uttered miserably, shrugging her thin shoulders.

"You could've come to somebody for help, until your relationship with Andrew was better again, Little angel. From what I know, Kevin was available with a listening ear, and you could have even gone to Cindy or myself; we're doctors, my girl, and our goals are to help people," The human replied, his eyes locked on the all-too thin Irish angel.

"I can't stop it, Brady. I've tried. I promise you, I've tried, but it won't go away…" Monica whispered, her tired eyes finally filled with the fear that he had known she had to be feeling.

"You belong in a hospital, Monica-."

"No!" She interrupted firmly, shaking her head, despite the fact that it was spinning,

"I won't go to the hospital, Brady. You can't make me do that."

He observed her in silence for a moment before speaking again,

"All right then, here is the deal and it is my final offer. We will treat you here in our home, providing you come clean with Andrew and that means he hears this from you, not from me."

Feeling herself shaking from her head to her toes, Monica looked ready to object, but then thought better of it as she saw the serious look in the human's dark eyes. Sucking in a sharp breath, although it hurt her throat, the Irish angel numbly nodded her head as she lowered her eyes again,

"Okay."

"Okay," Brady nodded in relief as he let out the breath he had been holding in for some time now,

"Andrew and Kevin will be back later, but for right now, I'm taking you back to Cindy and my place; those two will meet us back at the house and you can tell Andrew. Is that understood, little angel?"

"Understood," She whispered shakily, as she lowered her eyes once more,

"Brady, just tell me I'm going to get better, please?"

Reaching over, he grasped her hand in his own and gave it a gentle squeeze,

"Cindy and I will do our part from a medical perspective, Monica, which is going to include IV protein to get some strength back in you after I do an exam to see just how much damage you've done to your human body. Then you need to start talking about everything you've been keeping inside of you and eventually, you need to eat. It isn't going to be easy, little angel, for you or for Andrew as he is going to have to hear your honesty about that time before this assignment started, but it can be done."

"Any idea how soon?" She whimpered in reply, her hand trembling from Brady's touch.

"It depends on you, my angel. I'm only human, and that's all I can say," Brady replied, sighing softly as he saw the tears rolling down Monica's deathly pale face,

"But Andrew will continue to love you no matter what, and so will God. Just believe that."

Chapter 12

"I wish I knew why we were here," Kevin muttered as he and Andrew walked through the deserted building at the college that hosted dozens of dorm rooms. He had come to really dislike the college altogether after all that had occurred here and he was none too happy to be here today.

"I don't know either, Kev," Andrew replied as they turned the corner and headed in the direction of Kathy and Monica's dorm room,

"All I know is that the Father said we needed to be here for some reason."

"Do you think it has anything to do with Kathy?" The youngest angel asked quietly, his heart pounding loudly in his chest as they slowly neared the dorm room.

Sighing sadly, Andrew shook his head and then shrugged his shoulders,

"I wish I knew, buddy. But I can't say because I don't know...but the Father sent us here for a reason, and my guess is we'll find the reason once we enter that room." He pointed in the direction of Kathy's door and after several moments of tense silence, the older angel lifted a hand and knocked softly on it.

Nothing.

Frowning, Andrew tried the doorknob and found it to be unlocked. Exchanging a look with Kevin, he opened the door and peered inside. The bedside light was on and the room was rather messy, but other than that, it appeared to be unoccupied.

As the two angels stepped inside however, Kevin let out a loud gasp as his eyes came to rest on Kathy's lifeless figure on the floor between the two beds. Both angels were beside her in a heartbeat as Andrew gathered the young woman into his arms, already noticing the way her appearance mirrored that of his best friend,

"She's alive," He uttered, looking at his younger charge,

"Call 911, Kevin and hurry!"

Several hours later, Kevin and Andrew, with Rose following right behind, walked up the steps back to the Sullivan's house. Things didn't look so good for Kathy after the two younger angels had found her unconscious in the dorm room; but after many hours of waiting in the waiting room at the hospital, they finally were informed that the young woman was stabilized and that they would do all they could for her. Rose had arrived not that long after, offering to give them a lift back to Cindy and Brady's house, as she noticed how drained her former charge appeared, both physically and emotionally.

As he opened the door to the large house and stepping inside, Andrew sighed wearily as he hung up his jacket in the closet and then took Kevin and Rose's and did the same. Hearing a noise from behind him, the angel turned around and saw Brady coming down the stairs towards them.

"Hey, you guys," He greeted his friends, offering a small smile for all their sakes.

"Hey, Brady," Andrew returned the greeting with a tired smile before he sighed softly,

"I guess you heard what happened?"

"Tess filled Cindy and I in on it," Brady replied, with a shake of his head,

"She said it was a heart attack?"

Kevin nodded his head sadly, his heart aching over this whole horrible assignment which seemed to go from bad to worse and ever since they had found Kathy on the floor in the dorm room, he had been unable to get his mind off Monica as well,

"Does Cupcake know?"

Brady nodded his head solemnly,

"I had to tell her as we were expecting you both home earlier. She has said very little since then."

Exchanging a look with Rose, Andrew turned back and nodded his head slowly,

"Lemme talk to her..." He offered, glancing at each of his friends in turn.

"Go and do that, Angel Boy," Rose agreed sympathetically, squeezing his shoulder before he turned and slowly headed up the stairs to the second floor. As he neared the bedroom and was about to knock softly on the door to her temporary room, a small voice interrupted and he turned around in time to see Wendy come out of her own room and looking up at him.

"Andrew?"

"Yeah, sweetie?" He answered, blinking back a few hot tears in his green eyes.

"You and Monica will be okay soon, right?" The young child whispered, even as she yawned sleepily,

"God won't make this last forever, will He?"

"No, cutie, not forever," Andrew whispered back, as he lifted her into his arms and carried her back to her bedroom.

"So you two will be okay one day soon?" She persisted as he tucked her back in under the covers.

"I pray for that every single day, sweetheart," Andrew replied, kissing her forehead gently,

"Now, you get some sleep, little girl."

Wendy nodded her head as she looked up at him once more,

"I'm gonna pray for it too then." She informed him before she closed her eyes and folded her little hands as she lifted her silent prayers to heaven.

Blinking back more tears, Andrew closed her bedroom door and hesitantly opened the door to Monica's room, his eyes immediately meeting hers, as she sat on the edge of her bed,

"You heard about Kathy, Angel Girl?" He asked softly.

Looking up at him, the tears that she had been unable to cry now flooded her pain filled eyes as she nodded her head,

"Andrew…Andrew, I…" Sobs began to grab hold of her then even as she looked at him,

"I'm scared, Andrew…help me, please…help me…"

Making his way into the room and taking a seat next to her, he wasted no time in taking her into his arms and holding her frail body close to him as she trembled with fear,

"That's why I'm here, my Angel Girl. I've got you, Mon', I've got you..."

Clinging tightly to him like he was her source of strength, Monica buried her tear-stained face deep into his shoulder blade and wept uncontrollably,

"I need you so much, Andrew...help me..."

"Monica, I've been waiting for you to let me, baby," He uttered, tears streaking his own cheeks,

"But you wouldn't tell me…"

"I kept trying to…to stop it…but I can't…I can't…it won't let me stop and I'm so afraid…I'm just so afraid…" She knew in her heart he already knew what she was referring to as her terrified yet weak sobs came harder still.

"I know you are, little one; and I'm going to help you, okay? We're all going to help you and I love you so much. So very much, Monica," Andrew whispered into her ear as he cradled her gently in his strong arms.

"But...but how could you still love...me...after-after..." She stopped for a brief moment as she only tightened her weak arms around her best friend's waist, finally finding her voice again,

"I was...I was starving myself, Andrew...how could you still love me after that...?"

"I can love you after that because you're my Angel Girl, and my best friend," Andrew answered, resting his forehead against hers and looking straight into her sorrowful brown eyes,

"Let's get that fact straight, shall we, sweetie?"

"But I'm so scared," The little Irish angel only continued to whimper in agony as she buried her face into her friend's shoulder blade again,

"What's...what's going to happen to me...?"

Andrew rocked her in silence for a few moments before he responded gently,

"What will happen is that you and I are going to have some long talks, baby girl and during these talks of ours, I don't want you holding anything back. We're going to talk about what happened between you and Kevin, you and me, and you, Kathy and the coach and we're going to begin to make some sense out of why you did this to yourself. We're also going to be paying close attention to any words the Father has for us," He kissed the top of her head gently as he listened to her pain-filled sobs for a moment,

"Brady and Cindy are going to help you get some nourishment back into your human body and then once everything is talked out and you are feeling stronger, then we'll work on getting you to eat without feeling like you need to be sick afterwards," He heard her sobs begin to quiet as her cheek rested against his shoulder. He noticed how the one thing she had not told him was that she loved him, but though it saddened his heart, he knew she was still guarding her feelings. He had pushed her aside before and had taken part of her security with him and he knew it might be awhile before she would trust him with those words again. He thought of other things he wanted to tell her, such as how she needed to stop this internalizing of everything until she was so far out of reach, but he decided against it for now. She had taken a first step in telling him and that was the most important thing tonight, other than one other thing,

"We all love you so much, Angel Girl. Kevin, Rose, Tess and Carla, the Sullivan's' and the triplets have been so worried about you, and God, Monica. He loves you so much-you're His special and perfectly made little Irish angel," Pulling away, ever so slightly, he stroked her tear-dampened cheek tenderly,

"And I love you, sweetheart, even when I'm being an idiot, and your happiness is so important to me. You're my sweet, beautiful little Angel Girl and I am here for you, from this moment forward and I am going to work especially hard on getting that beautiful smile back on your face again."

"Andrew...I still love you too, I always will, but..." Here, she stopped as she only buried her face deeper into his chest, not really sure of what else to say. But her best friend finished for her and this only caused her tears to flow faster.

"It's going to take some time to believe what I'm saying again, right, Angel Girl?" Not feeling her nod or shake her head, Andrew just nodded his blonde head and sighed deeply, his own tears never ceasing. Taking her back into his arms, he continued to rock her gently as he spoke in a choked up voice,

"I know, sweet baby. I know...but I'm going to make sure that will all change, all right?"

"I'm so sorry about all of this," She wept miserably, her heart beating erratically from all her tears,

"Everything was moving so fast and I couldn't seem to slow it down. I failed the assignment, Andrew, which is exactly what I was afraid of doing all along if I couldn't stay on the team," She struggled to catch her breath,

"I wanted to make you happy and instead it all got out of control-."

"Now you listen to me, little one," Andrew gently interrupted, pulling away again to look directly into her eyes,

"You do not have to stay on a team and be with a coach, who is abusing all of you, in order to make me happy. Sweetheart, YOU make me happy; you always have. When you just be yourself, that's what I love most about you, and all that matters at the moment regarding that assignment is making sure that Kathy will be all right, and I have it on the Highest Authority that she will be eventually. It will just take some time, that's all."

"I just didn't know what else to do…I just didn't know, and by the time I knew that you didn't expect that of me…things were already out of control…" She lowered her swollen eyes once more as she continued to cry.

