Crumbling Sandcastles

"And you don't know why we're here, Andrew?" Monica asked curiously as she got out of the passenger's side of the car as Kevin climbed out of the back seat.

"Nope, Angel Girl," He replied, locking his car door as he looked up at the Sullivan's house,

"I was only told that this is where we should come and it would all be revealed in His time."

She nodded her head as she smiled a little nervously. Despite the fact that she loved having time to visit their earthly friends, being assigned here was another matter altogether. The angelic threesome probably hadn't seen the Sullivan family since the triplets 12th birthday, and now two years later, she was more than looking forward to a visit. They had seemed to have one assignment on top of another for the past two years and she could only hope that all was well with their earthly friends.

"Well, I don't know what you two are waiting for," Kevin complained as he started for the porch,

"But I for one, am hungry!"

Sighing softly, Andrew hurried after his youngest charge as he was already at the front porch ringing the doorbell,

"Kev, you know they're not made out of food!"

"But I've seen their fridge plenty of times, Simba, and it's always jam packed!" The younger angel quipped, turning to grin at his supervisor,

"You know I can never resist any cupcakes, right, Cupcake?" He shot a wink at Monica as she groaned softly.

But before she or Andrew could reply, the sounds of footsteps and shouts on the other side of the door sounded loudly and Andrew chuckled as he recognized Wendy's hyper voice,

"I got it, mom!"

As the petite teenager with shoulder length blond hair flung open the door, she left out a squeal of delight at seeing her angelic friends. Flinging her arms around Andrew first, she hugged him tightly,

"It's so good to see you guys!"

"It's great to see you too, sweetheart," Andrew chuckled at her enthusiasm as she moved to hug Monica and Kevin as well.

"This totally rocks!" Wendy chirped happily, letting her friends in the door before hollering,

"Hey everybody! Guess whose here? I'll give you a hint…'Fear not'!" Her blue eyes flashed teasingly.

At those words, the angels laughed as Cindy flew from the kitchen and gave an excited squeal as well upon seeing them all there,

"Andrew! Monica! Kevin! What are you guys doing here?"

Hugging them each in turn, the human finally released them and smiled as Andrew replied gently,

"Well, it appears that we were assigned here. Why, though, none of us know yet." Glancing up the stairs and nodding, the angel grinned,

"So where is everybody?"

"Brady's still at work; he had to work overtime a bit. Patrick's probably still upstairs talking to his girlfriend on the phone, and Angel's doing her homework...although I think they can take a little breather to come down stairs and say hello." She rolled her blue eyes as she headed to the stairs and yelled,

"Paddy! Angel! Come downstairs please!"

"In a second, mom!" Paddy's voice sounded from the second floor and Cindy rolled her eyes again as she gestured towards her angelic friends to come into the living room, Wendy following right behind,

"He's been like this ever since he started dating this girl from his school."

"You all sure are growing up fast, I must say," Monica chirped, taking a seat on the arm of the chair Andrew was sitting in, and giggling as Wendy plopped down on his lap.

"You've got that right," Cindy replied, rolling her eyes playfully,

"Paddy is eating me out of house and home."

"That's my boy!" Kevin cheered, looking at Cindy hopefully.

Cindy laughed and shook her head,

"The fridge is the same place it has always been, Kevin," She informed him, watching as he cheerfully set out for the kitchen,

"Well, nothing has changed with Kevin, I see."

Andrew laughed as he shook his head,

"And you've got that one right, Cin'."

Monica chuckled as she turned her head, catching something from out of the corner of her eye. Rising to her feet, she smiled as she saw Angel watching them quietly, her shy smile framed by her long, blond hair,

"Hey, my little shadow," The Irish angel said softly as she approached the teenager and wrapped her arms around her.

"I've missed you, Monica," Angel whispered softly, hugging her angelic friend tightly.

"I've missed you too, sweetheart," Monica replied gently, as she pulled away and wrapped her arm around the girl's shoulders to lead her into the living room with the others.

Getting up off of Andrew's lap to allow him to rise to his feet, Wendy watched as her friend made his way over to Angelica and smiled gently down at her,

"Hey, Angel."

"Hi, Andrew," She smiled shyly in return, heading over to where he was and wrapping her arms tightly around his waist,

"I missed you guys so much..."

"We've missed this entire family, love," The angel replied, running his fingers gently through her golden hair,

"It's great to see all of your smiling faces again." Releasing her, he watched as she lowered her blue eyes and a deep blush rose to her face,

"How've you been?"

Shrugging her shoulders, she looked from Andrew to Monica and smiled slightly,

"I'm okay...just a little busy with schoolwork, that's all."

"I'm gonna go and check on Paddy and try to pry that phone from his ear," Cindy broke in gently, rubbing Angel's back as she headed to the stairs,

"I'll leave you four alone for a few minutes."

As the two girls sat down on the couch, Andrew resumed his place in the chair with Monica once more on the arm of it. The little Irish angel looked from one girl to the other and smiled,

"I'll bet your father is having to watch the boys beating down the door to see the two of you," She teased gently.

Wendy blushed deeply as she giggled,

"Well, we really are not allowed to date yet unsupervised. Either mom or dad has to go along or the guy's parents have to go along. Daddy says we've revisit this when we are 16, but if he had it his way, we wouldn't date till we were 40."

Andrew chuckled, his hand rubbing his best friend's back as he listened,

"How about you, Angel?"

"Oh, Angel doesn't have a boyfriend," Wendy replied for her sister,

"She's too busy staying on the honor role to have time for boys or friends."

Lifting her head, Angel shot her sister a dirty look before mumbling under her breath,

"Don't believe her, you guys..."

"Well, it's the truth; your grades are better then any of us, and it's because you don't spend time with anybody or develop any friends," Wendy shrugged her shoulders carelessly before turning to smile at her two friends,

"So what about you two? How are things in the, uh, angel business?"

Chuckling softly, Monica moved her arm to wrap it around her best friend's shoulders as he continued rubbing her back and replied,

"Busy. Very busy. Although things are going so much more smoothly now, and I love spending my time with my two favorite guys." She winked at her best friend as he rolled his green eyes playfully,

"What more could an angel ask for?"

"I agree with you there!" Wendy piped up, turning her attention away from her sister now,

"Andrew's still adorable as always, and Kevin's growing on me."

Monica shot her best friend a sympathetic look as she watched him blush deeply at the teenager's words,

"Yeah, Kevin kind of grows on you like mold," She replied, in an effort to take the pressure off her best friend.

Before she could say anymore, a clamor was heard as Paddy came tearing down the steps and Andrew barely had time to shoot his best friend a silent "Thank you" before the teenage boy was greeting them happily. After exchanging hugs with the two angels, he looked around the room,

"Where's Kevin?" He asked, eager to see his childhood playmate.

"Eating," Andrew replied with a grin, shooting a wink at Cindy.

"Mom, can I have a snack?" Paddy asked though he was already on his way to the kitchen.

"We're going to have dinner as soon as your dad gets home, Patrick," Cindy stated, but was quickly interrupted as Paddy vanished into the kitchen,

"Awesome, because I'm starved!"

Sighing as she rolled her eyes to the ceiling, Cindy shook her head before smiling at her two angelic friends,

"I would hope you all are staying for dinner?"

"We'd love to, Cindy," Monica returned her human sister's smile as she rose from the arm of the couch and followed her into the kitchen, Angelica soon following right behind with Andrew and Wendy lagging slowly behind.

"You all haven't changed a bit since the last time we saw you, Andrew," The teenager giggled as she looked up at her angelic friend,
"Especially Kevin's appetite for whatever he can get his hands on in our fridge."

Wrapping his arm around her shoulders, the angel grinned down at her,
"Kev's appetite will never change. The day it does will be the day none of us will ever be the same again."

As she giggled, Andrew continued, curious about these teenagers who, the last time he had seen them, seemed to still be children,
"So, how many boyfriends do you have exactly?"

"There are a few who are interested, but to be honest, I'm not ready to get serious with any of them yet. It's more fun to have a slumber party with my friends and talk about boys then to actually go out with them," She smiled sweetly up at him,
"Besides, you'll always be my favorite guy, Andrew, for as long as Monica is willing to share you."

Flushing crimson once more, he shook his head with a chuckle as they entered into the kitchen. Seeing Kevin standing there munching on a sandwich, he sighed,
"Kevin, as soon as Brady gets here, we're going to eat. You couldn't have waited just a few more minutes?"

"Sorry, Simba, no could do. I told you I was starving," The youngest angel replied.

"Yeah and you sure do look it," Monica retorted, sticking her finger into his stomach teasingly,
"You're just withering away to nothing, Kev. I'm surprised you lasted this long."

"May I ask why everybody is picking on me just because I'm hungry?" Kevin demanded with his mouth still full as he shrugged his shoulders innocently,
"I'm just an innocent little angel who happens to be hungry!"

Before anyone could reply, they heard the sound of the front door opening from the other room and Brady called out,
"I'm home!"

"See, Kev? All you had to do was wait one more second to eat, but no, of course you couldn't do that!" Andrew joked, playfully nudging his youngest charge in the ribs.

"Where is everyone?" Brady called out as he opened the kitchen door, a wide grin spreading over his face at the site of the angels,
"What a great surprise!" He exclaimed, grabbing Kevin in a headlock and ruffling his hair playfully, before moving to hug Andrew,
"Two years is way too long to not see you guys and even then it was only for one night."

"I agree, Brady," Andrew replied, clamping the human on the back before he released him,
"But you may have us for a little while this time until the mystery unravels."

Raising a curious eyebrow, he looked around the crowded noisy kitchen,
"Okay, where is that other little angel?" He grinned as Monica looked up and smiled before she moved to hug him tightly,
"It's great to see all of you again, sweetheart," He smiled, kissing her cheek.

"Okay, everybody out," Cindy laughed, as she shooed the masses from her kitchen,
"Dinner will be on in 5 minutes providing I have room to get it on the table."

Laughter rang through the air as all seven humans and angels left the kitchen and back into the living room. Leaning over and wrapping an arm around Monica's shoulders and kissing the side of her head, Andrew met her brown eyes with his green ones and said,
"So do you have any idea what we're here for, Angel Girl?"

Wrapping an arm around her friend's waist and leaning into him, the Irish angel grinned softly as she replied,
"I'm not really sure myself...but, I really am starting to think we're here to maybe help Angel overcome her shyness. You saw what occurred with her and Wendy earlier; they're just so different, and I feel for that little girl..."

Sighing softly as he nodded his head, Andrew whispered back so that nobody else could hear them,
"It's possible."

"Maybe I can try to talk to her later and maybe you can find out a little more from Cindy and Brady, as far as if there is anything they are worried about with the kids. That may help us zero in on why we are really here, not that I'm complaining." She smiled, letting out a small contented sigh.

"What was that for, Angel Girl?" Andrew asked with a grin as he heard her sigh.

"Being here with my favorite humans and my favorite best friend…what more could an angel ask for?" She grinned up at him, feeling more relaxed then she had in the last few months as they had been so busy,
"Other than finally having time to do this," Happily, she wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tightly, feeling him holding her back in return.

"Mmm," He remarked with a gentle smile,
"That one was long overdue, Angel Girl. You're slipping."

Tightening her arms around his neck as she heard those words, the Irish angel giggled as she rested her cheek against his shoulder, feeling him lift her slightly off the ground,
"I have to make up for a few months worth of hugs, you know?"

Kissing the top of her head gently, Andrew put her lightly back on her feet but only continued to hold her tightly to him, his heart swelling with love for this little Irish angel,
"I love you so much, Angel Girl..."

"Right back atcha," She replied, finally releasing him slightly and resting her forehead against his,
"Right back atcha."

Chapter 1

Later that night once the triplets had retired to their rooms, Monica slipped away, leaving Andrew and Kevin downstairs with Cindy and Brady and headed up the stairs to Angel's room. She knocked softly and as she heard the soft call to come in, she opened the door and slipped inside of her room,
"Hey, little shadow," She smiled, watching as the young girl looked up from her history book,
"Do you have a couple of minutes to chat?"

"Sure, Monica," Angel replied, closing her book and turning in her chair to face the angel,
"What is going on?"

"Well, that is kind of what I wanted to ask you," The angel replied, sitting down on the edge of the bed,
"You seemed a wee bit upset earlier when Wendy answered your question about having a boyfriend. I just wanted to make sure you were all right."

Angel lowered her eyes as she searched for an answer,
"Wendy just doesn't understand, that's all. She thinks that just because things are the way they are, that is the way I want them, and that isn't really true."

"Then what do you want, sweetie?" Monica questioned gently, her full attention on the teenager in front of her.

Lowering her blue eyes to the ground as she rested her chin on her arm that was draped around her desk chair, Angel sighed softly as she tried to find an answer to the angel's question,
"I just want some friends; but I'm not as popular as Wen and Paddy. Everybody at school thinks I'm a bookworm and teacher's pet because I always end up with the highest grades in the class. I hear people whispering about me behind my back when they think I'm not looking, and I always end up eating lunch by myself in the cafeteria. Wendy and Patrick are always with their friends...or rather, Wendy is with her large group of friends, and Paddy is with his girlfriend. I just want people to like me, people outside of the family...I want to be like my brother and sister, Monica, and my life is so dull."

Gently laying a compassionate hand on the girl's arm, the Irish angel smiled lovingly at her as she replied,
"Nothing about you is dull, Angelica. You're very kind, loving and you care for others; and we all love you. Your parents, your siblings, Andrew, Kevin, and I. And even Tess, Rose and Carla. We all think you're wonderful, and I'm sure even your teachers think you have something special about you."

"I tell myself that, I do," Angel whispered, feeling tears fill her eyes,
"But it's really hard to tell myself that when Wendy is away at a slumber party for the weekend and Paddy is on a camping trip with his friends and I'm left at home. Mom and dad always try to make it special 'us' time, but I just feel like a total freak most of the time. I hear Wendy's friends telling her that they cannot believe the two of us are even related. I keep telling myself that it doesn't hurt when they say those things or whisper about me behind my back but always loud enough for me to hear, but…it does hurt, Monica. It hurts a lot."

"C'mere," The angel urged and waited until Angel was sitting beside her to wrap her arms around her,
"Of course it hurts, sweetheart, but you have to remember that you are God's special child, Angelica. He made you who you are and He loves you just as you are…we all do. And you know what? Just because this is the way things are right now, doesn't mean that they will stay like this forever. People change all the time, Angel and maybe you just need something to bring you out of your shell a little, like a club or something at school."

"I can't do that, Monica," The teenager whispered as she hugged her angelic friend back tightly,
"I'm too shy to even try and get involved, and I know that others will laugh at me for even trying..."

"Now hold it right there, love," The Irish angel interrupted, gently pulling away and grasping her human friend's shoulders,
"Nobody is going to laugh at you for trying out for a club."

"How do you know that, Monica?" Angelica whispered through her tears,
"None of you are there at school...you don't know my classmates..."

"We may not know your classmates, sweetheart, but I do know that if they even try laughing at you for doing something you may enjoy, then let me know and I'll sic Andrew on them for you," She shot a wink at the girl and was relieved to see a small smile and laugh escape her.

"I'll think about it, Monica, I promise," Angel said softly, though her baby blue eyes still held such sadness.

Monica nodded her head as she reached up to swipe at a tear on the girl's cheek, remembering a certain time in her own existence and now having a feeling that she better understood how Angel felt,
"It's no fun being lonely, is it?" The angel asked softly.

"No," The young girl whispered sadly,
"And I am lonely, Monica. The only times I don't feel like that is when you and Andrew are here, because you pay attention to me and you aren't really required to."

"Angel, no one pays attention to you because they are required to, but because they love you. You know better than that, honey," Monica scolded gently watching as Angel shrugged her shoulders.

"I should get to bed as it's getting late," Angelica remarked softly, getting up and turning down the bedspread with the angel's help.

As Angel climbed into bed, Monica smoothed her blond hair back from her face,
"Just think about what I said, sweetheart, all right? And know that Andrew and I are here for you anytime you need to talk."

"I know and thank you," Angel replied shakily as she closed her eyes.

Bidding the teenager goodnight, Monica switched off the light and softly closed the door behind her. Feeling a little troubled after her conversation with Angelica, but not wanting to disrupt the conversation in the living room, the Irish angel slipped down the back stairs that led to the kitchen and quietly slipped outside, knowing that eventually her best friend would seek her out and she could tell him what she now knew.

After everyone in the house had retired for the night, Andrew gave a yawn as he slipped into the kitchen to grab something to drink before heading there himself. As he opened the fridge to grab the carton of orange juice, the angel glanced over his shoulder and out onto the pool patio and frowned as he saw Monica seated in one of the lawn chairs overlooking the water, appearing deep in thought.

Grabbing a second glass from the cupboard and pouring some juice in it as well, Andrew juggled both glasses in his hands as he pried open the back door and slipped outside into the bright moonlight. Not wanting to startle his best friend, the older angel greeted her gently,
"You're out here awfully late, sweetheart."

Glancing up at him and smiling that he was there now, Monica accepted the offered orange juice from him and replied quietly,
"Thank you. I was just thinking over some things about this assignment."

Taking a seat in front of her on the lawn chair where she was sitting, he laid a gentle hand on her leg as he questioned,
"What'd you find out, Mon'?"

"That the things that Wendy said today are true, about Angel not making any friends, only it isn't because she is too busy with schoolwork, but that she is too shy and has no idea of how," She sighed softly, looking into her best friend's concerned emerald eyes,
"She's unbearably lonely, Andrew."

"So, what did you tell her?" He asked gently.

"All the right things, I hope…that God created her and loves her just as she is and that things didn't have to stay this way forever. I suggested she get involved in some clubs or something as a way of meeting other people, but she is very resistant to that idea," Sadly , she reached for her best friend's hand, as if reminding herself that he was the reason she never had to feel such loneliness,
"She said the only time she didn't feel lonely is when you and I are here because we aren't 'required' to pay attention to her, but we do anyway."

Lowering his head and shaking his head sadly, his tender heart aching for the young teenager, Andrew sighed softly before replying,
"That poor girl...I kind of wish we were assigned to her school so that we could at least look out for Angelica. Did she say anything else, Angel Girl?"

Sighing as well, Monica held tightly to her friend's hand, as she looked straight into his green eyes,
"She also told me that her classmates make fun of her all the time, because she's so shy and not as social as Wendy and Patrick are. She's always alone during lunchtime, and she often overhears people talking about her behind her back, about how they can't believe she and Wendy are related. She truly believes that her sister is more popular and more liked then she is, and she really doesn't seem so sure that people can change, and that this shyness won't last forever." Shaking her head, her shoulder-length auburn hair swinging across her shoulders, the Irish angel uttered sadly,
"Oh Andrew, my heart just goes out for her...I can't imagine feeling that way."

"Especially with Paddy and Wendy being so outgoing," He sighed once more, seeing the misery in his friend's eyes,
"We're here to help, Mon', you know that, and we will."

"Did Cindy and Brady have any concerns about any of the kids?" She asked, trying to cover her sadness in order to get back to work.

"Just the normal stuff…concerns over Wendy and Patrick dating. I actually think they see Angel as their well-grounded child. I mean, they don't have to worry about her getting into trouble, she excels in school and she seems happy enough at home," He explained softly.

"If they only knew..." Monica whispered softly,
"Do you think one of us should tell them what Angel told me?"

"No," The older angel immediately answered, shaking his head,
"No, I truly believe that's Angelica's doing, and hers alone."

"I just wish that I could help her, Andy," The little Irish angel uttered as she felt a few tears welling up in her brown eyes,
"She's such a sweet child, and so innocent. I hate feeling her pain and hurt; I can only imagine feeling so lonely without you...and I know that'll never happen. I almost feel guilty for having such an awesome best friend, while Angel doesn't even feel that close to her own twin sister."

"Hey, hey, hey," Andrew whispered, pulling her into his arms and holding her gently, unable to keep a slight smile from his face,
"What am I going to do with you, Angel Girl? You are the only angel I know who can find a way to understand exactly what the assignment is feeling, just by using that imagination of yours," He chuckled softly as he rocked her gently,
"You have nothing to feel guilty for, sweetie, and deep down inside you know that."

Sighing deeply to try and get her mixed emotions under control, the younger angel nodded as she tightly held onto her best friend,
"Deep down, I do know...but Angel, I feel like she's my real little sister and I'm just so protective of her."

"You and me both, Angel Girl," Andrew replied, rubbing her back gently as his other stroked her auburn hair,
"All three of those kids are special, and I know how you feel. But you, Kevin and I are here to help this family we all love so much, and they're all going to be just fine."

Monica sighed softly as she sniffed back a round of hot tears,

"I hope you're right…"

"The Father is watching over all of them and us, Angel Girl," He reminded her gently.

"I know," She whispered, moving her head enough to kiss his cheek,

"I don't know what I'd ever do without you, Andy…"

"You don't have to worry about that, because I'm never gonna leave you. Ever," He softly replied, lovingly kissing her soft cheek as well,
"I think you're gonna be stuck with me for quite a long time, baby, like it or not."

"That won't be so hard to accept," She giggled through her tears as she rested her head on his shoulder again, closing her tired brown eyes,
"Just hold me...I don't want to let you go just yet..."

"Any time," He replied into her mane of auburn hair as he tightened his strong arms around her shoulders,
"All you have to do is ask."

"Thank you," She whispered in return as they fell silent for a moment before she whispered again,
"Andrew…I don't have a good feeling about this…"

"Shhh," He replied softly, silencing her once more,
"I know."

Nodding her head, now knowing that her best friend was having the same feelings that she was, Monica tightly closed her exhausted brown eyes as she whispered into his chest,
"What are we going to do if something happens to Angel?"

"Baby, we'll worry about that if and when the time comes," He assured, although he was already starting to feel worried himself,
"Right now, though, just think pleasant thoughts...even if they happen to be of Kevin eating us out of house and home again these next few weeks."

Letting out a giggle again at those words, Monica sighed softly before allowing herself to drift off to sleep in her best friend's arms.

Chapter 2

Angel came in the door dejectedly the following afternoon and walked through the kitchen, not even noticing Andrew at first, who was sitting at the breakfast nook.

"Hey, sweetheart," He greeted her, smiling as she looked up in surprise,
"Why the long face?"

Angel shrugged her shoulders,
"New math teacher and he wants to teach us Algebra. I'm afraid he's already lost me. Where is everyone?"

"Well, your dad is still at work, and Monica and your mom went grocery shopping and took Kevin as he wouldn't stop pleading to go along," Andrew replied, pulling out a chair for the young girl, before he got up to get her a glass of milk,
"But I could ask the same thing…where are Wendy and Paddy?"

Angel sighed as she mumbled a 'thank you' for the glass of milk that Andrew set down in front of her,
"Paddy walked his girlfriend home and Wendy went to her friend, Alicia's house so they could finalize their plans for the Homecoming Dance this weekend."

"Ah, a dance," Andrew raised his eyebrows as he sat back down across from her,
"Are you going?"

Angel met her eyes briefly with his and sighed,
"You've got to be kidding. Believe me, Andrew, no one wants to go to the dance with me."

"Oh Angelica, I don't believe that," Andrew gave her an encouraging smile as he walked around to the other side of the table and took a seat next to her, a gentle hand resting on her shoulder,
"What makes you think that nobody would want to go with you?"

"I don't 'think', Andrew...I 'know'," She replied back, finally looking at him, the pain in her baby blue eyes visible to him,
"You haven't met my classmates..."

Frowning in concern, the blonde angel shook his head as he commented,
"No, you're right, I haven't met them. But do you want to go to the Homecoming Dance, honey?"

Shrugging her shoulders, the teenager lowered her head until her long blonde hair was hanging in her eyes,
"I don't know. They'll only laugh at me, that much I do know."

"They would have no reason to laugh at you, Angel. You're a beautiful young lady," Andrew told her gently, seeing the doubt in her eyes,
"In fact, I'd be honored to escort you to the Homecoming Dance."

Angel managed a slight giggle,
"Well, Wendy would certainly be jealous," She remarked, even as a blush rose to her cheeks,
"But that's okay, Andrew. I really don't want to go anyway. Besides, something tells me I'm going to have my hands full with this Algebra."

"Well, that's all well and good, honey, but when do you get to have a little fun?" Andrew asked her gently, now fully understanding why Monica's heart had ached so badly after her talk with Angelica last night.

"What fun?" The young girl shrugged her shoulders as she forced herself to meet her angelic friend's green eyes,
"Wendy and Patrick are the only ones in this family who have fun...I'm just the mousy one with her nose in the schoolbooks, and try to stay as far away from others as possible. I really don't have any friends, Andrew..."

"You have Monica and I," The angel interrupted gently, reaching out and touching her cheek,
"You've got Kevin, and no matter how much you may deny it, your brother and sister are your friends as well. And the rest of your family; and if your classmates will just take some time to get to know you, you'd be surprised what would happen-"

"Thanks, Andrew, but I really don't think that's possible," The teenager shook her head as she smiled slightly for his sake,
"I'm just so shy, that I don't know how to step forward and make those friends..."

"I think you'll find that once you take that first step, it gets easier from there," He offered, hoping she'd take the advice,
"And you can always ask God for help."

Silently, Angel got to her feet and gathered up her schoolbooks,
"I need to go study, Andrew," She began as she headed for the kitchen door, then hesitantly turned around once more to face him,
"I used to talk to God all the time, Andrew. I prayed for so long that He would give me one friend…just one friend who would accept me the way I am. But it never happened, so I quit asking," Her eyes filled with sorrow, she turned away once more and quietly left the kitchen.

As the teenager left the kitchen and Andrew heard her footsteps go up the stairs to her bedroom, the young blonde angel continued to sit alone at the kitchen table. Sighing sadly, he ran his fingers through his hair as he recalled the conversation he had just had with Angelica and it tore at his heart as he remembered her words.

His thoughts were jumbled up that he didn't even realize he was no longer alone in the kitchen until he heard her familiar, gentle voice next to him,
"Andrew?"

Smiling slightly, he looked over at his best friend and said softly,
"Hey, Angel Girl."

Taking the seat that Angel had abandoned, Monica instinctively reached for his hand, taking it in both of hers, as she waited quietly for him to tell her what was on his mind.

"I just had a little talk with Angelica," He finally spoke up, his voice quiet,
"I definitely see where you were coming from last night…" Softly, he explained their conversation to her, concluding with,
"So, yeah, I do think she is the reason we're here. She puts on a good front, but she is pretty unhappy young lady."

Though tears shone in her eyes, Monica leaned forward and kissed his cheek,
"It was sweet of you to offer to take her to the dance, Andrew."

Sighing deeply, the older angel shrugged his shoulders as he looked at his best friend,
"But she refused. She told me that she didn't want to go to the dance, but I could see somewhere in her...that she really wanted to go with her brother and sister. I wish there was something we could do to try and help her..."

Leaning forward and resting her auburn head against his shoulder and wrapping an arm around him, Monica looked up into his eyes and whispered,
"We'll just keep trying, my friend. Maybe by the time the dance rolls around, she'll decide she wants you take her; stranger things have happened."

Letting out a small chuckle, Andrew gave her head a gentle kiss before replying,
"I don't know, sweetie, but I guess we'll see, won't we?"

"I just wish I could shake this feeling that her going to the dance is the least of our worries," She sighed softly, wishing that there were something they could do to find the young girl the friend she had been praying for,
"I know I say this a lot, but I look at us and how easy my friendship with you is…well, most of the time," She winked playfully at him,
"If I could have one wish, it would be that everyone could have just one friend like you, Andrew. You're just such a blessing to me."

Hearing a clamor coming from the front door, Andrew smiled and kissed her forehead once more,
"Ditto, sweetheart," He whispered, just as Cindy came through the door with Kevin, whose arms were laden with grocery bags.

"I think we bought out the store," Cindy remarked, raising an eyebrow in Kevin's direction.

"Let me guess, Kev decided to buy mostly junk food," Andrew joked half-heartedly, giving his best friend's hand a gentle squeeze before rising to his feet and helping with the groceries,
"I think it'd be a miracle in itself if he bought any fruit..."

"As a matter of fact, I forced him to allow me to buy some fruits and veggies," Cindy winked over at her angelic friend as they set the bags on the counter top,
"But I think I've almost run out of checks in my check book, as your charge has one huge appetite, Andrew..."

"Don't we know it," Andrew chuckled, ribbing Kevin in the side as the youngest angel stuck his tongue out at him.

"So, are the kids home yet?" Cindy changed the subject as she leaned up against the counter, folding her arms across her chest.

"Angel is," Andrew replied lightly, as he and Monica began to unpack the grocery bags,
"She is working on homework. Paddy walked his girlfriend home and Wendy stopped by her friend, Alicia's house."

"I'm impressed, Andrew," Cindy grinned as she winked at him,
"Sure you don't want to give up the angel business to be a parent? You have the third degree down perfectly."

"I think I'll leave the parenting to you and Brady," Andrew chuckled, as he pulled out of one bag, cookies, a pie, brownie mix, and ice cream. Raising an eyebrow at Kevin, he sighed,
"I guess I should be thankful that Dr. Sullivan shopped with you. I know there must be some fruit here somewhere."

"Talk to your Angel Girl," Cindy replied with a laugh,
"After a heated argument with Kevin in the junk aisle, she stormed off to get food 'for the normal people and angels' as she put it."

Nodding his head in his Irish friend's direction, Andrew wrapped an arm around her shoulders and winked at her,
"Good for you, Angel baby!"

"Hey, I'm gonna need something to chew on while we're here!" Kevin stated defensively, snatching the carton of ice cream from his supervisor's hands and pulling the lid off. After grabbing a large spoon from the utensil drawer, the angel dug into it,
"And I've gotta start somewhere."

"Kev, isn't there already ice cream in the freezer?" Andrew questioned, staring into the youngest angel's face and frowning,
"And where is that fruit?" Sticking his head into one of the bags, he started digging through it.

"I think our bagger must've stuck it in the very bottom," Cindy shook her head in amusement.

"I've got it," Monica stated as she pulled apples, oranges, bananas and pineapple from the bag she was working on and laid them on the counter. Turning to Kevin, she pointed a finger at him,
"And I'd better not catch you anywhere near the fruit, Wonder Boy. You got that?"

"Oh trust me, not even an issue, Cupcake," He grinned, sticking his tongue out at her, before a thought seized him,
"Cupcakes? I bought cupcakes! Where are they?" He cheered happily as Cindy handed him the package with a roll of her eyes.

"All right, you lot, I need to get dinner started, so clear out," Cindy instructed with a smile, giggling at Andrew's serious "Yes ma'am" as he headed out of the kitchen.

"I'll help," Monica offered, moving to take what Cindy had earlier mentioned cooking tonight from the refrigerator. Catching her best friend's eye as she shut the door, she saw the gentle warning in his eyes and she shook her head slightly. No, she would not repeat to Cindy the things Angelica had said and betray the young girl's trust, no matter how much she wished Cindy and Brady knew the truth.

The next day after the bell rang for lunch, Angelica took her time putting all of her books and belongings away into her backpack and following the rest of the crowd to the cafeteria. Lowering her head until her long blonde hair fell into her eyes, the shy teenager skimmed over the test she had just gotten back and wasn't even able to crack a smile at the A+ written in red ink at the top; usually, she would have been happy, but now...now, she just couldn't find the strength to smile about the good grade.

"Angelica? Are you going to lunch, or are you going to sit here and examine the desk while everyone else is down there?" Her new teacher teased gently as he rose from his seat at the front of the classroom and headed over to her.

Angel felt her face flame red at his words as she looked up at him. Just the fact that he was so cute made her feel unbearably shy and at a loss for words,
"N..No.." She stammered, trying to summon up her courage,
"I actually wanted to talk to you about something, Mr. Keyser…"

Raising his eyebrows curiously, he took a seat in the desk across from her,
"Of course, Miss. Sullivan. What is on your mind?"

She swallowed hard, trying to draw her eyes away from those brown eyes of his,
"Well, it's the Algebra…I'm afraid I don't quite understand it already and I don't want to get behind in class…"

Moving his chair so that it was closer to Angel's desk, George Keyser gave her a gentle smile and nodded his head towards her backpack,
"Well, let's get out your math book and see what we can do here, shall we? You did a great job on the last test, though; I'm sure that you will be able to figure out this Algebra. Once you get the hang of it, it's easy as pie, Angelica."

Her head still lowered, the young girl avoided his eyes as she pulled her book out of her backpack once again and opened it up,
"I've been paying attention in class; I really have, but...it's just so confusing to me."

"Now did I say that you weren't paying attention, Miss Sullivan?" He gave her a wink before shaking his head,
"You're one of the most dedicated students, and almost everyone is confused with Algebra when they first start."

Forcing herself to look up and look into his brown eyes, Angel gave a small smile and nodded her head,
"I guess so."

For the next ten minutes, Angel listened as her teacher went over several of the problems and how he had arrived at the answers, and though she felt a little bit better, she still did not feel confident in her abilities to tackle them on her own.

Sensing her confusion, the teacher leaned back in his chair and smiled at her,
"I sense that you are still feeling a little inadequate with this. I'll tell you what; how about you meet me here after school for the next week or so and we'll go over any questions or issues you have until you are feeling more comfortable."

Angel's blue eyes lit up and she nodded her head eagerly,
"That would be wonderful, if you're sure it's okay."

"Absolutely. That is what I'm here for, though I'm afraid you missed lunch today…"

"It's okay," Angel chirped, as she gathered up her books. The one thing she did know was that for the first time since she could remember, she had not spent the lunch half hour alone and that in itself felt good.

"I'll just grab a soda from the pop machine in the hall, and a small snack before next class," She continued to smile as she rose to her feet and looked at her teacher,
"Thanks for helping me, Mr. Keyser; I'll meet you after the last bell, is that okay?"

Nodding his head, the teacher gently patted her on the back as he ushered her out the door,
"Gotcha. Have a good rest of the day, and don't worry about anything."

Smiling in return, Angel hurried out the door and blended into the crowd coming back from the cafeteria and hurried towards her next class.

Chapter 3

Monica sighed as she flopped down onto the porch swing that afternoon after gently being scolded by her best friend for being so restless and not being able to sit still. The two had been in the living room with Kevin, and the Irish angel was just feeling so frustrated at this waiting game they were playing, that she had squirmed and paced, until Andrew had finally laughingly told her that maybe she needed to take a walk, so she had headed to the porch.

She wasn't angry with him, as she knew she had been restless, and with Andrew trying to read and Kevin glued to the television, she had been more than distracting to them both. She just felt as if she was waiting for a bomb to explode and it was making her crazy and unable to relax.

Looking up, she saw Angelica coming up the walk, a smile…an almost dreamy smile on her face and the angel raised her eyebrows in curiosity,
"How was school?" She greeted the young girl as Angel came up on the porch.

"It was a great day today, Monica!" The teenager chirped, coming over to the Irish angel and falling onto the porch swing next to her, the smile never leaving her face,
"I can't ever remembering coming home from school and feeling this good!"

"Well, don't just sit there and tell me how good it was," Monica chuckled,
"What happened that made it go so well?"

Angelica grinned as she sat down on the porch swing next to her friend,
"I guess it was really no big deal. I have a new math teacher and we talked a little bit today. He told me I was a dedicated student and he helped me with some of the problems I've been having in his class during my lunch time."

Monica smiled coyly as she watched the young teenager,
"This teacher wouldn't happen to be a wee bit on the cute side now, would he?"

Angel blushed deeply as she giggled,
"Maybe just a little, but he is my teacher. It was just pretty cool to not have to sit by myself at lunch today."

Resting a gentle hand on the teenager's shoulder and squeezing it, Monica pushed aside her feelings of concern for Angelica's sake and replied with a smile,
"That's awesome, sweetheart. So do you understand some of that Algebra more now?"

Shrugging her shoulders, Angelica continued to smile happily as she leaned back on the porch swing,
"I'm still a bit confused about it, but he did offer to help me every day after school; and I think soon I'll be able to figure that stuff out."

"He seems like a nice teacher you've got there," The Irish angel carefully spoke,
"Taking time out of his own work to help you out with math..."

"I just think he really cares about his students and if they don't understand something, he wants to help them to understand," Angelica replied, hopping up from the swing,
"Well, I'd best get busy with my homework. I want to spend some extra time on Algebra this evening." Grinning, the young girl went in the door, closing it behind her and leaving the Irish angel alone once more.

She struggled to keep her worries at bay for the young girl. After all, Angel was not the first teenager to have a crush on a teacher, but what she was worried about was Angel using this tutoring time as a substitute for making real friends her own age,
"Oh Father," She whispered wearily,
"Keep her safe."

"Well, looks like somebody's happy!" Kevin commented as they watched Angelica skip through the living room after a quick round of "Hello's" and towards the stairs. A smile a mile wide was on the girl's lovely face, and the two angels who were in the living room exchanged surprised looks as she disappeared from sight,
"I haven't seen Angelica smile in...how long, Simba?"

Putting down the book he was trying to read and glancing over at his youngest charge, Andrew shook his head as he replied softly,
"It's been a while; school must've gone really well for her today."

"It went extremely well for her today," Monica spoke as she came inside the house, her eyes on her two friends,
"Maybe a little too well..."

"What's up with her, Cupcake?" Kevin asked, turning down the television at long last.

"Well, it seems her new math teacher is paying her a bit of the attention she craves. He helped her with her algebra today and has offered to continue helping her after school," Monica sighed softly as she sat down at the other end of the sofa,
"Though she didn't come right out and say it, I think she has a bit of a crush on him, not that that's a bad thing, but I think she is looking for anyone who will make her feel less lonely and less of an outcast and I hate to see her focus all her attention on a teacher," She sighed once more,
"But then again, maybe I'm over reacting."

"Angel Girl, when was the last time you thought you were 'over reacting', and you found out that you weren't?" Andrew gently pointed out, looking into his best friend's eyes and seeing the deep worry there.

Sighing, Monica lowered her eyes and answered quietly,
"Not often, I guess."

"I guess all we can do right now, you two, is to just keep an eye on Angel, and see how things go these next few days. And until we feel Cindy and Brady should get involved, we need to just stay quiet unless Angel decides to come right out and tell her parents about this," The oldest of the three explained carefully.

"But I hate all this waiting!" Monica lamented, her frustration getting the better of her, as unable to sit still once more, she rose to her feet,
"We've been waiting for days-."

"Cupcake, we haven't had any time to just relax in months. Take advantage of it, girl," Kevin grinned, leaning back in the recliner and popping the footrest to empathize his point.

"I'm tired of just sitting around doing nothing and just waiting for some bomb to fall on this house, Kevin!"

"Well, if a bomb is gonna fall, somebody let me know so I can grab the ice cream before we hit the deck," He chuckled, which seemed to further agitate the already agitated angel.

"Oh forget it, Kevin," She grumbled before storming into the kitchen. Grabbing the coffee pot, she filled it with water and poured it into the coffee maker, all the while trying to calm herself down, but this feeling of dread just wouldn't leave her.

"Angel Girl?" Andrew called softly to her as he followed her into the kitchen and laid a gentle hand on her slightly trembling shoulders,
"Are you all right, Mon'?"

Letting out a shaky sigh, the Irish angel turned the coffee pot on before turning around to face her best friend,
"Why is Kevin making light of this situation, Andrew? Doesn't he realize how concerned I am?"

"Hey, hey, you know how Kevin is, sweetie," The older angel soothed, taking her gently in his arms and running his fingers through her short hair,
"I'm sure he's just doing that to lighten the mood around here..."

"But I'm so concerned about Angel, Andrew," Monica softly whispered, wrapping her arms around her friend and sighing,
"And I feel like I have good reason to..."

"Yes, you do," Andrew replied softly,
"But we are being told to wait and to not do anything right now, so throwing a tantrum, regardless of how minor, is not going to change anything, Angel Girl."

"I know and I'm sorry," She sighed miserably,
"I just feel like I'm about to crawl out of my skin. I can't deal with television and I'm not a bookworm like you are, and I feel like I sit and watch the clock till the kids get home or until I can help Cindy with dinner. I hate it, Andrew, I positively hate it!"

Sighing himself, Andrew rested his cheek against the crown of her head as he contemplated over all she had told him,
"I know you hate it, little one. I'm not too thrilled about it myself."

Silence filled the kitchen as the two angels continued to hold onto one another, but the sound of the kitchen door opening broke it and Kevin's voice sounded from across the room,
"Cupcake?"

Lifting her head off of her best friend's shoulder, Monica looked over at the younger angel and wiped at a tear in her eye, waiting for him to continue,
"Monica, I'm sorry about earlier...I shouldn't have made light of this situation." Sighing softly, Kevin shrugged his shoulders and gave her a tiny grin,
"Are we okay?"

"Yeah, Kev, we're okay," Monica sighed softly,
"I'm just wrapped a little too tightly these days is all. I didn't mean to blow up at you…I probably am over reacting a little to all of this," She looked back at Andrew and saw a peculiar look cross his handsome face,
"Andrew?"

"Kevin, you've just been assigned to the triplets school," He stated, unsure as to how this bit of information was going to go over, but he had a feeling "lead balloon" was a reasonable description.

"Kevin?" Monica repeated unbelievingly.

"Me?" The youngest angel pointed to his chest, his brown eyes growing wide as he saw Andrew nod his head slowly,
"Andrew, why am I assigned to their school? Did the Father just tell you this?"

"He...He just told me that you're gonna be a substitute gym teacher for the next few weeks," The angel frowned as he lifted his green eyes to the ceiling as if waiting for more information,
"I don't know why, though...that's all He's telling me; that, and you start tomorrow morning."

"Why Kevin?" Monica countered, her dark eyes distressed. She had been waiting for days for something to do and now that they were finally being given something, it was going to Kevin, which still left her here doing absolutely nothing.

"Because the Father said Kevin, Monica," Andrew replied patiently, though he too had been hoping that they would all be given something to do.

"I'm sure I can handle it, Cupcake," Kevin replied, a bit tightly, even as his eyes flashed with hurt.

"No, that's not it-." She started to protest, realizing what Kevin thought.

"What then?" Kevin asked defensively,
"Just because I haven't been around this family as long as you or Andrew doesn't mean you can't trust me with the kids-."

"Kev, settle down," Andrew tried to interject, before the argument got out of control.

"I never said I couldn't-." Monica retorted, throwing her hands up in the air in frustration.

"Well, you certainly aren't happy about my being the one to be assigned at the school," He snapped at her.

"No! I'm not happy about it, okay?" She finally fumed, turning on her heel to go,
"That's what you wanted to hear, right? Well, there you have it!"

"Angel Girl, that's enough," Andrew firmly stated, gently grabbing her arm before she could leave the kitchen and turning her around to face him,
"That's enough." His voice was firmer as he said the last words and looked into her angry brown eyes,
"Monica, please, what is getting into you?"

"Are you taking Kevin's side, Andrew?" Monica lowered her voice a notch as she looked up at her best friend.

Green eyes widening in surprise, the older angel shook his head forcefully,
"I'm not taking ANYONE'S side here, Mon', and I think you know me better then that."

"She doesn't think I can handle it," Kevin remarked, shaking his head,
"That's it, isn't it?"

Her cheeks flaming red from Andrew's reprimand, which any time he had to do that with her it made her feel about 2 inches tall, she tried to find words, despite the fact that she felt trapped,
"You're putting words in my mouth, Kevin and that isn't fair…" She remarked quietly.

"I don't have to put them in your mouth, it's written all over your face," He countered, his hurt fueling his temper.

"Kevin, enough," Andrew stated sternly once again, wondering what on earth had gotten into his two generally good-natured charges.

"But Andrew-"

"Kevin, I said 'enough'!" The older angel shot him a Look that matched Tess', and Kevin snapped his mouth shut almost immediately upon seeing the look,
"Look, you two aren't getting anywhere with this bickering, are you?" Seeing the youngest angel shake his head, and Monica lowering hers to the ground,
"Then you two are going to have to agree that this isn't going to please anybody, and that it's the Father's will that it be Kevin helping out at the school. Now, I don't understand myself of why all this is happening, but we've got to put our trust in Him that He knows what He's doing." Turning to his best friend and giving her a serious look, he continued,
"Are we clear on that, Angel Girl?"

"Crystal, thank you," She mumbled, fighting back tears, as she turned to go,
"Excuse me…"

Andrew sighed and ran a hand through his blond locks, as his best friend left the kitchen,
"Why is it you two can bicker as well as you normally get along?"

"She obviously doesn't trust me with this, Simba-," Kevin began, though he looked just as miserable.

"I don't think it has anything to do with her faith in your angelic abilities, Kevin and deep down inside, you know that isn't the truth as well," Andrew replied, resting a hand on his shoulder.

"Well, what is it then?" Kevin asked, knowing his supervisor was right but still not understanding.

"She's right in the aspect that we have all been sitting around the last few days waiting to see what is going to happen and it's getting to all of us, Kevin. We all want to help Angel and we are all waiting to find out what our involvement is going to entail. She's been watching the clock, waiting to be asked to do something, and I'm sure she is disappointed that the first piece of this assignment has gone to you. Not because she doesn't think you can handle it, but just because she is so anxious to do something," Andrew looked into the younger angel's eyes to see if he was getting through.

"But Cupcake can be so sensitive, and why does she have to yell when she gets upset?" Kevin shrugged his shoulders helplessly as he looked up at his older friend and supervisor.

Sighing softly, Andrew made his way over to the kitchen table and took a seat, the youngest angel soon following,
"That's just how she is, Kev; if you were in her situation, wouldn't you probably raise your voice like that as well?"

"Yeah, probably..." The angel mumbled after a few short moments.

"But don't worry, Kevin; I'm going to have another talk with her later this evening after she calms down somewhat, and I think you should do the same." He was silent for a few seconds before finishing,
"I don't want us to make the same mistake we did five years ago the night of my surprise party..."

Kevin's eyes widened, as he shook his head,
"No way, Simba. No way is that ever going to happen again. I know that she and I butt heads sometimes, but it is only sometimes. I shouldn't have jumped on her a few minutes ago, as she has been high strung all day today," He sighed and then looked up at his supervisor and grinned,
"We're lucky or rather blessed with two things, Simba. One is that we don't argue like this too often and two is that we have a pretty great supervisor to sort it all out with."

Smiling wearily, Andrew looked at his charge thankfully,
"I needed to hear that right about now, Kev. Thanks."

"It'll be fine, Simba," Kevin replied optimistically, laying a hand on his friend's shoulder,
"You already straightened me out and if I know Cupcake at all, she is more upset by the fact that you had to chew her out a little…she hates that. We both do, but we both need it sometimes." Getting up, the younger angel pulled a pie out of the refrigerator and grabbed two forks before setting it down on the table.

"Kev, you know I don't eat junk-." Andrew started to protest.

"Guaranteed to make you feel better. C'mon, one bite," He grinned as Andrew gave in and took a forkful.

"Okay, it's good," He relented with a chuckle.

Making an imaginary point in the air, Kevin chuckled, despite the fact that Andrew was shaking his head and laughing,
"One angel down, one to go. Before long, you will both be under my sugar spell, and I'm just counting the days."

Chapter 4

Andrew sighed heavily as he made his way upstairs after dinner that night. Monica had told Wendy she wasn't hungry, which had left he and Kevin struggling to answer questions at dinnertime as to what was wrong. They had finally left it with the fact that Kevin and Monica had a disagreement earlier, though they had gone into no details about what it was about.

Knocking softly on her bedroom door, he asked quietly,
"Angel Girl? Can I come in?"

Hearing a muffled,
"The doors open…" He pushed the door open and entered the room to find her lying on her bed, her back to him as she clutched a pillow close to her body. Sighing softly once again, he sat down on the edge of her bed,
"I think we need to talk, Mon'."

"I was wondering when you would come up here," She mumbled softly, resting her cheek against her pillow as she closed her dark eyes,
"I'm sorry I didn't come down to dinner, but I can't face Kevin right now..."

"You're going to have to soon, sweetie; you know that," Andrew gently told her, wishing she would turn around to look at him. Laying a compassionate hand on her slouched shoulders, the older of the two squeezed it before continuing,
"But right now, I think the two of us need to have that talk first."

"Are you mad at me?" The quiet voice sounded from where her face was pressed into the pillow. Andrew's green eyes widened at her question and he urged gently.

"Angel Girl, turn around and look at me," He felt a sense of relief as she finally did so and he placed a hand under her chin so that their eyes met,
"Do I look like I'm 'mad' at you, Angel Girl?"

Tears immediately clouded her eyes, as she saw love and not anger in his green eyes,
"No," She whispered shakily,
"But you sure sounded it awhile ago and I was afraid that…"

"Sweetheart, you should know better by now," He scolded gently, knowing she was remembering the last time she and Kevin had gotten into a heated argument,
"I'm not about to repeat that mistake again, Monica. Not now and not ever. But I did need for the two of you to stop the bickering as it wasn't going anywhere, though truth be told, it is the one aspect of my job I dislike."

"So…we're okay?" Monica whispered, her voice still trembling with emotion.

His hand brushing through her bangs, he replied softly,
"Of course, we're okay…more than okay."

Sitting up, she wrapped her arms tightly around him, burying her face in the nape of his neck as relief flowed through her,
"I'm sorry." She whispered tearfully.

"I know you are, baby girl, and all is forgiven, so you have nothing to worry about," He soothed as he ran his fingers lovingly through her shoulder length hair,
"And Kevin isn't mad at you either, I had my own talk with him earlier and he understands where the frustration was coming from. Don't keep beating yourself over the head about this, Mon', please; you do have every right to be upset..."

"But I need to watch where I put that frustration," She finished for him as she tightened her arms around his neck,
"I know...but it's so, so hard sometimes."

"I know it is, especially where this family is concerned, but Kevin needs to know that you have confidence in his abilities on this, Angel Girl. I'm sure he is feeling a little intimidated by being the one the Father chose to put to work first, since you and I have been a part of this family for so much longer."

"I hadn't thought of it that way," She whispered sadly,
"I didn't mean to hurt his feelings and I wasn't even questioning his abilities. Kevin is a wonderful caseworker…I was more upset over why the Father chose him over me, I think, when I want to help Angel so badly. Kevin read me the wrong way I think to the point that I just got angry."

"Sweetheart, I think you should tell all of this to another angel downstairs," Andrew whispered into her ear, giving her back a rub before gently pulling away and looking into her saddened eyes,
"Do you think you can do that, Monica?"

Sucking in a sharp breath, the Irish angel closed her brown eyes before forcing herself to nod her head,
"Yes."

Smiling softly, the older angel embraced her tightly to him again as he said into her hair,
"That's my girl. I'm proud of you, little one."

Still looking more than slightly troubled, Monica pulled away from her best friend and got up off the bed,
"I'm going to go and talk to Kevin," She said quietly.

Concern in his green eyes, he stood up and laid a hand on her shoulder,
"Angel Girl?"

She was quiet for a moment, before she spoke up once more
"I've just got this terrible feeling…this sense of foreboding, that something is going to go terribly wrong. So much so, it keeps me awake at night, but until I'm told otherwise, there is absolutely nothing I can do about it," Gently pulling away from him, she headed downstairs to find Kevin.

Sighing deeply, the blonde angel sunk down onto Monica's bed and put his chin in his hand, contemplating over the last words his best friend had said to him and he was unable to stop his own fear from making its way into his gentle heart. Lifting his green eyes up to the ceiling, he whispered miserably to the Father,
"Please keep Angelica safe, Father...please, keep all of them safe..."

"Kevin?" Monica said softly, as she walked outside into the cool fall air and found her friend and co-worker sitting at the patio table.

Kevin looked up, a little surprised to see her after she had avoided dinner. Unsure of what to say, he just met his eyes with hers until he could feel out her mood.

"Listen, I'm sorry about earlier. It just took me by surprise is all and I never meant for you to think that I didn't think you could handle it. I was trying to tell you that, but you wouldn't let me finish, which wasn't really your fault, as I knew what you were thinking," Sighing softly, she sat down in the chair next to him,
"I was just disappointed in not being the one called upon to help at this time. I know you'll do a wonderful job, as you always do."

Waving his hand in the air, the youngest angel blushed slightly before smiling slightly in Monica's direction,
"Don't sweat it, kiddo. I understand where your frustration came from, and I accept your apology."

Sighing in relief, the Irish angel reached over and laid a hand over her younger friend's,
"Thank you. I'm relieved I don't have to worry at least about you and Andrew being mad at me..."

"Cupcake, that kind of thing will never happen again," Kevin assured her, his brown eyes serious,
"Andrew's already told me as much. But I can see that you're still worried..."

"I really don't want to get into detail, Kev...but yes, I am worried," She lowered her eyes sadly to the tabletop as she released Kevin's hand.

Kevin watched her closely for a moment before he asked her gently,
"What's going on, Cupcake?" Hearing the sliding glass door open, he looked up to see Andrew joining them,
"Hey Simba." He greeted him softly.

"Everything okay out here?" Andrew asked lightly as he sat down with them. He hoped he had left them alone long enough to work things out, but after Monica's last remark to him, he had been anxious to join them.

"Pretty much," Kevin replied, with a small smile,
"We've decided against killing each other if that is what you want to know."

Grinning slightly, the older angel took a seat on the opposite side of the table from his two friends and folded his hands together, thinking over what else to say,
"Well that's a plus, Kev, but I didn't think you'd 'kill each other', or else Someone would have told me." He gave each of his friends a wink, attempting to lighten the mood and smiled slightly as he saw Monica attempt a weak grin at his words.

"Nah, I think the only reason I would ever kill Kev is if he ever tries to steal shotgun of your car again," The Irish angel met her best friend's eyes as she felt him grasp her hand in his own,
"But I think he knows better then that."

"Yeah, I've learned my lesson with that one," He replied rolling his eyes, before he turned serious once more,
"I was just asking Cupcake what was on her mind, even though she really doesn't want to talk about it, but maybe it would help me out tomorrow if I knew what you were thinking."

The little Irish angel sighed as she drew an imaginary circle on the table with her finger,
"It's not that I KNOW anything, Kevin, it's just a feeling…"

"Well, I know you both well enough by now to know that if either of you have 'feelings' about an assignment, they are worth listening to," Kevin replied solemnly.

Feeling both sets of eyes upon her, even though she knew Andrew had been feeling a bit unsettled as well, she kept her eyes lowered as she spoke softly,
"Like I said, it's just a feeling…a sense of panic almost that wells up inside of me to where I feel like I have to remind myself to breath. I'm fairly sure that my part in this assignment hasn't even happened yet and that when it does…it's going to be horrible…not just for me, but for all of us…" She swallowed hard as she blinked back tears,
"I'm also starting to wonder if the reason the Father chose you first, Kevin, is because…because you wouldn't break the rules and try to interfere."

"Interfere?" Kevin repeated, his eyebrow arching as he glanced over at Andrew and seeing the sad look evident in his green eyes,
"Interfere with what, Monica?"

"I really don't know if what I'm feeling is true, though, but...I have a good feeling that it is," Drawing in a shaky breath, she met her best friend's eyes from across the table as she continued,
"And I also feel that the...thing that happened to me years ago on that ship, may be repeated on someone else..."

Seeing how shaken up his dearest friend was, Andrew quickly rose to his feet and made his way to Monica's other side and took a seat next to her. Reaching over and gently rubbing her back as if urging her to continue, the supervisor met Kevin's eyes briefly as the Irish angel continued shakily,
"And that may be the reason Kevin was assigned this part of the assignment; I'm known to interfere when I was in Special Forces, and even before that, and...and if anything like this happens to someone we love, then I wouldn't be able to NOT interfere..."

There was silence for a moment before Andrew spoke up gently,
"I haven't been given any information on this assignment other than what Kevin's role is, Monica. So, why would you even think that something like that could happen…"

"I don't know," She whispered shakily, wiping at her eyes with one hand,
"Ever since we got here, I've been having bad dreams about that time. I haven't had them for years, Andrew-I haven't even thought about it and I've even forgiven Philip, but all of a sudden, the nightmares are here again. Maybe…maybe I've just got myself so worked up over why we are here, that I'm thinking the worst. I hope with all my heart that's what it is and nothing more and that maybe something else entirely has triggered these dreams…"

Andrew was silent for a few moments and finally, he just shook his head and reached out to hold his best friend to him once again, hoping that this time she wouldn't push him away,
"I hope so too, Angel Girl. I'm already praying that it's anything but that..."

"I'm so scared for Angelica, Andrew," The Irish angel whispered into his chest as she wrapped her arms around him,
"I keep thinking these 'what if's' and all that...especially now that she's become so friendly with her math teacher..."

"Cupcake, if I find anything while there at that school, you two will be the first to know," Kevin tried to reassure her, meeting Andrew's eyes over Monica's head and seeing the few tears starting up in them,
"There won't be anything I'll keep from you, I promise."

"We'd appreciate that, Kev," Andrew replied, trying to think of what else to say to reassure his best friend, who was trembling slightly,
"We may even be barking up the wrong tree here. All along we've assumed it is Angel, but Paddy is pretty serious with this girl too. Maybe he is the reason we're here," Seeing Kevin nod his head thoughtfully, he sighed,
"Angel Girl, why didn't you tell me about these dreams before? You had mentioned you hadn't been sleeping well, but I had no idea…"

"I didn't want to worry you. This assignment has been stressful enough with not knowing what is going to happen and the having to wait. I didn't want you knowing that this was suddenly happening again for maybe no reason," She pulled away as she attempted to pull herself together,
"But don't worry, okay? I'm fine, just worried…"

Although concern was still etched on his handsome face, Andrew nodded his head as his best friend rose to her feet, preparing to head back inside the house,
"I'm heading to bed now; I think a good night's sleep will do me some good, and hopefully I'll feel a wee bit better in the morning." Leaning down, she tousled Kevin's brown hair and gently kissed the top of Andrew's head,
"Good night." And with that, the little Irish angel quickly headed back inside of the Sullivan house, closing the patio door behind her.

Chapter 5

Kevin sighed as he watched Patrick speaking quietly with his girlfriend, Amy, during 1st period gym class when they were supposed to be playing basketball. He had woken up at dawn that morning to find Monica already awake and in the kitchen, fixing he and the triplets breakfast. He had known instantly that she hadn't slept well, but hadn't said anything and together the two angels had explained to the three teenagers that Kevin would be assigned to their school for a while. Though the triplets had questions as to why, he and Monica had honestly answered that at this point, they just didn't know and that seemed to satisfy them. Wendy had actually been excited about an angel working at her school, which had help Angel and Paddy to accept it as no big deal as well.

Now, he was starting to wonder if maybe Andrew had been right about Paddy being the real reason they were here. Every time the young angel turned around, he had to break up he and Amy in order for them to focus on their class. Now once again, they stood together, talking and grinning and Kevin was beginning to wonder just how serious this was. He knew the twosome were going to the dance together this weekend, but that they would be chaperoned, so he was trying not to worry.

"Patrick, Amy?" He called out, giving them his best stern look, which was a stretch,
"The game, you two. You can socialize at lunch."

A deep blush rose to Amy's pretty face as she gently pulled away from Paddy,
"Sorry, Mr. uh..."

"You can just call me 'Kevin'," The young angel quickly replied, glancing over Amy's head at Patrick and seeing him hold back a laugh,
"No need to be formal. Let's just get back down to business, shall we?"

As the teenager nodded her head and headed back over to where her team was, Kevin shook his head as he laid a hand on the remaining human's shoulder,
"That goes for you too, buddy."

"Kevin, since when did you get so bossy?" He demanded, narrowing his eyes at the angel,
"All period you've been like this..."

"Patrick, this is what I'm assigned to do and right now, I'm assigned as your teacher," Kevin said as softly as possible, although he was a little taken aback by his friend's tone with him.

"Yeah, well, I thought you were my friend first," Paddy grumbled, before he turned and walked away to join his team.

Kevin sighed heavily, now knowing that this was going to be harder than he thought, at least with Patrick and he hoped he wouldn't have the same issues with Wendy or Angelica. He still couldn't help but to wonder if though if Paddy were really the problem. For 14 years old, this relationship with Amy seemed to be pretty serious and the young, human female was beautiful. He was sure that Brady and Cindy had already had the "birds and the bees" talk with their three children, especially with them both being doctors, but he also knew that teenage hormones could run wild and he just hoped this wasn't the case.

Kevin couldn't help but to breath a sigh of relief when the bell rang, and Patrick without so much as a glance at him, left the gym. Luckily, he wouldn't have the two Sullivan girls until after lunch, so he decided to go and pay an "angelic" visit to Wendy's second period class and then hopefully stop in on Angel's math class. His presence would not be sensed by either girl and this way, he could maybe get a better feeling of if there was anything to fear where the two of them were concerned.

As he entered Wendy's history class unseen, he smiled slightly as he saw the young girl take a seat next to her group of friends and immediately, they began chattering away even as the bell rang for class to begin. Leaning up against the wall, his angelic brown eyes focused on Wendy the entire hour, Kevin was soon startled as the bell rang at the end of the hour and he turned in time to see Wendy dart past him as fast as she could, her group of friends right behind her.

His thoughts focusing on whether or not the teenager had even paid attention to the history lesson for the day, Kevin shook his head and soon turned his attention on heading to the math room where Angelica was. Sucking in a deep breath, the youngest angel slowly entered the room and the first person his eyes laid on was the teacher standing in front of the chalk board, writing Algebra problems for a quiz. Tilting his head to the side, Kevin remembered what Monica had told him and Andrew the other day about Angel supposedly liking this man.

'He looks like he's at least 35 years old,' He thought in surprise, his eyes now turning to see Angelica sitting down in her chair. Her baby blue eyes were focused on the teacher in the front of the room, and the angel didn't miss the smile that spread across her pretty face as she watched his every move.

'Okay,' Kevin thought to himself,
'So she has a crush on a teacher. So do probably half the girls in this school.' It wasn't like it was abnormal, as even in his time as a Caseworker, he had seen this before. Usually it encouraged the student to do well in the class in order to get praise from the person of their affections. No, with what he had seen today, his concerns lied more with Patrick then with either of the girls.

As the bell rang to signify the end of class, he watched as all of the students with the exception of Angelica raced out of the room on their way to lunch. Shyly, she approached the teacher's desk, a slight smile on her pretty face.

"Mr. Keyser? Are we still on for after school today for you to help me with this stuff?" She asked softly and Kevin didn't miss the hope that was in her blue eyes.

Mr. Keyser turned around and smiled at the young student,
"Absolutely, Miss Sullivan. I'll see you as soon as your last class is over."

Kevin watched as Angel tried to contain her excitement as she clutched her books closely to her chest,
"Then I'll see you after school," She responded, before slipping out of the classroom, the teacher's eyes following her as she left, a thoughtful expression on his face.

An expression that for some reason made Kevin anything but comfortable.

"How did everything go today, Kev?" Andrew questioned later that afternoon as he entered his youngest charge's room, seeing Kevin sitting on his bed with a thick book in his hands although he didn't appear to be concentrating on it. From the expression on the angel's face, Andrew could plainly see the answer, but he wanted to hear it from his friend first.

Setting his book down on the nightstand, Kevin looked over at his supervisor and shrugged his shoulders,
"Let's just say that I'm more confused then ever, Simba."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, at first I thought I was there for Paddy, as things aren't going too well between us at the moment...he and his girlfriend, Amy, were socializing way too much during gym class when they were supposed to be playing basketball. To put it mildly, Paddy wasn't too happy with me for breaking them apart," With a soft sigh, he continued,
"But then, while I had no classes to attend to, I decided to check up upon Wendy and Angel, to see if maybe either of them were the reason I was sent to that school." Seeing that Andrew was silent, as if he was waiting for him to continue, Kevin did just that,

"Let's just say that it's obvious that Angelica has a crush on that teacher, Mr. Keyser from what she called him. And the looks he was giving her...Simba, they didn't settle well with my stomach as it was obvious he sorta likes her too."

Andrew swallowed hard, trying to take this news in himself, and not even wanting to think about sharing it with his best friend,
"So, we're possibly looking at either Angelica or Patrick…"

"Or both," Kevin shrugged, shaking his head,
"But c'mon, Mr. Keyser is a teacher, even if..if he likes her, he isn't going to jeopardize his position by trying anything and Angel is a smart girl and she knows what is appropriate and what isn't, right?"

"Well, lets hope so, Kevin," Andrew said with a sigh,
"I do however think that once Paddy cools off, you need to try and have a little chat with him and maybe feel out if he has any intentions with this girl that are not appropriate for a boy of his age."

"After today, he's probably not gonna want to talk to me at all, Andrew," Kevin replied somewhat sadly,
"He was pretty angry, asking when I got so bossy just because I was his teacher..."

Sighing softly, Andrew took a seat on the chair next to the bed and leaned back in it,
"But you're also his friend; he's closer to you then Monica or myself, so I'm sure that once he calms down some, he'll talk with you. Just give it a try, Kev. What can it hurt?"

Shrugging, the youngest angel attempted a smile his friend's way,
"Nothing I guess."

There was silence between them for a moment, before Kevin spoke up once more,
"What about Angelica?"

"I don't know yet," Andrew replied honestly,
"Though I may try to have Mon' talk to her later and maybe get an idea of if this is just an innocent teenage crush or not."

"Where is Cupcake, by the way?" He asked, realizing he hadn't seen her since he had been home.

"I'm not even sure at the moment," Andrew replied with a sigh,
"She's been a little distant today and went out for a walk awhile ago. I don't think she has come back in yet."

Nodding his head thoughtfully, Kevin continued carefully,
"You know, I didn't really believe that there was anything to worry about with what she said last night…you know, about the nightmares and the feelings she was having, until I saw Angel's teacher watch her leave the classroom. He didn't have a look on his face of a teacher watching a student…it was something a lot sicker than that."

Andrew's green eyes widened in horror at his youngest charge's words, but before he could reply, another voice appeared in the doorway and both angels turned to see Monica standing there,
"What...kind of look was it?"

"Angel Girl, I didn't even hear you come in," Andrew whispered, his eyes wide with shock.

"Kevin, what kind of look was it?" The Irish angel repeated, taking a shaky step into the room and standing next to Andrew's chair with her eyes on Kevin,
"You have got to tell me, Kevin..."

Kevin lowered his head, knowing that Andrew would have preferred to tell her this in his own time and in his own way, but it was too late for that now,
"It was more like a man would watch a female walking away from him in a bar," He replied softly,
"There was a kind of…I don't know…desire in his eyes that didn't strike me as being very teacher-like…"

"But Angel is an intelligent young lady-," Andrew began in hopes of keeping things calm, but he was quickly cut off.

"What's his name?" Monica demanded, her dark eyes wild with fury,
"I want to know what to call him when I go in there after him tomorrow as I'm not feeling too angel-like at the moment-."

"You'll do no such thing-." Andrew stated firmly, even though his own heart was pounding loudly in his chest and he too, wouldn't mind giving this teacher a good talking to before he did something foolish.

"Andrew, she is 14 years old! She is far too young to be dealing with anything of this nature!" She snapped, her concern fueling her Irish temper,
"You can't just expect me to wait this out and see what happens!"

"No, Monica, that's why Kevin's here!" Andrew firmly replied back, rising to his feet and pointing at the youngest of the three,
"He's the one involved at the school, not you or me. And the Father does not want you to go to that teacher until He says so-"

"But what if he does something to her, because I didn't go down there?" Monica shouted in reply, feeling tears threatening her eyes and they rolled down her cheeks against her will,
"Andrew, this is Angelica we're talking about! I can't let anything happen to her-"

"She's got angels everywhere she looks, Mon', you know that," Andrew lowered his voice as he rested his hands on her violently trembling shoulders,
"But for now, your place isn't with Angelica's teacher. Your place is right here until He says so."

"But I CAN'T, Andrew!" The Irish angel sobbed, weakly pulling out of his grasp and looking from her best friend to Kevin,
"I can't just sit here..."

Although he wanted to give her a firm lecture of doing what the Father intended, Andrew felt his heart break at the tears in his dearest friend's eyes and her words to him, so instead of saying anything else, the older angel reached out and gathered Monica tightly into his arms and held her as she sobbed loud and hard,
"I know, Angel Girl," He whispered into her ear as he closed his green eyes,
"I know how you're feeling about this...I don't like it either..."

"I don't want her to have to go through that, Andrew…it's too hard…it was hard enough for me and she's only a kid…" She sobbed helplessly.

"I know, baby, I know," Andrew whispered, tears in his own eyes as he listened to her sobs that took him back in time to those months after Philip's assault. Was this really why they were here and why all of these old wounds were being reopened for the two of them again?

Kevin swallowed hard, blinking back tears, for though he knew the Philip story, he had missed most of the emotion surrounding it. He wished he could think of something wise or comforting to say, but he knew that anything would be inadequate at this point.

"Don't let me do anything stupid, Andrew," Monica wept, clutching him tightly,
"Because God knows…I want to…I want to tear him apart for even thinking…" Unable to continue, she buried her face deeper against his chest.

Tightening his arms around her small body, Andrew gently moved her over to the bed and as he continued to hold her, set her down and stroked her auburn hair lovingly even as his hands shook,
"I know you do, little one...but all of us have got to find the strength to not do that, no matter how tempting it may be..."

"I love those kids, Andy, and so help if he lays one hand on Angelica..." Fresh sobs tore through the little Irish angel as she clung to her best friend as tightly as her arms would allow,
"So help me God..."

"I know that you're strong, Angel Girl," Andrew whispered into her hair as he rocked her gently, his green eyes meeting Kevin's over Monica's head,
"And I know that you can be strong for all of those kids, no matter what."

"I know it too," Kevin offered softly, sitting down on the other side of her, as Andrew allowed her to cry it out against his shoulder.

"I'm sorry," Monica whispered a few minutes later as she struggled to pull herself together once more,
"I…thought all those old feelings were gone and suddenly they are back and I guess I'm angry about that as well as about everything that's happening."

Still holding her close as she was still trembling, Andrew nodded his head,
"It's perfectly understandable and where I can't help what is happening with this assignment, I'm so sorry this has all come back again, Mon', but I don't want you keeping it inside. You know I'm here for you though if you need to talk."

"So am I," Kevin added gently, reaching for her hand,
"And I'm doing all I can to see that these three kids stay out of trouble."

Managing a tearful smile, Monica squeezed his hand as she tightened her hold on her best friend as well,
"I know that, both of you, and I couldn't ask for more."

Chapter 6

As the week went on slowly, Kevin found himself getting more and more confused then ever. After he had spoken with his two friends earlier in the week, the youngest angel had attempted to talk to Paddy about what had happened during his class, but the teenage boy didn't seem to want to talk to him, no matter how much he seemed to have "cooled down". Although he knew it had been difficult to watch, Kevin was proud that Monica had not allowed herself to get close to Angelica's teacher, although it had taken some more talking to from Andrew to get her to calm down; but in the end, she eventually relented and knew that her best friend was right, although she hated to admit it.