"Andrew," Brady's voice interrupted any response the older angel was about to give,

"Cindy just got back from the hospital with the things we need and we want to get this IV going so we can at least get some vitamins and minerals into her that she has been lacking," Noticing the way the younger angel was sobbing, Brady sat down on the other side of her and placed his stethoscope over her heart to listen,

"You need to calm down a bit, little angel, all right?" He said gently, his eyes somewhat fearful,

"Your heartbeat is all over the place right now."

"I'm trying to, Brady..." Monica whimpered softly as she fumbled for Andrew's hand and gripped it until her knuckles turned white,

"But I'm so scared..."

"I know you are, baby, but we're going to make you better. Now, just continue to hold onto Andrew's hand and he's here for you," Brady gently reassured as he removed his stethoscope from her heart and placed it on the nightstand just as Cindy walked in with a bag of medical equipment.

"I'm right here, sweetheart," Andrew whispered softly to her, as he watched Cindy, who had tears in her own eyes, setting up the IV rack and hanging a white bag from it. He watched as if in a nightmare as Brady took his best friend's pulse, not missing the way he shook his head sadly, before he cleaned her arm to prepare to insert the IV needle. Andrew held her tighter as the weight she had lost caused the needle to be more painful and she cried out softly, all the while pressing her face into his chest,

"That's my girl," He whispered to her gently once it was over even as she still clung to him, afraid to let go.

"Is it over now...?" She uttered fearfully, her voice barely audible.

"It's over, little angel," Brady reassured, stepping back and sighing as Monica still refused to look up at him and Cindy, but continued to cling to Andrew,

"Why don't you get some rest now-"

"I can't sleep," The human Irish angel whimpered softly as she felt her best friend's hand stroking her limp auburn hair.

"Angel Girl, if you're going to get well again, you need to rest," Andrew tried to object as he finally pulled gently away, looking into her swollen brown eyes.

"It's not that I don't want to sleep, Andrew," She whispered shakily,

"It's that I can't. I haven't been able to for a few weeks now and I just can't seem to get warm…"

"It's all part of it, Monica," Brady explained gently,

"You can't get warm because of all the weight you lost and you can't sleep because mentally, you are pretty down right now and we're going to work on all of that. But at least rest, even if you don't sleep. I'm not trying to scare you, but your human body is in a dangerous place right now and I want us to be careful for the time being."

Seeing the fresh tears welling up in his best friend's eyes, Andrew gently moved to help her into bed,

"C'mon, Angel Girl, lie back and relax, okay?" As she obediently lay down, he and Cindy moved to grab a few extra blankets to place over her shivering form and Andrew noted how her hollow reddened eyes followed his every move.

"We'll check back in a bit, Mon, okay?" Cindy said softly as she gave her earthly sister's hand a reassuring squeeze as she and Brady left the room, leaving the two angel alone once more.

Sitting down in the chair beside of her bed, Andrew took her hand in to his once more,

"Close your eyes and try to rest, baby," He whispered softly to her, as with his other hand he gently stroked her hair away from her face,

"I'm right here, Angel Girl. Right here."

The monotonous motion of his hand in her hair, which she had always found so soothing, now brought tears to her eyes, as she remembered the weeks when he wouldn't speak to her, yet alone touch her and she closed her eyes to ward them off. Her feelings regarding him being here now were still so confused, but she could not deny the fact that she was grateful for the peace that Andrew always brought to her heart when it was most troubled and she allowed the gentle feeling of his touch to lull her into a restless sleep.

Chapter 13

By the next morning, Kevin walked through the doors of the hospital and towards Kathy's room on the 4th floor. He knew that the assignment was practically over, but the youngest angel's stomach wouldn't be able to settle until he knew that this young woman would indeed be all right. He had only met Kathy's parents only briefly the day before, and from the looks of it they hadn't been all too worried about their daughter, which caused Kevin to grow irritated and slightly angry.

'Maybe I was just imagining things...this must have taken them both by surprise yesterday, to hear that their only daughter had passed out on her dorm room floor,' He thought to himself as he neared the room where the human was held. Sucking in a deep breath, he laid his hand gently against the door and poked his head inside. Kathy's father was seated with his back to the angel and his head was lowered to his daughter's bed, as his right hand gently held Kathy's unconscious one.

As the angel listened closely, he could just make out the words her father was saying to her, though Kevin had to wonder if after the heart attack if Kathy could hear him at all.

"This is just a minor setback, Princess," He said softly,

"These doctors don't really even know what they are talking about. Heart attack! You are far too young to have a heart attack and as far as them thinking you are starving yourself, that just goes to show what they know. They don't know how hard you work and how you are going to make the Olympic team. You and I both know how healthily you eat and if they want to call that 'starving', well, that is their own stupidity. You've just been working yourself a little too hard this semester is all, and in a week or so, you'll be back out on that track showing them all how it is done."

His eyes widening at Kathy's father's words, Kevin shook his head and with a deep breath, slowly stepped into the room,

"Uh, excuse me, Mr. Tanner?"

His head snapping up at the sound of the angel's voice, which he remembered from the day before, the older human frowned as he looked at Kevin,

"Yes? What do you want, young man?"

Stepping further into the room, Kevin stopped when he was standing on Kathy's father's left side,

"I just wanted to stop by and see how Kathy's doing...has her condition improved since yesterday?"

"She hasn't woken up yet, if that is what you mean, but she is getting stronger. Kathy is a real fighter and she has dreams to achieve and she won't let anything stand in her way," Her father replied calmly as if his daughter had no more than a hangnail.

"Not even if it costs her life or her health?" Kevin countered, unable to take much more of this. It was bad enough that one of his dearest friends was so bad off right now and he hadn't even been able to face her as he felt like he should have done something sooner, but now, here was this man, trying to just brush off what these two roomies had been through as if it were nothing to be bothered with-just a minor setback,

"Regardless of what you may think, Mr. Tanner, your daughter is fighting for her life right now, because she eats and then throws up for fear of gaining any weight. She thinks if she gains weight, she lets the coach down, lets the team down and lets you down. This has nothing to do with what she wants, but what she thinks all of you want from her."

"Look Kevin, or whatever your name is, pal..." Jerry Tanner raised his head and looked the angel square in the eye,

"You don't know squat, all right? How long have you known my daughter, one day?"

Sighing softly, the youngest angel took a seat next to the angry human and lowered his saddened brown eyes,

"Actually, Mr. Tanner, I've seen what's happened these last few weeks. I was working with Coach Slade during that time, and I saw what he was doing to Kathy and her roommate, Monica..."

"He makes those girls work, that is what he does!" Jerry replied, not liking the tone that Kevin was taking about the nation's leading college cross country coach.

"He tells them what to weigh!" Kevin countered in frustration,

"Look at your daughter, Mr. Tanner! Does she look like she needs to lose weight? Of course she doesn't and neither did my friend, but he pushes them so hard and threatens them with being kicked off the team! If he is really angry, he takes their water bottles away from them. He punishes them with extra laps and extra push ups, if they aren't running fast enough to please him. This is not coaching, Mr. Tanner, this is abuse!"

"Honey, what's going on in here?" A voice appeared in the doorway and both Kevin and Jerry turned around in time to see the human's wife, Crystal, standing in the doorway with two cups of coffee in her hands. One thin eyebrow was arched and the woman was looking back and forth between the angel and her husband,

"Is everything all right?"

"Oh just wonderful; in fact, Kevin here was just leaving," With a pointed look at him, Jerry then glanced at his wife,

"There's no problems."

"Fine," Kevin remarked, with a shake of his head,

"I'll go for now. But you cannot remain blind to this forever. Not if you want to see your daughter live." Turning on his heel, the young angel left the hospital room trying to hold back the tears.

Carla watched from across the room as Kevin sat at the dining room table, every now and then his saddened eyes moving to the stairs as if he wanted to go up, but each time, changed his mind. Finally approaching him, she took a seat across from him and tentatively reached for his hand,

"Now, you look like an angel with a lot on his mind. Not that we all don't feel that way right about now, but this is something more, isn't it?"

Glancing at the slightly older angel in front of him, who wore a concerned look on her pretty face, Kevin sighed and looked down at the hand that held Carla's,

"It's that obvious, isn't it?"

"Yeah, Kev, it is," Tilting her head to the side, the little blonde angel gave his hand a gentle squeeze while trying to meet his saddened brown eyes,

"What happened at the hospital?"

"Kathy's parents refuse to see the truth," He sighed miserably,

"They, or at least her father, think this is just a minor setback on her way to the Olympics and by next week, she'll be out there running again. I'm not even sure why I wanted to go and try to talk to them, other than the fact that I wanted to feel like I had done something right by someone."

Carla frowned, as she watched his expression closely,

"What is that supposed to mean?"

He sighed and shook his head,

"It doesn't matter, Carla. It isn't all that important…"

"No, Kevin," Carla shook her head firmly and rose to her feet, coming around to the other side of the table and taking a seat next to him, once again reaching for his hand,

"You didn't say that for nothing, you know? Kev, if something's on your mind, it's important to me..." She stopped talking for a moment, waiting for him to turn her way and look into her green eyes.

"Why do you care so much, Carla?" Kevin whispered dejectedly.

"Because I'd like to think that we are friends, Kevin," She responded softly, watching as a hint of a smile crossed his face before vanishing,

"So what did you mean by that remark?"

With a sigh, his finger drew an imaginary circle on the table,

"I knew almost from the start that Monica was in trouble, even before the assignment started, Carla. She wasn't eating and I had to force her to a few times. But I thought it was just because she was so upset over Andrew and what was going on there and I thought it would all blow over. Even once the assignment started, I knew, Carla, I knew, she wasn't taking care of herself. I didn't know to what extent, but I knew something was terribly wrong," Resting his chin in his hands, he sighed once more,

"I guess I just don't feel like a very good friend right now."

"Kevin, whether you feel it or not, take my word for it that you ARE a good friend. You were the one that practically made Andrew see the truth, and it couldn't have been at a better time; you found out about Monica's health and not eating, and instead of keeping it to yourself, you came clean to Andrew and now he's here with her to help nurse her back to health again. Kev, you could've kept her secret and allowed her to destroy herself. But you didn't! You have such a good heart, kiddo, and you only mean the best even when things don't turn out the way you'd like," Carla laid a gentle hand on his shoulder and looked at him with compassionate eyes,

"And right now, and always, I care about all of you: Monica, Andrew, Kathy, her parents, and you Kev. You did your best today with Kathy's parents, and right now they're not ready to hear you just yet. It may take some more pushing for them to see the truth, you know? But now's not the time..."

"Thanks, Carla," Kevin replied with a weary sigh,

"I just wish I had told Andrew earlier as even when he was mad at her, I know if he knew how bad things were, he would have been there sooner, you know and maybe things would not have gotten so bad for her. But then I look at Kathy and see that she has no support system at all to deal with this, where Cupcake has all the love in the world surrounding her. I mean, when Kathy wakes up, she is going to be afraid too and there will be no one to hold her and tell her it will all be okay and that she doesn't have to deal with this alone and today also reminded me of how alone Cupcake must have felt early on when things were so bad. Their situations are both so different and yet alike in some ways too."

Nodding her head sadly, Carla tried to find the correct words to say and after not finding any, she just settled on what the Father spoke to her heart,

"Just keep bringing it to God, Kev, and let Him handle it."