With a sigh, Kevin stood, invisible once again in the back of Angel's math room, his brown eyes fixated on the students and George Keyser, and then towards the clock. Class was just about over, and then he knew that the students were going to head down to the cafeteria for lunch...everyone that is, except for Angelica. Ever since he had seen that sickening look the older man had given to the teenager, Kevin found his stomach churning every time he faced him. Frowning slightly, the angel listened as the bell rang and almost the entire class bounced from their chairs and raced towards the classroom doors...except for one. Taking a step closer to the young girl, Kevin folded his arms across his chest as his angelic eyes watched the teacher rise from his seat and head over to where Angel sat, packing up her books.

"So how are things going with this Algebra, Angel?" He asked softly, leaning against one of the desks.

Kevin's brown eyes widened in horror as he heard the teacher call his young human friend the nickname he and his co-workers, and Angelica's family, called her; from what he had seen the last week, he had always heard George Keyser call Angelica "Miss Sullivan",
'What's up with that?' He asked, his heart pounding loudly in his chest as he continued eyeing the two.

Angelica smiled up at him, her baby blue eyes filled with innocent adoration,
"Much better! I think I'm starting to get the hang of it."

He chuckled softly, moving to touch her cheek,

"I told you it would get easier. A few more lessons and you will be well on your way."

Kevin struggled to keep his cool as well as his presence a secret as he saw the teacher touch the young girl's face. That sick feeling had returned to his stomach as he prayed that Angel would pull away, but the young girl was so infatuated with this teacher she seemed to bask in the glow of his praise.

"Are we still on for after school today?" She asked shyly, as he returned his hand to his side.

"As long as you want to," The teacher replied with a wink her way and a grin on his older face,
"You can stay after as long as you want to, all right?"

Her blue eyes sparkling with excitement, Angel clutched her books to her chest and eagerly nodded her head, her blonde hair bobbing on her shoulders,
"Thank you so much, Mr. Keyser! I really appreciate this."

"Any time, Angel. Any time."

Kevin's face turned beet red in anger as he saw George Keyser reach his hand out again and touch the teenager's shoulder, squeezing it softly. It took everything in him to not go over there and give this man a piece of his mind, but he knew that he couldn't do that despite how much he wanted to.

Once again, Kevin watched the teacher's eyes follow Angelica until she had turned the corner at the end of the hall and the angel decided it was time he stuck around today for one of these tutoring sessions. He had popped in on them occasionally, but nothing had really been amiss, so he had left early a few times. But after the exchange today, he was feeling more uncomfortable than usual as the teacher seemed to have crossed a line into things becoming much more personal between the two of them.

What worried him the most was that Angelica did not seem to object.

Several hours later, Kevin felt almost sick to his stomach as he walked unseen, from the gym back into the Junior High school building to the math room. Closing his brown eyes and lifting up a silent prayer for Angelica, the youngest angel walked through the closed doors and stood beside the wall, his angelic eyes on the teacher who was at his desk, grading test papers.

All was silent for a few minutes before Kevin heard the classroom door open, and Angel walked through, a flush rising to her cheeks after a long hour of gym class, but she appeared excited about her tutoring session,
"Hello, Mr. Keyser."

The teacher smiled at her as he rose to his feet,
"You know, Angel, that is so formal for after hours. It's okay for you to call me George when it is just the two of us."

Angel blushed slightly,
"I've never called any of my teachers by their first names before…"

He smiled as he pulled out a chair for her at his desk,
"Well, we're not just teacher and student, Angel, are we? I kind of thought you and I were special. Actually," As she sat down, he reached out and ran his hand over her long blond hair,
"You are very special."

Feeling her cheeks redden from the blush, Angel let out a small chuckle as she gently moved away from his hand and looked down at her lap,
"I'm not as special as you may think...George..."

"Sweetheart, you have no idea just HOW special you are," George smiled her way as he moved his hand to her knee, which was covered by a long skirt,
"You're beautiful, modest, and a very good math student. But right now, I'd like to focus on more then just Algebra."

Her questioning blue eyes found his, unsure of what he was talking about,
"What do you mean?"

"Angel, I don't know how you feel about me, but I care about you…I care about you a lot." He began softly, his hypnotizing eyes holding her gaze.

"I care about you too," She whispered, thinking of how he was the one person who paid her any attention outside of her family and the angels.

"Well, when two people care about each other, there are ways for them to show it and I would like to show you, if you would allow me. I'd like to show you just how much I care about you. But it has to be our secret, Angel, because there are people who wouldn't understand."

"Why...why me?" Angel whispered as her teacher moved closer to her and wrapped an arm around her slightly trembling shoulders,
"Why do you choose me?"

"Because...there's something very special about you, Angelica; and you're the one I would like to show just how deeply my feelings for you run," He smiled slyly as he saw the slight doubt in her eyes,
"Nobody will ever know, that's my promise to you." He pointed his index finger to her chest and left it there, his dark eyes meeting hers. As his smile broadened, George Keyser moved his hand farther down her front,
"Please let me show you, Angel Sullivan."

Angel's heart raced as she felt his hand touch her in a place she had never been touched before and though frightened and unsure, it took her breath away. Something about it made her feel grown up and after years of being ignored, someone was finally paying attention to her. How could she turn that away?
"Okay," She whispered, not even sure of what she was agreeing to, only that he was making her feel things she had never felt before.

He smiled as he moved to softly kiss her lips, and though uncertain at first, it only took a moment for her lonely heart to respond.

With tears racing down his cheeks, Kevin turned away, all the while offering up prayers to the Father. He stayed but couldn't watch and twenty minutes later when he heard Angel cry out in pain, his cry of "No!" echoed through the room with hers.

Later that afternoon, Andrew raced towards his best friend's bed and gently gripped her shoulders as she tossed and turned, sobs tearing through her as her mind was invaded with obvious nightmares. While the older of the two was waiting for Kevin and the triplets to arrive home, the Irish angel had decided to take a short nap, but it didn't last long as Andrew entered the room and saw her thrashing around.

"Angel Girl? Monica, wake up," He softly urged, shaking her gently,
"C'mon, Mon', it was only a dream..."

The little Irish angel thrashed wildly, feeling hands on her shoulders as the dream still held her in its clutches,
"Let me go! Let me go, please!" She cried out, struggling to get away,
"Don't hurt me again…please!"

"Angel Girl, it's okay. Nobody is going to hurt you, sweetheart," He watched in agony as her eyes begin to open and he reached down and took her face firmly in his hands,
"It was a dream, baby girl. It isn't real…it was just a terrible dream."

Her tear-filled eyes darted around the room as she slowly came back from a cargo hold on board a ship and back to the present,
"Andrew?" She whimpered softly, her entire body shaking violently as she struggled to catch her breath.

"Yes, it's me, Angel Girl," He soothed gently, stroking her tangled hair and pulling her close to him, feeling the trembling of her arms as she wrapped them tightly around him,
"Nobody except for me is here, and you know I'm not going to harm you."

"Oh Andrew...why are those memories coming back now?" The Irish angel sobbed, pressing her face into his chest,
"It's not that I'm scared of Philip anymore...you know that I'm not...but...but..."

"But the memories won't go away, no matter how hard you try," He finished for her, running his fingers lovingly through her hair,
"I know. But I've got you now, sweetheart; Andrew's got you now, and I won't let anything happen to you."

"I just don't understand…I felt like I had come so far and now all of a sudden, I feel like I'm back at square one, but I've worked too hard to be back there…" Monica whispered, trying to force herself to calm down and put this behind her again,
"I'm not doing this again…I'm not!"

"Shhh," He whispered gently to her as he rocked her slowly,
"Listen to me, okay? For whatever reason, this has come up again, but the last thing you want to do is force it to go away. It will go away again, sweet girl, but hiding it is not the answer, okay? I know we are here on assignment, but I am also here for you and I will help you through this again, whatever it takes, all right?"

Nodding her head slowly against his chest, Monica drew in several breaths as she slowly began to calm down,
"I know you are, Andy...and I'm thankful for that; but...I'm just so scared that...that the reasons these memories are coming back is because-is because of Angel...I'm so scared for her, I can't sleep."

"Well, Kevin and the triplets should be home any time now, sweetheart," Andrew whispered softly into her ear as he slowly pulled away and looked into her tear-streaked face,
"Why don't you come downstairs with me and we'll wait for them together? I can tell by the look in your eyes that you don't want to be alone right now, Angel Girl, right?"

Tearfully, she shook her head as she briefly leaned back into his arms, feeling the safety that was Andrew,
"No, I don't. It's when I'm alone that they come…the flashbacks and the nightmares," Miserably, she rested her forehead against the nape of his neck, as she let out a shaky sigh,
"I'm just so worried and so tired…"

"I know you are, little one," Andrew replied, kissing the top of her head,
"Lets go down and wait for everyone to get home and tonight, I'll stay with you and chase the nightmares away so you can get some rest."

Looking up at him, her heart nearly bursting with love for her dearest friend, she felt another tear escape her eye as she managed a smile,
"I love you so much, Andrew…just so much." Her tired eyes shone with the depth of her feelings for him, knowing with everything in her that no matter what this assignment entailed, under the Father's watchful eye, they would see it through together.

Swiping at the tear on her cheek, he smiled,
"You know, after all these years of hearing that, I never get tired of it," He winked at her and she let out a small chuckle,
"I love you right back, my Angel Girl, more than you could imagine." Hugging her tightly to him once more, he then stood up and held out his hand to her and together they headed downstairs.

It was only a matter of minutes later when the front door opened and Angel came quietly in the inside. The spring that had been present in her step the last few days was now gone as she walked slowly and stiffly into the living room, heading for the stairs.

"Hey, little shadow, what's the rush?" Monica asked her, watching as Angel nearly jumped out of her skin at the sound of her voice.

Glancing over at the two angels who were watching her with worried expressions from where they sat together on the couch, the teenager found her voice,
"I'm…not feeling very well," She stammered, lowering her eyes once more,
"I have a headache and just want to lie down for awhile. Excuse me…" Turning away, she walked slowly up the steps.

"I don't have a good feeling about this," Monica muttered, her eyes filled with fear,
"And where is Kevin?" Looking at her best friend, she realized he wasn't even paying attention,
"Andrew?"

He looked at her then, his green eyes filled with compassion and concern,
"I know that look, Monica. That look in her eyes is one I'll never forget. I pray that I'm wrong, but…"

"What are you talking about?" She whispered, her eyes locking with his.

"Didn't you see it? That look in her eyes of confusion, shame and grief?" Seeing her worried and puzzled expression, he touched her cheek gently,
"That horrible day on board that ship, when I finally found you…That look in Angel's eyes is the same one you had in yours, Monica."

Chapter 7

Meanwhile, Kevin paced around the park just a few blocks from the Sullivan's house, running his fingers through his tousled brown hair. He knew that he should have returned to his friends by now, as he knew they had to be worried as he was several hours late, the youngest angel couldn't bring himself to show his face just yet, as he knew deep down that just by the look on it, it would give it all away.

And Angel...

Tears flooding his brown eyes as he thought about that teenager, who's innocence had been taken away from her in a matter of minutes, Kevin slumped down in front of a tree and placed his hands over his face,
"Oh Father, how could he have DONE such a thing?!" He cried as he never lifted his head.

He also knew that Angel had not made it difficult for the teacher to do what he had done, but on the other hand, the angel really didn't think the teenager had any idea of what she had been getting herself into either. It had taken everything in him to not intervene, to not stop the terrible act before it happened, but he knew he couldn't do that, even though it broke his heart.

It was late and dark by the time he started back to the house and he hoped that by now everyone would be in bed so he wouldn't have to answer any questions. Slipping quietly in the front door, he walked slowly into the living room and forced a smile as he saw Andrew sitting there on the sofa, with Monica fast asleep with her head resting on his knee. His supervisor's eyes were full of questions and he hurriedly looked away, but just looking at the younger angel's weary face made him think of Angel and what had happened earlier.

"Hey, Andrew," He said softly, knowing he had to say something.

Looking up through tired eyes at the sound of his youngest charge's voice, Andrew quietly spoke so that he wouldn't wake Monica,
"Where've you been, Kev? I was worried about you..."

Half expecting his supervisor to explode for him being late, Kevin felt relief fill his heart that he didn't; so after a few short moments, the youngest angel took a hesitant step forward and sat down on the arm of the chair next to the couch,
"I'm sorry about this, Andrew..." He whispered, trying to keep his voice from shaking,
"I just...It was just a very hectic day at the triplet's school, and I needed some time alone."

"Angel wasn't feeling well when she came home today," Andrew remarked, his eyes flashing with worry, remembering the look in the girl's eyes from earlier,
"Do you know anything about this?"

Kevin was silent for a moment, not knowing what to say and just not feeling ready to talk about what had happened yet. Forcing himself to meet Andrew's eyes, he replied softly,
"Yes, I do, but…"

"But what, Kev?" Andrew replied patiently, though his heart pounded in his chest.

"But...I just can't talk about it now, Simba," He felt himself getting choked up as he lowered his dark eyes once again and looking down at his lap,
"I'm sorry, I really am...but I can't..."

Reaching over and laying a hand on his younger friend's knee, Andrew waited until Kevin met his eyes again before softly saying,
"When you're ready to tell me, I'm here to listen, okay, Kev?"

"I know that, Andrew, I do," He replied softly, before attempting to change the subject,
"Is Cupcake okay?"

Andrew gazed down at his exhausted friend as he ran a hand through her hair,
"She had a pretty nasty nightmare earlier when she tried to take a nap as she hasn't been sleeping. She's so worried about Angel and now is upset over these nightmares and flashbacks returning when she doesn't understand why, so I promised not to leave her alone tonight, but I wanted to wait up for you."

Kevin lowered his eyes again, guilt tearing through him as he knew the reason the nightmares had returned to his friend now and he felt terrible for not being able to find the words to tell them,
"You're a good friend, Simba…to both of us."

"I try, Kev," Andrew gave his young friend a small grin as he continued stroking Monica's auburn hair. Sighing softly, he looked into Kevin's eyes and whispered softly,
"Why don't you go and get yourself a good night's sleep, and maybe by morning things will seem a bit clearer to you. A good night's sleep usually does me good."

Trying to smile at his friend and supervisor's words, Kevin lowered his head again as he tried to hold back a wide yawn,
"It's been a very long, hard day."

"All the more reason for you to do that then," Andrew smiled reassuringly at his charge,
"I'll see you in the morning, okay?"

"Sure, Simba," He replied as he started for the steps,
"I hope you both sleep well. G'night."

As Kevin headed upstairs, Andrew sighed, wondering what had occurred today that had his youngest charge unable to even speak of it yet. Yet he did know that sometimes, even angels, needed time to take things in and put them in perspective and maybe that was what Kevin was doing.

Yawning himself, he carefully got up and not wanting to wake his best friend, who seemed to be sleeping soundly for the first time in days, he gently picked her up in his arms. As she stirred slightly, he kissed the top of her head as it rested against his shoulder.

"Andrew? Did Kevin come home?" She murmured sleepily, wrapping her arms around his neck to snuggle closer as he started up the steps.

"Yes, Angel Girl. He's back safe and sound," He whispered reassuringly. Though he would have liked to have talked to her about the things Kevin had said, his priority right now was making sure she got some rest,
"Go back to sleep, baby girl. We'll talk in the morning."

Already drifting back off, she gave her head a half nod, before she was sound asleep once again, never waking as Andrew tucked her into bed and laid down beside of her, gently stroking the hair back from her face to let her know he was here. As the little Irish angel snuggled close to him, he wrapped his arms around her as his thoughts went back to that look in Angel's eyes and he offered up silent prayers that he was wrong about seeing that look before.

Angel lay awake that night as silent tears fell to her pillow. The day had been a blur and she felt terrible, knowing in her heart that what she had allowed to happen had been wrong. She had come home and showered in the hottest water she could stand, but something about her still felt dirty and unclean.

Since then, she had remained in her bedroom the entire rest of the day, even though her parents had called her down to dinner. Instead, she had curled herself back up in bed, and pretended to be sleeping; but sleep wouldn't come. Not after what had happened at school...

'Nobody can ever know,' She thought to herself, wrapping her shaky arms around her pillow and holding it to herself,
'Nobody...not mom and dad; not the angels; not Paddy and not Wendy...'

Feeling tears threatening her blue eyes again that had once been filled with life, Angelica blinked them back as she closed them and tried to think of something other then what had happened that afternoon. But nothing else would come. The only thing on her mind was George Keyser, and the action that he had taken upon her...the action that she had allowed him to take upon her.

'It's all my fault,' She whimpered to herself as she allowed herself to dissolve into tears again,
'It's all my fault...'

How could she have let him kiss her like that, or touch her like that, not to mention the final act that had been so painful for her? Then when it was over, he had immediately gone back to acting like her teacher, as if nothing had ever happened.

But something had happened and because of it, she was not the same person she had been when she had walked into his classroom today. Though for a brief moment, she had felt like a grown up, now she knew she was only a scared kid who had done it with a man twice her age, a man she had trusted, a man she had given her consent to in order for him to do what he did.

And though she would have never thought it possible, she was now lonelier than she had ever been in her life.

Early the next morning, Kevin woke up before any of his friends and, having the feeling that he had to talk to Angelica about what had happened the day before, the youngest angel climbed out of bed and slipped on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. As that day was the start of the weekend, he was thankful that the teenager didn't have to go to school today; not only so that he could talk to her, but also so she wouldn't have to face that teacher.

Anger churning inside of him at the very thought of George Keyser, Kevin tried to push it aside for the moment as he made his way down the hall to Angel's room. Seeing that the door was half shut, the angel peered inside and saw that the young girl surprisingly was awake, and was seated at her desk. Knocking softly on the door before entering, Kevin poked his head inside and spoke quietly,
"Angelica, can I speak with you for a few minutes, honey?"

Laying her pencil down, Angel turned to face him, her face drawn and tired,
"Sure." She responded softly.

Seeing the exhaustion on her face and the dark circles under her eyes, his heart went out to her as he took a seat on her bed,
"Angel…I know. I know what happened yesterday."

Angel stared at him as if his words didn't register with her at all,
"What are you talking about, Kevin?" She replied quietly.

"I know what happened between you and your teacher yesterday after school, Angelica…sweetie, it's okay, I want to talk to you about it…"

"There isn't anything to talk about," The teenager interrupted, trying to push all that did happen the previous day behind her and attempting a small smile for the brown-haired angel,
"Nothing happened between Mr. Keyser and me-"

"Angel," Kevin gently pushed, reaching over and taking her hand in his,
"You shouldn't be afraid to tell me; I saw it, yes, but I'm not angry at you-"

"Kevin, I told you, nothing happened," Angelica put as much firmness as possible into her voice as she weakly pulled her hand away,
"You must be mistaken." Here, the young girl turned around again and picked up her pencil, attempting to turn her attention back to her schoolwork.

The angel was dumbfounded for a moment, unable to believe that this was the conversation he was having,
"Angelica, you can't lie to yourself about this. What this man did was wrong, whether you consented to it or not, you are a minor and that makes this statutory rape-."

She forced a laugh to escape her lips,
"You've been watching too much television, Kevin. You must have me confused with someone on some soap opera or something. Nothing happened to me yesterday other than I went and got tutored by him-that's all."

"Angelica, I know that's not true-"

"It IS true," She burst out, turning around again and rising to her feet, towering over the angel as she struggled to remain calm and in control,
"I went there, he tutored me, and then I came home. That's all. Final! Now if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of Algebra homework to do." Whirling around, the young girl sat back down in her chair and went back to her schoolwork as if Kevin wasn't even there.

Wanting more then anything in the world to get through to Angelica, and get her to admit the truth, Kevin knew that now wasn't the time and she was angry enough as it was. Sighing deeply, the young angel nodded his head as he rose to his feet and headed for the door, closing it behind him.

"What's going on, Kevin?" Monica asked, startling the younger angel as he turned and saw her standing in the hallway.

"Nothing," He replied, completely not ready to have this conversation. Turning on his heel, he headed downstairs, knowing full well that the Irish angel was following him.

"Something is going on," She stated firmly, trying to meet his eyes, but he avoided them,
"Andrew told me you weren't ready to talk about it, but I think you need to be."

"He said when I was ready," Kevin replied tightly, finally turning to face her,
"And I'm not."

Gently grasping the younger angel's arm as he was about to turn away from her again, the Irish angel brought him back around and looked him square in the eye,
"Kevin, if you know something about Angelica, please, you have to tell me-"

"Look, Monica, yes I know something about that little girl; but I'm not ready to talk about it," Kevin stated once more, gently pulling his arm out of the Irish angel's grasp and continuing his way to the kitchen,
"Andrew said I could go to him when I'm ready, and now is not the time."

"Kevin, if your silence is hurting her even more-"

"Mon', who's the supervisor?" Kevin demanded, whirling around again and Monica gulped as she saw the tear streaks on his face,
"You or Andrew?"

"Andrew is, but-"

"Then I'm going to tell you guys when I'm ready. End of discussion," With that, the youngest of the two turned around again and entered the kitchen.

Chapter 8

Hesitating only momentarily, Monica followed him into the kitchen, trying to keep herself calm,
"Kevin, look, I'm sorry if I upset you, but what you need to understand is that I'm upset about all this too and so is Andrew. You promised to let me know if anything happened and now you know something and don't want to tell us!"

"You never quit, do you?" Kevin snapped, slamming his hand down on the counter top,
"You're so intent on finding out what you want to know that you could care less how I feel!"

"That isn't true, Kevin!" She objected, feeling a combination of anger and hurt at his words,
"But I know something is wrong-I knew it when Angel walked in the door yesterday and knowing that you have the answer to that but won't share it isn't fair! I want to help, but you have to let me first!"

"And I told you that I wasn't ready to 'share' yet, Monica!" Kevin yelled back, tears flooding his eyes against his will,
"What part of that don't you understand? And as a matter of fact, not even Angel herself is ready to talk about it!" Turning away from the Irish angel, the younger caseworker stormed over to the refrigerator and grabbed a carton of milk, slamming it down on the counter.

"You're just being so selfish, Kev, and you know it!" Monica cried out, heading over to where he stood with his back to her,
"Why can't you just put your feelings about being ready to tell us aside for the moment, and think about ANGEL'S feelings! She's not the same, Kevin-"

"Yeah, and neither are you!" The angel interrupted harshly, turning around and glaring at his Irish co-worker,
"Ever since this whole assignment started, it's been on and on nagging! Nag Kevin about this, nag Kevin about that...Monica, what happened yesterday, I've never had to deal with before, and it may take a few days for me to be able to be ready to tell! Is that too difficult to understand?"

"And is it so difficult for you to understand how hard it is to just sit here and wait to be able to help?" She countered, though she blinked back tears at his words,
"I've done nothing for a week when I know that Angel needs help! I'm not trying to nag at you, Kevin, I just want to know what is going on!"

"Give me a break! Every time I turn around, you have been on my back!" He snapped heatedly,
"You're not the supervisor here, Monica! I know you were once one, but it sure has been made clear to me the last few days why you aren't one longer, if you treated your charges the way you treat me if you don't get your way! Believe it or not, the world doesn't revolve around what you want! Now, if you'll excuse me, this conversation is finally over!" Turning around, he stormed out the patio door and out of the gate.

Shakily sinking down into a chair, Monica covered her face with her hands,
"Oh Father, what have I done?"

The Irish angel felt like she had been sitting at the kitchen table for hours, but it must have only been minutes when she heard the door open and Andrew's voice appeared in the doorway,
"Good morning, Angel Girl. How'd you sleep?"

Lifting her head and wiping at her dark eyes, Monica felt her heart leap into her throat as she faced her best friend and supervisor. How was he going to react once she told him about the fight she had just had with Kevin? The younger angel almost feared what the answer may be...

After not receiving an answer from her, Andrew frowned and as he ran a hand through his short, blonde hair, he made his way over to the chair next to hers and took a seat,
"What's wrong, Mon'?" As he reached for her hand lovingly, he waited until she looked his way to continue,
"Sweetie, you've been crying...what's wrong?"

"Um," She began hesitantly, knowing there was no other option but the truth,
"You're not going to be very happy with me, I'm afraid," She whispered miserably, as fresh tears threatened her eyes. She hated disappointing him more than anything and she knew this time she had.

"Tell me," He stated gently, though his eyes showed his concern for what he was about to hear. His eyes widened as she quietly poured out all that had transpired just minutes ago between she and Kevin. As she finished and lowered her eyes ashamedly, he shook his head in disappointment,
"Monica…"

"I know, I know…" She whispered tearfully,
"I don't even have a good excuse, Andrew…"

Sighing deeply, Andrew ran a hand through his nicely combed blonde hair and shook his head. He wasn't even sure of what to say right now; but he also knew that he wasn't about to explode when he knew how frustrated his best friend was. After several moments of silence from the older angel, Andrew finally looked at her again and said somewhat firmly,

"No, there really isn't an excuse for that...and yet, I do know how upset you've been since this whole assignment began and Kevin's involvement in it. But Monica, you really have got to understand it's not time for you to get involved yet; and I did tell Kev to come to me when he was ready..."

"That's what he told me," The Irish angel whispered through her tears,
"I know I've disappointed you...again...but my mouth got the better of me, and I couldn't help myself. He won't tell us what's wrong with Angelica, and it's driving me crazy, Andrew!"

"But what you need to understand is that Kevin is obviously upset and needs time to deal with whatever happened, Monica," He stated sternly,
"I told him he could have that time and it is not up to you to undermine my decision. This stuff cannot keep happening or the working relationship between the two of you is going to be in shambles. Now, I'm not sure of what to suggest at this point, but something has to give between you two."

"I know…" She whispered, not meeting his eyes,
"And I'm sorry…I'm so sorry…"

"But we need to fix this so we never get to the 'I'm sorry' part, Monica. At this point Kevin is off somewhere, upset and we don't know where he is and if this keeps up, 'I'm sorry' isn't going to mean anything to him," He pointed out, hating when he had to take this role with either of them, but knowing something had to be done to preserve their working relationship as well as the friendship between the two younger angels.

"I'll go and find him..." Monica whispered, finally looking up and forcing herself to meet his eyes.

But the blonde angel gently held his hand up and stopped her,
"I think I should be the one to talk with him...but first, I need to find him." Seeing the deep sadness and regret in her brown eyes, Andrew sighed softly as he reached for her hand,
"I'm not angry at you, Angel Girl. I just need for you to understand where I'm coming from, and remember it. Because I really don't want to see your friendship destroyed."

"I don't want that either," She uttered, covering her face with her remaining hand as she let out a sob,
"I love him, Andrew, I do, but I think I was just so angry about all of this…not being able to help and the nightmares and I'm just angry and have no where to place it and Kev was just there…"

"But Kevin doesn't understand that, sweetheart," He said gently, as he pulled her close to him,
"As far as the nightmares go, you can direct that anger at me if you have to, because I understand it as we went through it together the first time. Kevin wasn't around for that and he has no idea where your anger is coming from, okay?" Feeling her nod her head, he pulled away slightly to look into her eyes, as he smiled gently.
"But for the record, he wasn't right about everything. You were a wonderful supervisor and all I need to do is mention Carla to him to remind him."

Feeling fresh tears running down her cheeks at his kind words, the Irish angel let out another choked sob as she wrapped her arms around her best friend again and rested her head on his shoulder as she whispered,
"I love you so much, Andrew...and I'm so glad you don't hate me for what I did..."

"I will never, ever hate you, sweet Angel Girl," He replied back before she could finish, gently rocking her back and forth,
"There is nothing that you can do that will cause me to hate you. In fact, I've just grown to love you even more these last few years." Here, the older angel planted a loving kiss on top of her head before continuing,
"I never thought that possible, but it seems that it is. You will never have to worry about me 'hating you'; yes, I may have to do the supervisor thing every once in a blue moon, but I never enjoy it, Monica." Finally pulling away once again as he laid a gentle kiss on her forehead, he smiled gently down at her again,
"It's going to be okay, sweetheart. No matter what Kevin will tell us about Angel, it will all be okay in the end; it always has been."

"I know," She whispered shakily, wiping at her eyes before she took his hands into her own,
"I'll tell you what…you go and find Kevin and I'm going to head for the beach house for the day to give you two space to talk."

He looked at her with concern in his emerald eyes,
"I'm not sure if that is such a good idea or not, Mon'…"

"Andrew, he was madder at me then he has ever been and I don't want to be in the way or interfere in any way if you two come back here to talk. I owe at least that much to Kevin," She explained shakily,
"And maybe a little time away from here will do me some good as well."

Andrew knew her well enough to know that when the little Irish angel's mind was made up about something, there was little he could do to stop her; his best friend was more stubborn he was. After having contemplated her request for a few short moments, the angel nodded his head and gave her hands a squeeze,
"All right then. But please, come back later this evening, all right? I'll let you know." He smiled softly as he referred to the connection that they shared, the connection that nobody other then the Father would ever be able to explain.

Nodding her head in agreement, the Irish angel drew in a deep breath as she replied,
"Okay."

Gently kissing her hands, Andrew finally released them as he rose from his chair and helped his best friend to her feet as well,
"I guess I'd better go looking for him then."

"Tell him how sorry I am," Monica whispered, her eyes still holding great sorrow.

"You know I will, sweetie," He reassured her, and he touched her cheek tenderly,
"And later on, you two can have that conversation." Seeing her nod her head though he could tell she was feeling a little doubtful about Kevin wanting to speak to her, he continued,
"I'll talk to you later, Angel Girl, and we'll straighten all of this out," Reaching into his pocket, he handed her his car keys,
"Be careful."

"I will. I promise," She replied as she watched her friend slip out the back door and head in the direction Kevin had gone. Fighting back tears, she turned and headed out of the kitchen, only stopping to grab her jacket, before she too, left the Sullivan house.

An hour having passed, Kevin now sat underneath the same tree that he had the day before after he had witnessed the assault on Angelica, his chin in his hands and his thoughts on what he had spoken to Monica earlier. He knew that he had been harsh, but the young angel had been so angry; why couldn't Monica understand where he was coming from, and how could she had called him "selfish"?

Lowering his head in his hands and drawing in several shaky breaths to try and calm himself down, Kevin wished somewhat that he hadn't left, but another part of him needed some time away from his Irish co-worker. How could he face her after that argument between them?

'She probably hates my guts now...but I'm not all too happy with you either, Cupcake!' He thought sarcastically as he finally allowed a few tears to fall. He was so absorbed in what had just happened that he never noticed another presence coming towards him, a concerned look on his face; the youngest angel didn't even look up until he heard his supervisor's familiar voice.

"Kev?"

Seeing his friend and supervisor approaching him, he gave a small sigh,
"I'm not much in the mood for a lecture, Simba," He remarked quietly.

Sitting down next to his youngest charge, Andrew nodded his head,
"Okay then, how about we just talk?" Not getting any response from him, the older angel continued,
"Monica told me what happened, Kev-."

"I'm sure she told you her side!" Kevin replied defensively,
"I'm sure she left out the part where she called me selfish and where she just wouldn't take no for an answer!"

"No," Andrew responded softly, meeting Kevin's angry gaze,
"She told me all of that and accepts responsibility for what happened."

"So you're taking her side then?" Kevin turned his eyes away as he waited for his older friend's reply.

"Kev, I'm not taking anybody's side in this," Andrew replied firmly, laying a hand on his charge's shoulder,
"She was in the wrong over what she said; she didn't have a right to say those things to you. But so were you, buddy, by commenting about her supervisor abilities-"

"She deserved it," The youngest angel interrupted, as he was unable to hide the tears in his brown eyes from his friend and supervisor,
"Andrew, what else was I supposed to do?"

"Kev, I'm not here to give you a lecture," Andrew softly said, his face a mask of concern,
"Right now, I'm just saying what she told me. But I would like to hear your side of things..."

He was silent for a moment before speaking,
"Sounds like she told it pretty much the way it happened," He admitted, wondering if he would have done the same thing,
"She's changed since this all started, Simba…I don't even know her anymore. I know she is worried about Angel, we all are, but suddenly she is like a totally different angel and I don't get that."

Drawing in a deep breath, Andrew knew he had to try and explain on his best friend's behalf,
"Kev, in a sense she is a little different right now. You weren't yet with us all those years ago after Philip hurt her and she was constantly dealing with nightmares and flashbacks and being unable to sleep at night. Reliving that kind of pain can change someone, Kevin, and that is part of what is happening right now and she's furious at the fact that it is happening again. That anger builds inside of her until it has to find a way out and unfortunately it found it's way out on you this morning. That doesn't make it right, especially since you had no way to know that, but that was part of what happened."

Kevin lowered his head to the ground as he listened to his supervisor explain and guilt slowly started to make its way into his heart,
"I knew about Philip, but...I didn't know it had been that bad that she's still having nightmares..."

"They've just recently come back, Kev, ever since this assignment began," The older angel continued to explain softly,
"She's been able to put all of that behind her, until she started worrying about Angelica."

At the mention of the teenager, the youngest angel flinched as he kept his eyes turned away from Andrew,
"I know you must still be wondering what I'm hiding, Simba, but I really can't talk about that right now...Monica didn't understand that, even after I told her that you told me I didn't have to until I was ready."

"And I'm not forcing you to, Kev," Andrew shook his head in reply,
"I'm just concerned for both of you, and although I am worried about Angel, I understand how you will need some time before you come to me and tell me what happened. Don't feel like you have to tell me right now."

"You don't make me feel that way, Simba," He said with a soft sigh,
"And I appreciate that. Monica was just trying to force it out of me and it made me feel trapped and angry, I guess."

"And she is sorry," Andrew told him reassuringly,
"And I know you are thinking that I had to jump all over her for her to be sorry, but that isn't true. She was in tears before she even told me what had happened. She loves you, Kevin, but her emotions sometimes get the better of her, especially right now. But she doesn't want to see her friendship with you destroyed and neither do I."

"I don't want that either," Kevin replied quietly,
"Though she can tick me off, she has also really been there for me, especially that time when you were so sick and in the hospital. I hate it when we're at odds and I hate even more the fact that I seem to say such nasty things to her when I get angry. I guess I was just trying to get her to back off anyway I could, but I know how sensitive she is and I should stick to the truth and not what is just plain hurtful…" He sighed as he fought back tears,
"I think she and I need to have a long talk and clear the air between us."

"She wants that too, Kev, but she also felt that she needed a few hours away from the Sullivan's house to clear her head, so she left for the beach house. I made her promise to be back before the night's over, though; so maybe you two can have a talk later this evening or in the morning," Andrew softly replied, gently squeezing his charge's shoulder as deep care shown in his green eyes,
"Are you coming back?"

Hesitating slightly, Kevin shrugged his shoulders as he replied quietly,
"I guess I don't have much to do out here in the park...after all, it looks like it's about to rain any minute, and I don't want to get caught in a thunderstorm."

Rising to his feet, along with Kevin, the older angel laid a hand on his charge's back as they started walking back to the house. Though he felt slightly better after his talk with Kevin, he was now slightly worried about his best friend taking a two hour drive to the beach house in the brewing storm. He said a silent prayer for her safety as well as a prayer that soon this assignment would be out in the open so the three angels could know just what they were dealing with.

Chapter 9

The afternoon passed slowly for the Irish angel as she starred out at the storm that had been raging for hours over the ocean, much like the storm she had felt raging inside of herself. She had thought about heading back, but the rain was falling so hard, she really didn't want to drive in it now that it would soon be dark outside.