Knowing there wasn't really much he could do at the time, Kevin sighed deeply before he allowed the slightly older little blonde angel to wrap her arms around in in a gentle hug.

Monica awoke late that night from a restless sleep and opened her tired eyes, squinting at the light that was in the room from the small lamp on the other side of her bed. Shivering, she pulled the comforter up more tightly around her before her eyes caught sight of Andrew, who was dozing in the chair beside of her bed.

She watched him in silence, mixed feelings still clouding her emotions as she took in the deep worry that was etched upon his face, even in sleep. He was here for her, he had made that abundantly clear, but yet at the same time her weary mind flashed with unpleasant images that continued to torment her.

[I] "I don't know, but anything would be better than this!" She cried out, her frustration getting the better of her,

"Yell at me, scream at me, anything is better than having you ignore me! It's like I no longer exist and I hate that! I made a mistake, a terrible mistake, I know that and I'll never forget it as long as I exist, even without you throwing it up in my face every single day by your silence!"

"I thought...I thought at the party a month ago, you told me that we'd forever be best friends, and that things wouldn't change! You crossed your heart, Andy-"

"Monica, just stop! I don't want to talk about this! And that's final!" The older angel raised his voice as anger entered his green eyes.

"Well, that isn't fair!" She cried out, wiping at her eyes with the back of her hand,

"What am I supposed to do, huh? Just wait around until you decide that you want to talk about it? Till you are ready to talk to me? If you think you are punishing me for this, fine, but for how long, Andrew? What amount of time warrants my apology to be accepted? I would take it all back if I could, but I can't and you know that!"

"I said we are not having this discussion!" He spat back at her, ignoring the pain that was in her eyes.

"You may be the supervisor, but I'm not letting you go yet. Please, Andrew, you're my best friend and I don't want to lose that-"

"Tough, Angel Girl." [/I]

The Irish angel closed her eyes as tears began to streak her cheeks, remembering how helpless she had felt no matter how hard she tried. The feeling of not existing had made her positively sick; to be standing there in the same room with him and to feel as if she wasn't even there…though she only wanted to forget that pain of it, it continued to haunt her.

Lifting the arm that wasn't connected to the IV and wiping at her eyes, the human angel turned over on her other side, away from Andrew's sleeping figure and closed her brown eyes once again, trying to return to sleep, which didn't come for another hour.

As the night went on and the hours continued to pass, Andrew finally awoke and with a groan, he rubbed his stiff neck and gazed over at the clock, which read 5:00am, and then at his best friend, who was sleeping restlessly before him. Sighing, the older angel reached over and, not wanting to wake her up, laid a hand on her cheek, which caused her to slightly whimper in her sleep. Removing his hand, Andrew rubbed at his green eyes and rose to his feet, heading for the door. Before he went out into the hall, he turned back around and shot one last look at his dearest friend, guilt shooting through him once again; with a shake of his tousled blonde head, the angel walked out the door and shut it softly behind him.

Heading downstairs, Andrew grabbed his jacket from the coat rack and prepared to head out the door when he heard a voice behind him.

"Angel Boy?"

Turning around, he managed a pained smile at Tess,

"You're up early, Tess."

"I was headed up to check on your Angel Girl. Where are you headed, baby?" She asked with concern in her dark eyes.

"Just out for a bit, Tess. I really need to clear my head after yesterday and some of the things she and I discussed," With a sigh, he stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jacket,

"I really hurt her this time, Tess, and I'm having a lot of trouble with that realization right now."

Coming closer to her younger friend, Tess reached over and laid her hands on his shoulders,

"Just make sure that you do come back, baby, all right?" Watching as he met her eyes squarely, the older angel managed a small smile at his next words.

"I promised her that I would never leave her permanently again, and I don't intend on starting now," He firmly replied, shaking his head,

"I'm just going to the beach house for a few hours, that's all. I'll be back later this afternoon."

"She's in good hands, baby," Tess replied, hugging him tightly,

"You take the time you need and remember that we all make mistakes and do things that we wish we could take back. The important thing is that we realize those mistakes, ask forgiveness for them and do everything in our power to not repeat them."

"I know," He whispered hoarsely as he pulled away from her,

"I just can't stop thinking that all of this pain she is in could have been avoided and that is what I have to deal with today, so I can help her to get better," Tearfully, he kissed his friend's cheek before he walked out the door, closing it softly behind him.

Chapter 14

"Brady, where is he? You have to tell me where he went!" Monica pleaded through her tears late the next morning as she grasped the human's wrist, refusing to let go until he told her where Andrew had disappeared to,

"Please Brady!"

"Little angel, I honestly don't know," He shook his head, frowning in concern over Monica's words,

"I must've still been asleep when it happened; but I'm sure he just went for a walk or something, Monica. He'll be back-"

"You don't know that part," The little Irish angel felt herself breaking into tears of devastation over what was happening,

"You don't know, Brady!"

"Monica, Monica, calm down," Rose's voice appeared in the doorway and the elderly angel hurried over to Monica's bed, laying her hands on her shoulders to try and calm her down,

"Andrew'll be back soon; you know he would never permanently leave you again. He promised he wouldn't."

"He also promised things wouldn't change between us-he promised that at his party and things changed that night!" She sobbed brokenly,

"For the next four weeks he may as well have been gone…"

"Little Angel, you have got to calm down, or I'm going to give you something to calm you down," Brady threatened gently, worried for her fragile human body.

"He said he was going to be here from here on out…he told me that yesterday…" Monica wept brokenly as she covered her eyes with the hand that would not disrupt her IV, not that she felt like she cared at the moment.

"What's going on in here?" Tess' voice sounded from the hall, and as she entered the room, Kevin and Andrew were not far behind her. The blonde angel's green eyes were red and puffy from earlier crying, and exhaustion was also written all over his handsome face. But at the same time, he was shocked over what he was seeing in Monica's bedroom.

"Andrew?" Brady, Rose and Monica all said his name at the same time and the oldest of the trio hurried over to him, laying her hands on his pale cheeks and looking deep into his eyes.

"Angel Boy, where were you?"

"Rose...I was just out for a few hours, that's all..." He began, his voice soft and filled with concern. But as he gazed over at his best friend and seeing the anger and tears in her dark eyes, the blonde supervisor felt his stomach churn as he realized that she didn't believe him.

"You were supposed to be here!" Monica cried out, trembling with rage and with the fact that she just physically felt terrible. Her eyes, though tear-filled, were full of mistrust,

"You promised you wouldn't leave me again…you said you would be here…"

"Angel Girl," He replied, trying to keep his voice as soothing as he could,

"I just needed a little time to think, that's all. I was always coming back, Monica…"

"How can I believe you anymore?" She cried out brokenly,

"You told me at your party nothing would change and everything changed a few hours later! Now you promise me you will be here for me and you leave…you just leave! Well, maybe you should go! I can't even trust you anymore, Andrew…How am I supposed to trust you when you keep telling me one thing and doing another?"

"Monica, that's not true!" He tried to assure her, but the younger angel interrupted fiercely.

"It is true! And you know it, Andrew! So you know what, if you're going to keep breaking your promises like this, then get out of my room and out of my existence!" She shouted through her tears, even as her voice shook madly,

"Just get out!"

"Angel Girl, I'm not going to leave you, and I never DID leave you!" Andrew tried to reason with her as he stepped around Rose and Tess and stood beside his best friend's bed,

"I only needed to clear my head for a few hours early this morning, so that I could come back and talk with you later on this afternoon..."

Sobs engulfed her as the words rushed from her being, words that had been trapped inside for far too long,

"You did leave me…you left me the day after your party! I may have still been able to see you, but you may as well have been gone. I couldn't talk to you! I couldn't touch you…you wouldn't even look at me, so yes, you did leave me!"

Though her words of truth tore at his heart, he knew deep inside that these were words that needed to come out, as this was how it had all begun,

"Monica, I never meant to…"

"Yes, you did! It wasn't an accident, Andrew! I tried to talk to you; God knows, I tried! Everything I said was met with silence or you scolding me about it if it was related to an assignment! I couldn't do anything right in your eyes no matter how hard I tried! And it wasn't even about you…it had nothing to do with you, but you treated me like I wasn't even there! And now you want me to trust you? To believe what you are saying to me now?"

"I'm telling you the truth, Monica!" Andrew threw his hands up in the air, wondering what on earth he could say to her that would make her believe him that he would never leave her permanently ever again. Feeling a gentle hand on his shoulder, the blonde angel turned around, tears streaming down his face, and looked behind him at Tess.

"We'll leave you two babies alone," She replied, shooting a look at the Irish angel and then offered both of her friends a forced smile. Squeezing Andrew's shoulder gently, she, Rose, Kevin and Brady left the bedroom and closed the door behind them. After their friends left, Andrew turned back around to face the furious Irish angel and instead of getting too close to her, he grabbed the nearest chair and took a seat in it, trying to meet her brown eyes.

"Angel Girl, will you please just listen to me?" He pleaded, his eyes burning into hers.

"You barely allowed me to speak for a whole month to you; why should I let you try and explain now?" She retorted in reply, inwardly hating the words she was speaking to him, but all the hurt and confusion she had kept inside for the past few months seemed to just spill out from her mouth.

"Because I am asking you to," Andrew replied gently, hating this argument on one hand, but on the other, knowing she was getting part of what had been hurting her so out of her system.

"You know what I want to know?" Monica asked furiously, trembling with the emotions that were running through her,

"I want to know how you can turn it on and off so fast, Andrew? One minute you're telling me things will never change between us and the next minute, you won't even acknowledge my presence! I can't do that, Andrew! When I love someone, it's forever; I can't turn my emotions on and off like that! Do you know how that made me feel? It made me feel like you didn't love me anymore; like I was so terrible an angel that I didn't deserve your friendship! I felt invisible, so what did it matter if I ate or not? If I didn't eat, maybe I would become as invisible as I felt!"

"But it DOES matter, Monica; I don't know what got into me, and I hate myself for how I treated you! I don't know what else I can say to make things right with you again, except to tell you that I'm going to change," Andrew continued to plead, his vision blurring up as he looked into Monica's pale face and seeing the betrayal there,

"I know that you don't believe me; I know I don't give you a reason to trust me any longer; I know I've made so many mistakes and broken so many promises. But I want to change, and that's the reason why I left this morning, to think things through and talk with the Father for a few hours so that I could come back here and we could hopefully work this out between us. I'm sorry, Angel Girl..."

"You're always sorry, Andrew," Monica lowered her voice somewhat, but the firmness never left it as the tears rolled down her face,

"How many times are you going to be 'sorry'?"

He was quiet for a moment before he responded softly, taking advantage of the fact that she seemed to be calming down a little bit,

"Everything you have said is absolutely true, Monica. Every word of it is true. Though I hate to admit it, I take both you and your friendship for granted and for the life of me, I don't know why. That doesn't make it right, I know that. Maybe I just always know that no matter what, you are going to be there, but it doesn't excuse the way I've treated you."

Monica lowered her eyes as she continued to sob softly,

"What hurt the most was being so lonely for you when you were right there in the same house with me, Andrew. It was like that time you couldn't remember who you were. You were right there, yet I missed you so much and I didn't know what to do and feeling like I don't know if I can trust you is the worst feeling in the world. I'm not perfect and I'm never going to be perfect, and am I going to have to be prepared for you to brush me aside every time I make a mistake?"

"Mon', I don't want you to feel this way...I honestly don't," Andrew softly replied, shaking his head firmly,

"And I know you're not perfect. Nobody is, Angel Girl, and I kept thinking that you were, that you never were supposed to make mistakes..." Letting out a shaky sigh, he lowered his eyes as he continued,

"I know I have been so wrong, and such a jerk this past month; I had a long talk with the Father about that...and He has forgiven me. But I know I have to change what I've become these past few years, and I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that it doesn't happen again; and I hope that someday you'll know that I'm telling you the truth, and you can trust me again."

Monica was silent for several moments, other than the sounds of her soft sobs, before she spoke up again in a trembling whisper,

"You know what else I thought?"

"What's that, Angel Girl?" He replied just as softly.

"I thought…I thought that maybe you thought that Kevin was right that night. That maybe you were sick of the way I relied on you and that maybe…maybe…this was your way of stopping that from happening…by making it impossible for me to go to you with anything. What he said that night hurt so much, but then to wonder if you believed it…" Her voice broke off as she covered her face with her trembling hands as her tears came harder.

"Oh Monica, no," Andrew firmly replied, rising from his chair and sitting down next to her as she wept uncontrollably,

"Listen to me, all right? This may not be any comfort to you at the moment, but I want you to hear it. There is no way that I'm ever going to think that you 'rely on me too much', all right? What Kevin said that night was out of irritation and yes, he made a mistake as well; after you left, he immediately knew that he was in the wrong. But I never once believed those words. They had never entered my mind, Angel Girl, not once."

"He forgave me that night...but, why didn't you forgive me?" She whispered as she lowered her hands and looked back up at him nervously, almost afraid to hear his reply.

Andrew sighed softly, knowing this was the question that he had been struggling with himself,

"I'm not even sure I completely know the answer to that one myself, sweetheart," He admitted gently,

"When you hit Kevin that night, it…it brought back all those memories of what happened between you and I on Erin's porch so long ago. That time, was the closest I feel we ever came to losing our friendship, and in looking back at that time, I will always hold myself entirely responsible for it. The fact that you said you wanted to press charges doesn't even come close to comparing what I did to you that day. To hurt the one angel I love so dearly in a physical way is something I still wrestle with, Monica and I think I was angry with you about hitting Kevin because I didn't want you to have to carry that same guilt with you. You and I, we learned a lot from that time, and it did shock me when you did what you did, knowing what the consequences of such an action could be," Tentatively, he reached out and swiped at one of the many tears on her cheek, grateful when she didn't pull away,

"I told you at the beach house that I was ashamed of you, but Angel Girl, I lied. It was still me that I was ashamed of because of what I did to you all those years ago. It's hard enough to realize the times when I have hurt your feelings, but to know that the ability to physically hurt you, out of anger, resided in me is sometimes more than I can bear. I knew though, that night, that you had learned from that, because you didn't waste much time in going to Kevin and asking his forgiveness and as I stood there, listening to what you told him, I felt even worse about how four years later, you came back to try to fix things, and I still held anger with you in my heart because of what you told the police, when here you were, trying to deal with the worst betrayal that could be inflicted upon you by someone you called 'best friend'," He smiled through his own tears as he continued softly,

"So ashamed of you? No. Proud of you for the way you handled what you did? Absolutely. It was myself that I was ashamed of for not handling that time after hurting you anywhere near as well as you handled it with Kevin. I just wish I could have told you that at the time, but the emotions ran so deep within me that I couldn't seem to find the words."

Reaching her hand up and taking his hand that was on her cheek, the weary Irish angel held it in her own for a moment as her own hand shook, and thought of all that her best friend had told her and she wanted to break down in tears all over again,

"I wish none of this ever had to happen...I thought that you had gotten over that..."

Shaking his head, Andrew lowered his tear-filled green eyes and replied softly,

"Never have, and I doubt I ever will. But I had no right to take my guilt over what happened all those years ago, out on you again, sweetheart. Will you try and believe me when I tell you this, Angel Girl? I mean all of this from the bottom of my heart, and I'm never going to stop loving you; and I'm going to do everything in my power to not take your friendship for granted any longer. I can't promise you that I'm going to be perfect, but I'm going to try hard to not be that jerk I was 2 months ago, and even the years before then..."

Her tear-filled eyes searched his, seeing nothing but honesty in them as they gazed into her own, holding all the love in the world for her,

"I just wanted to talk to you so badly when things were going so terribly wrong, and even now with not being able to eat and being afraid that I'll never be able to…I just…I just missed you…" Her voice trembled and was scarcely a whisper as she gazed down at her hand that still held onto his,

"I missed you so much and missed the feeling of your touch; it can make me feel like it will all be okay again one day. Down here on earth, you make me feel so safe and I want to feel that way again…" She looked up at him as fresh tears welled up in her eyes and with a blink spilled over onto her cheeks as she whispered,

"Tell me it will all be okay?"

Although part of him feared that she would push him away, but the other part unable to stop himself, Andrew leaned forward and gathered her as close to him as he could without hurting her and held her tightly to his chest, his shaking hand running through her thin auburn hair,

"I'm going to make sure it will all be okay, sweet girl; and you are going to get better. You can trust me with that, Monica."

Clinging tightly to him, as tightly as her arms would allow, the Irish angel curled herself up into his arms and let out a choked sob as she buried her pale face into his upper arm,

"I know I can, Andrew...deep down in my heart, I know I can trust you with that..."

"Even more than me, Angel Girl, trust the Father. He is one allowing me to help you as I have asked Him to please allow me to do that," He whispered as he kissed the top of her head,

"We're in this together, okay? The three of us and we're going to work it all out, no matter how long it takes. I know that you don't feel good now, I know that, but we're going to turn it all around and I'm going to be here for you through all of it."

"I love you," She whispered tearfully, finally releasing the words she had longed to say and feeling like she could trust him with them once more,

"I just love you so much…"

Resting his forehead against hers and looking deep into her eyes, he whispered through his tears the words that he had wished he had told her earlier when she was most in need of them,

"And I love you too, baby girl. Never ever forget that."

"I won't," She uttered, allowing a trembling smile to appear on her lips as he pulled her tightly back into his arms.

Chapter 15

"I brought you up a sandwich, Angel Boy," Tess said softly as she entered Monica's room the following afternoon, keeping her voice quiet in order not to disturb the sleeping angel.

"Thanks, Tess," Andrew smiled his thanks as he took the plate from her and watched as his older friend took a seat in the chair beside of him.

"Have you gotten any rest at all, baby?" She asked with concern, noticing that he looked a little tired, though much calmer than he had yesterday.

He nodded his head as he took a bite of the sandwich hungrily,

"She slept a good bit last night," He replied after swallowing,

"So I laid down with her and slept when she did, but I wanted to be here for the times she woke up as she is still very afraid of what's happening to her."

Reaching over, Tess laid a hand on his knee,

"You're a good friend, baby."

Andrew was quiet for a moment as he reached over and smoothed Monica's hair back from her sleeping face,

"Sometimes," He remarked, a little sadly,

"But I need to be a better friend, especially to her."

Gently squeezing her friend's knee, Tess sighed softly as she replied,

"We have all made our mistakes, Angel Boy; and the important thing right now is that you recognize your errors and work hard to not repeat it." The oldest angel smiled sadly as she watched Andrew nod his head slowly,

"And I know that you know that, baby."

"Any news on Kathy yet, Tess?" Still stroking his best friend's limp hair, the blonde supervisor turned to face Tess again, his green eyes plainly showing concern for the young woman,

"Has Kevin tried to talk to her parents again?"

"No," Tess replied softly, shaking her head,

"Kevin is feeling a little helpless at the moment from what Carla has told me. He felt powerless to help Kathy by making her parents see the truth and he is feeling badly about not getting help for your Angel Girl early on when he suspected that there was a problem. Carla tried to tell him he did the right thing by telling you, but he feels he could have told you much sooner when it was just a suspicion."

"I noticed he hadn't been up here to see her," Andrew sighed softly,

"I should talk to him as it will only be a matter of time before Monica notices he hasn't been up here. I just wish I knew how to get through to Kathy's parents and to that coach," His green eyes flickered with anger at the mere mention of him.

Reaching out and gently grasping her friend's arms, turning him to face her, Tess looked into his green eyes and spoke seriously,

"No anger, Angel Boy. Not right now; when Monica awakes later on today, she's going to need you and all the love in your heart. Not the anger that you are holding towards Kathy's father and Coach Slade. Kevin and Carla will do their best to get through to those humans when the time is right, and when that Wonder Boy down there is feeling better; but remember that if it's the Father's will that they see the truth soon, then it will happen. Remember that, baby, okay?"

"I know, Tess. It's just hard is all, and Monica and I still have to discuss that coach and it's going to be even harder to keep how I really feel about him at bay," He glanced at his best friend once again, watching as she moved slightly, the IV pulling on her arm causing a whimper and a slight look of agitation to cross her pale face,

"Do you think she looks any better, Tess?"

Tess sighed softly as she looked at her Angel Girl before looking at Andrew once more,

"Maybe a little, baby. But Brady said that all that IV would be doing were she human, would be keeping her alive and keeping her from getting sicker. To gain back weight, she needs to eat or Brady works out a feeding tube to force her to eat and your Angel Girl would hate that, so let's pray she does this on her own."

Lowering his head to ward off more tears at Tess' words, Andrew placed his empty plate on the end table next to Monica's bed and sighed sadly,

"I really hope she sees that she has to do this..." Closing his green eyes for a brief moment, he let out a deep breath before reaching over and grasping the Irish angel's fragile hand in his, rubbing her fingers softly. As he felt Tess' arm wrap gently around his shoulders, the younger angel turned and attempted a weak smile for her before turning back and watching his best friend sleep.

Carla and Kevin walked down the halls of the hospital early the next morning and back towards Kathy's room. After many hours of talking with one another, the two younger angels had decided to head back to the hospital the next day and try and talk with Kathy's parents once more, only this time together. Neither knew what would happen that day with the two humans, but they knew that they had to keep trying to get through and do their best.

As Carla walked hand in hand with the youngest brown-haired caseworker, she suddenly felt Kevin stop in his tracks and suck in a sharp breath. Slightly confused, she turned around and suddenly felt anger churning through her human body as she saw Coach Slade walking towards them in the other direction, his hands stuffed in his pockets and the two angels watched as he seemed to be headed towards Kathy's room.

"WHAT is he doing here?" Kevin fumed as he released his hold on his older friend's hand.

"Is that the coach?" Carla whispered, sensing her friend's anger.

"Yeah, that's him-the one who is at least partially responsible for what is happening to Kathy and Monica right now," He grumbled, before he picked up his pace in order to catch the coach before he got to Kathy's room,

"Coach Slade!"

Helplessly, Carla hurried to catch up to her friend, all the while trying to swallow her nervousness about this confrontation.

At the sound of the familiar voice, Coach Edward Slade turned around and frowned as he spotted Kevin and another young blonde female running towards him and he stopped in his tracks before heading into the young woman's room,

"What's up, Kevin?"