Today hadn't helped her the way she had hoped that it would as she had spent most of her time worrying about Angelica and her relationship with Kevin, which she was certain she had damaged beyond repair today. The only thing she was not worried about was her friendship with Andrew as the last few years, that had seemed stronger than ever before and that came as a great relief and comfort to her. Though she still felt terrible about disappointing him this morning as she never took that lightly, he had not been angry and his understanding touched her heart greatly, especially after she wasn't sure she deserved it.

Feeling exhausted, she finally laid down on the couch to try and wait out the storm and it wasn't long before she fell into a restless sleep, which was once again laden with nightmares, the images so clear she was sure that she was once again living in those horrible moments…

[I]"Ah, I see," He replied, his eyes never leaving her as he saw the fear beginning to rise up within her,
"I think there is something you don't understand, Angel Girl. The question was never whether or not you belonged to me, but rather whether or not you came of your own free will or by my taking you. It seems you have left me with no choice now."

Monica barely had time to think about fleeing, before Philip with all a demon's strength and quickness had grabbed hold of her and had forced her down on the bed. The human angel struggled desperately, though she was no match for his strength, so instead she opened her mouth and screamed, but was rewarded with a blow to the face for the effort and for a minute, all she could see was white light from the force of the blow.

"Shut up," He hissed, yanking a cloth from his pocket and stuffing it into her mouth to keep her quiet.

Despite the pain and fear, Monica continued to fight with every ounce of energy that was left within her, knowing what it was he meant to do to her once again, only this time there was no Beth to save. Hot tears filled her brown eyes as a rope appeared from nowhere and she felt him bind her wrists above her head, tying the other end to the headboard.

"I remember now, little angel," Philip seethed, making sure the ropes were tight around her wrists, despite the fact that they were tearing into her flesh,
"You like things a bit on the wild side. I'm sorry it had to come to this, my angel; it could have been so much nicer if you would just cooperate. I don't even see why it is you are struggling so, don't you know by now that you are worth nothing?" [/I]

"No!" She cried out as she bolted up on the couch, her heart racing wildly as she trembled uncontrollably. Looking around her, she saw that it was now dark outside, other than the occasional white bolt of lightening, and she realized she had been dreaming once more.

Helpless anger surged through her, hating the fact that this was happening to her once again, as she picked up her long empty coffee cup and hurled it across the room, listening to it shatter as she buried her face in her hands and cried.

She never noticed that the cup had shattered at the feet of one she had not seen in several years; one whose saddened dark eyes watched her weep with sympathy and guilt present on his face.

Picking up the sharp pieces of glass from the carpet carefully and depositing them inside a nearby trash can so that nobody would get hurt, Philip hesitantly made his way over to the weeping angel and knelt down in front of the couch. As he debated over whether or not to touch her, the demon decided against it and instead whispered softly, his voice filled with regret,
"Little angel?"

Lifting her head up suddenly at the sound of his voice, Monica looked through blurred vision at him as he knelt in front of her, his dark eyes filled with sadness. The little Irish angel's own eyes widened as she saw him there, and usually she would have screamed and begged for him to not hurt her; but now, after he had helped her and her best friend in so many ways the last few years, Monica didn't feel that fear in her heart any longer and she was actually grateful that he was there,
"Philip..."

Seeing that there was no fear in her eyes as she faced him, the gentle-hearted demon drew in a deep breath as he spoke,
"I know, you must be wondering why I'm here of all times, right?"

"We haven't seen you since...that day on the beach, Philip," Monica whispered shakily as she looked into his eyes,
"Where did you go?"

As he contemplated her question, he finally just shrugged his shoulders and settled on,
"Here and there, Monica." Sighing softly, he suddenly changed the subject and spoke in a quiet voice,
"I understand that you've been having more nightmares about me, little angel. I just want you to know that I wish that I could take them away; I wish that I could take that horrible day away."

"That makes two of us then," She replied, wiping at her eyes as she drew in a trembling breath,
"It's all so confusing now…I'm not afraid of you any longer, but that whole terrible time, on board those two ships is what I dream about and I wake up screaming," She bit her lip to hold back more tears,
"I should hate you, but I can't. You helped Andrew and saved me several years ago, but while I've forgiven you, I can't forget, even though I want to. All it takes is for something to trigger it for me and it starts all over again."

He nodded his head sadly in understanding,
"What has triggered it this time, little angel?" He asked her gently.

"An assignment. As far as I know nothing of that nature has even happened, but the nightmares started up as soon as we started the assignment, so I must be worrying about it on some level…"

"And why are you here and not with your Andrew?" Philip queried, his eyes watching hers for any signs of trouble with her dearest friend.

"I needed some time," Monica sighed softly, running a hand through her shoulder length hair,
"I made a mess of my friendship with Kevin this morning as I was so angry about the nightmares and the fact that he knows something about this assignment he isn't able to tell us yet. I let down Andrew in the process and though he isn't angry about it, I still feel terrible," She looked outside at the raging storm,
"I should have been back by now, but I don't really feel up to driving in this mess, so I'm just going to wait it out here."

Frowning in concern, Philip hesitantly reached over and laid a hand on hers, almost fearing that she would pull back; but to his amazement, the Irish angel didn't do that, so with a sigh of relief, the demon replied,
"Why don't you let me to take you back then?"

Lowering her head in shame, Monica shook it as she answered,
"Thanks for the offer, Philip, but I have to turn it down. I guess I'm really just not ready to talk to Kevin yet..."

"But I don't want your Andrew to get worried about you, little angel," He objected softly, removing his hand from hers as his eyes continued to stare into her face.

A small smile appeared on the little Irish angel's face at his concern for her and her best friend, and a slight blush rose to her cheeks as she spoke softly,
"You really have changed so much these last few years...and I appreciate your concern about him being worried about me. But I just can't head back there tonight; I will tomorrow, I promise."

"Then at least allow me to make an appearance to Andrew to let him know that you're safe and sound," The gentle demon pleaded, his eyes continuing to bore into Monica's.

Getting the feeling that he was not going to take "no" for an answer, Monica sighed softly and nodded her head.
"That's fine, Philip. I've caused enough trouble for one day, so I don't want him worrying about me as well."

"I'm sure he doesn't think you've been any trouble at all-." Philip began, but she interrupted him gently with what was on her heart.

"Andrew has changed so many things for me, for our friendship over the past several years, Philip, and I can't even keep from flying off the handle at Kevin, no matter how many times he calls me on it," She replied, tears glistening in her eyes,
"He hasn't left me down once in the last several years, and doing that to him is not something I take lightly, but then I guess it's easier for him to forgive me then it is for me to forgive myself and I'm not even sure if Kevin will forgive me for treating him so terribly."

Sighing softly, the demon rose to his feet, his eyes full of understanding,
"Let me go and tell him you are safe. Will you be all right? If I recall, you aren't terribly fond of thunderstorms…"

"I'll be okay," She whispered. Looking up at him, she smiled slightly,
"Philip, thank you."

Softly, he touched her tear-streaked cheek,
"You're welcome," He replied gently before he vanished from the room.

Andrew paced back and forth late that night after everybody else had gone to bed, and glanced one more time at the clock on the wall over the mantel in the living room. Worry filled his heart once again over where his best friend could be right now, and why she hadn't returned yet,
"Angel Girl, where are you...?" His heart spoke as he turned around and paced in the other direction, his arms folded tightly across his chest. But he didn't receive any reply from her, which caused a few tears to fill his compassionate green eyes,
"Father, why hasn't she returned yet?" The angel then whispered as he lifted his head and looked up at the ceiling.

"Andrew?"

Nearly jumping out of his skin at the sound of the voice that he hadn't heard in several years, Andrew whirled around and was shocked to see Philip standing on the other side of the room near the front door.

"I didn't mean to startle you," The demon began, looking more than apologetic.

Andrew managed a slight smile in Philip's direction, a little amazed at himself that the anger and hatred he used to feel for this demon had been replaced with a certain level of trust. After all, it was Philip who had brought he and the twins out of that cavern several years ago, and Philip who had returned his best friend to him when he had thought she would be lost to the darkness forever,
"No, Philip, it's okay. My mind was just elsewhere…Monica should have been back here hours ago and…"

"That's why I'm here, actually," Philip interrupted gently,
"I just left her and she is safe. It is still storming badly down on the coast and in her current state of mind, I don't think she feels up to driving back tonight."

Feeling a weight being lifted off of his shoulders, Andrew breathed a huge sigh of relief as he slumped down on the living room couch and nodded his head,
"I should've known that was the reason...it was pretty nasty up here several hours ago."

Taking a seat across from Monica's best friend, Philip sighed softly as he continued,
"I just knew how worried you must be, and I offered to swing by here and let you know that she's all right. She told me that she'll come back tomorrow."

After several moments of silence, Andrew lifted his head and managed another smile at the demon,
"Thank you...that means a lot that you would do that."

"I owe both of you at least that much," He replied softly, before he fell silent once more for a moment, unsure of whether to divulge more of what the Irish angel had told him
"I'm not sure of what your obligations are here, Andrew, but she isn't in the best of places right now. She's pretty worked up about the nightmares and about whatever happened here this morning, regarding both you and Kevin."

A puzzled look crossed the handsome angel's face,
"I understand about Kevin and the nightmares, but she has nothing to worry about with me, Philip…"

"She hasn't forgiven herself for letting you down this morning, Andrew," He explained, feeling that the angel should know the truth in case Monica elected not to tell him,
"She told me how you had changed so much the last few years in order for mistakes not to happen within your friendship and she feels incredibly guilty about not being able to change the fact that she butts heads with Kevin. She thinks the world of you, Andrew, but you know that."

Sighing softly, Andrew ran his fingers through his blonde hair as he looked tiredly over at the demon once more,
"Well, then I guess I'm gonna have to have a talk with her when she gets back in the AM." As the angel fell silent for a few moments, his mind running through all that had occurred that day, he finally looked back at Philip and continued,
"So how've you been lately?"

Realizing that he had no idea of how to respond to that question, the demon just shrugged his shoulders in response. He'd had plenty on his mind the last few years, but the fact was he didn't feel as if he could act on any of it, not after all he had done to these two angels. Rising to his feet, he smiled at the angel,
"I'd best be going as I've done what I came to do. Look after yourself, Andrew," And before the angel could ask him anymore questions, the demon vanished from sight.

Chapter 10

Kevin sighed in exasperation as he left Angelica's room once again early the next morning and shut the door firmly behind him. Just like Friday, the young angel had been unable to break down the wall that the teenager had built up, as she kept refusing to admit that her teacher had done anything wrong. Running his fingers through his brown hair, Kevin leaned up against the wall in the hallway and took deep breaths, recalling his conversation with her just moments ago.

"Kevin, I told you, you were seeing things," She was saying impatiently, as her tired eyes were still focused on her schoolwork,
"Or it was your imagination. But I don't know how many times I have to tell you, Mr. Keyser did nothing wrong, and was only tutoring me. End of discussion."

"Why are you lying like this, Angelica?" The angel mumbled to himself as he blinked back a hot round of tears threatening his eyes.

Before he could think any further, though, the sound of the front door opening sounded from downstairs and Kevin drew in a sharp breath as he recognized Monica's voice anywhere,
"Cupcake..." He whispered shakily to himself as he stepped away from the wall and headed towards the top of the staircase, peering down into the living room.

"Are you okay?" Andrew asked as he pulled away from his best friend to look into her eyes,
"I was worried about you last night."

"I'm all right, Andrew," Monica replied tiredly, managing a small smile,
"I just need to talk to Kevin right now and get this cleared up."

"Okay," He replied softly, his eyes still showing his deep concern,
"How about I get him for you and then give you two some room to talk?"

"I want you to stay, Andrew," She sighed softly, as she gazed downwards,
"I have some things to say to you as well."

Nodding his head, he gave her hand a squeeze,
"Let me find Kev…"

Drawing in a deep breath, the youngest angel forced himself to head down the steps,
"I'm right here," He stated, his expression somewhat guarded.

Gripping Andrew's hand tightly in hers, Monica held onto it as she watched the youngest angel descend the stairs and into the living room. As he reached them, there was silence before Andrew looked over at his best friend and nodded his head encouragingly at her as he released her hand.

"Hi, Kevin," The Irish angel greeted in a whisper, feeling herself shaking as she stepped closer.

"Cupcake," Kevin greeted in return, forcing a small smile on his younger face.

Glancing over at her best friend again and drawing in a shaky breath, Monica twiddled her fingers as she made her way over to the couch and sat down, relieved when Andrew took the seat next to her and Kevin sat on the arm of the couch across from them,
"Kev...there are lots of things I need to talk with you about..."

Silence filled the room as Kevin didn't respond and the Irish angel felt tears burning in her brown eyes as she forced herself to continue,
"I know I may be sounding like a broken record here, but I am truly, truly sorry about yesterday," She began, her voice scarcely a whisper,
"You were right about a lot of things. I wasn't caring about how you felt and it was obvious that you were upset. I should have been more sensitive to that and I wasn't. I was just feeling very helpless…about being able to help Angel and about these stupid nightmares returning and I took that out on you and that was wrong. You weren't being selfish, I was and for that I apologize," Feeling the tears she was struggling to hold back begin to fall, she forced herself to look up into her younger friend's eyes,
"You're my friend, Kevin and I love you, even though you can drive me crazy sometimes, but that still doesn't give me the right to treat you the way I did yesterday. And I know it has happened before, but I'm going to try my best to keep it from happening again, if you'd just give me another chance…" Biting her lip to hold back a sob, she gazed downward once more.

Sighing softly as he gazed downwards, Kevin finally replied after a few moments,
"I do accept your apology, Monica; but I also want to say that...I know that you want to know what's going on with Angelica, and I'm sorry once again that I'm not saying anything." He stopped for a brief moment to look from one of his friends to the other, and then back at Monica,
"But..."

"But you can't," The Irish angel choked out in reply as she forced herself to nod her head,
"And I should've accepted that from the beginning when you first told me that you weren't ready."

Seeing her tears, Kevin rose slowly to his feet and approached her. Taking her hands, he pulled her to her feet and hugged her tightly as tears clung to his lashes,
"It's okay, cupcake. I wasn't all that nice either and I said some things that were just mean and not true at all, and for that I'm sorry too," Feeling her embracing him back tightly, he chuckled softly, despite all that weighed heavily on his heart,
"Hey, if nothing else, I know what it's like to have a sister to bicker with, you know?"

Monica laughed as she pulled away and smiled at him through her tears,
"Thank you," She said softly, as she sat back down and pulled him along with her to sit on her other side,
"I'll do better, I promise," Wiping at her eyes with her free hand, she then took Andrew's hand into her own as she looked into his eyes,
"And you…I keep letting you down with this and you keep telling me it is okay and forgiving me, but it's not okay, Andrew. You've changed so much over the past years and I'm no longer afraid of you leaving me or getting so angry with me that you shut me out and yesterday morning was proof of that. So, if you can do all that for me, then I can do this for you. I know I lack in the patience department and I'm going to work on that and my Irish temper, because I never want to see disappointment in your eyes when you look at me. As you once said, I know I won't be perfect, but I am going to try harder…for Kevin and for you."

Feeling a slight blush rise to his cheeks at her words, Andrew smiled reassuringly at his dearest friend and gently pulled his hand away to wrap his arm around her shoulders,
"I trust you with that, little one." Pulling her close to him and laying a loving kiss on her forehead, he rested his chin on the top of her head and grinned,
"But I don't think I'd want all of the bickering to stop; or else things wouldn't be the same around here, would they, Wonder Boy?" The oldest of the three shot a wink at his youngest charge over Monica's head and was relieved to see him chuckle,
"No, I didn't think so."

Fresh tears welling up in her brown eyes, Monica tightly wrapped her arms around her best friend's waist and hugged him as tightly as she could,
"I love you so much, Andy..."

"Right back atcha, sweetheart," He replied, squeezing her tightly, his love for her shining in his eyes,
"I'm glad you're home."

Nodding her head as she pulled away, she turned back to Kevin and reached for his hand once more, her eyes filled with sincerity,
"And when you're ready to talk, Kev, we're ready to listen, but you take your time and work out whatever it is you need to work out. You'll receive no more pressure from me."

Giving her hand a gentle squeeze, the youngest angel attempted a small smile despite the heaviness on his heart regarding Angelica, and replied softly,
"I appreciate that, Cupcake...I do."

Shooting her friend and co-worker a somewhat shaky smile in return, the Irish angel didn't say a word in reply, but she just couldn't get the feeling out of her mind that something was seriously wrong with Angel,
'Protect her from all harm, Father...please...'

Monday morning, Angel sat in her homeroom class, waiting for the bell to ring to signify that the students could head off to their first class. She felt a little on the sick side at the very thought of walking into her 4th period math class after Friday, just not knowing what to expect or even how she really felt about it and what about her after school tutoring? Did she go, or not go? What happened if he came onto her again? Would she be able to refuse him this time or would she go along with it, regardless of how it made her feel afterward? Just the fact that Kevin knew made her feel more ashamed of herself than she had ever been before, and it was easier to deny it than to face up to it with him.

Her thoughts were interrupted as her homeroom teacher walked by and laid a sealed envelope on her desk from her Guidance Counselor. Puzzled, she tore it open, her eyes widening with confusion as she read the note. But her confusion slowly turned to anger as her heart pounded in her chest.

As the bell rang, Angel grabbed her books and raced to Mr. Keyser's room, wanting to get there and still be to her class on time. She knew he had no students first period, so his room was empty when she flung open the door and with more volume than she had ever spoken with in her life, met her blue eyes with his,
"What do you mean by transferring me out of your class?" She demanded, her eyes flashing with anger.

The teacher looked at her calmly and coolly, before he replied,
"You are far too advanced for this class, Miss Sullivan. It is in your best interest to find a class that will challenge you."

"How dare you!" Angel yelled, slamming the door shut behind her as she marched over to the teacher's desk,
"How...DARE you! After what happened last week-"

"Nothing happened, Miss Sullivan," George Keyser interrupted, turning his dark eyes back to his paper grading,
"At least, nothing happened that you couldn't have stopped. It isn't my fault, you know."

Shaking with anger from head to toe, Angel's face flushed red as she shook her head,
"So now you're telling me that nothing happened? I seriously thought that you actually liked me!"

"You're a student, Miss Sullivan. It would not be professional of me to do what you are insinuating. Now, if you don't mind, I have papers to grade-."

"I do mind, as a matter of fact!" She snapped at him, her baby blue eyes wild with anger,
"You told me I was special and then you-."

Coldly, he met her eyes with his own,
"It's your word against mine, Angelica," He stated, his words every bit as chilling as his gaze,
"Who are they going to believe? A teacher with tenure or a student who has no friends and is looking to get attention any way she can, even if it means accusing a teacher of the unthinkable?"

Angel's face paled at his words. He was right. There was no proof that anything had happened between them. Even if Kevin had seen it, he was not allowed to intervene on her behalf. How could she have been so stupid and so trusting?

"I hate you," She uttered, forcing back the tears that longed to escape,
"I thought you were nice! I thought you were different from everyone else here, but you're not and I hate you with my entire heart!" Not even waiting to see if he would answer, she turned on her heel and left his classroom, breaking into a run as soon as she turned the corner and she knew he could no longer see her. She raced out the school doors and as far away as she could get. Sure, they would call her parents that she had hooked school, but she no longer cared. She was never going back there, even if it meant hooking school every day.

She continued running until she felt like she was going to run out of breath and before long, the teenager collapsed on the grass underneath a shady tree and let out the choked up sobs she had been holding in since her confrontation with her former teacher. As she covered her face with her hands, Angel shook her head miserably as she relived once again all that had just happened, and anger surged through her.

"Oh God, how could this have happened?" She whispered to herself, lifting her tear-filled eyes up to the sky,
"God, how could You have allowed this to happen?!" Anger still churning through her, the young girl buried her face into her hands once more and continued to sob.

"Angel?"

Hearing Kevin's voice, her head shot up as she wiped at her eyes hastily,
"I'm fine, Kevin, so don't start with me, okay?" She said, her voice sharper than what she intended it to be.

The young angel sat down on the grass beside of her and sighed,
"You don't look fine to me, not to mention you left school. What happened back there?"

"Nothing that you need to concern yourself about," She replied quietly.

Kevin was quiet for a moment, before he spoke up once more,
"Angelica, you can deny what happened on Friday all you want, but it doesn't change the fact that it did happen and you need to talk to your parents about it-."

"Kevin! Lay off me, will you! Nothing happened on Friday and what happened today is my business, you got that?" Shakily, she rose to her feet,
"I don't recall asking for angelic intervention, so would you please just leave me alone?"

As the teenager started to storm away again, Kevin felt his face burning red as he reached out and gently grasped hold of her arm,
"Angel, I can't leave you alone, when you and I both know the truth-"

Wrenching her arm away from the young angel, Angelica glared angrily at Kevin as she snapped back,
"Just mind your own business, Kevin, and stay out of my life!" Whirling around, the teenager once again fled and Kevin knew that there was nothing else he could do but allow her to leave.

As he slumped down in the spot where Angel had just sat at, the angel rested his chin in his hands as he thought things over again and again. Although there was plenty he didn't know right now, he did however know one thing...and that was that he had to tell his supervisor the truth, in order to help Angelica.

Chapter 11

Arriving back at the Sullivan house, Kevin finally found Andrew sitting outside in the fall sunlight and he was relieved to find him alone. Telling Andrew would be hard enough as it was, but he would much prefer that Andrew be the one to tell Monica what had happened with Angelica.

Approaching him carefully, the younger angel took a seat at the table next to him, watching as Andrew looked up with surprise and concern in his green eyes.

"Kev, shouldn't you be at the school?" He asked, wondering what had brought his charge home this early in the morning.

He was quiet for a moment as he sighed softly,
"Well, beings my assignment at the school is Angel and she left before her first class, I would say no," He replied quietly as he looked up at his supervisor,
"We need to talk, Andrew, and this isn't going to be any easier to tell then it is going to be to hear, I'm afraid."

Andrew's eyebrows arched as he looked over at his charge and as he turned fully around to face him, the older angel spoke with concern in his voice,
"You're ready to tell me?"

"I have no choice, Andrew..." Kevin spoke, his voice cracking with emotion as he lowered his brown eyes down to his hands,
"After this weekend, and today at the school...I have to tell you. There's no other way to help Angelica if nobody knows."

"Tell me, Kevin," Andrew stated simply, wondering if he was prepared to hear about this.

"Well, you know Angel was being tutored by her math teacher, George Keyser, right?" Seeing him nod his head, Kevin forced himself to continue,
"He was being a little overly friendly with her from the start, but on Friday…on Friday, he came onto her. He wanted her to call him 'George' and he was touching her hair and her face. He told her how special she was and how beautiful…" He swallowed hard as his mind raced with the horrible memories,
"He told her that when two people cared about each other that there was a way for them to show it and he wanted her to allow him to show her….Angel agreed…." Tears shone in Kevin's eyes as he struggled for words,
"He had his way with her, Andrew, and she allowed it. She was so innocent and she trusted him and he did this to her. I've tried to talk to her since, but she denies it happened at all…"

Andrew's handsome face paled at his charge's words, and for right then the angel couldn't think of what to say. Instead, he turned back around to face the table and rested his head in his hands, trying his hardest to hold back his own tears as he took in what Kevin had just said.

"He even took her out of his class this morning, Andrew," Kevin continued, his voice shaking as he spoke,
"That...TEACHER moved her to a totally different class, and then when Angel confronted him, he basically told her that the assault was her fault, and not his because she allowed it to happen. No matter what I say to her...she just won't admit that George Keyser did anything wrong...but I can see it on her face, Andrew. I see on her face, and in her eyes each and every day, and I don't know what else to do."

"I saw it too, Kev," Andrew said finally, remembering Friday when Angel had walked in the door,
"I saw the look in her eyes and deep down inside, I knew what had happened, even though I tried to deny it."

"You knew?" Kevin uttered, trying to understand what his supervisor was saying.

Andrew nodded his head, his vision blurred by tears,
"That look of shame and confusion…fear…I had seen it before, Kevin and once you see that look in someone's eyes, you never forget it and it was in Angel's eyes on Friday," He sighed shakily as he rested his head in his hands for a moment,
"So much makes sense now…"

"Why didn't you...say anything?" Kevin uttered as he wiped a hand across his face to smear away the tears.

"I didn't want to frighten anyone, in case I was wrong...and God, I wished I was wrong," Andrew closed his green eyes even as he kept his head turned away from his friend and youngest charge.

"I just don't know how to convince her to tell the truth, Simba," The Caseworker whispered tearfully, shrugging his shoulders,
"Cindy and Brady are going to have to know this; she can only hide the truth for so long..."

"I have to tell Mon' first, though..." Andrew uttered weakly as he lifted his head from his hands and looked through tear-filled eyes at Kevin,
"It's going to break her heart, that much I do know."

"I know," Kevin whispered sadly,
"But maybe this is where her part of this assignment comes in. Maybe she is the one to get Angel to admit it happened. After all, Monica has been there and didn't she try to keep it from you?"

Andrew nodded his head as a tear fell from his eye,
"But something like this can eat you alive if you keep it inside. I learned that with Mon', and Angel has to let this out, Kevin or it will destroy her and she has to be the one to tell them, not any of us. The words have to come from Angelica."

"But what if she still refuses?" Kevin whispered back, his heart already shattering as he spoke.

"She has to, there's no other choice," Andrew's voice cracked as the tears rolled down his face,
"And I don't even want to think what will happen if she still refuses, Kev...Monica is going to have to get through to her, that's all there is to it."

As the youngest angel sucked in a shaky breath, he looked his older friend in the eye and asked quietly,
"Andrew...I heard Angel this afternoon, after she had left school...demanding God an answer as to why He allowed this to happen to her. Why did it happen? Is there a reason?"

The older angel shook his head sadly,
"Mistakes are made every day, Kevin, because of free will," He replied with what he knew to be true,
"The miracle is that God can take anything and turn it into something good. I don't know what the good of this is yet, but I do trust that He is able to do it."

Kevin nodded his head, able to agree with that despite how terrible this whole situation was,
"Brady is going to hit the roof," He sighed sadly as he looked back at his supervisor,
"When are you going to break the news to Cupcake?"

"I can't put it off, as much as I'd like to. Fearing something like this could happen and knowing it happened are two different things. Plus, I don't think she ever planned on working another case involving this kind of situation, but then again, this is Angel we're talking about," Sadly, he shook his head.

Silence filled the air as neither angel spoke for a few moments after Andrew's comments, but a few minutes later, Kevin lifted his head and spoke sadly,
"I hate this, Simba...I just HATE it."

"I know," Andrew replied as he sighed softly,
"I hate it too." The older angel fell silent once more before he continued with sadness evident in his voice,
"Thanks for telling me, Kev..."

With a nod of his head, the younger angel rose to his feet and prepared to leave, just wanting to go for a walk to clear his head. He paused and laid a reassuring hand on his supervisor's shoulder, knowing the task he was about to face,
"I'll be back later if you need me."

Andrew nodded his head as he watched Kevin depart, before he rose wearily to his feet, the impending conversation making him feel like he had already been beaten by demons. Drawing in a deep breath, the angel said a silent prayer before he walked back into the house.

Monica sat on her bed, staring off into space and hugging her pillow to her chest when she heard a gentle knock on the other side of the door and she replied almost too quietly,
"Come in."

Andrew hesitantly poked his head inside of his best friend's temporary room and wanted to sob already at the sight of her; she looked so distraught and sad already, he didn't want to add to it. But he knew what had to be done, no matter how painful it might be,
"Angel Girl, can I talk to you for a few minutes?"

The Irish angel's eyebrows furrowed as she saw the seriousness and sadness apparent on her dearest friend's handsome features, and she could tell that he had been crying earlier,
"Andrew...what's wrong?"

Slowly, Andrew sat down on her bed next to her, and instinctively reached for her hands, his thumbs gently running over her fingers, as he tightened his resolve to be strong for her,
"Sweetie, Kevin finally talked to me a few a little while ago and now I need to talk to you. This isn't going to be easy for you to hear, Angel Girl, it wasn't for me either, but it is something I have to tell you regardless of how much I don't want to."

The look in his eyes and the regret in his words, caused the younger angel to tremble as she felt some of the color leaving her face,
"I don't want to hear this, Andrew," She whispered, already sure that much was true.

"I know you don't but you have to. I'm counting on you to be the one to help Angel admit the truth of what happened," He drew in a deep breath and looked into her eyes,
"The same way you finally had to admit the truth to me about what Philip did to you…"

Her dark eyes widened as they filled with tears, already knowing where this was going,
"No…no…it isn't true, Andrew…it isn't true!"

"I wish it wasn't...but it is," Andrew whispered in reply, his voice choking up once again as he saw the tears falling from his Irish best friend's brown eyes,
"Oh sweetheart, I really, really wish it wasn't true...but the Father has told me that it is-"

"No!" Monica wailed loudly as she leaned forward and started to pound her friend's chest, her cries now muffled as she pressed her face into his shoulder blade,
"Please, Andrew! Please tell me this isn't real!"

Closing his eyes against the tears that started to roll down his own face again, the older angel tightly wrapped his arms around her shaking shoulders and drew her to him. He was silent for a short moment before he whispered back, his voice though soothing, filled with sadness and regret,
"It is, sweet Angel Girl. It is."

"Please…" She sobbed, only wanting to wake up from this and to hear that it wasn't true, that this had not happened to Angel,
"God, no, please…."

"I'm so sorry, baby," He whispered tearfully into her hair,
"God knows I didn't want to have to tell you this. It was hard enough to hear it myself, but then to tell you…" He closed his eyes, feeling her pain with everything in him.

"Her teacher? Was he the…one who raped her…?" She choked out, feeling anger and grief surging through her.

"Legally, yes," He replied softly,
"But she consented….he didn't force her…" He held back sobs as she let out a cry that pierced right into his heart as she trembled violently in his arms. Knowing for the moment she was too distraught to speak, he only held her as tightly as he dared as he rocked her gently. He could feel the anger inside of her and it worried him, knowing she had to put that aside to help Angel; the same way he had been forced to put his anger at Philip aside in order to help her all those years ago.

"How could he do such a thing to such an innocent child, Andrew?" Monica whimpered softly as she pressed her face deeper into her friend's shoulder and tightened her arms around him as tightly as she could,
"And Angel of all children..."

"I don't know the answer to that, little one," Andrew whispered as he rested his chin on the top of her head and allowed a few more tears to spill over onto his cheeks,
"God, I wish I did..."

"So now this is where I come in, huh?" The Irish angel uttered wearily as she never loosened her hold on her best friend,
"This is my part of the assignment..."

His heart broke all over again, hearing the defeat in her voice and remembering the time she had spent in Special Forces and knowing the effect these kinds of cases had on his gentle friend and it made it no easier that this time it was much more personal,
"I'm so sorry, Mon'," He whispered miserably,
"I know how much you had hoped to be done with this kind of work, but this is Angel we're talking about and you are the one who can help her at this point…because you know…"

"Yeah," She whispered dejectedly,
"I 'know'," Pulling away, she wiped at her eyes even as the tears continued to fall,
"I need some air…a walk…or something…not even I know anymore."

Wanting more then anything to stop her, as he didn't want his two charges alone right now, Andrew instead nodded his head in what he hoped looked understanding and watched through blurred vision as his friend hurried out of her room and down the stairs. The next thing he heard was the front door opening and closing shut, and with a shaky sigh, the older angel lowered his head in his hands and gave way to the sobs he had been trying to hold in for the past hour.

"Angel Boy?"

Surprise filled him as Andrew recognized Rose's voice anywhere, and with a quick wipe at his eyes, the angel looked up and into his former supervisor's sympathetic face,
"Rose...?"

"Hello, honey," She said gently as she sat down beside of him and wrapped her arm around his shoulders,
"The Father said you could use some reinforcement right about now."

He nodded his head in misery,
"You know what is going on?"

"Yes," Rose said softly, her eyes filled with regret.

"It's all such a mess, Rose," He burst out, tears flooding his eyes once more,
"Not just Angel, though that is a horrible situation in itself, but I've got one charge who has never had to deal with anything of this nature before and just doesn't know how to feel and another charge who had dealt with kind of thing enough to last her lifetime and feels more than I'll ever be able to understand. I just want to help them, Rose, all three of them…"

"I know how much you want to, Angel Boy. You've always been that way," Rose gently soothed as she pulled him closer and wrapped her other arm around him,
"But sometimes you just have to do your very best, and let the Father take care of the rest. You can only do so much, Andrew..."

"I love them so much, Rose...and I feel so helpless when I can 'only do so much'," The younger angel uttered weakly as he leaned his head on his friend's shoulder as he felt her fingers working their way through his blonde locks,
"I didn't want Monica to be alone right now...especially not right now. But I didn't know what else to do; I know her well enough to know that she sometimes needs time alone, but...she's hurting so much for Angel right now. All those memories are coming back to her. And Kevin..." Andrew stopped for a few moments as he forced himself to take deep breaths,
"I sometimes with that it was me that was given that particular assignment instead of him. He just doesn't know what to do..."

"That is why they have such a wonderful supervisor, honey," Rose replied gently,
"You take the time with them you need to take, in order to get them on the right track. They know that you understand what they are feeling, Andrew, and that is so important."

"But right now they are both out there someplace, feeling terrible and I don't know what to say, Rose to make it any better. I'm also worried that Monica is going to approach that teacher and that is not a good idea at all…" He sighed worriedly as he shook his head.

"No, you're right, it's not a good idea for her to do that," The Search and Rescue supervisor sighed softly as she continued stroking for friend's hair lovingly,
"At least not yet."

"Is George Keyser part of her assignment as well, Rose?" Andrew whispered weakly, now terrified of what the answer might be.

Rose was silent for a few moments as she went over what the Father was telling her, and with a sad sigh and nod of her head, she finally nodded,
"Eventually, he will be, Angel Boy. But not at the moment; right now, your Angel Girl's assignment is Angelica, and nobody else."

"Maybe I should go and look for them," Andrew replied quietly,
"Then maybe the three of us should have a long talk. I want to keep the lines of communication flowing as there has already been enough tension around here," He rose to his feet, but still kept hold of her hand,
"Are you sticking around?"

Rose smiled and nodded her head,
"Yes, honey, for now. If I can be of any help to the three of you, then I'll be here."

Smiling weakly through his tears, Andrew leaned forward and gave the angel who was so much like a mother to him one final hug before straightening up again and heading towards the bedroom door. Before he walked into the hallway, he turned back around and looked back over at Rose and whispered,
"Thank you."

"Your welcome." The elderly red-haired angel replied with a gentle smile.

Turning around and heading down the stairs and to the front door, Andrew grabbed his jacket from the back of one of the chairs and shrugged quickly into it. As he left the house and walked out onto the sidewalk, the blonde angel looked up at the robins blue sky and whispered quietly to the Father,
"Give us all the strength to see this though, Father, and for now, show me where I need to be"

Chapter 12

Monica sat on the bench across from the high school, her swollen eyes, red from crying, staring at it as if willing George Keyser to come out of the front door. Though she had walked with every intention of walking into his classroom, she had talked herself out of it, knowing it was not her place and also knowing how much it would disappoint her best friend and supervisor. But she was so filled with anger that she had been unable to turn and walk away. She could almost feel the fury running through her veins and she had no idea what to do with it, but she did know she couldn't speak to Angelica feeling this way.

Her anger at the assailants is what had gotten her into trouble in Special Forces and she had no desire to repeat those mistakes, but yet she couldn't deny the fact that she was so angry she was shaking. She had never planned on being placed in this position again and while she knew why she had been, with the assignment being Angel, Monica still couldn't help but to feel overwhelmed.