"Don't you ask me what's up, Coach!" Kevin snapped, hardly daring to keep his voice down,

"I can't believe you're even bothering to show your face right now..."

The coach's expression never changed,

"I can assure you, Kevin, that I have no idea what you are talking about."

"Oh no?" Kevin replied, his dark eyes seething with anger that he knew was not very angelic,

"How about the fact that you encourage your team to starve themselves so that they can stay on the team? None of the girls on your team needed to lose any weight, least of all Kathy and Monica. They are both beautiful, petite young women, but you harass them and threaten them until they wind up like Kathy is now and how Monica is now, though you don't know it. They are fighting for their lives, coach, all because of trying to please someone it is just not possible to please!"

"Look, Kevin, all I'm doing is checking to see how Kathy's doing and to talk with her parents," Coach Slade answered nonchalantly, as if he was ignoring everything the youngest angel was telling him,

"I'm sure she's all right, as she is a fighter and all, including our track star, so I wouldn't worry if I were you."

Grabbing his arm firmly and pulling him away from the young woman's hospital room, Kevin's eyes blazed with fury even as tears fell from them,

"How could you be so heartless, coach? Is there even an ounce of decency in you?"

"Haven't you heard anything he has said to you?" Carla said softly,

"Kathy had a heart attack due to the fact that she was not eating in order to try to lose the weight you wanted her to lose. She was starving, Coach Slade…she was starving to death and her heart gave out on her. Bodies cannot function properly without nutrition, yet alone run cross country!"

"Look, whoever you are, I can't be responsible for whatever fad diets the kids are on these days," The Coach replied.

"They aren't 'kids'," Kevin interrupted furiously,

"They are young women who you abuse. Runners drop dead each year because of dehydration; you should know this, yet you take away water. I watched you do it more than once. The first day you told Monica she needed to lose 10 pounds! Did you even look at her? Did you look at Kathy? Not only when you decided they needed to lose weight, but how about last week? Did you notice how pale they were or how thin their faces were? Did it look healthy to you?"

"I do what needs to be done, young lady," The coach answered firmly, glaring at both of the angels; but before he could continue, the trio heard a voice in the doorway of Kathy's hospital room and Kevin whirled around.

"What's going on here?" Mrs. Tanner demanded, closing the door behind her as she approached them,

"Coach Slade?"

"Hello, Crystal," Edward's face spread into a smile as he now ignored the two angels,

"I just came by to see how your daughter's doing is all. I'm sure she's fine, though, am I right?"

Crystal looked a little uncertain by the Coach's optimism,

"She still hasn't woken up to be honest. The doctors keep saying things about starvation, but my husband cuts them off before I can hear enough to understand…"

Seeing a way now, Kevin stepped forward before Coach Slade could respond,

"That's right, Mrs. Tanner. That is exactly what has been happening to your daughter! She starves herself and makes herself throw up food in order to remain thin enough to stay on the team! That is the reason she had this heart attack. That is the reason she doesn't have the strength to wake up!"

Shooting a nervous look the angel's way, Crystal frowned as she made her way closer to the trio,

"Kevin, I appreciate you trying to help and all, but-"

"Mrs. Tanner, he's telling you the truth," Carla gently interrupted, her eyes burning with tears of frustration over this whole situation,

"Our friend and Kathy's roommate, Monica, is the same way and would've found herself in the hospital WITH Kathy if she didn't get help at the time that she did."

"Crystal, don't listen to these two-,"

"No, don't listen to us," Kevin interrupted, shooting a glare at the coach,

"Listen to your daughter's doctors, Mrs. Tanner. They know what they are talking about, whether your husband wants to hear it or not, it is the truth. Kathy needs help, not only to get better physically, but mentally, so she stops doing this to herself. Don't be afraid to ask the doctor's questions and don't let your husband's ignorance silence you."

A tense silence followed as Crystal listened to the angel talk and after a few moments, Kevin just shook his head in disgust and turned around on his heel, heading back down the hallway to the nearest elevator. Carla sighed as she watched the youngest angel's back disappear around the corner and turning back to Crystal, she laid a gentle hand on her arm and spoke softly,

"Just listen well to what your heart is telling you, and the doctor's words. As Kevin said, they know what they're talking about regarding your daughter. Do you really feel like she's not in any danger, or are you just trying to not get angry with your husband?" Sighing as she watched the woman lower her eyes the ground and not replying to her, Carla removed her hand and shot a Look to the coach before finishing,

"There's not much else I can say, I guess. It's up to you." With a weak smile, the little blonde angel turned around and followed after Kevin down the hospital hall.

Chapter 16

Monica moaned softly as she slowly opened her tired eyes later that day, trying to rid her mind of the grogginess she felt as she rubbed at her eyes with her free hand. She was feeling a little out of sorts, tired of being in bed and sick of the IV tugging on her bruised arm whenever she tried to get comfortable and she sighed, before her eyes looked up and met with Andrew's.

Relief filled her heart at seeing him there and she knew he was working hard to regain her complete trust,

"I hope you've been doing more than just watching me sleep," She murmured weakly, managing a small smile for him.

Chuckling softly, the older angel shook his head as he moved from his chair to kneel down in front of Monica's bed. Resting his arms on the comforter and laying his chin on them, his tired green eyes meeting hers, he replied gently,

"No, I've caught a few winks every now and then," He winked Monica's way and was relieved to see her let out a weak laugh.

"Well, that's good to hear," She whispered, yawning tiredly,

"How late is it?"

Glancing at his watch, Andrew softly replied,

"Just a little after noon. Cindy's at the hospital at the moment for a few hours, and Brady's downstairs. I don't know where Tess and Rose have gone to, but I know that Carla and Kev went to go and check on Kathy a few hours ago." He shrugged his shoulders,

"Haven't seen them all day. But more importantly, are you feeling any better?"

"A little more each day, although if I wouldn't know any better, I'd think I had a headache," She mumbled, hating the feel of the pounding in her head.

"That headache is probably a direct result of not eating," He observed gently, seeing the fear flash in her eyes. Reaching for her hand, he held in firmly in his own,

"How about you try, sweetie? It doesn't have to be much. Maybe just some soup."

At the mention of the soup, she felt her stomach lurch once again and she shook her head helplessly,

"I can't, Andrew…I just don't think I can…"

Sighing softly, he moved to sit down on the bed so he could gaze down into her eyes,

"This is mind over matter, Mon', that's all it is," Seeing the same fearfully stubborn expression on her face, he continued regretfully, hating to upset her further,

"Angel Girl, there are two ways we can do this. You can make the effort to try to eat on your own, or…" He reached down and touched her cheek lightly, feeling tears in his own eyes,

"Or Brady does a feeding tube that will force you to eat."

"No, Andrew, no...please, I can't do that," She whispered miserably, her hand clutching his until their knuckles turned white,

"Please, Andrew...not a feeding tube..."

"Baby, you know I hate this as much as you do. I would like nothing more then to not have to do the feeding tube; but Brady has no choice, Angel Girl..." He stopped as his hand continued to stroke her gaunt cheek and he wanted to sob at the look on his best friend's face,

"Please, Mon'. Will you at least give it a try? For me?"

A small sob escaped her as she closed her eyes for a moment,

"What if I can't keep it down the first time?" Her voice caught in another sob as she opened her eyes and looked up at him once more,

"Does that mean that I'll have to…"

"No," He interrupted softly, shaking his head,

"I just want you to try for right now, sweetheart. I'm not expecting you to polish off a whole bowl of soup today, but I would like to see you eat part of it. That's all I'm asking, little one."

Weakly and miserably, she nodded her head, all the while the tears continuing to fall,

"I'll try…"

"That's my Angel Girl," Andrew offered her a tearful smile as he moved to kiss her forehead gently. Rising to his feet, he gave her hand another squeeze before softly saying,

"I'll be right back, all right?" Seeing her nod her head weakly, fear showing plainly in her dark eyes, Andrew headed for the door and made his way quickly down the stairs. As he came into the kitchen, he spotted Rose with her back to him and the younger angel cleared his throat, causing his friend to turn around.

"Is something wrong, honey?" She frowned in worry as her former charge came closer to her.

Shaking his head no, Andrew headed straight for the stove and grabbed a pot from the cupboard,

"Actually, things are starting to look at least somewhat right...Monica finally gave in and agreed to at least try some soup."

Rose's eyes widened as a hopeful smile appeared on her face,

"Thank you, Father," She whispered, as she moved to the refrigerator,

"Actually honey, I made soup and sandwiches for lunch today, so don't bother with that canned stuff as there are plenty of leftovers of homemade," She set the Tupperware container down on the counter and prepared to dish some out into the pan.

"Not too much, Rose," Andrew advised, stopping her after one large spoonful,

"She's scared and I don't want her to feel overwhelmed. That sandwich a few nights ago overwhelmed her, so let's do this slowly. It's going to take time and we have that, so I'm not about to rush it."

Rose smiled proudly at her younger friend,

"You seem to be thinking quite clearly now, Angel Boy."

"I love her, Rose," He replied as his eyes teared up again against his will,

"Other then the Father, she's my entire world, and if a lot of food scares her at the moment, then I'm not going to push."

The elderly Search and Rescue supervisor smiled warmly at her former charge as she wrapped her arm around his waist and gave him a gentle squeeze,

"You're doing good, Andrew. Very good. The Father's proud of you, you know?"

Feeling a blush rise to his cheeks, Andrew shrugged his shoulders as he accepted the container his friend offered him and he put it into the microwave for a few moments. After the appliance went off and the angel was satisfied with it's warmth, he shot a small smile at Rose before quickly heading back up the stairs and towards his best friend's room.

Monica looked up and tried to wipe away the tears on her face as she saw her dearest friend come back in the room with the container in his hands. Even the smell of it, made her feel sick after not having eaten anything of substance for the better part of two months.

Seeing her fear, Andrew set the container down on the nightstand and sat down next to her, leaning up against the headboard beside of her as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders, determined to offer her as much support as he could, both physically and emotionally,

"Just work on one bite, sweet girl, okay? Even that is a start," Handing the bowl and spoon to her, he helped her weak hands hold the container as he watched her stare down at the bowl. Her hand was shaking as she dipped up a bit of the soup in the spoon and brought it shakily to her lips, her eyes filling with tears over why this was such a struggle for her.

"I-I don't know if I can do this..." She whispered, feeling lightheaded at just the smell of the soup,

"Andrew...help me..."

"That's why I'm here, sweetheart," He uttered tearfully as he helped her hold the bowl in her hands,

"There's no rush, Mon'."

The tears spilling down her face and off her chin, making a silent splash into the bowl of soup, Monica's lower lip trembled violently as she forced herself to lift the spoon to her lips and put the food into her mouth. As soon as she tasted it, however, the Irish angel immediately wanted to throw it up but it took all her strength to keep it down and she could tell by the look on her best friend's face that he wasn't upset in the least that she was having so much trouble. Feeling his strong hand rub her upper arm, and hearing his tender voice in her ear, it was all Monica could do to try and take another bite as she wanted to please her friend so badly.

"That's it, Angel Girl. You're doing great..."

After just managing a second bite, she laid the spoon back in the bowl,

"C-can that be enough for right now?" She whispered tearfully.

"You bet it can," Andrew replied softly, taking the bowl and laying it on the nightstand once more and he was then surprised as his dearest friend leaned into him and sobbed,

"Hey, hey, Monica. You did great, sweetheart," He whispered as he held her closely to him.

"You don't understand," She whimpered miserably,

"It was only two bites and I want to get rid of it so badly right now, Andrew…"

He nodded his head in understanding as he held her tighter, kissing the top of her head,

"Well, how about I just hold you until that urge passes, okay?"

"This is all so horribly embarrassing," Monica whispered sadly, taking deep breathes to try to calm her stomach,

"Oh Andrew, I'm just so sorry…"

"Hey, listen to me. I don't want to hear any apologies and you have no reason to be embarrassed in front of me, ever. This happened because you reacted to things that were outside of your control. You couldn't control how I was acting or what that coach wanted from you and that sensitive heart and stomach of yours reacted. There is no shame in that, sweetheart." Andrew replied, his voice calm and soothing, not knowing just how deeply he was touching his best friend with his compassion and understanding.

"I'm still sorry that this ever happened to begin with, Andrew," She whispered in reply, tightening her hold on him as she rested her gaunt cheek against his shoulder,

"And Kathy...I'm so scared for her..."

"We all are, Angel Girl, but remember that she's got two angels working for her right now, to try and help her and her family; so I want you to just concentrate on getting your strength back. You're doing great, sweetie, and you know that I'm telling you the truth, don't you?" He rested his chin on her head and rocked her back and forth as her tears began to subside.

She shrugged her shoulders with a small sigh,

"You make me want to believe it, Andrew, but it's so hard. Don't get me wrong, it has nothing to do with trusting you and more to do with just being disgusted with myself for all of this. I feel like an idiot for not handling things differently," She rested her cheek against his chest in discouragement,

"I could have talked to Cindy and Brady or Kevin. I followed Kathy when I should have been helping her. It's probably no wonder that you lose patience with me sometimes, because I don't use my mind half the time. The Father was right in demoting me all those years ago, as I'm too impulsive and self-destructive. It must have been by complete divine intervention that Carla turned out as well as she did…"

"Hey now, Monica, I don't want to hear that," Andrew gently pulled away and looked straight into her sad brown eyes,

"You were such a fantastic supervisor to Carla, and THAT is why she turned out the way she did. Although the Father did help, you did most of the work with that loving, gentle heart of yours and all of your patience. She has made mistakes as well, you know that, Angel Girl, and you are not perfect. I am not perfect. Carla's not perfect. Nobody's perfect except for Him..."

"But I still should have chosen to help Kathy instead of making things worse for us," Monica interrupted wearily, closing her tear-filled eyes and leaning her head against her friend's chest again,

"I thought I had at least part of a brain to know that, Andrew."

Though deep inside, he knew that she was just working through the issues that had caused all of this, it still broke his heart to hear her berating herself and he longed to find the right words to say to her. Brady had told him that depression accompanied this disorder, but the older angel refused to let her dwell there,

"You know," He began softly, folding her into his arms as he rocked her gently,

"I remember a time, a long time ago, when another angel felt that he had screwed up pretty badly, so badly in fact that this angel wanted to give up on being one of the Father's messengers altogether. And you know what else? He probably would have, had it not been for a very special angel, one who was near and dear to his heart, who took the time to remind him off all the good things he had done over the years. Remember that, little one?" Feeling her nod her head as a small sob escaped her, he continued softly,

"Now if I need to sit here and remind you of all the good you have done-the Beths, the Patricks, the little girls who are lost at Disney-and the list goes on and on, then I will. What I won't do, however, is to sit here and listen to my best friend, who I love with my entire heart, down herself as to how she reacted to something that was extremely painful."

"I'm trying, Andrew..." She whimpered as she tightened her arms around his waist.

"I know you are, baby girl, and I'm not saying your not," The older angel continued to stroke her limp auburn mane as he kissed the top of her head,

"I want you to just think of what I said, and think of all the good things you have done throughout the centuries, all right? That's more important then the mistakes, Angel Girl." After a few moments, Andrew felt her nod her head and then whispered sleepily.

"I love you, Andy."

Chapter 17

"Two bites a day is not cutting it, Andrew," Brady sighed in exasperation two days later as he and the angel continued to butt heads in the kitchen.

"You said not to push her, and she is doing the best she can!" Andrew argued back, trying to keep his voice down, as he did not want his best friend to hear this discussion.

"Well, her best needs to be better than that," Brady replied, his Irish brogue sharp,

"Or we need to progress with her treatment."

"No!" Andrew replied just as sharply,

"No tube, not while she is trying!"

"Look, Andrew, I understand how worried you are about all of this, but Monica needs to get better, and the tube feeding is the only way," Brady argued back, his dark eyes narrowing his friend's way,

"This needs to happen-"

"I said 'no', Brady," The angel snapped, folding his arms stubbornly across his chest as he refused to lose this battle,

"How do you think that would make Monica feel? She's doing all she can, and we can't ask anything more from her! Have you ever had bulimia before, Brady?"

"No, but I have treated hundreds of young women who have had it and it is rarely cured by coddling them, Andrew. You love her and she is your best friend, I know this, but you are being too easy on her and she is not going to get better that way!" Brady tried his best to explain.

"She depressed out of her mind right now, Brady and I think if I can get her past that, then maybe she will eat more, but you have to give her more time!"

On the other side of the kitchen door, Kevin winced as he exchanged a look with Carla, both younger angels unable to help but to hear the argument on the other side of the door.

"She is pretty depressed," Carla said with a sigh, thinking of how she had been up to visit with her friend earlier in the day.

"Well, wouldn't you be too?" Kevin asked, raising an eyebrow,

"Cooped up in the same room for days with everyone just waiting for you to eat?"

"Yeah, I would..." Carla replied softly, poking her head back into the kitchen and sadness filled her heart as she heard Andrew and Brady still going at it, and she watched with worried eyes as her older friend sunk weakly into a kitchen chair, frustration written all over his face,

"Kev, we can't allow Brady to tube-feed her." She turned back to the youngest angel, her heart racing madly as she tried to come up with some sort of plan,

"That could only make things worse for her...I honestly don't think she'd ever forgive Andrew for that if he forced that upon her..."

"No, me neither, especially not while she is just starting to trust him again. But on the other hand, she is so weak right now with not eating, what else can they do?" He blinked back tears of concern as he shrugged helplessly.

Carla sighed as her eyes moved to the stack of sandwiches and bowl of fruit salad that Rose and Tess had done up earlier before they had gone out, wanting to get the Irish angel a "Get Well" gift to try and boost her spirits,

"Maybe…maybe a change of scenery is exactly what she needs, Kevin.." She began with a small smile.

"What are you talking about?" Kevin frowned in confusion as he followed Carla's gaze to the stack of food on the counter near the wall.

"This could be between you and me, Kev. We could sneak Monica out, IV and all, take her out to the front porch while we eat lunch and see what happens. This whole waiting for her to eat thing is getting to her so badly, no matter what Andrew says, and she needs to get out of this house for a bit, even if it's only to the front porch," A sparkle appeared in Carla's bright green eyes as she explained her plan,

"Who knows, maybe just by us eating, she could take it upon herself to eat without any pressure."

Kevin's eyes lit up in understanding,

"I'm game to try anything to keep that feeding tube from happening. Let's get the porch set up and then we'll see if Cupcake is game for a little outing. We'll keep the conversation light and just see what happens," He grinned, seeing as Carla was already piling some sandwiches onto a plate, being careful to cut them all in half,

"I wish we could get some coffee out of the kitchen, but with them in there…"

No sooner were the words said, did a steaming mug of mocha latte appear on the table, causing the two younger angels to grin widely as well as to double their efforts.

After a few more minutes of silence as the two angels continued to put their plan into action, Kevin grabbed a basket that was sitting on the floor and carefully set the items of food in it. As he closed it and grasped the cup of coffee in his other hand, the youngest angel nodded his head at his friend, who grinned in return as she headed up the stairs back to Monica's room. As she entered the human Irish angel's temporary bedroom, Carla closed the door softly behind her and walked over to where her friend lay, her hollow brown eyes staring up at the ceiling in dejection. Forcing a smile to her pretty face, Carla knelt down next to the bed and greeted her,

"Hey, Mon'. Doing any better?"

Forcing a smile for Carla's sake, Monica managed to reply softly,

"I'm hanging in there, Carla."

"Listen, Kevin and I were going to have a little picnic out on the porch and I know what you're thinking, Monica," Carla added before her friend could protest,

"We aren't bugging you to eat, but more like we were talking about how it might be nice for you to get out of this room for a bit, you know? It's a beautiful day outside and you've been cooped up in here for days, so how about letting us have the pleasure of your company for an hour or so?"

As the Irish angel looked a bit undecided, Kevin appeared in the doorway, his eyes hopeful,

"Hey Cupcake. You're going to join us, right?"

Monica sighed softly,

"Kev, I'm hooked up to this IV and just don't know how-."

"Details, details," He grinned as he entered the room and grabbed one of the blankets from the bed and handed it to Carla,

"And details we can work around. A little sunshine will do you the world of good," Turning to Carla, he nodded at the IV pole,

"If you can handle a blanket and that thing, I can give Cupcake a hand," Looking at his co-worker hopefully, he extended his hand to her, praying she would take it and he grinned once more as she did grasp it, though weakly. Helping her up, he wrapped his arm securely around the weakened angel's waist,

"Feel up to walking? If not, I can carry you. After all, I am Wonder Boy," He told her with a wink.

"I...I think I'm okay, Kev," Monica replied, unable to keep a chuckle from escaping her lips. Seeing the youngest angel smile reassuringly her way, Monica glanced at him and then at Carla as they slowly made their way out of the bedroom and down the hall. Thankfully, Andrew and Brady were still at it in the kitchen, the angel seemingly determined to win the battle, and nobody else was in the large house and the triplets were still at school. After several more minutes, although it seemed like hours for the Irish angel, the trio finally appeared on the front porch and Kevin gently urged his friend over to the comfortable couch and with Carla's help, set her down until she was comfortable.

Monica squinted in the bright sunlight as she felt it against her face for the first time in days, as Kevin gently wrapped the blanket around her shoulders.

"Warm enough?" He asked her nonchalantly, not wanting to make a fuss, and he smiled as she nodded her head and he already noticed a little less pain in her dark eyes.

"It is a beautiful day," She remarked, her eyes taking in the leaves on the trees, which had begun to change colors over the past week.

"The sky kind of reminds me of how clear it was on the ship awhile back, don't you think, Monica?" Kevin asked as he and Carla sat down and each took a plate.

Seeing her friend nod her head, Carla took a bite of her sandwich and when she had swallowed it, she piped up once more,

"You know, I never got to hear a lot of the details of that vacation, other than the Mickey Ears of course."

"And how the names 'Cupcake' and 'Simba' came to be," Kevin quipped, shooting a wink Monica's way, who tried to smile in return at them,

"You should've been there when that happened! The ship had just docked at a small island two days after we had set sail..."