As the Irish angel clenched and unclenched her fists, she forced herself to take deep breaths and to remain as calm as possible. She knew that Andrew must be worried about her, after she had taken off like she did, but she knew that she couldn't return to the Sullivan's until she had dealt with at least most of her anger, as she knew her assignment with Angel would begin rather shortly,
"Help me, Father..." She uttered tearfully, her voice catching in her throat as she spoke.

"What are you doing here, Cupcake?" Kevin's voice appeared at her side and Monica glanced up at him, seeing the deep sadness in his own brown eyes.

"I just needed some air," She replied simply, and the younger of the two nodded his head, knowing full well that Andrew had indeed told their Irish co-worker about what had happened to Angel.

Tentatively taking a seat beside of her, he wished he knew what to tell her to make her feel better as he could only imagine the things that must be going through her mind right now. He was struggling to understand the act that had been taken upon Angelica, having never had encountered this before and Angel had given him few answers as to how she must be feeling. Drawing in a deep breath, and hoping she wouldn't fly off the handle with him, he ventured softly,
"I'm trying so hard to understand how Angel must feel, but it's really hard for me, Cupcake, because I don't understand or have anything to compare it to in order to help me understand…"

Monica was quiet for a moment and when she finally answered, he had to strain to hear her,
"There really isn't anything to compare it to, Kevin. It's horrible…it's like someone taking a part of you away…and even if consent was given for them to do that, no one tells you how awful you're going to feel afterwards. How vulnerable or how alone in how you feel," She drew in a shaky breath, trying to find words to make him understand,
"It would be like someone taking your sense of humor away from you, Kevin and no matter what you tried to do, you couldn't get it back, not the way it was before anyway and you feel angry that no one asked you if you wanted it taken from you in the first place. That might be a bad comparison, but the result is sort of the same. You're now changed forever and you can try to put it behind you but that feeling of being violated never really goes away. That's how Angel must feel right now."

Kevin's eyes were wide as he listened to his Irish co-worker try and explain this to him, and by the time she was finished, the angel wasn't sure of how to respond,
"I...I can only imagine that happening; but I would give my sense of humor if it meant having Angelica be like she used to be..."

Monica stared up at the school building once more and drew in a deep breath before speaking,
"I so want to go in there, and give that teacher a piece of me...but I don't want to disappoint Andrew, Kev, and that will happen if I do that." A small sob escaped her and she wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand before continuing,
"But I don't know how to let go of this intense anger in order to help Angelica. She's like my baby sister, Kevin; how am I going to tell her that everything will be okay when I don't know that it will?"

"I don't know," The youngest angel replied in a whisper, but before he continued, he glanced over Monica's head and saw Andrew heading their way, his face streaked with tears, and Kevin drew in a deep breath as he greeted his supervisor as he finally neared them,
"Hey, Simba."

Relieved at least to find them together and not at each other's throats, Andrew sat down on the bench between the two of them. His heart was pounding loudly at finding them so close to the school and he prayed that his best friend had not confronted that teacher,
"Are you guys hanging in there?" He asked softly, as he tried to regain control of his own emotions in order to help his two charges.

"I think it is safe to say 'barely'," Kevin replied, seeing that his Irish friend was staring at the ground, her hands still clenched into fists that she probably wasn't even aware of,
"How about you?"

"I was worried about you two," He remarked softly,
"I know you both are having a hard time with this…I am too…"

"Cupcake was just trying to explain things to me, about how Angel must feel," Kevin explained quietly,
"It's almost impossible for me to imagine…"

"I know it is." He glanced over at his best friend and then down at her clenched fists; with a gentle hand, he grasped hold of it and unclenched one, but continued to hold onto it, his teary green eyes locked on her miserable looking face,
"Sweetheart?"

"I didn't go and talk to him, no matter how much I wanted to, Andrew," She replied, her eyes turned away from her best friend and on the school building,
"And the Lord knows I do..."

"So do I, but you know that-"

"I can't," She finished in a hoarse whisper, finally turning to face him,
"And I won't until I'm told to, but...considering I know how Angel feels...it makes me so angry, Andrew; and I don't know if I will be able to let go of that anger in time to help her."

"We're both going to help you, Angel Girl, and so will the Father," Andrew tried to reassure her as best he could, his own voice choking up with tears again as he glanced to his right side to Kevin,
"And Rose is also here for moral support. She stopped by after you two left..."

"Really?" Kevin asked, as Monica fell silent once more,
"Is Carla with her?"

Andrew shook his head, though he had to smile slightly at Kevin's hopeful expression,
"Not yet, but I have a feeling she won't be too far behind, Wonder Boy."

Kevin managed a smile, unwilling yet to really discuss his growing friendship with the blond angel,
"That's good to know."

Turning his attention back to his best friend, he sighed sadly, clearly seeing the struggle that was going on inside of her and as he wrapped an arm around her, he could feel the tension within her human body,
"Angel Girl, tell me what I can do to help…"

"I don't know," She whispered helplessly,
"I'm just so angry…angry at that teacher, angry that this has happened, angry that I have to deal with this again…I don't know where to put it, Andrew! Father forgive me, I even feel some anger at Angel for not telling him 'No' and I'm so ashamed to admit that, but I feel it, no matter how much I don't want to. Why didn't she tell him 'No'?"

Tears streaking his face as he heard the words coming from his dearest friend's lips, Andrew wrapped both arms around her shuddering form and held her as tightly as he dared, all the while trying to come up with the right words to say,
"Sweetheart, I really wish I knew the answer to that one...but the answer is going to have to come from Angel alone, and only her. I'm guessing that she didn't tell him 'no' because she was afraid to, but I don't know, Monica..."

"I think she just wanted someone to care about her, no matter the cost," Kevin offered softly,
"I mean, I was there and that was the impression I got from her."

"But WE care about her!" The Irish angel cried out, her voice laced with frustrated anger,
"And her family cares about her…"

"But to a 14 year old girl, Cupcake, those people don't always count," Kevin said as gently as he could,
"She wanted to be accepted by anyone she didn't feel was required to accept her. She went about it all wrong, yes, but I do think that was how she was feeling and why she allowed this to happen."

"But we won't know for sure until you talk to her, Mon'," Andrew whispered tearfully into her hair as he gently rubbed her back,
"And Cindy and Brady will have to know sooner or later...we all know that."

Nodding her head weakly, as she was dreading the time that would come, the little Irish angel continued to clutch her best friend and supervisor as she replied through her tears,
"They're going to hate us all...I just know it."

"Sweetheart, they know us well enough by now to know that we are sent to help and not to interfere. They both know how much we've wanted to stop things before, like Wendy getting into a car with a drunk driver and Patrick's cancer, and this time is no different. We're here to help and we will. Will it be easy? Of course not, especially not for you right now with having to talk to Angel about this, but you know what?" He pulled away to look into her swollen eyes,
"There is no one better for that job than you, Angel Girl. You were trained to do this and while no one is more grateful than I am that you don't have to do this on a regular basis anymore, I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt that you can get through to her. I know it will hurt you to have to have that discussion with her, but when it is finished, I'll be right there waiting for you. I promise."

Bursting into a round of fresh tears, the Irish angel wearily nodded her head as she looked through blurred vision into her best friend's handsome face,
"I guess I have no choice then..."

"We all have choices, sweet girl; but I know you well enough to know which choice you will make," Andrew gently replied, wiping at the moisture on her pale face,
"You can do it, Monica. I have all the faith in the world in you."

"And so do I," Kevin piped up and Andrew turned to smile gratefully in his direction,
"Both Andrew and I will be right there when this is finished. Trust God, and trust Simba, okay?"

Seeing his best friend nod her head weakly again, Andrew sighed softly as he reached his arm out and wrapped it around Monica's shoulders again, while with the other wrapped it around Kevin. For the next few moments, the three angels just sat on the bench before Kevin broke the silence again, his voice laced with sadness,
"I guess there's no time like the present to do this then, huh?"

Andrew nodded his head and let out a soft sigh,
"Hopefully Angel will be home by now since she hooked school today and with no one else there, it would be a perfect opportunity," Briefly pressing his lips to his best friend's forehead, he asked softly,
"Think you're up to it, sweetie?"

"I have to be," She replied shakily, though her human body suddenly felt as old as she was in angelic years.

"That's my girl," Andrew whispered softly to her as he rose to his feet, bringing his two charges with him.

With no more words spoken between them, they headed once more for the house, Andrew's arm wrapped tightly around his best friend's shoulders.

Moving to Monica's other side, the youngest angel reached out and took his Irish friend's hand in his as they walked, and despite the tension that had recently been between them, he didn't miss the look of gratitude in her dark eyes.

Monica drew in a deep breath as she stood outside of Angel's door, trying to prepare herself to go inside. She had splashed cold water on her face to make her eyes appear less swollen from crying and was now struggling to put her own feelings of anger and despair aside for the sake of the 14-year-old girl who desperately needed help.

Knocking softly, Monica then opened the door and saw Angelica sitting at her desk, though it was obvious that her mind was not on homework, especially after skipping school today,
"Angel?" She entered the room and closed the door behind her, taking a seat on the end of the girl's bed. Waiting until Angel had turned to face her, a guarded look on her face, Monica continued,
"I think it is time that you and I had a talk and I think it is time that you were honest about some things," Getting no reply, the angel continued, deciding to get straight to the point,
"I know what happened last week between you and your teacher, and you can deny it all you want, sweetie, but it isn't going to go away or make it so it didn't happen. The best thing you can do for yourself is to talk to me or someone before this eats you alive."

"Why do you two keep pressuring me about this?" Angel whispered, although her voice wasn't as harsh as it was with Kevin. Turning back around to her desk, she continued stubbornly,
"I told Kevin that nothing happened, and nothing did happen! So can we just leave it be-"

"No, Angelica, we can't," Monica interrupted, rising from the bed and grabbing a chair, pulling it over until she was looking directly into the teenager's face,
"You are going to have to stop the lying, little one, and look me directly in the face and tell me the truth. I know the truth; Kevin knows the truth; Andrew knows the truth, and God knows the truth. And no matter how much you want to deny it, YOU know it as well."

Angelica was silent for a moment, tears welling up in her eyes against her will, before she finally whispered,
"You wouldn't understand…"

"I understand much more than you think I do, honey," Monica replied just as quietly as she continued to meet her eyes with Angel's,
"I've been there, Angel, I've been through all of it. I tried to pretend it didn't happen and just pushed on with my work for the next six months, never telling anyone, but it doesn't go away, sweetheart. Not now and not ever and the best you can do is to get it out in the open so it at least gets easier to bear."

Silence filled the room once more as Angelica looked at the angel in shock before she lowered her blue eyes for several long moments before she finally spoke up again,
"He said I was special," She whispered, her voice trembling,
"He said he cared about me and that when two people cared about each other, there was a way to show it. Somewhere deep inside of me, it felt wrong, but another part of me…just wanted to be as special as he said I was…"

"Oh but you ARE special, little Angel," The Irish caseworker soothed as she reached for the young girl's hands and held them gently in her own,
"And George Keyser was so, so wrong to take what he did from you, no matter what he said."

"But I allowed it to happen, Monica...I was so scared of what would happen if I DID say "no", but I just wanted to be liked by someone other then my classmates," Tears fell from the girl's blue eyes as she spoke,
"And now...now, he's kicked me out of his class, and is saying that it's not his fault. That it's mine. And I can't go back there, I just can't..."

"Angel, you need to talk to your parents and tell them what happened. It isn't your fault at all; he is an adult and should have known better-."

Anger flashed in the teenager's eyes as she looked at the angel,
"Oh, so I'm just some dumb kid, is that what you're saying?"

Though she knew where the anger was coming from, Monica still flinched at the change of tone coming from the young girl,
"I never said that, Angelica. But I think he confused you and made you think that this was something you wanted as well, when it wasn't."

"I'm not telling mom and dad," Angelica fumed, rising to her feet,
"And none of you better either! This is my life and I'll handle what happened as I see fit! I didn't ask for any of you to interfere!"

"Angelica, please-"

"No, I just want you all to leave me alone now, okay? Just leave me alone!" With a final glare at the Irish angel, and ignoring the tears that started to well up in her brown eyes, the teenager turned around and fled out the door of her room, slamming it shut behind her. Sinking down in Angel's desk chair, Monica rested her head on her desk and allowed the tears to fall once again.

It wasn't until a few short moments later that she heard the sound of the door opening once more, and footsteps sounded on the floor followed by her best friend's voice as he walked towards her,
"What happened, sweetheart?"

Monica raised her head from the desk, though she refused to meet Andrew's eyes as she struggled to speak,
"I blew it, okay? I failed. Yes, she finally admitted what happened, but then I said what I guess was not the right thing and it all went horribly wrong from there," A sob escaped her as she felt her friend's hand on her shoulder,
"I can't do this, Andrew…I never could! I couldn't handle it in Special Forces and I obviously can't handle it now either, even with this little girl that I love so much. I just make a mess of it. I'm sorry, but I just can't do this…" Getting up, she turned away from the compassionate green eyes that were a window to her soul. Brushing past him, she headed to her room, managing to hold back the sobs until she had closed the door behind her.

Chapter 13

Knowing that he should go after his best friend and try and talk some sense into her, Andrew instead slumped down on the chair Monica just occupied a few moments ago and leaned his forehead into his hands,
"Give me strength, Father...please, just give us all strength to get through this..."

Feeling a tugging at his heart to lift his head, the angel sighed softly and as he raised his green eyes, he frowned slightly as he saw a brown box at his feet. Now more confused then ever, Andrew lifted his eyes to the ceiling, questions filling his heart,
"Father? Is this...Do you want me to give this to Monica or something?"

"Yes, My son. You will understand once she sees it." Came the loving, gentle reply.

Nodding his head, Andrew picked up the box and headed to Monica's room, already hearing her muffled sobs through the closed door. Tears in his own eyes over her grief, he slowly opened the door to find her curled up on the bed, her arms clutching a pillow as she cried bitter tears.

Setting the box down on the chair next to her bed, he sat down on the edge of the bed and gently rubbed her back,
"You're far too hard on yourself, Angel Girl," He told her softly,
"You got her to admit the truth and that is a start."

"I'm…sorry, Andrew…I wish I had done better, but…." She shook her head miserably,
"The Father should have sent another angel from Special Forces to do this…not me…"

"I know that it hurts to do this, little one, but you are the correct angel for this job. I don't think Angelica would've listened to any other angel, but I know that she will listen to you, Mon', if you're only patient with her," Andrew whispered gently as he continued rubbing her back,
"Sweetheart, please look at me..."

With a quick wipe at her swollen brown eyes, the Irish angel relented and finally looked into her best friend's face,
"I'm just sorry, Andrew..."

"Shhh," The older angel whispered, lifting a finger and placing it over her lips,
"There's something I wanta give you." Seeing her confused look, Andrew leaned over and picked up the brown box off of the chair.

Looking at him with confused tears in her eyes, Monica saw him nod his head. Shakily sitting up, she opened the box and immediately began to sob harder when she saw what was inside. Her hands trembled as she lifted from the box the white angel bear, which had been destroyed by the demons several years ago.

Clutching the bear tightly to herself, she remembered when Andrew had first given it to her-at one of the hardest times in her existence; when she had been a very human little girl. Now, she felt faced with another incredibly difficult time, and once again, he was giving her the angel bear, like a reminder that all the pain would pass.

Still weeping violently, her face buried in the soft, white fur, she leaned her head against Andrew's chest, unable to even speak through her tears.

Feeling tears falling down his own face upon seeing what was inside of the box, Andrew closed his eyes tightly as he wrapped his arms around his best friend's shuddering form as she continued sobbing, one arm clutching the bear and the other clutching him,
"I know, sweet Angel Girl..."

"How..." She tried to speak, but her voice became choked up and Andrew nodded his head in understanding.

"You can thank the Father for that, baby girl," The supervisor uttered as a small smile graced his handsome face,
"His timing is always perfect."

Monica nodded her head as she struggled to calm herself down,
"Thank you, Father…" She whispered shakily, her voice catching even as her tears began to slow and she kept her head against Andrew's strong chest as if not yet ready to face anything more yet than the strength and comfort he always offered her.

"The Father and I both know how much this hurts you, sweetheart," Andrew whispered once he had heard her calm,
"But He is still there, Mon' and He is still in control. He chose you to be the one to speak with Angel because He knew you could get her to admit the truth, and you did. You haven't failed, Angel Girl, okay? You did exactly what you were supposed to do at this point, and we're both proud of you."

"Really?" Monica whispered quietly as she slowly lifted her head and looked into his green eyes.

"Really, little angel," Andrew leaned forward and kissed her forehead gently before gathering her and the angel bear, up in his strong arms again and held her tightly.

Patrick wrapped his arms tightly around his girlfriend's shoulders as they stood on the doorstep to her house after school had let out and gave her a tender kiss on the lips,
"I'll see you in school tomorrow, Amy."

Wrapping her arms around Patrick's waist, Amy smiled gently up at him as she whispered tenderly,
"Yes. But Paddy, please, don't be too hard on Kevin...I know you've been avoiding him lately-"

"Amy, I honestly don't wanta go there," He interrupted quietly, his voice though under control, still held some anger towards the angel,
"I'll take care of my feelings towards him when I feel up to it."

Sighing softly, Amy reluctantly nodded her head as she pulled away, kissing his cheek before turning around to go into the house,
"Well, I'll see you in homeroom tomorrow morning."

Lifting his hand in a goodbye wave, Paddy turned around as well and began walking the short distance towards his own home, his mind in a jumble. As he started to head up the steps, his eyes widened in surprise however, as Angelica pushed the door open with all her strength and ran past him. Her blonde hair trailed behind her as she continued running farther away from him and the house.

Undecided for a moment, he debated going after her, but then he bolted down the sidewalk after his sister. He and Wendy had always been rather protective of the shyer, more gentle Angelica, and Patrick was starting to realize as he ran to catch up to her, that he had been so tied up in his own life of late, that he had no idea of what was going on with either of his sisters. He had caught wind from classmates today that Angel had skipped school and that had sent off alarm bells in his mind when he had first heard it, but then Amy had shown up and he had quickly forgotten about Angel.

"Angel! Wait up!" He called out to her, though he was quickly catching up. He doubled his efforts when she didn't stop running and soon he was close enough to grab her arm. She struggled to get away as sobs convulsed through her, but soon Paddy, who was stronger, had her by both arms as she gave up the fight,
"Angel, what is it? What's wrong, sis?" He asked worriedly as she leaned her head against his shoulder and sobbed brokenly. Somewhat awkwardly, he put his arms around her, but a moment later, he relaxed and held her tightly to him as her tears wet his shoulder.

"Patrick…it's such a mess…you wouldn't understand…I'm not even sure that I do…" Angelica sobbed bitterly

Guilt filled him once more as he hugged her tightly,
"I know I haven't been around much, Angel, but you can always talk to me. I'm sure that whatever is wrong we can fix, you know?"

"No we can't..." The teenager uttered into her brother's chest as she quickly wiped at her tear-stained eyes,
"This can't be fixed, Patrick..."

"Then tell me why, Angel," Paddy gently urged, running his hand through her tangled blonde hair, concern etched on his face,
"Tell me why you think it can't be fixed-"

"Because...because I know!" Angelica retorted back, finally pulling away and avoiding Patrick's dark eyes,
"Because I know that it can't be fixed, and none of the angels will be able to help, especially Monica or Kevin!" Finally, the weeping teen turned on her heel and started running away again from her brother, ignoring him as he once again called out to her.

"Angelica, wait a second, kid!" Paddy yelled as he leaped forward again and grasped her wrist,
"What do Monica and Kevin have to do with you? What's wrong, Angel?"

"K..Kevin was there…he saw what happened," Angel sobbed, the words tumbling out,
"And…Monica wants me to tell mom and dad…but I can't…I can't!"

His heart racing, Patrick reached up and took his sister's face in his hands as he had seen Andrew do with Monica so many times when she was upset,
"Tell them what, Angelica?" He asked softly, watching as incredible shame filled her blue eyes,
"Tell them what? Whatever it is, is safe with me, okay? I promise."

"I…I allowed…" Angel shook her head as sobs tore through her,
"I can't, Paddy…"

"Yes, you can," He replied just as gently as his eyes continued to meet hers,
"You allowed what?"

Closing her eyes unable to bear his reaction, her words dropped to a trembling whisper,
"I allowed my math teacher to have sex with me…"

Patrick's eyes widened in shock, which was quickly replaced by the most incredible anger he had ever felt in his life. Drawing his younger sister into his arms as her sobs came even harder, he held her tightly,
"I'll kill him," He muttered under his breath as he felt Angelica shuddering in his arms.

"And...and...now he's saying that it's my fault, and not his..." Angel uttered through her tears and her voice broke off before she could continue.

"That son of a..." The teenager started, but stopped before his language went any further and he only held his twin sister tighter to him, his hand running through her blonde hair,
"He's going to pay, kid. You have my word on that one..."

Feeling too shaken up to reply, Angelica only buried her face further into her brother's chest and held onto him for dear life.

Brady walked in the door late that afternoon, a grim expression on his face. Greeting Kevin with just a nod, he walked over to the stairs and called up,
"Angelica Sullivan!"

As he got no response, Kevin swallowed hard and offered up softly,
"I don't think she's home at the moment, Brady. She headed out about an hour ago and hasn't come back yet. Is something wrong?"

Sighing softly, Brady ran a tired hand through his hair,
"I got a call from the school today. It seems my daughter decided to play hooky, which is more than a little forbidden in this house."

Before Kevin could reply, the front door swung open and Cindy appeared as well, a stern look on her pretty face and her blue eyes met those of her husband's,
"I heard about Angelica, Brady." She set her bag down on the living room couch and looked from Kevin to Brady,
"Has she arrived home yet?"

"As Kevin here was just telling me, she hasn't been home for about an hour; apparently she headed out and hasn't returned. But I'll tell you what, Cindy, that little girl better have some good explanation for us and she could look to being grounded for a few weeks."

"Well, let's at least here what she has to say first," Cindy tried to reason with her husband as she hung her coat up in the hall closet,
"After all, this isn't like Angel to just skip school like that; it had better be a good reason…"

As the front door opened and Patrick and Angelica walked in, Kevin quickly excused himself, not wanting to make this anymore uncomfortable for Angel than it had to be.

Feeling her parent's eyes upon her, Angel swallowed hard as she raised her head and assumed as brave a look as she could manage.

Brady crossed his arms in front of himself and eyed his daughter sternly,
"Glad you could make it home, young lady. Your school called both your mom and I this afternoon and said you were in homeroom, but then decided to leave for the day. Care to fill us in on this?"

"I just didn't feel like dealing with school today," Angel replied, almost defiantly,
"I'm not sure I'm going to feel like dealing with it tomorrow either."

"There must be some other reason why you ditched school after homeroom this morning, Angelica," Cindy interrupted,
"I think everyone has their moments when they don't want to 'deal' with school; but not all of them just decide to play hooky! Honey, what happened?"

"I don't want to talk about it, mom," Angel shook her head before brushing past her parents and heading for the stairs. But her father's voice sounded from behind her and she whirled around.

"Until you're ready to give us a good reason, young lady, and until you've decided to return to school, you're grounded. Now go up to your room!"

"That's where I was headed anyways!" Angelica snapped as she whirled around again and ran up the stairs to the second floor.

"Dad, don't you think you were a little...HARSH on her?" Paddy finally spoke up, feeling sick to his stomach over what had just occurred.

"No, Patrick, actually I don't." Brady replied firmly,
"We have always had rules in this house and those rules are expected to be obeyed by the three of you. When a rule gets disobeyed, especially without a good reason, there is a punishment. You know that as well as your sisters do, Paddy."

"Your father's right, son," Cindy said with a sigh,
"And if something happened for Angel to do this, then she needs to tell us so we can work that out as a family."

Chapter 14

The days passed slowly for the Sullivan family and the angels, and before they realized it, it was the weekend again. As Monica lay awake in her temporary room, her eyes staring up at the ceiling, she drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly, as if waiting for something to happen. Finally, her eyes widened in surprise as the Father spoke softly to her from above.

"You must go with Angelica, My angel." He said gently to her.

"Go with her where, Father?" The Irish angel whispered, her voice slightly trembling.

"You'll know soon enough, Monica," He replied in the same gentle manner.

Sighing softly, Monica climbed out of bed and almost as soon as her feet hit the carpet, she immediately felt something change about her and she knew instantly that she was now in angelic form. Glancing towards the door to her room, she walked out into the hallway just as Angel was coming out of her own room as well. Knowing that the teenager couldn't see or hear her, the Irish angel followed right behind as they descended the stairs and out into the living room. Nobody else was awake at the moment, and Monica didn't miss the look of relief on the young human's exhausted face.

Glancing up at the clock and seeing that it was only a quarter after 7am, the Irish angel drew in a trembling breath as she could only wonder where Angelica was heading off to this early in the morning and on a weekend.

Monica knew that Angel had returned to school, but that she was still grounded so the angel pondered if that was the reason for this early morning errand. She followed the teenage girl for several blocks until they came to the grocery store and Monica continued to follow her down the feminine product aisles, unsure of what it was Angel was looking for.

But when Angelica stopped in front of the pregnancy tests, Monica felt her heart stop along with her feet as she stared in horror as Angel picked up one of the test kits. The girl's hand was shaking as she glanced around her nervously and the angel realized that either Angel didn't have the money to pay for the kit or else she didn't want to risk being seen buying the kit with her parents being so well known in the community. Monica watched miserably as the teenager stuffed the test kit inside of her bulky jacket and hurriedly left the store, and even as an angel, Monica was thankful the girl wasn't caught.

As she hurried to keep up with Angel, Monica felt tears flooding her eyes as she saw the pained look on the girl's face and several moments later they had arrived back at the house. Holding her breath as she feared that Angelica had been caught, the Irish angel followed the teen up the steps and to the front door. Still holding her breath as Angel poked her head inside, and upon not seeing anybody around, she watched her head inside the house and hurry up the stairs to the bathroom.

Leaning against the door, Monica let out the breath she was holding in and moments later, she realized she was in human form once again as she heard the sound of Andrew's voice from the kitchen,
"Angel Girl? Are you all right? You look awfully pale...and what are you doing up so early?"

Sighing deeply, Monica shook her head as she headed over to the living room couch and rested her head in the palms of her hands,
"Oh Andrew, I don't even know where to start..."

Gently laying a hand on his friend's shoulder, he replied softly,
"Tell me."

Drawing in a shaky breath, Monica nodded her head that still rested in her hands,
"Angel snuck out of the house this morning…to buy…well, steal a pregnancy test."

Andrew's eyes widened in shock as he listened to what she was telling him,
"You know this for certain?"

Nodding once more, she continued,
"The Father told me to follow her. I was there, Andrew. My guess is she is up there taking the test right now. Andrew, what if she is pregnant?"

Forcing himself to remain calm for his best friend, Andrew squeezed her shoulder gently as he replied softly,
"If she is...then we'll deal with it when the time comes; or whenever she decides to tell us if it's true."

Lifting her head out of her hands, the Irish angel shook her head before looking into her best friend and supervisor's green eyes,
"How did this get to be such a mess in the first place? I keep telling myself that something good will come out of it, like it always does...the Father has promised us that. But what good will come out of this, Andrew?"

"I don't know, Angel Girl," The older angel shook his head in reply as he wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly,
"I really don't know..."

Two days later, the Sullivan's and the angels were sitting in the living room talking after dinner, which had been their practice during the angel's stay with the family. The angelic threesome did their best to hide their worries about all that was happening as they talked and joked lightly with their human friends. The only one missing tonight, who had been missing most nights, was Angelica, who had once again retreated to her room after dinner. Though Cindy and Brady had both tried to talk to their daughter about what was bothering her, Angel refused to say and the tension between she and her parents was apparent to everyone in the house.

But tonight, Brady stopped in the middle of a story about his day as he saw his youngest triplet walk slowly down the stairs, looking as if the weight of the world was on her small shoulders.

Seeing her husband's attention focused elsewhere, Cindy looked up as well and smiled at her daughter,
"Angel, you're joining us tonight?"

The young girl's eyes flashed with fear and nervousness as she struggled to find her words, knowing she no longer had any choice in the matter,
"I need to tell you all something. I had never planned on you knowing, but now something else has come up and it leaves me with no choice…"

Kevin's eyes widened and he watched as Monica wordlessly slipped her hand into Andrew's as they waited what Angel would say. The youngest angel also noted that Patrick's eyes were filled with sympathy that made Kevin wonder if he knew what had happened to his sister.

"What is it, honey?" Cindy urged gently, her blue eyes full of concern.

Drawing in a deep breath, Angel let it out slowly as she spoke in a trembling voice,
"I'm pregnant."

Silence fell over the living room and Monica tightened her hold on Andrew's hand until her knuckles turned white and with a tearful glance at his best friend, the older of the two placed his hand on top of their conjoined ones and squeezed it. But both angels jumped in their seats as the first voice to speak was Brady, and his voice was filled with so much anger, it took all three angels by surprise.

"WHAT did you just say, Angelica Sullivan?" He shouted as he rose to his feet and stood towering over her.

Glancing at the three angels sitting on the couch, and then at her brother and sister who were both apparently speechless right now, Angel lifted her head and looked up at her angry father,
"I'm...pregnant, daddy..."

"And just HOW did that happen?" He demanded, grabbing her by the shoulders and shaking her,
"Did you finally find some older guy we've never met and decided to have sex with him? Is that it?"

Seeing the pure terror in Angelica's tear-filled blue eyes, Kevin rose to his feet,
"It was her math teacher, Brady and it's called statutory rape. I'm sure you're familiar with the term."

"You knew about this?" Brady roared, glaring at Kevin and then at the other two angels, his angry expression making Monica shrink back against Andrew.

"He…he was there, daddy…" Angel whispered shakily.

"You were there and you did NOTHING?" Brady demanded, his gaze once more on Kevin.

"You know we cannot interfere, Brady," Andrew replied as calmly as he could,
"We're here to help, but we cannot interfere with anyone's free will, not even your daughters."

"Free will?" Brady turned his attention back to his daughter, his anger dark eyes drilling into hers,
"You did tell this man "No", didn't you?" When she didn't respond, he gave her another shake,
"Answer me!"

"N-no...I didn't, daddy...I, I wanted somebody to love me, to care about me, even if it was my teacher," Angelica sobbed as she trembled under her father's touch,
"And...and I was scared that he would hurt me if I did say 'no'..."

"How could you allow this to happen, Angelica?" Brady snapped roughly, finally releasing her,
"Heaven knows we raised you better then that!"

"Daddy, stop it!" Wendy finally spoke up, rising to her feet as she attempted to defend her sister. But Brady was faster then she was and he snapped heatedly.

"Wendy, this doesn't involve you, so stay out of it, okay?" Turning back to the third triplet and then to the three angels in the living room, Brady shook his head in disgust,
"I cannot believe you all would know about this, and not say a word-"

"It's NOT their fault, dad, so please stop making it sound like it is!" Angel raised her voice, even as it was choked with tears,
"I made Monica keep my secret, after she finally got me to admit it. I was just to scared to tell you, and now I see why I was!"

Cindy looked up at her husband with tears streaming down her face,
"She's right, Brady. The angels could not interfere."

"So what is the good in having them around then?" Brady snapped heatedly, before turning his attention back to his daughter,
"You said you were afraid he would hurt you…did he have a gun or a knife? Did he threaten you?"

"N…No…" Angel sobbed, as she shook her head,
"He was tutoring me for math and then it was just…. Different…" She tried to explain.

"Tutoring you, huh? Why didn't you ever tell us that? Or did this happen more than once?" Brady demanded.

Anger welled up inside of her as her tear filled eyes glared at him,
"What do you want to hear, daddy? That I liked it and we did it over and over again? That your daughter is a slut?"

Before he could stop himself, Brady drew his hand back and slapped her across the cheek, though he immediately regretted the action his anger had caused.

"How dare you?" Monica exploded, rising to her feet despite Andrew's attempt to hold her back, as she planted herself between father and daughter,
"She just told you the hardest thing she will ever have to tell you and this is how you react? It isn't what she needs right now, Brady! Believe me, I know!"

"Monica, listen-"

"No, YOU listen for once, Brady! Your daughter was trying to tell you something, something that was hard enough as it was! And instead of having sympathy for her, you slap her? How dare you!" The Irish angel cried in anger,
"The same exact thing happened to me a lifetime ago, Brady, and it still hurts to think about it! But my best friend was there for me, and he didn't blame me! But you are, and that I will never, ever understand, Brady!"

"Look, Monica, this is not about you, this is about Angelica," The human interrupted in anger as he glared at her, pushing aside the guilt he felt for raising his hand to his daughter,
"And she never told that teacher 'no', so what do you expect me to say?!"

"She expects you to love her, that's what she expects from you, Brady," Andrew finally jumped in, feeling anger in his own heart as well towards his human friend,
"Unconditional love. Angelica just told all of us that she's pregnant for goodness sakes, and instead of that love, you're reacting in hate towards her!"

"He is so right, Brady..." Cindy fumed as she glared at her husband through slanted blue eyes,
"All three of you, you are exactly right. I don't know you right now, Brady..."

Brady lowered his head, hearing all that they were saying to him,
"Well, maybe I don't know myself right now," He confessed, his voice softer,
"And I certainly don't know my daughter right now." Turning on his heel, he walked out the front door without another word.

A sob escaping her, Angel turned and bolted up the steps to her room unable to face the stunned silence in the living room.

"Angel!" Monica cried out tearfully, as she turned and hurried up the steps after the teenager.

Cindy left out a shaky breath as she sank down onto the sofa,
"I know I should go up there, but I have no idea what I would say at this minute…and I know we need to call the police and report this man…this monster who would prey on a 14-year-old girl…"

Glancing at his other twin sister next to her, Paddy sighed deeply before rising to his feet and walking out the front door in a huff, not even bothering to grab his jacket. Wiping at the tears in her blue eyes, Cindy also rose to her feet and hurried into the kitchen before sobs overtook her, leaving Kevin, Andrew and Wendy alone in the living room.

"Are you okay, Wendy?" Kevin softly asked, seeing the devastation in her eyes.

Feeling speechless for the moment, Wendy just shrugged her shoulders before finally finding her voice and choked out,
"My own twin sister was...was..."

"I know, sweetie," Andrew whispered, lowering his green eyes to his hands.

"I should have been a better sister to her," Wendy whimpered miserably,
"I knew how lonely she was, but I still didn't want her sitting with me at lunch because my friends thought she was weird. She's my sister! Had I acted like one, maybe she would have told Mr. Keyser 'No' and then none of this would be happening!" Leaping to her feet, as sobs escaped her, Wendy bolted for the back door, despite Andrew calling out to her, and fled out the back gate.

"This is such a mess," Kevin remarked sadly,
"The whole family has been shaken up and yet none of them are together, Simba."

Sighing softly, Andrew just nodded his head, but before he had time to reply to his youngest charge, a familiar voice sounded in front of him and the angel's eyes widened at who the voice belonged to,
"That's why we're all here, Angel Babies."

"Tess..." Andrew whispered miserably as he watched his older friend and supervisor hold her arms out to him and he rose to his feet, heading straight into her arms.

"And me too," Carla's voice also sounded next to Tess and Kevin looked up to see one of his own closest friends standing next to her. A tearful smile played on the young angel's mouth as he also rose to head over to Carla.

"We're glad you're here..." He uttered,
"I take it you know what has happened?"