For the next 15 minutes, Kevin chatted to Carla about how the Irish angel's name had been replaced for "Cupcake" that afternoon, the angel magazine that Andrew had bought, and all of the rides they had been on when they finally arrived at Disney World. As the youngest angel was starting to explain how their supervisor refused to ride Space Mountain, Monica found her brown eyes turning to the basket of food on the table beside the other two angels.

Though uncertain, and not realizing that Kevin and Carla were both watching out of the corners of their eyes, Monica picked up half a sandwich from the tray, her trembling fingers tearing it in half as she toyed with it for a moment, all the while listening to Kevin explaining the details of their vacation a few years ago.

Carla kept a shout of joy from escaping her lips as she saw her friend hesitantly put a piece of the sandwich in her mouth, as she turned back to Kevin,

"I can't believe Andrew was afraid to ride Space Mountain. I'd have never guessed that!"

"He wound up loving it though-it was Cupcake here who hated it after all the harassing she gave to Andrew about being afraid," He chuckled, also seeing what Carla was seeing as he nonchalantly pushed an extra bowl closer to his Irish friend for fruit if she wanted it, but never missing a beat with his chatter,

"But he was nice and didn't give you too hard of a time about it, Monica," He smiled at his co-worker as he winked her way,

"So, Simba and I went back to ride it again later in the week and that was when Monica found a little girl who had been abducted by her father…"

As Carla listened to the youngest angel talk, her green eyes kept moving over towards Monica and she tried to suppress a wide smile as she saw that their friend was starting to tentatively eat some of the fruit Kevin had pushed her way. Forcing herself to not scream out loud or jump for joy, Carla instead just nodded her head and turned her attention back to her younger friend,

"So there must've been some assignments on that vacation, huh?"

"Yup, Simba also had one. While we were at a water park, he risked his life to save a little girl from drowning. Those Search and Rescue instincts of his have been coming in handy lately," Kevin winked Carla's way before glancing over his shoulder at the Irish angel.

Catching Kevin's look, Monica sat back with a look of almost amazement on her still pale face. She had eaten a bowl of fruit and half a sandwich and her stomach seemed more or less fine with it for a change. Her heart was pounding loudly at this realization as her doe like eyes met with Kevin's,

"I'm not sure of what just happened…"

Exchanging a quick look with Carla, Kevin turned his attention back to his friend and co-worker,

"How so, kiddo?" He asked softly, wanting her to take the lead in this conversation. He did however, reach across the table and take her hand, watching as with a soft smile, Carla reached for her other one.

"I wasn't even thinking of what was going on..." She started, her voice slightly trembling as she tried to take in all that had just occurred,

"You two were talking...and eating...and for some reason, I actually felt a little bit hungry. And one thing led to another..."

"You almost ate the entire meal, Cupcake," Kevin beamed with pride as he gently squeezed the Irish angel's shaking hand,

"What else are you thinking?"

Her dark eyes glistened with tears as she replied shakily and with a small smile,

"That for the first time in a very long time, I don't feel the urge to get sick."

"That's because you're getting better," Carla smiled at her friend,

"Maybe you just needed to not feel as much pressure to eat for it to happen naturally and the change of scenery was probably a good thing too."

"Maybe..." Monica slowly replied, looking down at the nearly empty plate in front of her. Before any of the angels could say any further, the sound of the front door opening sounded behind them and all three turned around, the Irish angel slowly sucking in a sharp breath as she saw Andrew and Brady standing there.

"What the...what's going on here?" Brady frowned as he crossed his arms in front of him, taking in the scenery and his eyes landing on Monica.

Seeing Monica's eyes widen under Brady's stare as he probably wondered why she was outside and not in bed, Carla piped up immediately,

"Monica needed a change of scene for a bit, Brady, that's all."

"So we brought her out here for awhile and we all had some lunch," Kevin concluded with a wink at the Irish angel,

"So, it was no big deal, other than the fact that Cupcake just polished off half a sandwich and a bowl of fruit and doesn't feel sick in the least."

Andrew's green eyes widened in complete surprise and he turned to face his best friend, whose still pale face was starting to turn a deep shade of red. The older angel opened his mouth and was about to reply, but his Irish best friend beat him to it as she spoke quietly.

"It's true...I don't quite know how I could do it without feeling sick, but I did..." She shrugged her shoulders and smiled weakly over at her friend and Brady,

"I'm sorry I left, but I really did feel like a change of scenery...and it felt good, you know?"

Brady managed a sheepish smile as he shook his head,

"Well, even doctors are known to be wrong from time to time."

Wordlessly, Andrew sat down on the sofa beside of his best friend, after his long argument with Brady, feeling absolutely overwhelmed at this turn of events. Fact was, he had just lost the argument to Brady, but none of that mattered now. Without a word, he wrapped an arm around his friend's shoulders and pressed a fierce kiss to her temple as tears stung in his eyes.

"I think I'm going to be okay, Andrew," Monica whispered softly,

"For the first time since this started, I really think that."

"Me too, little one," Andrew replied in a choked up whisper as he rested his cheek on her head before wrapping his other arm around her shoulders. Feeling her clutching him back tightly, he smiled over his best friend's head at Kevin and Carla as he continued whispering,

"I really think you will."

Chapter 18

"I really hope that last conversation with Mr. Tanner did the trick," Kevin sighed as a week later, he and Carla once again found themselves walking through the hospital corridors towards Kathy's room.

"I get the feeling that his wife wanted to believe us, Kevin, she just needed to stand up to her husband and I hope that she did that," Carla replied softly.

As they approached Kathy's room, both angels stopped short, finding the room vacant and the bed made up ready for a new patient.

"She was released?" Kevin wondered aloud, though he didn't see how that could be as the young woman had not even regained consciousness as of last week.

"I don't know," Carla murmured, looking around and spotting a nurse,

"Excuse me? We're looking for Kathy Tanner. Was she discharged?"

A regretful look passed over the young nurse's face as she approached them,

"I'm sorry," She said softly,

"Kathy passed away last night. I can't really discuss what happened, only that she died in her sleep."

Kevin's dark eyes widened at those sudden words and he felt like he had been punched in the stomach. Reaching out and clutching Carla's arm for support to keep from passing out, the youngest angel's eyes filled with tears as he whispered,

"She...she died...?"

Nodding her head, the nurse looked down at the floor briefly before facing the duo again,

"I'm terribly sorry, sir. It came so suddenly; the entire staff had high hopes for her, but it looks like that wasn't meant to be."

"Her family...where are they?" Carla choked out, holding onto Kevin's arm as she thought her friend would most assuredly pass out any minute.

"I honestly don't know. Are you family or something?" The nurse frowned as she asked the question, looking back and forth between the two angels.

"No, just some friends," Kevin replied quickly, anger starting to churn in his heart again as his eyes never lifted from the ground.

"I wish I could be of more help," The nurse said softly, her eyes filled with sympathy,

"I'm so sorry for your loss."

As the nurse excused herself and walked away, Carla turned to her friend, seeing the fury in his eyes,

"We can't see her family right now anyway, Kevin. Not when you are this angry."

"I'm beyond angry, Carla!" He fumed, turning around and starting back down the corridor to the exit,

"Why wouldn't they listen? She was their daughter! Her health should have been in their best interest! Not running track and field! And that coach! Can't wait to have a word with him! It was bad enough knowing what he did to Cupcake, but now his actions helped kill Kathy!"

"Kevin, stop!" Reaching out, Carla grabbed his arm,

"You have to stop this. You cannot reveal God's word to anyone with anger in your heart. Now, I understand why you feel this way, but you need time to settle down and you need to tell Andrew and Monica what has happened and listen to what Andrew wants you to do."

"I just want this whole thing to end! When will it end..." Kevin cried, pulling his arm away from Carla's and turning around to head down the hall to the elevators.

Unable to let her friend be alone right now, the older angel took off after him and before he could get into one of the elevators, she grabbed his arm again and turned him around to face her,

"Kev, you need to listen to me-"

"I just want to be alone right now if you don't mind, Carla," He interrupted, turning around to get into the elevator, but Carla stopped him once again.

"I refuse to let you do this to yourself, Kev," She firmly stated, keeping a firm grip on his arm,

"Now you and I are going to talk before we head back to Cindy's, and you need to let go of this anger of yours." Seeing the stubborn look on the youngest angel's face, Carla sighed softly and closed her eyes, lifting up a prayer for strength for the right words to say,

"Kev, listen, I care a lot about you, just as I care for Andrew and Monica. You're my friend, and I want to help in any way I can; I've been around longer then you have, and I know what anger can do to you. Remember what anger almost did to Andrew and Monica's relationship..."

"This is different, Carla! These are humans; humans who refuse to listen to the truth, even when it is lying in a bed right in front of them starving to death!" Kevin countered furiously.

"What you need to understand is that you are not the only one this is going to effect so going in there with anger in your heart is going to do more harm than good! Can you imagine how Monica is going to feel? Kathy was not only her assignment but also her friend and because of everything that was going on with Andrew, she felt powerless to help Kathy and instead followed her into this self-destructive behavior! That in turn is going to make Andrew feel terrible, feeling that he caused all of this to begin with by his actions towards Monica. The wounds are still fresh, Kevin and we have to all pull together in order for this 'whole thing to end'. Then we need to decide, based on what the Father tells Andrew to do, the best way to handle this. Kathy's parents have learned this the hard way, but that coach is still out there influencing young women and he has to see the truth before anyone else gets hurt." Her tone softened as she looked into his eyes,

"I know this hurts and I know how worried you've been about your two co-workers for months now and it has taken a toll on you. So lets take a little time to work through this before you go jumping into anything, okay?"

His shoulders slumping wearily and the anger soon starting to be replaced by complete sadness, Kevin turned around and slowly headed over to a nearby bench and took a seat, running his fingers through his brown hair. Sensing Carla taking a seat next to him and the feeling her hand gently rubbing his back, Kevin finally lifted his head and met her own sad green eyes,

"What are we going to tell them, Carla?"

"We tell them the truth, Kev," Carla uttered, feeling tears welling up in her eyes as she spoke. Gently wrapping her arms around him, the little blonde angel sighed wearily,

"We just tell them the truth."

"Well, look who's up and about!" Tess smiled as she and Rose looked across the table in time to see Monica walking into the kitchen with Andrew right beside her, an arm gently wrapped around her waist to help support her as she was still somewhat weak,

"It's nice to see some of the color back in your face again, baby."

"I'm getting there, Tess," The little Irish angel smiled as she reached around and squeezed Andrew's hand that was around her and looked up at him,

"Thanks to all of your help."

"Have a seat, Angel Girl, and I'll fix you a little something, all right?" Andrew offered as he helped her to sit down in one of the chairs; but before he could head over to the stove, Rose laid a hand on his shoulder and stopped him.

"No, both of you have a seat and I'll do the honors of fixing you guys some breakfast," Giving her younger friend's shoulder a gentle squeeze, she headed over the cupboards and rummaged around,

"How does French toast sound?"

"Can I just have some scrambled eggs and toast, Rose?" Monica asked, looking up at the elderly angel. As she nodded her head and turned towards Andrew, the Irish angel smiled tiredly as her best friend piped up.

"I'll take some French toast!"

Rose chuckled, grateful to see Andrew getting back to his old self again now that his best friend was on the mend,

"Of course, Angel Boy."

Monica smiled as she leaned back in her chair,

"I'll be so glad when my energy comes back. It isn't taking much to wipe me out right now."

Andrew nodded his head as he reached for her hand,

"How about you and I go out for a little walk later-just as far you feel up to going? The fresh air will do you good and a little exercise will help you start to get your strength back. Besides, I'd enjoy a little quality time with my Angel Girl."

"I'd like that too," She replied softly, squeezing his hand.

Before either of them could say anything more, Carla and Kevin walked in the front door and by one look at them, the four other angels knew something was desperately wrong.

"Babies?" Tess asked, approaching them carefully,

"How did things go at the hospital?"

Exchanging a look with each other, Kevin shaking his head sadly, Carla spoke up softly,

"Kathy passed away last night."

Silence passed through the kitchen as those five words were spoken and the sound of the spatula falling to the ground finally broke it. Andrew stared at his two friends, his green eyes wide with shock and it took all of his strength to speak,

"What?"

"She died in her sleep last night," Carla whispered, looking from Andrew to Monica, and then to the two oldest angels,

"They wouldn't give us much more information then that, I'm afraid..."

"I don't understand this…" Andrew uttered, his eyes filled with disbelief,

"Did her parents not believe what the doctors were saying?"

"Apparently not," Kevin replied sullenly, crossing his arms in front of him.

Monica felt as if the room were spinning as Andrew and Kevin's words echoed inside of her head as she clutched the table until her knuckles turned white as she closed her eyes.

"And the coach wouldn't listen to a word of it either obviously," Kevin continued, trying to ward off his anger as he starred at the floor.

Seeing out of the corner of his eye that Monica looked about ready to pass out at any minute, Andrew leapt up from his chair and came around behind her to help support her in case she lost consciousness. What happened next, though, took all of the angels standing in the kitchen by surprise, especially Andrew, as they watched the little Irish angel slowly rise to her feet and let out a piercing scream filled with rage. Before anyone could stop her, Monica had slammed her hand right into the pan that Rose was currently using, sending bits and pieces of toast flying everywhere.

Finally forcing himself to move towards her, Andrew firmly grasped his best friend by the arms to try and stop her from damaging herself or anything any further, but tears burned in his green eyes as he heard Monica continue shouting through her own tears of rage,

"NO! She's not dead! She's not! Let me go...just let me go...!"

"Monica...Monica..." Andrew tried to calm her down some, although his own heart was breaking over this news, but his soothing voice didn't seem to calm the hysterical Irish angel down,

"Monica, calm down..."

"No...this isn't happening! This isn't happening!" She continued to scream, trying to pull away from her best friend as tears trailed down her cheeks. But she appeared to be losing the battle as the older angel refused to release her from his grip, and instead gently lowered them both to the ground so that he could hold her shaking body in his arms.

"I'm really sorry, you guys," Kevin stammered tearfully,

"Carla and I tried to get them to see…we really tried…"

"Of course you did, honey," Rose replied softly, tears in her own eyes as she grabbed some ice from the freezer and wrapped it in a dishtowel, before setting it near Andrew and then motioning for the other angels to come into the other room in order to leave Andrew and Monica alone for a few minutes.

Tears flowed from Andrew's eyes as he continued to hold onto his best friend, whose cries had given way to hard, painful sobs as she quit fighting him, her forehead resting against his neck,

"Talk to me, Monica," He whispered hoarsely, holding her as tightly as he dared,

"I need to know what you're thinking…"

After a few moments, she finally began to talk, words that were barely understandable through her tears,

"This is my…fault…I did this to her….I was…supposed to help her, but instead I condoned her behavior by following it…and now…I live because I'm an angel…and Kathy goes Home before her time…" She gasped for breath as another anguished cry escaped her,

"I don't deserve to be helping people, Andrew…I can't even separate my job from my personal life as…as every time something goes wrong with you…heaven help my assignment…"

"You did what you did to stay on the team to be able to help her, Monica, and because you were already upset," He replied shakily, his heart filled with guilt over the things he had done to her and the things he had caused to happen.

"No," She interrupted him, between sobs,

"That was only part of the reason…the other part was that I was afraid to face you…if I got kicked off the team…she needed an angel who knew what was most important and she didn't have that…not that you aren't important to me...because you know that you are…but…" She gave way to harder tears as she finished,

"Kevin was right…he was right…I rely on you too much…" Even as she said the painful words, she clung more tightly to him, afraid that they might drive him away.

"No, Monica," Andrew firmly replied, even as his tears continued to flow,

"You don't believe this-"

"I do," She interrupted in a choked up whisper,

"And deep down, you know it too, but you just don't want to leave me...although I deserve to be left..."

"Angel Girl, please don't say that-"

"What else can I say?" The Irish angel interrupted again, lifting her head off of his chest and looking into his own pained green eyes,

"I can't lie to you; this is how I feel, I swear it is..."

"Monica, you are so wrong about this…" Andrew tried to reason with her, but she cut him off again.

"I'm not…I'm not…I don't even deserve to be an angel for the mistakes I have made…I have cost three assignments their lives, Andrew! Three! As much as I love you, when something is not right between us, I can't see past it to do the work I'm supposed to be doing. I just keep making one mistake after another…"

"Monica, please just listen to me for a minute, okay? You need to take this to the Father Himself; you know that, sweetie," Andrew tried to reason with her, but his best friend firmly shook her head and her next words caused fresh tears to well up in his already swollen eyes.

"I can't go to Him right now, Andrew. He's going to be so disappointed in me-"

"You know that's not true, Angel Girl," Andrew interrupted her this time, grabbing her by the shoulders gently and looking straight into her eyes,

"He knows of the mistakes we all have made these last few months, but we haven't asked for His help yet-"

"Don't you see, Andrew? I don't deserve His Love or His forgiveness any longer! And I won't accept it! I won't!" She cried in agony, her heart breaking at the look of horror and pain etched on her dearest friend's handsome face.

"None of us 'deserve' it, Monica, but He gives it freely. You have spoken those words so many times, sweetheart…"

"And most humans are able to hear them and turn their lives around, but an angel can't!. I'm a hypocrite, Andrew, little better than a murderer with three dead women behind me because I screwed up so badly!"

"Listen to me," Andrew said gently, still holding her tightly,

"You're still recovering and this has been terrible news, but Mon', you aren't thinking clearly right now. Maybe you just need to lie down for awhile and then later, things won't seem this drastic to you."

Although a huge part of her knew that lying down wouldn't change how she was feeling at that moment, as she knew in her heart that nothing would, Monica tried to look into her friend and supervisor's eyes and nodded her head for his sake,

"Okay..."

Feeling a sense of relief, although he was still nervous for her, Andrew leaned forward and kissed her forehead gently,

"C'mon, let's go clean up that burn on your hand and then I'll get you up to bed-"

"No, Andrew, I can do it..." She mumbled softly, lowering her eyes and avoiding his gaze once again,

"I-I'll see you later..."

With a sad nod, he handed her the ice pack for her burnt hand, watching as even already she was pulling away, trying not to rely on him.

Weakly, she rose to her feet and slowly made her way out of the kitchen and up the stairs to her room, not even acknowledging Tess calling out her name.

"Andrew?" Rose asked gently as her younger friend came out of the kitchen and she rose from the couch to greet him, seeing the great sadness in his eyes,

"I take it things did not go over well, honey?"

Opening his mouth to reply, Andrew just shrugged his shoulders helplessly as no words would come out. Lowering his blonde head sadly, he didn't even know what was happening until he felt Rose's arms gently wrap around him in a gentle hug. Lifting his arms to hug her back, the younger angel sighed somewhat shakily and forced his words out,

"Far from well..." He uttered weakly.

"What happened in there?" The elderly angel ran a hand through his silky blonde hair before gently pulling away and looking up at him.

"She blames herself, of course, for not helping Kathy, but following her in this behavior instead," He began shakily,

"She says that you were right, Kevin, that she relies on me too much and when things aren't right between us, she can't focus on her assignments. She brought up Jacqueline, the assignment that committed suicide all those years ago when Brianna was stirring up trouble as well as the r*ape victim that died because she lied to the woman's assailant. I can't reason with her," He shook his head helplessly,

"She says she isn't worthy to be an angel or to go to the Father for help."

Feeling fresh tears rushing to his brown eyes at his friend's words, Kevin lowered his head, unable to meet Andrew's eyes, and replied weakly,

"I am so sorry I even said those words back at the party, Andrew...that's what started this whole thing, isn't it?"

"No, Kevin. I could have forgiven her for it any time, but I chose not to...and now, I don't even know what she's going to do," Andrew finished hoarsely, blinking back more tears that threatened his eyes. Looking over at Rose, he shrugged his shoulders again,

"It's out of my hands now, I guess..."

"Well, she is still too weak to do much of anything, thankfully," Tess replied with a sad sigh,

"And it is in the Father's hands, baby, so we just trust Him right now. Maybe with a little rest, she'll feel better later."

"I hope so, Tess," Andrew replied tearfully, though his heart was filled with doubts,

"I really hope so."

Once the house was quiet late that night, the Irish angel shakily packed a backpack she had found in the closet with the few meager items she had brought to the Sullivan's with her from the campus a few weeks ago. Her friends had tried to talk to her today, but whenever she heard the door to her room open, she had feigned sleep, so they had left her alone figuring she was resting.

But nothing had been further from the truth.

Picking up a piece of paper off her made bed, she read over the note she was leaving to her best friend once more:

My dearest Andrew,

I think it is time that I'm on my own for a while. I don't know at this moment what that entails or if the Father will provide, but the last thing you need on your hands right now is an angel who doesn't deserve to be one. I know you said I wasn't thinking clearly, but the truth is, I am. I could have saved Kathy's life, but failed to do so and as I've told you before, I'm just too impulsive and self-destructive to be working for God, at least at this point.

Maybe I need to rely on myself a little more or better yet, the Father, once I get the courage to speak with Him again. I know I've disappointed Him and you terribly, over and over again. Regardless of what was happening between us, Andrew, I should have been able to handle my assignment. That's what an angel does. But not this one apparently.

I love you so much, my friend and I want to thank you for everything you've ever done for me. I've just made too big a mess this time to stay and wait for the next one to happen. You have a wonderful charge in Kevin and I often see in him your finest qualities that you have taught him. You two will work well together, of that I am certain.

So, I suppose this is good-bye, though it breaks my heart to say it. I need to find answers or something…I'm not even sure myself anymore.

All my love,

Your Angel Girl

Tears filled her eyes as she laid it back down on the bed and weakly adjusted the backpack on her still frail shoulders. Silently, she crept down the stairs and slipped out of the house.

The moon lit up the sky as her tear-filled eyes wondered which way to go, before her eyes turned to the mountains, knowing that if she could make it there by daybreak, they wouldn't find her. Drawing in a deep breath and wiping at her eyes, she headed down to the sidewalk, pausing only long enough to look back at the house and up the room on the 2nd floor which her best friend occupied.

Bringing a shaking hand to her lips, she then held out her hand and blew a kiss at the window as fresh tears brimmed in her dark and tired eyes, before she turned and walked away.