"Yes, Kevin," Tess replied as she released her hold on her 'Angel Boy',
"We all do, and so does Rose. We're all here for different people...or angels...and right now, I'm assigned to Brady Sullivan. I just wanted to stop by and see how you two babies are doing?"

"We're doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances, Tess," Andrew replied wearily,
"Though things have just taken a turn for the worst moments ago. I'm not sure how Mon' is as she is with Angel right now, but she certainly laid into Brady."

"She couldn't imagine anyone reacting any other way other then the way you reacted to her, honey, when you found out the truth all those years ago," Rose told him with a gentle smile,
"You never placed blame on her nor guilt and she expected the same from Brady."

"We were all disappointed with that one," Kevin remarked bitterly.

"He's a human, Kev," Carla interjected gently, looking into his eyes,
"His anger and hurt over the fact that his little girl had been hurt got the better of him and he directed it in the wrong place is all."

"Definitely the wrong place..." Andrew remarked with a disgusted shake of his head,
"I have never felt so much disappointment in Brady Sullivan before..."

"And that's why I'm here, to help him, baby," Tess smiled reassuringly at her friend as she gave his arm a tender squeeze,
"And speaking of which, I had better get going. It's no time like the present to start getting that human back on the right track..." After giving Andrew and Kevin final hugs goodbye, the older supervisor disappeared from the living room.

"So who are you two here for?" Kevin asked flatly, looking from Carla to Rose.

"Rose is basically here for anybody whenever they need her," Carla sighed softly as she looked from Andrew's green eyes to Kevin's disgusted brown ones,
"But I'm here for one angel, and that's you, Kevin."

Chapter 15

"Shhh, Angel," Monica whispered as she held the sobbing girl in her arms. She had been up here with her for the past 15 minutes and Angelica's sobs hadn't so much as lessened a little bit,
"I know, sweetheart, I know how much it hurts…"

Angel buried her face deeper into Monica's shoulder as she trembled violently,
"D…daddy…" She whimpered miserably as another sob escaped her as she felt the angel rocking her gently in her arms.

"He'll come around, sweet girl. He's angry right now, but the one he is really mad at is your teacher," Monica reassured her, despite the anger she was harboring in her own heart at Brady at the moment,
"Someone has hurt his baby girl, Angel, and he doesn't quite know how to handle that right now." She pulled away gently to look into the girl's sorrowful eyes. There was barely a mark on her cheek as Brady's slap had not been hard, but what he had bruised was his daughter's heart with his anger and his actions,
"Try to calm down, honey, okay? This isn't good for you or your baby."

"My...baby...then it's so true; I'm pregnant at 14 years old..." Angel uttered through her sobs as she wiped a hand over her eyes,
"How...how could it h-have h-happened..."

Gently pulling the teenager back into her arms, Monica closed her own tear-filled eyes as she tried to think of an answer to tell Angelica,
"I don't know, sweetheart-"

"Th-there's only...only one answer I h-have to all of t-this," The girl choked out in misery as she buried her face into the angel's shoulder again. Although she knew deep down that the words she was about to say wasn't the right answer, she was too upset to think clearly,
"I have to...I have to get rid of t-this baby...that's all there is to it..."

Monica felt her heart thud to the floor upon hearing those words as she quickly pulled away once more, but placed her hands firmly on Angel's shoulders,
"That is not the answer, Angelica, and you know it."

"It is for me!" Angel sobbed angrily,
"I can't go back to school pregnant! My parents are going to make me press charges against Mr. Keyser and though I'm a minor and my name won't be released in the papers, news travels fast, Monica and it won't take the entire school long to put two and two together! Mr. Keyser is accused of statutory rape and Angel Sullivan, the girl no one looks at twice is pregnant! I won't do it, Monica!"

"This baby is innocent in all of this, Angelica!" Monica argued, trying to hold herself together,
"There are other alternatives! Abortion is not the answer!"

"The baby may be innocent, but I no longer am and I'm not-I'm NOT-going to wander around school pregnant and have my classmates continue to make fun of me-"

"That's their problem, Angelica Sullivan. But I for one forbid you to have this abortion..."

"You're not my mother, Monica," Angelica interrupted through her sobs, wrenching herself free from the Irish angel's tight grip,
"And I'll do what I please."

"Why don't you consider something else, instead of killing an innocent human life?" Monica burst out as she felt tears flooding her own sad brown eyes again,
"That is what you're doing, you know. It's murder!"

"Why are you interfering now?" Angelica snapped heatedly through her tears,
"None of you could stop this from happening to me to begin with, but now you want to forbid me from doing something about it? Does this free will thing only work when it suites you?"

Monica drew back as if the young girl had slapped her, and at the same time, she knew she had stepped over the line with trying to forbid Angelica from doing anything. That wasn't her place as an angel and she knew it. Tears brimming in her dark eyes, she rose from the bed,
"You're exactly right, Angel. I can't stop you from doing anything, but I do want you to think about it, long and hard." Knowing she couldn't hold back her tears much longer, she turned away and walked out the door.

Almost as soon as she headed out into the hallway, the sobbing Irish angel collided head on with a hard body and knowing instantly who it was, Monica didn't pull away; instead, she slumped against her best friend and allowed him to hold her tightly. Wrapping her arms tightly around Andrew's neck, the Caseworker sobbed as if her heart was being ripped from her.

"Shhh..." The supervisor whispered into her ear, the same way Monica had tried to soothe Angel just a few short minutes ago,
"Let it out, Angel Girl."

"She...she's thinking of getting an abortion, Andrew..." Monica whimpered miserably as she never loosening her grip on her best friend and supervisor,
"I tried to talk her out of it, but...it only seemed to make things worse..."

Andrew nodded his head as he held her tightly, though the words went straight through him like a shot,
"She's a minor, sweetie. She'd have to have parental consent and I don't think Cindy or Brady believe in abortion. At least, I hope not. So, lets cross that bridge later, okay?"

"This is such a mess…" She sobbed brokenly,
"and Brady…how could he? I'm so angry with him, Andrew!"

"I'm not too happy with him at the moment either, Mon', but we can't judge. Brady is a good father, but his anger got the best of him. Don't let it get the best of you, Angel Girl." He replied gently, knowing despite the shambles this family was in that he needed to take this time with her right now as the Sullivan's were going to need her in the days to come,
"How about you and I take a little walk, okay?"

Although she wanted so desperately to head over to Mr. Keyser and give him a royal piece of her mind, Monica sucked in a shaky breath and forced herself to nod her head, not trusting herself to speak. Feeling her friend pull gently away from her and grasp her hand in his own, the little Irish angel attempted a small smile as he whispered lovingly to her,
"Then let's go."

"Brady Sullivan?"

Brady's dark eyes widened in shock as he heard the familiar voice of Tess next to the bed, and he sucked in a deep breath as he saw the firmness of her gaze. It was late at night now, and several hours after the incident with his daughter, the human had decided to pack his bags for the night and head to the nearest motel, as he couldn't bring himself to return home,

"I know why you're here, Tess-"

"And you are going to listen to me good and well, Brady." Tess interrupted, pulling a chair up next to him and looking sternly at him.

Sighing, Brady nodded his head, knowing enough that he did not want to get into a battle of wills with this particular angel or he'd lose.

"What happened to that little girl of yours was not her fault. That teacher is an adult and he preyed on a lonely, insecure 14-year-old girl. That makes him a criminal and your daughter a victim of statutory rape, but as ugly as that sounds, that little girl is at home right now wanting her daddy," Tess stated firmly, making sure that Brady was paying attention. Seeing that he was, she continued,
"You're her father, Brady and her hero and you broke that little heart tonight worse than it was already broken. She loathes herself right now and to think that you feel the same way about her as she does about herself is devastating for her."

"I don't loathe her, Tess," Brady tried to defend himself, although he knew it was useless, as he knew Tess was exactly right,
"She's my youngest daughter, and I love her-"

"Then SHOW HER that you love her, Brady," Tess snapped back, looking directly into his eyes,
"You sure didn't' show her that you loved her today. You slapped her, yelled at her, and then ran away from her. That's not the way a father is supposed to act, and I don't want to see you turn into what your father-in-law used to be."

"I'm not a child abuser-"

"Did I say you were?" Tess demanded, folding her arms across her chest,
"No, I did not. Patrick Hendrickson had a change of heart way before it was his time to go Home; you know that. And I'm not accusing you of beating your children, Brady! What I'm saying is you are to stop being selfish, pack your bags and go back home to your family and to Angelica, who needs you now more then ever!"

Brady was quiet for a moment before he nodded his head,
"I was just so angry, Tess…angrier than I've ever been before. What I really wanted to do was punch that teacher," His eyes filled with tears as he remembered his young daughter trembling in fear in front of him,
"I need to get home. I need to hold my daughter."

Tess smiled as relief filled her as she rose to her feet,
"This is going to be hard, Brady, you know that. But you need to hang onto the love you and your family share in order to even begin to put the pieces back together again. Look to that love and to God and He will help you all through this."

A half hour later, Brady walked in the front door of his home and watched as Cindy looked up at him through reddened eyes from where she sat on the couch. Dropping his bag to the floor, he approached her and fell to his knees in front of her,
"I'm so sorry, baby," He whispered through tears, his Irish brogue thick with emotion,
"I reacted terribly and in anger and that was wrong. I just couldn't imagine anyone hurting our baby girl like that and-."

Cindy cut him off as a sob escaped her and she threw her arms around him as she wept bitter tears against his shoulder, unable to even speak as she held onto him tightly.

"I love you so much, Princess and I love our children so much and I was a fool tonight," He uttered as he stroked her blond locks tenderly as she began to calm.

"I won't argue with that," Cindy whispered, letting out a short laugh all the while never releasing her husband,
"I forgive you, though...but Angel is the one who really needs to here that, Brady."

"And I have every intention of making it up to our little girl, Princess," The human gently pulled away and laid a tender kiss on her lips,
"But right now, I just wanted you to know how sorry I really am, and I will never do this type of thing again. We'll both help Angel through this, together."

Nodding her head as the tears continued to flow, Cindy squeezed his hand tightly,
"She's up in her room. She hasn't come down all evening..."

Nodding his head, Brady rose to his feet and took the stairs two at a time, drawing in a deep breathe when he came to Angelica's door. Not bothering to knock, he opened the door softly.

At first, he thought her to be asleep, but looking closer, he could see her shoulders trembling with quiet sobs. Carefully sitting on the edge of her bed, he reached over to rub her back gently,
"Angel," He said softly.

Rolling over, Angelica's swollen eyes widened at the sight of her father,
"Daddy?" She uttered, her voice catching in a sob. Seeing love in his eyes now and not the anger of before, she burst into fresh tears,
"I'm sorry, daddy…I'm so sorry…"

Gathering her up into his arms, he held her tightly against his chest as tears fell from his own dark eyes,
"I'm sorry too, baby," He managed to choke out.

"Please don't hate me..." The teenager uttered miserably as she clutched her father tightly,
"I'm so sorry..."

"Angel, I could never, ever hate you. You're my sweet little girl, and I love you with all my heart and soul," Brady whispered into her tangled blonde hair as he rubbed her back gently,
"I'm just sorry that I didn't show that love to you earlier, when I should have. Please forgive me, baby girl?"

"I do, daddy..." Angel whispered in reply, burying her face in her father's jacket,
"But I'm just so scared; I'm so scared..."

"And we'll help you through it all," Brady promised as he finally released her and brought her chin up so that their eyes met in the darkness,
"I promise. Or, as Andrew tells Monica, I cross my heart."

His words reminding her of how hateful she had been to her angelic friend earlier, Angel began to sob once more as Brady drew her close to him, rocking her as if she was a little girl until the tormented teenager had cried herself to sleep in her father's arms.

Some time later, Andrew with his arm wrapped tightly around his best friend, came in the front door. They had walked and talked for quite some time, until he had felt a bit better about his friend's state of mind.

"We were beginning to get worried about you two."

The sound of Tess' voice caused Monica's head to jerk up as she saw her former supervisor, Rose, Kevin and Carla all seated in the living room,
"Tess…" She uttered softly, as Andrew gently released her and she went to hug her friend tightly.

"Hello, baby girl," Tess hugged her former charge back before gently pulling away and embracing her 'Angel Boy',
"Are you two babies doing any better?"

Sighing softly, Andrew took a seat in between Monica and Rose, grasping his best friend's hand again and wrapping a strong arm around his own former supervisor,
"I think so, Tess...how about you? How'd things go with Brady?"

"Well, he's arrived home if that's what you're asking, Angel Boy," Tess replied with a small smile, sitting down on the little Irish angel's other side,
"And it looks like he's admitted to his wrong doings; he's actually upstairs with Angelica right now."

"Thank you, Father," Monica whispered as she felt the first bit of relief she had felt in quite some time.

"But there is still another big concern," Rose said softly as all eyes turned to her,
"Patrick is harboring a lot of anger at the teacher and is considering taking matters into his own hands."

Kevin let out a low groan,
"Does this never end?"

"No time soon anyway," Carla responded sadly, shaking her head.

Andrew sighed sadly as he released Monica's hand to wrap his arm around her to pull her close, seeing the defeat in her expression,
"One of us needs to talk to him tomorrow."

"I can't talk to him, Andy...because I'm feeling the same anger as he is towards Mr. Keyser," Monica whispered into her best friend's strong chest,
"I just can't do it..."

An uneasy silence filled the living room as each angel were thinking their own thoughts, before Andrew broke the silence and spoke,
"I guess I'll do it then..."

"Are you sure, honey? Because I can tell you're not all too happy with that teacher yourself..." Rose pointed out as she squeezed her younger friend's hand tightly.

"I have to," Andrew shrugged his shoulders,
"Somebody's gotta do it, and it's gotta be as soon as possible. Tomorrow morning I'm gonna try and talk to him..."

"I'm sorry, Andrew…" Monica sighed sadly, feeling badly that he had to take this on right now.

"Don't be, sweetie," He replied reassuringly,
"You and Kevin have had the roughest parts of this so far. I can take care of talking to Paddy tomorrow."

"With that settled, I think the three of you need to head up to bed. You all look positively wiped out and tomorrow could be a long day," Tess advised them, seeing how drained the threesome looked.

Nodding his head, Andrew helped Monica to her feet as Kevin rose to his and after his two charges bid goodnight to their remaining friends, the blonde supervisor glanced back over his shoulder before he headed up the stairs to his temporary room,
"I'm glad you three are here..."

Smiling over at her former charge and friend, Rose made her way over to Andrew and laid her hands on his face tenderly,
"We're glad to help, Angel Boy. Now go on up there and get some well-deserved rest, okay?" The Search and Rescue angel gave her friend a loving kiss on his cheek before gently ushering him towards the stairs. Sighing softly, Rose then turned back to the remaining two,
"Keep those prayers up, because I know that although Brady is no longer angry at Angel, this is far from over."

Chapter 16

Andrew was up early the following morning for the sole purpose of being able to speak with Patrick before he left for school. Though still weary, the angel showered and dressed and made his way down to the kitchen, where he found Paddy toying with a bowl of cereal, a solemn look on his face.

"Morning, Paddy," Andrew greeted him, as he took a bowl from the cupboard and poured himself a bowl of cereal. Pouring milk overtop of it, he then grabbed a spoon and sat down at the table across from the teenager, noting that Patrick had barely mumbled a "good morning" to him,
"You look like you've got something pretty serious on your mind," Andrew commented cautiously,
"Not that with everyone going on, you wouldn't, but is there anything you want to talk about?"

Raising an eyebrow at the blonde angel in front of him and seeing the concerned look on his face, Patrick lowered his eyes again as he continued toying with his cereal,
"Nothing that's all that important, Andrew..."

"Patrick, if something's on your mind...it's not best to keep it inside of you, you know?" Andrew pointed out gently, taking a bite of his cereal even as his eyes stayed on the teen.

"Look, Andrew...I appreciate your concern, but nothing's on my mind," Patrick mumbled as he rose to his feet, not feeling hungry anymore, and moved to dump the rest of the contents of his bowl into the garbage dispenser,
"Really."

"Why don't I believe that?" Andrew pressed carefully, knowing he was treading on dangerous ground already.

"Andrew, how would you feel if your loved one was just brutally assaulted out of the blue?" Here, Patrick turned around and faced the angel, his face showing total anger,
"How would you feel? Wouldn't you feel angry as well?"

"As a matter of fact, Patrick, yes, I would feel angry, and did feel angry a long time ago when this happened to someone that I love," Andrew replied, his eyes meeting those of the teenager,
"And for the record, I'm not real happy with this teacher either, but he will be taken care of by the police-."

"Yeah, well not before I get a shot at him," Patrick retorted hotly,
"No one treats my sisters that way, Andrew! No one!"

Andrew drew in a deep breath and kept his voice as calm as he could manage,
"I understand your protectiveness of Angelica, Patrick. I do. But your parents will be taking care of this. If you go and get yourself into trouble over this, you won't be able to be there for your sister and she needs you right now."

"Oh I'll be there for her, but not until after I kill that jerk!"

"You will do no such thing, Patrick-" Andrew started, but the teenager interrupted him.

"Look, I don't care what you or my parents say, but nobody is going to stop me from taking a shot at George Keyser!" His dark eyes blazed with anger as she shook his head,
"He's going to wish he had never been born by the time I'm done with him..." With that, the teen brushed past the angel, grabbed his backpack off the back of his chair and ran out the kitchen door. The next thing he heard was the sound of the front door slamming shut.

Resting his head in his hands, Andrew shook his head and whispered,
"Father, aren't we allowed any breaks on this assignment?"

Feeling the love of the Father surrounding him, he sighed once more, realizing that if he wasn't careful, he could stand to lose all hope with this assignment.

Monica walked through the corridors of the high school early that morning before the halls were crowded with students. She knew she stood to get into trouble with being here but after another restless night of nightmares, the angel had been unable to stop herself this morning. She was filled with anger at this teacher and though she had no idea what she was going to say, she just knew she needed to confront him and she wanted to do it before Brady called the police on the teacher that day.

Her eyes scanned the room numbers on the classroom doors before they came to rest on room 102, which she knew belonged to George Keyser. Looking in through the glass, her eyes came to rest upon him as he sat at his desk grading papers and a feeling of unease crept over her. Why did he seem to be familiar to her?

Pushing aside those uneasy feelings that she knew him someplace, the Irish angel drew in a shaky breath, whispered a quiet "I'm sorry" to both her best friend and the Father, and pulled the door open. George Keyser didn't even seem to notice the Irish angel's presence as she walked in and he didn't even look up until Monica broke the silence.

"Mr. Keyser?"

Glancing up and looking at the angel almost irritably, the teacher leaned back in his chair and folded his arms across his chest. A small smirk was on his face as he looked Monica up and down,
"What can I do for you, miss?"

"I'm a friend of Angelica Sullivan," Monica stated simply.

Silence.

His eyes still upon her, she continued as calmly as she could,
"I know what you did to her and I want you to know that you are not getting away with it. You can sit there and say all you want that it is her word against yours, but believe me, there is some hardcore evidence against you and your days of preying on teenage girls are over."

George Keyser eyed this petite woman, anger flickering in his eyes as he rose to his feet,
"How dare you come in here and make such accusations? I don't know who you are, lady, but you have about 30 seconds to get out of my classroom."

"You know that it's the truth and you can't deny it," Monica fumed inwardly as she spoke, her voice slowly rising,
"As I said, there is proof, and I'll tell you right now one of them! The teenager you assaulted is now pregnant, thanks to you; and you're the babies' father. What do you have to say for yourself now?"

Without even thinking, the teacher raised his hand and struck the Irish angel across the face in a hard blow. Ignoring the gasp coming from her, George Keyser got in her face and whispered threateningly,
"Get OUT of my classroom, or I will have you personally escorted out. Which do you prefer?"

Her hand on her burning cheek, Monica turned furious brown eyes to him and whispered,
"Now I can see why Angelica hates you so much."

George Keyser watched as the woman retreated from his classroom and once she was out of sight, he hurriedly threw his few meager belongings into his briefcase and left the building. If what that woman was saying were true, he was not going to be around when the police came around to ask questions.

An hour later, the little Irish angel slipped quietly in the front door of the Sullivan house, grateful when she didn't see anyone in sight. She had yet to stop shaking since her confrontation with George Keyser and her cheek throbbed from the force of his strike on her. On top of that, she felt positively sick over what she had done.

"There you are," Andrew's voice interrupted her thoughts as she sank down onto the couch and lowered her head,
"You're not going to believe this one, Angel Girl. Brady called the police on Angel's teacher and they went to the school to pick him up for questioning and he's vanished. They said it looked like he had packed up his stuff and left for good!"

Her heart stopping, Monica never lifted her head, as she knew that the moment she did, Andrew would be asking what had just happened. Instead, she listened as her best friend and supervisor continued talking,
"I don't understand what happened! His classroom was empty, and after the police had questioned some students, they found out that he was there early in the morning, but..." Stopping, he noticed that the Irish angel never looked up to meet his eyes and concern filled his being,
"Monica?" Coming over to her side, he sat down next to his friend and laid a gentle hand on her back,
"Angel Girl, what's wrong?"

Knowing she had no choice now, Monica slowly lifted her head, already preparing herself for a huge blowup, and looked directly into Andrew's face. The moment she did, she saw her best friend's green eyes widen in horror as he cried,
"What happened to you?!" He gently took her face in his hands, and carefully laid one on her swollen cheek,
"Angel Girl, how did this happen?"

Tears welled up in her dark eyes and fell onto her cheeks as she tried to find the right words, all the while knowing that there were no right words. She had made an even bigger mistake than she had originally thought and it was all she could do to keep from throwing up,
"I…I went to see Angel's teacher," She whimpered, her voice catching in a sob,
"It was wrong, I know it was wrong…I know you told me not to, but I was so filled with anger at him…I didn't know what else to do. I confronted him about Angelica and told him she was pregnant…" She broke down into heart breaking sobs as she struggled to continue,
"I'm sorry…that's why he must of left…I don't know what I was thinking…I'm sorry…I'm sorry…"

His green eyes widening in shock and horror over what he just heard come from his friend's mouth, Andrew opened his mouth to reply, a snappy remark on the tip of his tongue; but he soon snapped it shut as he remembered the last time Monica had made a horrible mistake, and how he reacted to it. It had taken him a long time in order to forgive her, after she had apologized countless times. He wasn't about to make that same mistake again.

Instead, the older angel lowered his own shaking hands from her face and brought them up to rub his eyes,
"Oh Monica...Monica, WHY?"

"I...I...I felt like I had to, and I was so...so angry..." The Irish angel uttered tearfully as she watched her best friend's reaction,
"I'm so, so sorry, Andrew...I've done it this time, I know. But I really am truly sorry...That teacher is now gone, maybe forever, because I went to talk some sense into him..."

Feeling hot tears brimming in his own eyes as he now felt like the weight of the world was on his shoulders, Andrew drew in several deep breaths and tried to calm his racing heart before he slowly raised his head again and looked at Monica,
"Well then, I guess there's nothing we can do about it now..."

"I know you're probably furious at me-"

"No, that's where you're wrong," Andrew interrupted as he felt the tears start to fall down his handsome face,
"I'm not furious at you. Disappointed, yes; confused, yes. But not furious, Angel Girl."

"You have every right to be," She whispered tearfully, shame visible in her dark eyes along with the pain she always felt when she left him down.

Not commenting on her remark, he touched her swollen cheek once more,
"You didn't explain this."

"When I accused him of what he did to Angel, he hit me…" She admitted shakily, almost feeling frightened at the dark anger that appeared in his eyes as he got up from the couch and walked wordlessly into the kitchen. Breaking down into fresh tears, as she wasn't sure of what to think, she lowered her head once more as the sobs tore through her, wishing more than anything she could take back what had happened this morning.

A moment later, he was back and he gently raised her head as he pressed an ice pack to her cheek, sympathy in his eyes as he watched her wince in pain,
"Right about now, I wouldn't mind having a go at this teacher myself," He muttered more to himself than to her.

Monica was quiet for a moment before she looked up into his eyes,
"Andrew, I think…I think you should take me off this case. I've messed this up so badly and you have no reason to trust me on it any longer. I…I don't deserve to be here and now you have Tess, Rose and Carla here to help you and Kevin," A tear escaped her eye as her lower lip trembled,
"I think you should remove me."

His green eyes widening at her words, Andrew gently took the ice pack from her cheek and looked deep into her tear-filled eyes,
"I could do that if I felt it was right, but I am your supervisor and I'm leaving you on the case, Mon'. I know that you're needed; and yes, you made a horrible error this morning, and it was wrong. But that doesn't mean that you didn't learn something from it, and I believe with all my heart that you will be able to help Angel. But just remember, Angel Girl, that until the Father gives you the go, do not go anywhere near that teacher when, or if, he's finally found."

"But I just made things worse, Andrew!" The Irish angel objected through her sobs as her best friend gently pressed the ice pack back on her cheek,
"Why are you continuing to trust me with this case?"

Andrew was quiet for a moment as he lowered his eyes with a weary sigh,
"Maybe because I need you here."

Monica shook her head firmly,
"I keep making more work for you. I've harassed Kevin, more than once, and this, Andrew, this is unforgivable. I've just changed the complete outcome of this assignment! That man is now out there and able to hurt someone else! You're my supervisor and I should have listened to you, but maybe because you are also my best friend, I know that you are always going to forgive me when I do these things," She wiped at her eyes blindly, trying to find someway to alleviate her guilt,
"I wonder if you aren't so afraid of what happened between us several years ago that you are holding back how you really feel, but there is a medium between being my best friend and being my supervisor and you know in your heart that if any other angel had done what I did this morning, you would pull them off the assignment."

Gulping, Andrew opened his mouth to reply, but no sound came out. Finally after a few minutes, the older angel helplessly shrugged his shoulders as he replied quietly,
"You are right, Monica...on that part...But..."

"But what?" Monica pressed forward, trying to figure out why exactly he was refusing to take her off of this case.

"Monica, this being the supervisor and your best friend, has been a lot harder then I ever expected it to be when I was first promoted," He began, ignoring the tears running down his own face,
"I've always wanted to put being your best friend ahead of being your supervisor; but then there are those times when I know I have to lecture you, and I hate it. I will never forgive myself for what I did to you all those years ago after my surprise party; one thing led to another, and...we almost lost you for good, if it wasn't for Philip." Drawing in a shaky breath, he continued,
"And I really do need you on this case, Monica. I'm telling you the truth about that. I had that talk with Patrick this morning, and it didn't go well at all; in fact, things are now worse with him then I ever thought possible. He-he has said that he wants to kill that teacher, and although a part of me doesn't think he will, another huge part of me knows that he is human, and if he can, he will get revenge. You're not the only one starting to lose hope on this case, little one, but so am I, and now that this teacher is gone..." He shrugged his shoulders as he forced himself to finish,
"Let's just say that I need my best friend here with me on this case, so we can help support each other; and I don't think Kevin would be too thrilled either if I took you off."

"Kevin and Brady are going to be furious over what I've done," She whispered, never having felt more miserable,
"And I'll be the one to tell them, not you," She was quiet for a moment as she found the courage to look up into his saddened eyes once more,
" I need to tell you that what happened all those years ago is over and when it comes to assignments, you are first and foremost my supervisor and I need to realize that as much as you do. I don't want special treatment when I intentionally do something to jeopardize the assignment and when you forgive me so easily, it doesn't make me feel better, only worse, because I know I don't deserve it. I think if you yelled at me, I'd feel better, but instead I feel awful because I disobeyed a direct order and changed the out come of this and you're telling me it is more or less okay, but it's not okay…"

"I never said it was okay, Monica-," He began, but she interrupted him.

"But I don't want you or I to feel like I use the fact that you are my best friend to get away with things that I never should have done to begin with," She interjected shakily, almost afraid of being this honest with him,
"I don't think I do it intentionally, but then I think that if Tess were my supervisor, I wouldn't have dared walked into that man's office today. I loved working for Tess, but I never wanted her mad at me and it used to be that way with you, but now you just seem to forgive all the trouble I've caused with this one. The other thing is, Andrew, I can't promise you I won't screw this up again. I wish I could, but I can't. One thing I learned about myself that year I spent at Home was that with these kinds of cases, my emotions get the better of me. If I get angry, I act on that anger-it's like I can't control it. You have so much on you with this assignment, and I can see the stress inside of you. Do you really need to have to worry about me and what I might do on top of everything else?"

Andrew fell silent as he took in all she was saying to him, his emotions in turmoil. Handing her the ice pack, he rose to his feet and walked over to the window, crossing his arms across his chest as he gazed outside.

Monica watched him tearfully for a moment before she lowered her head once more and waited, knowing that love sometimes meant being completely honest, regardless of the consequences.

Chapter 17

All was silent in the Sullivan's living room as Monica stared at Andrew's back, as he continued to look out the window. The little Irish angel watched as he lowered his head before running a hand through his blonde hair, as if he was contemplating his options and Monica felt her heart filling with guilt all over again for having to put her dearest friend in this kind of position to begin with. Shakily rising to her feet, the ice pack still in her hand, she whispered,
"What are you thinking about?"

His back still facing her, Andrew slumped down on the chair next to the window as his legs were starting to shake madly and he couldn't hold himself up any longer. As the older angel lifted a hand to wipe at his green eyes, he finally looked back over at his best friend who was waiting for
an answer from him and he uttered wearily,
"Angel Girl...I really hate to say that you're right, especially right now...but you are." He watched as she seemed to suck in a shaky breath, as if knowing what he was going to say, but Andrew pushed himself to finish,
"I'm sorry, Mon'...I'm really sorry, but I think I am going to have to do this..."

"Don't be sorry," She whispered shakily, forcing back a sob,
"Just finish the sentence."

Steeling his resolve to act as her supervisor at this moment, as much as he possibly could, he met his tear-filled green eyes with hers,
"You've jeopardized this assignment today by intentionally doing something I asked you not to do. You followed your own will and not the will of the Father. Had He wanted you to talk to this man, He would have told me and I would have told you. You promised me you were going to work on your lack of patience and your temper and today you walked into that classroom and did what you wanted to do and while I am not angry with you," He paused to make that point very clear to her before he continued,
"I am sorely disappointed in you. I expected more from you, despite the fact that I know how hard this assignment has been on you due to the nature of it. I've let a few things slide the last few weeks that I shouldn't have, but I can't let this one slide. You've left me with no choice but to remove you from the assignment."

Monica closed her eyes as tears slipped down her cheeks. Though the words hurt, she knew they were deserved and they did lessen her guilt somewhat,
"I'll talk to Brady, Cindy and Kevin and let them know what I did," She managed to choke out through the lump in her throat, then despite her own pain, she added for him,
"You're doing the right thing, Andrew," Turning to go, she stopped and looked back at him,
"Do you want me to stay and just not be involved, or should I leave?"

Forcing himself to take deep breaths, Andrew looked into her eyes as he replied quietly,
"After you tell the others...head over to the cabin, and I'll keep you updated, Monica."

Nodding her head miserably, Monica knew she couldn't ask anything more of him, so she headed as quickly as she could up the stairs and out of sight. As soon as she was gone, Andrew lowered his head into his hands and gave way to the sobs he wanted so much to hold in, but couldn't any longer. He didn't notice, however, that Tess had appeared in the room next to him and was now kneeling beside of him.

"I know how hard that was, Angel Boy. But she was right, you did the right thing."

"Then why does it hurt so much, Tess?" He whispered shakily.

"Because you love her so much, baby," Tess replied gently, running a hand through his blond hair,
"And she understood that enough to know that you were allowing her to get away with things and she needed you to see that too. Being her supervisor and her friend shouldn't be as hard as it has been for you, but you need to put behind you what happened a few years back. You won't repeat that, baby and she knows that. But you need to know that in order to be able to separate supervisor from friend," She smiled gently at him as she wiped at his tears,
"I never told you supervising was easy, Angel Boy, and you're still learning, but you did the right thing."

"Sometimes I wish I was never promoted in the first place, Tess..." Andrew shook his head miserably as he lowered his eyes.

"But think of all the good times you have had with your two charges, baby," Tess soothed as she continued running her hand through her friend's hair,
"Those two just love you, Andrew, especially Monica. And no matter how many times you may have to scold her, she will always love you. Just give it some time, honey; the Father still has all of you in the palm of His hand and don't you forget that."

"I know He does, Tess," He replied with a heavy sigh,
"Days like today though…I keep hoping for a break on this assignment and it just keeps getting worse. Everything with Angel, and Paddy threatening to take revenge on the teacher and Wendy blaming herself and now having to release Monica when I want her here…and I know Brady is going to lay into her and I want to protect her from that…"

"But you can't, baby. She has to face this and tell him what she did and at the very least with this man missing, Patrick can't do anything to him," She paused for a moment and smiled,
"You know, your Angel Girl has come a long way working for you, baby. How much easier would it have been for her to have not said anything about talking to George Keyser today? There was a time she would have sooner lied, but you've taken her past that. You're a wonderful supervisor, Angel Boy, and maybe later you can slip away to the cabin for a bit and be her friend, because she'll probably need one and so will you."

"I'd like that, Tess..." He replied with a shaky sigh as he lowered his exhausted eyes again.

"C'mere, baby," With that, Tess reached over and gathered her former charge into her strong arms, holding him tightly as he released his emotions.

"Kevin?" Monica tentatively opened the door to her co-worker's temporary room a few minutes later and found him staring up at the ceiling,
"Kevin...can I talk to you for a few minutes?"

"What's up, Cupcake?" The youngest angel asked flatly, never moving his eyes.

"Actually, I need you to come with me…I need to say this to Brady and Cindy as well and I think they are in the study," She replied shakily, wanting to get all of this over as quickly as possible.

Finally looking at her, his eyes clouded with concern as he could tell she had been crying and there was the beginning of a bruise on her cheek,
"Monica, what happened to your face?" He asked worriedly, rising to his feet.

She shook her head slightly,
"That's not important right now. Come with me, please?"

Kevin nodded his head as he followed her into the study where they did find Brady and Cindy talking quietly, though they both looked up in surprise as the two angels entered the room.

"Monica? Kevin? Are you guys all right?" Cindy questioned, seeing the seriousness in Monica's eyes, and the confusion in Kevin's. But before she could continue asking the questions that she was thinking, she noticed the large bruise on her angelic sister's face, and her eyes widened,
"Monica, who HIT you?" She started to rise to her feet, but the Irish angel held her shaking hand up to stop her.

"I'll explain that in a few moments, but right now, I need to tell you something. All three of you," She turned to look at her co-worker next to her and sucked in a deep breath,
"Kev, could you go over and sit down next to them, please? This should only take a moment..."

"You sound awfully serious, Monica," Brady spoke slowly as Kevin took a seat by Cindy's side,
"What's on your mind?"

"Um, I really don't know how to say this, so I'm just going to say it," She began, her voice shaking,
"I went against direct orders from both God and Andrew this morning. I went to go and give George Keyser a piece of my mind...or so I thought, and things didn't go as expected. I'm the reason he's suddenly disappeared, maybe for good...and Andrew has removed me from this case, so I won't screw things up any more then they already are..." Lifting a hand, she wiped at the tears streaming from beneath her frightened brown eyes.

"You WHAT?" Brady exploded, slamming his fist down on the desk,
"What did you tell him exactly?"

"I…I told him I knew what he had done and that she was pregnant, so I'm sure that is why he took off…" She managed to choke out through a sob.

"Monica, how could you do this?" Kevin snapped, unable to believe that yet something else had gone wrong.

"I made a terrible mistake, Kevin…a terrible mistake and I'm sorry…"

"I can't believe this!" Brady roared as he rose to his feet,
"I've got angels who won't interfere when I wish they could and an angel who does interfere and now a guilty man is walking free!"

"I know what I did was horribly wrong, and that's why Andrew has removed me from this case...you-you all won't have to see me in your house-"

"Well, that's good because I want you out of my office right now, Monica, and out of my house! Just get out!" Brady shouted as he pointed to the door.

"Brady..." Cindy began through her own tears, but her husband ignored her pleas as he continued shouting at the little Irish angel.

"Right about now, I would've kicked you ALL out of my house at the moment, but after some thought, I've decided against that. I want you to pack your bags, little angel, and get OUT. You got that?" Brady snapped, his trembling finger still pointing to the door.

Unable to meet the human's angry eyes anymore, Monica nodded before turning around and bolting out the door and towards her bedroom.

Fully aware of what had happened earlier, having been filled in by Rose, and now overhearing what had just occurred in the study, Carla tentatively opened the door to Monica's room, her eyes filling with tears as she found her friend throwing her few items into a bag, but she was sobbing and shaking so badly, she could hardly pull things from the hangers in the closet,
"Monica?" Getting no response from the nearly hysterical angel, Carla approached her and laid a hand on her shoulder,
"Monica, just stop for a minute okay?"

"I've got to get out of here, Carla," She managed to say in between sobs as she tried to catch her breath,
"Andrew wants me out and…Brady has made that abundantly clear…I've made a horrible mess of this…and can't fix any of it…."

Wrapping her arms around her friend as the Irish angel dissolved into fresh tears once more, Carla soothed as best she could,
"Shhh, calm down, Monica."

"How can I calm down, Carla?" The older angel continued sobbing as she finally pulled away from her former charge and continued to throw her belongings into the bag on her bed,
"How can you tell me to calm down at a time like this?"

"Because it's not healthy for you, that's why, Mon'," Carla replied as she placed her hands on her friend's to try and stop her enough so that she would face her,
"You need to calm yourself down-"

"I just need to make the Sullivan's happy right now, okay, Car?" She interrupted through her sobs,
"This is at least one thing I can do right...by leaving this house."

"They're all just angry right now, Monica; and you know that Andrew isn't mad at you. Everyone will calm down if you only give them some time, honey," Carla continued to try and sooth her former supervisor, but she didn't appear to be succeeding much.

"Andrew did the right thing, I know that, though it still hurts. I let him down and Kevin and the Sullivan's and Angel…poor Angel…" Sitting down on the bed, she covered her face with her hands as she cried, her stomach in knots from all that had happened,
"I've lost this earthly family as they'll never trust me again…and Andrew shouldn't trust me again…Kevin will probably never speak to me again…"

Hearing her friend's sobs turn violent once more, Carla was really starting to worry as she knelt down in front of her,
"Honey, please calm down, then I'll help you pack and drive you to the cabin, but you have got to settle down first. I know it seems hopeless right now, but it isn't. It only feels that way."

"Oh it's hopeless all right, Carla," Monica looked down into Carla's concerned green eyes which were a mirror image of Andrew's,
"I never understood why this all happened in the first place, and I ended up screwing things up even more. I don't think the Father will help me make things right after this..." Rising to her feet, the Irish angel quickly threw the last of her belongings in the large bag before zipping it shut,
"I've just gotta get out of here. Now." With that, she turned around and darted out the door, hearing Carla's footsteps behind her as she followed.

As the two angels made their way down the stairs, Monica stopped as she saw Andrew still sitting by the window and Tess was just rising to her feet as well. Her heart in her throat, the Irish angel couldn't bring herself to say anything for the next few moments as she just watched her best friend's eyes turn to face her.

Looking into her doe-like brown eyes, Andrew could see all the pain she was in at the moment and it broke his gentle heart. Knowing he didn't have much time as he knew from the Father what had happened in the study, but also knowing he couldn't leave her go like this, he stood up and approached her, his eyes pained at her tears and swollen eyes.

Reaching out, he tenderly wiped at her tear-streaked face,
"I'll be by later, Angel Girl, and we'll talk, okay?"

Fresh tears filled his eyes, as she miserably leaned her forehead against his chest as she sobbed brokenly. More than anything, he wanted to sit her down and talk to her right now, but he knew he couldn't. He knew the things that Brady and Kevin had said and he had to talk to them, hopefully with Tess' help, to try and make them understand. Though they had every right to be angry, he knew Monica hadn't done this to be deceitful. Yes, it had been a rash decision but had she had any idea of the consequences, she never would have done it.

"I'm sorry…" She whimpered in between sobs, breaking his heart all over again.

"I know," Andrew whispered back to her as he pulled away and looked into her reddened eyes,
"I love you, sweetheart. You know nothing changes that. Now go with Carla and I'll see you later, okay?"

"I love you too, Andy..." She whispered miserably as she wrapped her arms around him one more time in a final hug,
"I love you too..." Finally forcing herself to release her best friend, she looked up into his own sad eyes before attempting a small smile and turning around to follow Carla out the door.

Chapter 18

Once Carla and Monica had departed, Andrew ran a hand over his eyes once more,
"I hate this, Tess. I really hate this," He muttered sadly as he drew in a deep breath,
"And I don't think I can go up there alone…" He looked at her hopefully.

"Say no more, baby," Tess replied as together they headed for the steps, neither looking forward to what they may encounter in the study, but they got a vocal preview before they even got there as loud voices were heard as soon as they started up the steps.

"I can't believe you, Brady Sullivan!" Cindy's angry voice rang through the hall,
"Since when did this become 'your' house and since when do I not get a say in anything? I know that you don't completely understand, but these angels, specifically Andrew and Monica have been part of my family since I was a little girl, and that angel you just screamed at to get out of 'your' house, is the closest thing to a sister I've got!" She paused for a breath, but she was nowhere near finished,
"And what did you mean by you had considered kicking them all out? Have you no consideration for anyone other than yourself? They are here to help, they have always been here to help and they have been here for some of the toughest times in my life! They aren't God, they aren't perfect, but I love them, mistakes and all!"

Andrew flinched as he heard the anger in Cindy's voice and with a glance over at Tess, the younger angel hesitantly made his way into the study and stood there quietly until he saw three pairs of eyes looking his way.

"Eavesdropping now, huh, Andrew?" Brady retorted as he crossed his arms in front of his chest.

"You know that's not my job, Brady," Andrew replied firmly, his eyes traveling from the two humans to Kevin,
"I don't eavesdrop, I just accept what I hear from the Father-"

"So you obviously know what your Angel Girl just did then, huh?" Brady growled, as his eyes grew angry as he mentioned the Irish angel.

"When will you cut it out, Brady?" Cindy shouted as she glared over at her husband,
"Have you no heart anymore? What has happened to the man I married and loved?!"

Andrew kept his eyes focused calmly on the Irishman, praying he could remain calm when he felt anything but that,
"Yes, Brady. I know what Monica did and I have taken her off this assignment, despite the fact that a part of me says doing that is a gigantic loss, especially to your daughter."

Brady rolled his eyes,
"Yeah, as you've all done so much to 'help' her so far-."

Andrew felt Tess' hand on his arm as a silent warning to be calm and that was the only thing that kept him from exploding, though when he did speak, his voice lacked it's normal warmth,
"Let me fill you in on a few things, Brady. The angels in your home knew what had happened to Angelica for about two weeks before you ever did and the only reason you know now is because Monica convinced her to accept what happened to her. Angel was denying anything happened at all and keeping it all inside, which would have destroyed her and Monica and I both knew that. The reason we knew it was because the same thing happened many years ago to that little angel you just screamed at to leave your home," He took a step closer to Brady as he continued, trying to swallow his anger, the effort causing him to tremble as he spoke,
"But despite the nightmares and the flashbacks she has been having since this assignment started, her only concern has been your daughter and trying to help her. She was the only one in this house who truly understood what Angel has been through. Yes, she made a mistake this morning and she is paying for that mistake, but anytime an assignment causes her to be confronted with what happened to her, the anger she feels at the attacker, in this case, your daughter's attacker, gets the better of her. She tries to hold it back, but it is one of the scars she carries on her heart from her own experience. She was so angry at the injustice done to Angelica, she couldn't help herself, because she loves that little girl, just like we all do, and she hated the fact that he was sitting at that school thinking he had gotten away with it. She did what you wanted to do, Brady, what we all wanted to do. She didn't do it to be malicious or deceiving but because her love for Angel and her anger at her attacker got the better of her." Andrew drew in a deep breath, his being able to speak what he knew in his heart was the truth, making him feel slightly better,
"So, you can twist this around anyway you want to, but you know in your heart that Monica nor any other angel who has ever set foot in your home, has never meant to do anything but help your family."

Andrew felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders as he finished speaking and he let out the breath he had been holding in. Glancing up at Brady and seeing his eyes widen in shock, the angel turned to look over at Cindy and Kevin and noticed they too were silent. Turning his green eyes back to Brady, Andrew shook his head slowly,
"I can't force you to believe me; you know that. But I can only hope and pray that you will, and know that I have spoken nothing but the absolute truth." Knowing he needed to get some air, the blonde angel glanced at Tess, mumbled, "Excuse me," and hurried out the door.

The two remaining angels and humans watched him depart, and Brady slumped down on the chair next to his desk, feeling like a tiny ant after he had heard everything Andrew had said to him.

Watching as Kevin got up and headed after Andrew, Brady let out a deep breath,
"I had no idea," He whispered shakily,
"I had no idea that little angel had been through this…that she knew what Angelica was going through."

"You didn't give yourself the chance to know," Cindy replied, her voice still edged with disappointment at her husband,
"You just went flying off the handle again…you didn't give her a chance to explain anything before you were screaming at her. She looked absolutely terrified, Brady," She blinked back tears as she stood up and prepared to leave the room, but she turned around one final time, her sorrowful eyes on her husband,
"Do me a favor and let me know when I can talk to the man I married, okay? I haven't seen him much the last two days." Turning on her heel and trying to ward off tears, she hurriedly left the room.

Seeing that Tess was still standing in the doorway after Cindy had left, Brady sighed as he rubbed his forehead,
"I'd just like some time alone right now, if you don't mind, Tess..."

Tess sighed softly before nodding her head in reluctant agreement; but before she too left the room, the elderly supervisor came over and rested a hand on Brady's shoulder,
"Just don't ever forget that even though you have made mistakes today, God still loves you." Trying to offer him a reassuring smile, the angel then turned back around and exited the room, shutting it behind her.

Kevin hurried down the stairs moments later as he followed his supervisor out of the study, and found him sitting on the swing on the front porch, rocking gently back and forth. Sighing deeply, the youngest angel quietly headed towards the door and opened it, making his way over to his older friend and took a seat beside of him. But Andrew seemed to be too deep in thought to even acknowledge his presence.

"I'm sorry, Andrew..." Kevin finally broke the silence, looking down at his hands.

Andrew nodded his head after a moment,
"I know, Kev."

"I should have taken up for her when Brady was yelling his head off, but I didn't," The young Caseworker continued softly,
"But instead I sat there thinking she deserved it as much as she thought she deserved it…"

"No one deserves to be treated that way for a mistake, Kevin," Andrew responded softly, his eyes still on the afternoon sky.

Silence fell between the two for a moment, before Kevin spoke up once more,
"Can't you let her come back? This whole assignment is such a nightmare, Andrew, we need her here-."

But Andrew shook his head firmly,
"No, Kevin, I can't. I have to stick by my decision, no matter how much it hurts all of us."

"But why?" The youngest angel asked quietly.

"I...It's hard to explain, Kevin," Andrew shook his head miserably, his eyes still turned away from his charge,
"I would explain it to you in full if I could, but..." Sighing, the angel finally turned around to face Kevin and looked him directly in the eye,
"Kev, you've got to believe me that I never wanted to do it in the first place; in fact, I wasn't even planning on letting her go, until she got me to speak the truth to her. A huge part of me feels horrible for letting her go like that, but another part knows it was the right thing to do no matter how much it hurts..."

"But Andrew-." Kevin began but was interrupted as Carla pulled up in front of the house and slowly walked up the path to the porch.

"Hey," She greeted them softly, her green eyes, the color of Andrew's filled with sadness,
"How are things here?"

"Slightly better, but not great," Kevin replied dejectedly,
"Is Cupcake okay?"

"No," Carla stated softly, meeting her eyes with Andrew's own saddened gaze,
"She was still in tears when I left. Andrew, can't you reverse this thing or something?"

He closed his eyes miserably as he shook his head,
"I can't, Carla, but I am going to go to her soon. I just need to figure out who is covering what tonight as I'm not planning on coming back till morning. Cindy and Brady are at odds and I need someone to talk to Wendy…and Angel…" He blinked back tears,
"I have no idea who should check in on her…"

Sighing sadly at the miserable look on her friend's face, Carla came around and sat down on Andrew's other side on the swing,
"If it'll be of any help, Andrew, I'll keep an eye on Angelica while you're at the cabin. I mean, I was on board that same ship all those years ago, and both Mon' and I were held captive together." Sighing again, the little blonde angel continued with a shrug of her shoulders,
"All I'm saying is that although I don't know completely how she feels, I do have an idea as I was attacked as well on that ship..."

Reaching for his friend's hand, Andrew gave it a squeeze as he replied through the tears that were starting to brim over,
"Thank you, Carla..."

"And I think that Tess and Rose will be taking care of Cindy and Brady; but you might wanta make sure, because that's only my guess," She continued softly.

"I can try and talk to Wendy, Andrew," Kevin offered quietly. Although he was upset that Monica wouldn't be returning during the course of the assignment, the angel knew that he needed to help his supervisor out as much as possible,
"I dunno how much I'll succeed, but I can try."

Andrew laid a hand on his charge's shoulder as he managed a small smile,
"Thank you, Kev…both of you. This means a lot to me," Drawing in a deep breathe, he rose to his feet,
"I just need to find Tess or Rose and then-."

"Get out of here, honey," Rose interrupted him as she appeared on the porch with them,
"And don't you worry about a thing tonight, we've got it all under control," Seeing the tears falling from his eyes, she hugged him tightly before releasing him and with a half hearted smile, he vanished from sight.

Monica had tried diligently to pull herself together after arriving at the cabin to no avail. Her ribs and throat ached from the tears that refused to end and not even a shower had stopped her trembling from all that had occurred this day. The now blue and purple bruise from her cheekbone to alongside her eye only reminded her of the horrible mistake she had made that morning, which had snowballed into Angel's attacker vanishing, Andrew's disappointment in her and releasing her from the assignment and Brady and Kevin's anger. Though she understood that there would have been no way for her to stay at the house and not be involved, the feeling of being banished to the cabin alone devastated her and all she could think about was all those she had loved and hurt in a matter of minutes that morning.

Pulling herself together enough to start a fire in the fireplace, the little Irish angel then retreated to the couch with a quilt and willed sleep to come, but it was the tears that came instead once more, despite the aching of her body from so many. The hatred in George Keyser's eyes, the disappointment and pain in Andrew's and the anger in Brady and Kevin's wouldn't leave her mind, as she curled herself into ball on the couch and sobbed, wishing she could vanish altogether.

As she was just about ready to cry herself to sleep, the sound of the front door opening caused her to jerk her eyes open and sit up straight on the couch. Pulling the quilt tighter around her, she watched through blurred vision as Andrew walked into the cabin and closed the door tightly behind him, locking it shut. Before he even turned around, the Irish angel whispered miserably, wondering if he'd even be able to hear her,
"Andrew..."

Whirling around at the sound of her voice behind him, Andrew turned around and the tears immediately started up again as he saw her sitting on the couch, a large quilt wrapped around her small, trembling frame, and she seemed to be looking over at him with miserable eyes. Wanting to close the space between them as quickly as possible, the older angel threw his car keys and his jacket on the table next to the door and headed over to the couch.

As he opened his arms to her to invite her in, the supervisor whispered in a choked up voice,
"Come here, Mon'." As she immediately wrapped her arms tightly around him, he closed his own arms around her and held her as tightly as his arms would allow,
"I am so sorry about earlier...but I'm staying here until morning, with you and only you, so you have got nothing to worry about. Tess, Rose, Kev and Carla have got everything under control back at the house."

Though she had a million things she needed to say, no words would come at the moment as the sobs shook through her once more at just the mere feel of his strong arms around her reminding her that she was no longer alone,
"A…Andrew...I…" But the tears overtook her words as she shook her head and clung to him miserably.

"Shhh," He whispered through his own tears, as his hand ran through her still damp, shoulder length hair,
"I know, baby, I know. It's been a horrible day, Angel Girl…the worst you and I have seen in a long time, but it's going to be okay. I promise you, it's going to be okay," Andrew rocked her gently as his tears fell into her hair,
"C'mon, Mon', calm down before you make yourself sick with this. It's going to be all right."

Trying her hardest to calm herself down but only continuing to cling to him, refusing to let him go, Monica drew in sharp breaths one right after the other and after several moments, she finally found herself starting to calm down slowly. Miserably, the Irish angel whispered into his chest,
"I...I'm sorry...for everything..."

"You think I don't know you are, little one?" The supervisor gently kissed the top of her head as he finally pulled back and gently held onto her shoulders,
"Of course I do. I know how sorry you are, and how you wish you could take it back; but things will be all right, I promise you."

"I'll never be able to face B-Brady...or Kevin again, Andrew..."Monica uttered through her tears, watching through blurred vision as her best friend's eyes started to water up again as well,
"They'll only look at me with...with mistrust in their eyes now..."

"I don't think so, Angel Girl," Andrew soothed as best he could, reaching his hand up and smoothing back a lose strand of her damp auburn hair from her eyes,
"They'll both come around, I know it."

"And what about you?" She whimpered hoarsely, her voice catching in another sob, as her swollen eyes searched his,
"When will you trust me again?"

Chapter 19

Andrew looked into her eyes, an incredulous look on his handsome face,
"How can you even ask me that, sweetheart?" He replied gently, taking her face into his hands, being careful not to touch the angry bruise,
"You and I have no trust issues, Angel Girl…none. Do you think I don't realize the extent of the emotions you have felt since this whole nightmare began? You haven't been sleeping and you were very upfront with me about what you feel is your lack of ability to handle these kinds of things. No, I didn't want you to go and talk to that teacher, but do I understand what drove you to do it? Absolutely, Monica. It doesn't make it right, but I understand and it has nothing to do with my trusting you."

She was quiet for a moment before asking in scarcely a whisper,
"But I still can't come back onto the assignment, can I?"

Andrew lowered his green eyes as he listened to her question, and it broke his heart all over again at the answer he knew he had to give,
"I'm sorry, Angel Girl, but I...I can't allow that..."

Lowering her own eyes and trying to force back more tears for her best friend's sake, as he didn't need her breaking down again right now, Monica numbly nodded her head and whispered,
"I understand."

Sighing softly and blinking his eyes rapidly to hold back his own tears, Andrew was silent for a few moments before he reached tenderly for her hands and gave them a gentle squeeze,
"Well, sweetheart, we've got the entire night ahead of us; and I'm not going back to the Sullivan's until morning. So...how about I fix us up some coffee and maybe pop us up some microwave popcorn? How does that sound?"

Though she knew he was trying to distract her, she shook her head sadly,
"I'm not very hungry, Andrew and there is something else I need to tell you," Looking up once more, her eyes shimmering with tears, she continued,
"You said today that being my supervisor and my best friend was a lot harder than you originally thought it would be and I hope I made it clear today that depending on the situation, whether it be a friend situation or a supervisor situation, I want you to act accordingly. While I may not always like the decisions you make…for example, I hate this one, especially the fact that I can't even be there, though I do understand…" She drew in a trembling breath as a tear slid down her cheek, and she squeezed his hands tightly,
"I don't want any special treatment when I screw up. I don't want you being both supervisor and friend to me to be hard for you, because I never want you to feel like you ever have to chose between the two," Her voice trembled as she finished in a tearful whisper,
"Because I don't want any other supervisor and I don't want any other best friend…"

"Neither do I," Andrew uttered weakly before letting out a deep sigh. It took several moments before the older angel continued, his own voice giving away just how tired he really was,
"Why don't you try and get some shut eye for a few hours, Angel Girl? I'll be nearby if you need anything."

Giving her best friend's hands another tight squeeze, Monica wearily nodded her head,
"All right."

Rising to his feet, Andrew pulled the heavy quilt up around the Irish angel's shoulders and laid a gentle kiss on her forehead,
"I love you, little one."

"Angel?" Carla poked her head in the teenager's room after saying a silent prayer to the Father to give her guidance with the young girl who had remained in her room all day today,
"I just wanted to check up on you and see if there was anything you needed or if you wanted to talk…"

Remaining curled up on her bed, Angel shook her head,
"No, not really," She replied quietly, glancing up at the blond angel,
"I thought I was Monica's assignment…"

Tentatively, Carla sat down on the edge of the bed and nodded her head,
"You were, honey, but…now I'm afraid you're stuck with me," She attempted a smile, but Angel's face only took on a concerned look as she sat up and met her baby blue eyes with those of the angel.

"Where's Monica, Carla?" Angel demanded.

Carla drew in a deep breath and left it out slowly,
"Angel, it hasn't been a very good day around here today, I'm afraid…"

"What are you talking about?" The teenager asked quietly, her blue eyes still on the green-eyed, blonde haired Search and Rescue angel,
"Are mom and daddy fighting again or something?"

"It's something a little more complicated then that, honey," Carla tried to tell her as gently as possible. With a soft sigh, the little angel laid a gentle hand on Angelica's arm and rubbed it lovingly,
"Monica is no longer on this case, Angel. She made a horrible mistake this morning, and Andrew has removed her-"

"What? Why?" Angel burst out, moving to sit up straight on the bed, her tear-stained eyes filled with horror and disbelief.

"Sweetie, Monica went to talk to your teacher this morning because she was so angry with him, but after she confronted him, he took off and the police can't find him. Andrew had forbid her to talk to him, but she did it anyway and he had to pull her off the assignment for disobeying," Carla spoke as gently as she could to the already fragile young girl.

"Who cares if he left?" Angel cried out angrily,
"I don't care if she went to talk to him! I need her here, Carla! She understands this! It's happened to her…she knows!"

"Honey, I know that and so does Andrew, but angels can't just take matters into their own hands, no matter how angry they are and you know if Monica could be here for you, she would be, but she just can't be right now."

"That is so unfair, Carla!" Angel cried as she forced back rounds of hot tears. She refused to cry right now, especially when she was so angry,
"She has to be here..."

"You'll see her later, Angelica, but right now..." Shaking her head, Carla sighed wearily before continuing,
"There's no way she can be. But Andrew's with her right now, so that they can work some things out; and I agreed to check up on you while Mon' can't be here-"

"I don't want YOU here, Carla!" The teenager shouted, her eyes narrowed in anger,
"I want Monica!" With that, Angelica shoved past the blonde angel and made her way to the door; but Carla was too fast for her and gently grasped her arm before she could pull the door open.

"Honey, please...just talk to me," She pleaded, wanting more then anything to help this little girl.

"You can't help me," Angel stated firmly, her eyes showing her great hurt and pain,
"Have you ever been raped, Carla?" Her young voice was accusing as she watched as Carla sadly shook her head,
"Then you have no idea, okay? There was only one angel in this house who understood what this felt like and she was sent away and no one asked my opinion or how I would feel about that, so just leave me alone!" Wrenching her arm away from the little blond angel, Angelica turned and fled down the stairs.

Tears filled Carla's eyes as she leaned up against the doorframe and sighed miserably,
"Andrew, I really hope you know what you're doing…"

Kevin knocked softly on Wendy's door before he opened it and he smiled as she looked up at him and managed a sad smile,
"Hey kiddo. I just wanted to stop in and see how you were doing," He explained as she beckoned him to enter. Taking a seat in the chair by her bed, he awaited an answer.

"I'm better today, Kev, thanks for asking," Wendy replied, closing the book she had been reading,
"I mean, I'm still really upset about what happened to Angel, but I told my friends today that until they could accept my sister, that they weren't my friends any longer," She lifted her chin slightly, feeling good about what she had done,
"They weren't real friends anyway. I mean, what kind of best friends would make fun of your sister just because she is shy?"

Smiling sadly at the teenager, Kevin reached over and laid a gentle hand on her arm as he replied,
"Real friends wouldn't do that, and I'm glad to see you've decided to take that step, Wen."

Frowning at the deep sadness evident in the young angel's brown eyes, Wendy set her book down on the nightstand and sat up further on her bed,
"Is something else wrong, Kevin?"

Nodding his head, Kevin removed his hand from the teenager's arm and replied in a whisper,
"There is, honey, and I think you all should know this; today has not been a good day...your sister's attacker has left town this morning, and neither the cops or your parents know when or if he'll be found."

"Oh no," Wendy uttered, her face paling a little,
"Not when he was so close to getting caught! Why would he suddenly vanish like that? Do you think Angel is in danger?"

Kevin drew in another deep breath, at the very least relieved that Wendy was thinking more clearly today,
"Monica confronted him this morning, Wen. She had a lot of anger towards him that she couldn't hold in any longer and she never thought her words would cause him to take off like that, but they did. The other really lousy thing about it is that she wasn't supposed to approach him, and because she did, she was removed from this assignment. As far as Angel being in danger, I really think he just wants to go into hiding so he can't be arrested for what he did to her, especially since he knows that there is now proof as she is pregnant."

Wendy's baby blue eyes widened in shock as she listened to her angelic friend and a moment later, she finally found her voice,
"Monica...confronted him?" As the angel nodded, the teenager slumped back down on her bed and forced herself to take deep breaths,
"Why...why would she do such a thing, Kevin?"

Hoping that the young girl wasn't about to explode like Angelica had, Kevin sighed sadly,
"She knows what she did was wrong, honey, and that's why Andrew has removed her," He sighed again as he shook his head,
"I honestly wish that it didn't have to come to this, but it did."

"How're mom and dad taking it?" Wendy whispered shakily.

"Not well. Not well at all," Kevin replied softly,
"But things aren't as bad as they were earlier this morning, though, honey. I just hope Andrew was able to talk some sense into your father..."

"Where is Andrew, Kevin?"

"He's with Monica tonight, so they could talk," He explained sadly,
"He'll be back in the morning."

"Does Angel know?" She asked worriedly, knowing how fragile her sister was at the moment, as she had tried to talk to her earlier with not much luck.

"She didn't take it very well, I'm afraid," He met Wendy's eyes, wanting to make sure she understood, especially after the attitude he had taken with his Irish friend earlier when she had confessed what she had done,
"See, what happened to Angel, happened to Monica a long time ago. I don't know a whole lot about it, but I do know that when she is confronted with an assignment like this, she knows she gets too emotionally involved, Wendy, this time especially because of how close she and Angel are. I just want you to understand so you aren't angry with her. It was a terrible mistake and no one knows that more than Monica does."

"I'm not angry with her, Kevin," Wendy sighed softly,
"I'm just sorry it had to happen. She's always been so good with Angelica and Angel needs her right now. I'm worried about Andrew too…that couldn't have been easy for him."

"No, it wasn't. He's pretty torn up about it. He knows Angel needs her, but also knows that Monica has to learn that no matter what the assignment entails, she can't take matters into her own hands," He sighed sadly,
"I'm not sure which one of them is more devastated by this whole thing."

"Maybe I could talk with him when he comes back tomorrow," Wendy offered sadly as she looked up into Kevin's sad eyes.

Smiling slightly, the angel stroked her long blonde hair gently as he spoke,
"You're a really great friend to so many people, sweetie, and you always have been one to Andrew."

"I just hope that Angel will see that I'm going to change for the better..." The teenager sighed as a few tears rolled down her face,
"And I want to be a better friend. I love my sister and Paddy, and I would give anything to see Angel okay again."

Early the next morning, Andrew was up by 6am and cooking breakfast in the kitchen for him and Monica. He knew that he had to get back to the Sullivan's in a couple of hours, and he wasn't looking forward to it; he hated to have to say goodbye to his best friend and leave her alone in the cabin with nobody to talk to...nobody that is, except for the Father of course.

Sinking down into a chair as he watched the pancakes cook on the stove, the blonde angel ran a hand through his disheveled hair as he wondered how things had gone at the house after he had left; he could only hope and pray that they were going a lot smoother, but he knew that he shouldn't get his hopes up in case Brady and Cindy were still at each other's throats.

Monica awoke with a start, confusing images of George Keyser in a dark forest, causing her to bolt upright in a panic. The images began to fade as she looked around her and the memories of the previous day came rolling back like an avalanche to lie in the pit of her stomach.

She could smell breakfast coming from the kitchen and she knew Andrew would be heading back soon and the very thought of it made her feel queasy. She would give anything to be heading back with him, instead of having to stay here by herself, as ever since Philip had happened, being alone in human form made her feel extremely vulnerable, but she knew she couldn't burden her best friend with that. He had enough on his shoulders, especially now that she had made it worse.

Shivering slightly, she wrapped the quilt tightly around herself as she stood up and slowly made her way to the kitchen, forcing a smile that she knew he could see right through,
"Morning," She said softly, purposely leaving off the "good" as she just didn't feel it in her heart.

"Good morning, sweetheart," He replied quietly as she hurriedly walked over to him and wrapped her arms around him from behind,
"How'd you sleep, Mon'?"

"I wish I could say 'good'," The Irish angel replied as she released her friend and moved over to stand next to him by the stove,
"But those nightmares just wouldn't go away, you know?"

His green eyes flooding with sympathy and sadness over this situation, the supervisor nodded his head slowly as he flipped the pancakes in the pan,
"Well, I hope you're hungry then, Angel Girl? I know how much you love pancakes. Why don't you take a seat, and I'll get you something to drink."

"Thanks," She replied weakly as she moved over to the kitchen table, the quilt still wrapped snuggly around her shoulders, and sat down in a chair.

Andrew eyed her worriedly as he set a plate of pancakes down in front of her, followed by a cup of coffee. He felt ready to call off this whole thing as they were both miserable, but he knew he couldn't do that, no matter how much he wanted to. He already knew it would probably be a long time before she would ever consider doing such a thing again, but he still had to carry out his decision.

Sitting down at the end of the table closest to her, he took a bite from his plate as he watched her pick at hers with her fork,
"Are you feeling all right, Angel Girl? You're not coming down with something, are you?"

Glancing up at him, she shook her head,
"No, I don't think so. I'm okay…" Looking back to her plate, she took a bite, though it felt like sandpaper as she swallowed it. Laying down her fork, she spoke quietly,
"Are you headed back after breakfast?"

Andrew lowered his green eyes and set his fork down, the mere mention of him having to return making his own stomach tie up with knots again,
"I wish I could say 'no, sweetie...but I have to."

"I understand," Monica tried to look as reassuring as possible, but it didn't go unnoticed to her best friend.

"I'm sorry, Angel Girl...I really am," He uttered weakly as he lifted his green eyes to meet hers again,
"I really wish that there was a way I could stay a little longer, but I have to go back."

"Just...will you tell everyone how sorry I am, Andy?" The Irish angel whispered, her voice barely audible to him,
"Especially Angel...I know I let her down as well..."

"Of course I will, sweetheart," He tried to smile lovingly at her as he reached for her trembling hand and held it tightly in his own,
"And everything will be all right. Just keep repeating that to yourself; as a matter of fact, I brought something along for you just as a reminder." Rising to his feet, the angel headed out the kitchen door and to the living room. Moments later, he returned with his hands behind his back and a small smile on his handsome face,
"You couldn't be without this, could you?" With that, he withdrew from behind him the white angel bear and through blurred vision, he handed it to her, which she took into her arms immediately.

Burying her face in the soft fur, she felt her tears come again against her will, as she had wanted to remain strong for him. Guilt flowed through her at the fact that she couldn't even manage to keep her emotions intact long enough for him to be able to leave,
"I'm sorry…" She whimpered, rising to her feet to briefly face him, tears racing down her face and not wanting him to see her this way before he had to go back,
"Go ahead and go…I'll be fine…" Her voice catching in a sob, she hastily reached up to kiss his cheek,
"I love you…." Turning away, she held her hand over her mouth to hold back sobs as she hurriedly left the kitchen.

"Monica!" Andrew called out after her, his eyes burning with tears,
"Sweetheart, don't…"

But the Irish angel bolted up the stairs to the room she often shared with Andrew when her heart was at its heaviest and threw herself down on the bed in a torrent of tears.

Chapter 20

Several hours later, Tess and Rose looked up from where they were talking in the living room to the sound of the front door opening and both angels rose to their feet as Andrew walked through the door, his footsteps slow and his expression one of total agony. Her heart hurting for her former charge, Rose took a step towards him,
"Angel Boy-"

"I want to be alone right now, Rose," He interrupted quietly, not once looking at either of his friends before hurrying towards the steps and ascending them to the second floor. The next thing they heard was the sound of his bedroom door closing softly. Turning shocked eyes over to Tess, Rose was about to say something but Wendy's voice appeared in the doorway to the kitchen.

"Was that Andrew that just came in?"

"Yes, baby, it was," Tess replied softly,
"But he wants to be by himself for awhile, I think."

Wendy nodded her head slowly, as she headed upstairs, but instead of going to her room, she knocked softly on the door of Andrew's room, before she softly opened the door and stepped inside, closing the door behind her,
"Andrew, I know you wanted to be alone, but I just wanted to see if you were okay or if there was anything I could do for you," She watched sadly as he stared out the window of his room,
"I know everything that happened, and I just want to say that I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault, Wendy," Andrew softly replied, his eyes never moving from where they were looking out the window. Sinking down into the chair next to the window, he finally glanced over at the young teenager, his green eyes shining with tears,
"This whole assignment has just been one whole mess, and I just need some time to think things through..."

"Maybe it would help to talk about it?" She offered quietly, coming over to where he sat and took a seat in the chair across from him,
"You've always told me that it helps to talk, and I've poured my problems out to you plenty of times. Now it's your turn, Andrew." Seeing that he wasn't replying, Wendy sighed sadly before continuing,
"Andrew, you're one of my best friends, and I care about you a lot. Don't keep these feelings to yourself...what happened at the cabin?"

He was quiet for a moment, trying to decide what to tell or if he should tell her anything at all, but he did have a point and it might be nice to have the opinion of someone who was neither an angel nor an angry father,
"Monica's heart is just broken right now, Wendy. I know I did what I had to do, but on the other hand, I know how deeply sorry she is and what drove her to do it in the first place. I guess that right now, I just feel like I need to be in two places at one time…" His voice trailed off as he thought about how he had gone upstairs after her, unwilling to leave when she had been so upset, but his best friend had locked the door and no amount of pleading would get her to open it. He knew she was trying to make it easier on him to come back here, which only made him feel worse then he did already as from the other side of that closed door, he had been able to feel her pain with every fiber of his being. He had finally been forced to go, leaving her a note in the living room, but it had taken everything in him to walk out that cabin door.

Reaching out and placing her hand over the angel's, Wendy replied sadly,
"But you're told to stay here, though, right?"

Sighing softly, Andrew lowered his green eyes as he answered weakly,
"I really don't know where He wants me anymore, Wendy. There's lots of things I don't understand or know right now, to tell you the truth, honey..."

"Do you think...do you think you'll allow Monica back on the case later on?" The teenager asked cautiously, trying to meet her angelic friend's saddened eyes, but found that he kept them lowered to his lap.

"I really wish I could...but I honestly can't," He choked out, and he finally lifted his eyes to meet Wendy's and the teenager felt tears brimming in her eyes as she saw the tears streaming down Andrew's handsome face,
"I don't know what God has planned right now, for any of us; but right now, it just hurts too much to even ask Him..."

Walking over to him, Wendy stood up on tiptoe to wrap her arms around his neck and hug him tightly,
"You know, yesterday at school, I told all my so called friends that until they could be nice to my sister, they weren't my friends anymore," She paused and smiled tearfully,
"It just makes me think that no matter how much you don't know about what God wants from you right now, that you still have this best friend who would never be nasty to you behind your back, about you or anyone else you loved. You also know that even though you had to do this, and it hurts you both, that she still loves and cares about you and isn't angry, but just sorry for what she did that made you have to do this. My friends were mad when I told them, and not sorry at all. What you and Monica have, Andrew, is rare and beautiful and something I've often wished I had with at least one of my friends, but I realize now that I've been looking in the wrong place for a best friend. I should have been looking within my family, to the people I see everyday, like Angel, who is going to love me unconditionally, even if I do something she might not like."

Andrew smiled through his tears as he hugged the teenager back tightly,
"Thank you, sweetheart, for reminding me of a few things and I'm proud of you for telling your friends what you did. I also think that you are going to find that 'rare and beautiful' friendship in your sister, if you just give that friendship the time to grow and blossom. That kind of friendship is something you'll come to love and cherish, more than you ever thought imaginable."

Hugging him tighter, Wendy buried her face into the angel's shoulder blade as she whispered,
"I already do know that I found a great friend in you, Andrew...I knew that one a long time ago."

"Thank you, Wendy," Andrew replied, sighing sadly as he kissed the top of her head,
"I needed to hear that right now..."

Monica clung tightly to the angel bear several hours after her best friend had left the cabin, and still, the tears wouldn't end; instead, they just flowed faster down her face. Burying her face in its soft fur, she whispered dejectedly,
"I'm so sorry, Father...I'm so sorry, Andrew...for everything..."

As she closed her eyes and sobbed, the Irish angel didn't even notice another figure appearing in the room next to her and kneeling down beside the bed. With a sigh, Philip raised his hand and ran it gently through her short, auburn hair, all the while wishing he could comfort her somehow.

Feeling a touch in her hair that she knew was not Andrew's, Monica looked up through red and swollen brown eyes to meet Philip's saddened gaze. Having felt so incredibly alone for the last several hours, the angel surprised the demon by sitting up and resting her forehead against his shoulder as she wept miserably.

Philip's eyes widened, though he knew she was so overwrought with grief she wasn't thinking clearly, he wrapped his arms tentatively around her shuddering form,
"Oh, little angel," He said softly with a sigh,
"I've caused you so much trouble and though it was so long ago, you continue to suffer from my actions. Hush now, little angel. Please don't cry…"

Knowing full well who was holding her and who was speaking soothing words to her, Monica just continued to let Philip rock her gently before she finally attempted to speak,
"I...I...made some h-horrible mistakes..."

"I heard about it, little angel," Philip sighed sadly as he rubbed her back gently with his hand,
"I'm really sorry it happened, Monica."

"I...I disappointed A-Andrew so badly..." She whimpered miserably, never lifting her head from the soft-hearted demon's shoulder,
"And now...and now..." The human Irish angel let out another heart-breaking sob, which caused Philip's heart to break as he listened to her.

"And now what, little angel?" He asked her gently.

"A…And now, he's taken me off the assignment altogether and asked me to stay here," She choked out shamefully,
"I'm not angry with him…I deserved that and worse…but the not knowing what is going on…the wondering if Brady will ever let me back in his house…not knowing if Kevin will ever forgive me…it's more than I can stand, Philip…and to disappoint Andrew…to let him down like that…it makes me feel sick inside! I knew better…I knew I wasn't supposed to talk to that man…I even promised I wouldn't until I was told to…but I went and did exactly what I wanted to do…" She broke down once more, shaking her head miserably,
"I love him with my whole heart, but I don't deserve him…and he comes to see me last night and is so caring and all I think about is how badly I've let him down and made a mess of everything…"

Philip felt a few tears brim in his dark eyes as he listened to the angel continue in a tearful whisper,
"And to think...he's able to k-keep so many promises to me, b-but I'm unable to even control my temper for him...what kind of f-friend am I, Philip?"

"You're a friend who happens to care for others, humans and angels alike; so much, that you try and help anyway you can, even if it means winding up in trouble."

"But I'm not showing how much I...how much I love him, and the Sullivan's," Monica continued to weep as she finally lifted her head off of the demon's shoulder,
"And now, t-that teacher is on the loose, and he c-could harm another innocent little girl...only because I decided to give him a piece of my mind," She covered her face with her hands as she shook her head miserably,
"What part of 'no' don't I understand?"

"Your anger gets the better of you because of me, sweetness," He said softly, gently pulling her hands away from her face,
"And because of that, you may not ever be able to control it in these situations, but Andrew knows what I put you through and he understands and still loves you…"

"I don't know how I'll ever make it up to him…how I'll ever feel worthy of his trust again," Monica whispered, wiping at her eyes,
"And I've let poor Angel down as I don't know if she'll confide in anyone else. She knows I understand what she has gone through and now I can't be there for her because of something I did intentionally in speaking to her teacher…" She paused then, remembering the nightmare she had last night,
"He was so familiar to me," She said softly, more to herself than to Philip, as she remembered her first impression of George Keyser.

"Who does he remind you of, little angel?" Philip asked gently, not wanting to push her.

Shaking her head in misery, the Irish angel reached a hand up and shakily wiped at more tears forming in her brown eyes,
"That's what's so frustrating...because I don't know who...he does remind me of someone-someone I saw a long, long time ago."

"I'm sure when the time is right, Monica, you'll find out," The demon tried to reassure her as much as possible, but deep inside, he couldn't help but wonder if his words held any truth to them or not.

Once Andrew left his room, he knew he had to talk to Brady, as he had to know if the man was any calmer than he had been yesterday. Though the angel felt apprehensive at the thought of this conversation, he had to know where things stood, not only between he and Brady, but between Brady and Monica and Brady and Cindy.

Knocking on the door of the study, Andrew heard Brady's weary voice responding for him to come in and the angel slowly opened the door and stepped inside, closing it quietly behind him,
"Hello, Brady," He greeted, deciding that was as safe a way as any to begin.

Brady looked up from his desk, his brown eyes exhausted and he nodded at the angel,
"Have a seat, Andrew. I was wondering how long it would be before you wanted to talk."

"I just got back actually," He offered cautiously,
"I was at the cabin last night with Monica, but I wanted to see how you were doing today."

The human watched as the angel took a seat on the couch across from his desk and with a sigh, Brady ran a shaky hand through his disheveled hair,
"I wanted to apologize for the last few days, man...especially yesterday. I was totally out of line with Monica, and you were right. You and Cindy were both right..."

Letting out the deep breath he had been holding in, Andrew lowered his green eyes to his hands as he tried to find the right words to say,
"Brady...I just want you to know that we're all sorry as well, and so is Monica. If there was something we could do to take back all that's happened these last few weeks...believe we, we would in an instant."

"I know that now, buddy," Brady sighed again in exhaustion as he rose to his feet and took a seat next to his friend on the couch,
"I'm just so furious at that George Keyser animal...I had to take it out on somebody, and unfortunately, it ended up being you, Kevin and that little angel...and my entire family."

"How are things between you and Cindy?" Andrew asked gently.

"Well, she slept in Angel's bed with her last night if that is any indication," He replied with a sigh,
"Carla told me Angelica is completely distraught over Monica not being here any longer, so Cindy went in with her last night to try to calm her down and just stayed in there all night. She's managed to avoid me most of the day," He chuckled sadly,
"One day I might learn not to give you and Monica a hard time as it invokes the wrath of my wife. Not that I blame her, of course. You both have been wonderful to our family, Andrew, for many years, as have the rest of your friends. But you and your Angel Girl have always been particularly special around here and I had no right to lash out at either of you yesterday. Yes, I was furious over what Monica did, but one look at her face should have told me how sorry she was and that she never intended things to turn out as they had. I was just looking for someone to take my anger out on and unfortunately, it was you two."

Andrew attempted a smile as he nodded his head at his human friend,
"All's forgiven, Brady...but now we mainly just have to worry about Angel and that teacher..."

Forcing himself to keep his cool at the very mention of George Keyser, Brady drew in a sharp breath before he replied,
"I can't help but worry that he'll never be caught, Andrew."

"He will," The angel tried to reassure, although deep down inside, he didn't fully believe his words.

Chapter 21

Darkness had fallen once more at the cabin as the Irish angel sank down onto the sofa exhaustedly. After Philip had left, she had spent the afternoon cleaning, anything to get her mind off of everything for at least awhile. She had been hoping Andrew might return by nightfall but it didn't seem to be the case much to her dismay and she could hear the beginnings of a storm in the distance, which caused her to shudder at being alone. Though the door was bolted, she still felt uneasy as she felt sad tears forming in her dark eyes once more.

The sound of the phone ringing caused her to jump as her heart sprang to her throat. Realizing it was just the telephone, Monica reached over and picked it up,
"Hello?" She asked quietly, her dark eyes watching the flashes of lightening in the sky in the distance.

"Hey, Angel Girl, it's me," Andrew's voice appeared on the other end of the line, and Monica's heart soared at hearing his voice again.

"Andrew..."

"How you doing, sweetie?" The older angel gently asked, and Monica was able to make out the deep worry in him through her end of the line,
"There's a storm brewing out here as well, and I just wanted to check and make sure you're okay."

A sad smile forming on her lips, the Irish angel leaned back on the couch and grabbed a quilt off the back of the couch as she was starting to feel chilly and wrapped it snuggly around her shoulders,
"I'm okay, Andrew..."

"Did you get my note?" Andrew asked, twirling the phone cord around on his finger as he awaited her answer.

"Note?" Her tired eyes glanced around her and came to rest on a piece of paper on the end table. Picking it up, her eyes scanned over it as she read:
"Angel Girl,
Believe me when I say that this is as hard on me as it is on you. For as much as you want to be there for this family, I want you there as well, maybe because I miss you when you aren't nearby. Talk to the Father today, sweetie, okay? Most of all, remember how much I love you, mistakes and all.

All my love,
Andrew"

Tears burning in her eyes, she cleared her throat to steady her voice,
"I just got it. Thank you. I'm sorry about this morning, Andy…I didn't mean to lose it like that…" Sighing softly, she wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand.

Sinking down in one of the kitchen chairs, Andrew ran a hand through his hair as he replied sadly,
"I just wish I didn't have to leave you alone like that..."

As she continued wiping at her eyes, Monica smiled slightly as she remembered Philip being there with her for a few hours and she whispered softly to her best friend,
"Philip arrived not too long after you left, my friend...he stayed here with me for a few hours before the storm hit."

His heart in his throat as he heard the Irish angel mention the kind-hearted demon, Andrew wasn't sure of what to say for a few moments before he finally found his voice again,
"Philip was there?"

"He knew what had happened and stopped by this morning," Monica explained softly, before adding in almost awe,
"He's becoming a good friend."

Though Andrew couldn't explain it, he felt like he had just been punched in the stomach. All day, she had been almost all he could think about as he had felt so rotten about leaving her alone this morning when she had been so upset. While he had been the one who had wanted to be there for her, in actuality, it had been Philip who had been able to. Somehow finding his voice, though now he really felt terrible, he replied quietly,
"I'm glad, sweetie. I…wish I could have been there, but at least he was…"

Unable to miss the concern and even a bit of frustration in her best friend's voice, Monica frowned as she questioned softly,
"Are you okay, Andrew?"

Running a shaky hand through his blonde hair again, Andrew forced himself to nod his head as he didn't want her to feel any worse then she already did,
"I'm...fine, Angel Girl. Don't worry about me; I'm just glad you weren't alone is all..."

Knowing deep down that her dearest friend and supervisor had something else on his mind that he wasn't saying over the phone, Monica chose not to mention it and instead whispered quietly,
"I do miss you, though..."

"So do I, honey," Andrew sighed deeply as he rested his head in his hands, the phone cradled on his shoulder,
"But I hope that this assignment won't be lasting too much longer, so we can see you again. Things have slightly improved his morning, I guess...Brady is no longer angry at you or I, so we don't have to worry about him chewing our heads off."

"How is Angel?" She asked worriedly, drawing her knees up to her chest and wrapping the quilt tighter around her as she watched the storm looming closer and knowing there wasn't much time left to talk.

Feeling trapped, he struggled for an answer. Her guilt was overpowering her as it was and he didn't want to add to it,
"She's as well as can be expected, Angel Girl. She misses you though…we all do."

Drawing in a shaky breath, her heart absolutely aching for him, she whispered tearfully,
"I've done a lot of thinking today, Andrew and somehow, someday, I'm going to make this up to you, I promise you that. I wish you could know just how deeply sorry I am for letting you down and for taking advantage of you. I've been a terrible friend, Andy…" Her tears now raining down her face, she tried to finish telling him the things she had told Philip that morning,
"I know I don't deserve you or your trust, but I'd fight with everything in me to keep from losing them…" As she heard him begin to interrupt her, there was suddenly a loud crash of thunder and a white bolt of lightening outside as the phone line went dead in her hand.

Andrew jumped, startled, as the next thing he heard was nothing and although he punched buttons again and again to try and get her back, there was still nothing. Groaning in frustration, the angel jumped to his feet and made his way through the darkness of the kitchen to the countertop where the matches and candles were. As he struck one and the candle's dim light flickered around the kitchen, the sound of footsteps from the top floor sounded and Wendy came running down.

"That must be some storm out there," She spoke, squinting to see her angelic friend as he came closer to her,
"Now the power's out for good..."

"It'll come back on eventually," Andrew whispered back, feeling worry creep back into his heart for Monica. He knew how much she hated the dark, and to not be able to be there with her was more then he could bear. With a sigh, he handed Wendy the candle for her to use, and started digging through the drawers for the flashlight. But as he turned it on, the teenager's voice broke him out of his thoughts again.

"Have you seen Angel around?" She asked,
"I wanted to talk to her, but before the power went out, I went into her room and didn't see her..."

Andrew shook his head, his mind still on his best friend's broken words to him before the power had gone out. What they needed was a long heart to heart talk to clear the air between them…

"Andrew, I searched the whole house and can't find her," Wendy implored, trying to get his attention,
"She could be out in that mess, in fact she must be because she isn't here. Andrew, are you listening to me?"

He jerked his head up, finally realizing what Wendy was trying to tell him,
"Yes, honey, I am. Let's go see if your parents have seen her, okay?"

Wendy nodded her head and she grasped her friend's hand, nearly dragging him with her towards the staircase. As the twosome made their way to the second floor, the teenager hurriedly made her way to her parent's study and poked her head inside,
"Mom? Dad? Have you seen Angel anyplace?"

Using his flashlight to shine it in his daughter's direction, and seeing Andrew next to her, Brady frowned as he grumbled,
"Not since this afternoon, Wen...and right now, it's nearly impossible to see anything with the power out."

"I'm worried that she may be outside in that mess..." Wendy cried as she felt fear fill her heart,
"Something could happen to her..." As she said those words, the power almost immediately came back on, causing Andrew to jump once again. As he and his friends shut off the flashlights and blew out the candle, the blonde angel shook his head slowly.

"She must be around here somewhere, Wendy and we'll find her," Andrew tried to console her, despite the fact that he felt as if he were being torn in a dozen different directions.

"Find who?" Kevin asked as he and Carla entered the study as well, puzzled looks on their faces.

"We're not sure of where Angel is," Andrew replied with a weary sigh, running a hand through his blond locks.

"Where would she go in this weather?" Kevin asked, glancing out the window as the second storm to pass through the area continued to rage outside.

"I don't know, Kev," Andrew replied shortly, his patience with this whole assignment wearing thin and he knew his attitude at the moment left something to be desired, but it seemed that every time he turned around, something else was going wrong,
"Instead of wondering, how about we look for her and decide if she is in the house?"

"I already checked through the entire house already, Andrew," Wendy shrugged her shoulders helplessly as she looked into the angel's green eyes,
"And she's nowhere..."

"Well then, maybe we should try again, Wen," Andrew replied, frustration evident in his usually calm voice; and with that, the angel turned around and headed down the hallway, not even noticing that Kevin was following right behind him.

"Simba, what's eating you?" The youngest angel asked quietly as they reached the first floor once again.

"Everything, Kevin, okay?" Andrew snapped, his patience with the whole assignment beginning to run out,
"Ever since this whole thing started, nothing has gone even mildly right. It would just be nice to catch a break every now and again…"

"This isn't like you, Andrew," Kevin replied carefully,
"You're the one always telling us that God has a plan. Why should this time be any different?"

"Because I don't even know what the plan might be at this point, Kevin, that's why! This whole thing has been a snowball effect and at this moment, it just feels bigger than I am able to handle," He slammed his hand up against the wall as he tried to force himself to calm down.

Kevin's eyes widened in surprise as his friend vented and before the angel had time to reply, another voice spoke up behind them,
"Angel Boy, you have got to calm yourself down."

Turning around, both angels turned their eyes to Rose, who was standing next to them, her eyes holding both sympathy and seriousness over the situation. Taking shaky breaths, Andrew replied back roughly,
"How can I calm down when everything's going wrong, and I don't have time to catch my breath, Rose?"

Gently taking his hand and leading him and Kevin into the living room, the oldest angel led him over to the couch and forced him to take a seat,
"Have a seat, Andrew, and take a breather, okay? You're really not going to be much of a help to anyone, including Angel, when you're like this..."

"I'm not so sure I've been much help to anyone, Rose, during this entire assignment," Andrew snapped at her.

"Honey, you know that isn't true-," Rose protested, but he cut her off.

"Do I, Rose? We couldn't stop what happened to Angel, Paddy still would like to take revenge on that teacher, though thankfully George Keyser isn't around for that to happen," Slamming his hand down on the arm of the couch, he continued sarcastically,
"Maybe that is the one break I've caught in this whole thing. The fact that he has skipped town so Paddy can't go after him-that's the plus I've been looking for, even though that fact cost me an angel on this assignment, an angel who needs me right now, but things are so busy going wrong here, that is just one more thing I can't seem to help with, but thank heavens at least Philip is around to take my place, giving me time to find the missing teenager, hope that Cindy and Brady don't wind up with a divorce, and that Angel doesn't get an abortion-."

"Andrew, time out," Rose gently interrupted, grasping him by the shoulders and turning him around to face her,
"Time out, honey, all right?"

"I don't even know the meaning of those words anymore, Rose, all right?" Andrew once again snapped, his voice slowly rising as he tried to hold back the angry tears in his eyes,
"What kind of good is coming out of all of this? Can you answer that one for me? Has anything good come out of this yet?"

"Nothing that the Father doesn't want us to know yet," The supervisor answered gently as she reached her hand up to wipe at the tears in his angry green eyes,
"And you know...you KNOW...that He does have a plan-"

"No, I don't know that anymore," He replied, his voice breaking as he looked straight into his friend's concerned eyes,
"I'm sorry, but I don't."

Rose was quiet for a moment as she held his gaze with her own, before she finally spoke,
"Then maybe it is time for you to get out of here for awhile until you do know it. This isn't like you, Angel Boy. This family needs for you to have your priorities straight and until you do, you have no business being here," She spoke as gently as she could, but her blue eyes were firm as she continues,
"Take a walk, take a drive, go and see your Angel Girl, whatever it takes for you to remind yourself that there is always a reason for things to happen, but don't you come back here until you know. Understand?"

Andrew nodded his head sharply as he turned away from his friend, but just as he was about to rise to his feet, Rose gently grasped his arm and got to her feet as well. As the oldest angel ever gently wrapped her arms around her young friend and former charge, Andrew couldn't hold back the tears any longer as he heard her whisper into his ear,
"I still love you, sweetheart, but you have got to understand where I'm coming from." With a sigh, she finally released him and watched as he turned on his heel and hurried out the door. The next thing she heard was the sound of his car starting and the tires squealed as he pulled out of the driveway.

"Do you think...he'll come to understand, Rose?" Kevin uttered wearily as the Search and Rescue angel finally turned back around to face him,
"You think he'll come back, right?"

Rose sighed heavily as she looked over at the younger angel,
"It probably wouldn't hurt to say a little prayer right about now, honey. Just say a prayer that angel finds his way and finds it soon."

Chapter 22

He wasn't intending on driving over to the cabin and see his best friend, but a few hours later, Andrew glanced up and noticed that he had pulled up in front of the cabin. The storm was still raging outside, but the frustrated angel didn't even bother to grab his jacket or an umbrella as he climbed out of the car and up the steps towards the front door. Wiping a hand across his face to smear away the wetness both from the rain and the tears streaming down his cheeks, he placed his hand on the doorknob and pushed it open.

As he closed it tightly behind him, he wasn't even paying attention to what was going on around him as he slammed his fist roughly against the wood, which caused a tired voice to speak up behind him.

"Andrew...what's wrong?" Monica uttered sleepily, as his outburst had just woken her up from a troubled sleep.

Leaning his head against the door, his back still to her, he tried to control his temper, determined not to take it out on her,
"Everything, Monica. Everything is wrong," He stated dully.

Alarm filled her tired eyes as she rose to her feet and tentatively approached him, laying her hands on his back gently,
"Talk to me, Andy."

The comforting sound of her voice causing the anger to begin to slowly leave his body, he turned around and nodded his head. Allowing her to take his hand, she led him over to the sofa so they could sit down before she reached for his other hand as well as her eyes never left his tear-streaked face.

"Tell me, my friend," Monica urged softly, not wanting to pressure him, but knowing him well enough to know that he desperately needed to talk.

"Monica, everything has seemed to have taken a turn for the worse lately..." He finally forced himself to begin as he lowered his gaze to his hands, which his best friend was gently rubbing with her fingers,

"On top of worrying over whether or not Brady and Cindy are headed for divorce...Angel is now missing," Even as he tried to stop it, his voice choked up and a sob caught in his throat as he continued,
"Wendy came to me earlier, asking if I had seen her, and she's nowhere. Nobody has seen her since this morning, and now they're all concerned that she's out there in this mess..." He nodded towards the window as the storm continued raging outside,
"I just...I just feel like I can't do anything right these days, and instead of making things better, things are getting worse and I haven't had time to breathe, and I just feel so stressed out, Angel Girl, that I want to scream!" His words tumbled out faster and faster as he spoke,
"I don't know how much more of this I can take, and I don't know anymore if the Father has a plan for this; nothing good has come out of it, so why should I stay positive any longer?"

Her dark eyes filled with sympathy for her best friend as she squeezed his hands tightly, praying silently for the right words to say to him,
"You know what?" She began gently, finally finding words that she hoped would help him,
"You spend so much time holding it together for everyone else, Andrew, that it's no wonder you feel this way. You put so much pressure on yourself, more than any one angel should have to deal with, that its no wonder you lose hope now and then. You're so strong, my friend, and I for one have found refuge in that fact many, many times. But even the strongest of angels feel lost sometimes, especially in the face of an assignment such as this one has been," Reaching up, she laid a tender hand on his cheek,
"But you don't have to be that strong angel for me right now, sweetie. The last few weeks have been more than hard and you let things build up inside of you, but maybe it's time to let them go now…"

Wanting more then anything to not break down in front of his best friend, Andrew realized that he really had no choice in the matter and he couldn't hold it in any longer. Leaning his head forward, he rested it against his best friend's shoulder and he soon found her arms wrapped tightly around him as she gently rocked him as he sobbed brokenly,
"I...didn't want to break down right now..." He uttered weakly as he held her just as tightly.

"You have no reason to feel ashamed for letting go of those emotions, Andy," The Irish angel reassured as she ran her fingers through his blonde hair and kissed the top of his head,
"Especially right now. We've all been through a lot the last few weeks, and you're feeling so much stress right now. Just let it out, my friend; just let it out...you're always telling me to do that, and you're no different."

Feeling him break down completely, Monica only held him as tightly as her arms would allow as she continued to speak softly to him,
"You're doing such a wonderful job with this assignment, my friend, even if you don't think you are. You've helped the Sullivan's and Kevin and I as well when things got tough and I know I added plenty to your stress load, but even through all of that, you never once turned away from me. In your heart you know that there is a reason for everything and that God can take anything and turn it into something good. You haven't forgotten it, Andrew, and you know what else?" Tears welled up in her eyes as she pressed her lips to the top of his head once more,
"Even taking into consideration the fact that you had to remove me from this assignment, I'm proud of you, Andy…just so proud. I know that wasn't easy and that it hurt you just as much, but you handled it just the way you should have, just as you've handled every single case we've ever had. I'm proud of you, my friend, and proud each and every day to be one of the angels that you supervise."

Slowly feeling himself begin to calm down a bit, Andrew tried to take as deep of breaths as possible although they were shaky, but never released his hold on his dearest friend. Not trusting himself to speak for a few moments, the older angel finally whispered miserably,
"It's just so hard sometimes, Mon'..."

"I know, sweetie, I know; and when this case is over, maybe the Father will allow us some time off. I think you need it, my friend," Laying her cheek against the top of his head as she continued to rock him, Monica closed her dark eyes as they continued to fill with tears,
"We'll see what He says, Andy, but right now you just need to remember that it will all turn out okay in the end. It never hasn't."

"You truly...believe that?" He uttered weakly.

"With all my heart," She whispered through her own tears as she continued to hold her best friend close to her; and for the first time in a while, she felt the Father's deep Love pour down on her and she smiled tearfully.

As the Father's love flowed through her to her best friend, she felt Andrew begin to relax as the tension left his body, as she continued to rub his back gently,
"Better?" She whispered softly to him. Feeling him nod his head, she sighed softly,
"For the record, you do make things better, Andrew and you do things right all the time. This assignment, I think, has brought back a lot of bad memories for both of us and maybe that is why things have felt so out of control and you're not the only one who has felt that way, because I have too. We've both lost sight of the Father's plan in this one, but I think He understands, but as far as doing things right, you have, even down to taking me off the case. I know you've felt guilty over that, but it was the right thing to do and regardless of how much it hurt, I respect you all the more for it, if respecting you more than I already did was even possible. You've dealt with this whole thing calmly and rationally. The Father does have a plan, Andrew and He can take anything and turn it into something good. Even the horrible mistake I made, made it impossible for Patrick to try to harm Mr. Keyser, so you know He can always turn things around to make them better and He will with the rest of this too. You believe that, Andrew, because…" Her voice trembled slightly, remembering a time when she would have been unable to speak these words,
"Because you know I'd never lie to you, not anymore." Closing her dark eyes, she fell silent, her love for him causing her heart to ache and that old nagging feeling that one day something would happen to take him away from her creeping into her mind.

Andrew closed his eyes tightly as he heard those words his best friend spoke to him and with a weary nod of his head, he replied gently,
"I know that now, Mon'...I know you would never lie anymore..." Finally pulling gently away from her hold, the older angel looked through blurred vision at her and attempted a shaky smile,

"Thank you, Angel Girl."

A smile appeared on the Irish angel's lips as she leaned forward and gently kissed her best friend on the cheek,
"You know you are more then welcome, my friend. I love you so very much, Andy..." Lifting her hand, she lovingly wiped away the remainder of his tears,
"Always know that and remember that."

"I could never forget it, sweetie," Andrew shook his head,
"Because I love you just as much...you're the best friend an angel could ever hope for."

"And to think I've been feeling like a terrible friend all day today," She remarked, a small hint of sadness in her eyes,
"There are times I'm not sure if a best friend would disappoint you as terribly as I do."

Firmly, he took her face into his hands and met her eyes with his,
"I never want to hear those words from your lips again, Angel Girl. There is no best friend that is perfect, but there is only one that is perfect for me. Understand?"

A tearful smile on her face, she nodded her head, a trace of mischief in her eyes,
"Yes, sir, understood."

With a tearful smile of his own, Andrew leaned his forehead against hers and closed his eyes, right now just enjoying the feel of being close to the angel that he loved with all his heart and soul.

An hour later, Monica tossed and turned on the living room couch in the cabin, images racing through her mind of some horrible time almost 20 years ago...a horrible time that she had witnessed back when she was in Special Forces. Horror etched itself on her delicate features as the nightmare played itself out in her head as if it was only yesterday.

(Monica's Dream)

The angel appeared in a park in a small town, late at night, her eyes looking around her for who her assignment was to be. The darkness and the stillness left her feeling unsettled, as in angelic form, she began walking until she heard a noise that sounded like a struggle in the woods up ahead of her. Breaking into a run, her heart pounding like a thousand drums in her chest, Monica stopped suddenly as she came across the reason why she was here.

Tears filled her eyes as she watched the man assault the girl who could not be more than 14 years old, even as the child struggled with everything in her. Her pretty face was bloodied from an earlier beating and Monica felt anger well up in herself so quickly, it took her breath away. Kneeling down at the girl's head, Monica spoke to her, even as her assailant continued doing the unthinkable.

The girl looked up at her, seeing the light that surrounded her, and though in too much pain to speak, her eyes asked the questions.

"I'm an angel, Rachel," Monica whispered, tears racing down her own face,
"I'm here to be with you through this horrible time," Reaching down, she stroked some of the blood-matted hair from the teenager's face.

"Make it stop…" Rachel wept, before giving out a cry of pain that shook the angel to the core of her being.

Looking up sharply, Monica realized in horror that after this man had been finished with her, he had plunged a knife into her heart, before standing up, righting his clothing and walking away as if nothing had ever happened.

"No!" She cried out, gathering the lifeless girl into her arms as her tears came hard,
"Rachel, hang on, sweetheart, please…" But already Monica knew it was too late as she felt the life ebbing away from the girl. After several minutes and knowing that Rachel had gone Home, Monica laid her gently back on the ground and covered her face with her hands as she wept brokenly. Images of Philip and Beth filled her mind, though she struggled to push them away as she wondered why she had been sent here at all. She had been of no help to Rachel, other than to let her know that an angel was with her. She hadn't even been given the opportunity to help her understand that she could not intervene. Now, it might be days before someone found the girl's body, while her killer walked free.

(End Monica's Dream)

Waking up suddenly to the sound of her screaming, Monica broke out into a cold sweat as her brown eyes grew wild as she remembered the nightmare still etched in her mind.

"Angel Girl, what's wrong?" Andrew's voice appeared in the living as he ran as fast as he could to her side. Kneeling down next to her, he gently took her face into his hands and forced her to meet his eyes,
"Are you okay?"

Her eyes wide open and filled with horror, the little Irish angel attempted to speak, her voice shaking madly,
"I...I remember who...George Keyser really is..."

Confusion clouded his tired face as he stroked her face tenderly in an effort to calm her,
"Sweetie, what do you mean by 'who he really is'?"

"I…I had forgotten but when I went to the school that day, my first thought was how familiar he looked to me, but I couldn't place him, Andrew…." Tears filled her eyes as she shook her head,
"I should have remembered…I should have…"

"Remembered what, Mon'?" He interrupted firmly, his own heart beating wildly.

"When I went back to Special Forces….remember I told you about the girl in the park? The one who couldn't have been any older than Angel and that man was raping her. I didn't even really have time to talk to her at all before he…before he…stabbed her…" Her voice trailed off for a moment, hearing something only she could hear,
"They never found her…" She whispered shakily, her voice catching in a sob as she met her eyes with his,
"It was him, Andrew…that man in the park in the woods was George Keyser!"

"Monica, are you certain? Are you absolutely certain?" His hands trembled as he laid them on her shoulders.

"Yes…I'm certain…" She closed her eyes for a moment, listening to the Voice that was speaking to her heart, as complete terror filled her,
"He's got Angel!" She cried out in anguish,
"Oh Andrew, he has Angel!"

Chapter 23

"Daddy, I've looked everywhere for Angel and I still can't find her!" Wendy cried as she entered her parent's bedroom some time later and looked through tear-filled eyes at them,
"I even checked outside, as it appears the storm has stopped for now, but she's not there either! I even called Amy's house to ask Paddy if he had seen her, but neither of them have; where could she be?"

Wiping a hand across his tired face, Brady's heart pounded loudly in his chest as he felt himself grow more worried by the minute,
"Your mother and I have checked everywhere as well..."

"We've gotta call the cops; what if Mr. Keyser has caught her somewhere?" Wendy continued to sob as she thought of her innocent little sister at the hands of that monster.

Wrapping his daughter up in his arms, Brady held her tightly as his mind raced with the possibility,
"Then that's what we'll do, Wendy, okay? Usually, the police won't do anything until someone has been missing for 24 hours, but considering the fact that we just reported her teacher for what he did, they should make an exception."

"Brady?"

Cindy's soft yet frightened voice caused him to look up into his wife's face and he felt an ache in his heart over the fact that they had done nothing but argue since this whole thing started,
"We're calling the police, Cindy," He explained gently.

Tears flooded her eyes as she took a step closer to him,
"You think he has her, don't you? You think that monster has my baby…"

Releasing his hold on Wendy, Brady walked over to her and tentatively placed his hands on her shoulders, relieved when she didn't pull away from him,
"That is the worst possible case, Princess, okay? I'd rather be safe than sorry."

"Oh Brady, I'm so scared...so help me God, if he harms her in any way..." Cindy's voice broke on a sob and the next thing she knew, she found her husband's arms wrapped around her tightly. Not even bothering to pull away, she wrapped her arms around him in return, afraid to let him go.

"He will not hurt her," He replied with firm conviction, stroking her blonde hair lovingly although his hands shook,
"I promise you, he will not hurt her if I have anything to say about it."

Before either Cindy or Wendy could say anything further, the sound of the front door opening from downstairs and then slamming shut caused them all to jump, and Andrew's voice sounded from the staircase,
"Brady! Cindy!"

Brady, Cindy and Wendy all looked up and as Andrew came into the study, holding Monica's hand tightly in his own. Immediately, Brady could tell that Andrew looked visibly shaken and the little Irish angel was pale and blinking back more tears,
"Andrew, what is it?" He demanded, feeling frightened at the looks on their faces.

Drawing in a deep breath, Andrew turned to his best friend,
"I'll tell them, sweetie. Call the police and tell them where to go."

"What is going on?" Cindy asked fearfully, watching as Monica moved to the phone and dialed, her hands shaking so badly she could hardly hold the phone.

"When Monica paid a visit to George Keyser, she realized he looked familiar, but she couldn't place him," Andrew explained shakily,
"She remembers now…" His voice trailed off as he dreaded saying the next words,
"He raped and brutally murdered a girl about Angel's age in Winterbury Park 20 years ago. Mon' was assigned to the case and saw it happen while she was working in Special Forces…the Father told her that this man has Angel…"

"Oh my God..." Cindy cried as she felt herself sinking down onto the couch, as she couldn't hold herself up any longer.

Sucking in a shaky breath, Andrew continued as tears streamed down his handsome face,
"Brady, you and I have got to get going to the park so we can get Angel in time...we don't have any time to lose..."

"Yes, that's Winterbury Park," Monica concluded over the phone and she glanced over at the four pairs of eyes on her,
"Yes, thank you officer." With that, the little Irish angel shakily hung up the phone and turned towards Andrew and Brady,
"They're on their way."

"We need to get there then," Brady said hurriedly, grabbing his jacket from the back of his chair.

"What's going on?" Kevin asked as he walked into the study, his eyes widening, not only at the fact that Cindy and Wendy were in tears, but also at seeing Monica there.

Her dark eyes flickering nervously at the sight of her co-worker who she had not seen along with Brady, that horrible day in the study, Monica turned her eyes to Andrew, who was preparing to leave. Wanting more than anything to go along, but knowing it was not in her place, she spoke up in a trembling voice, laced with tears,
"Please be careful. He's violent and dangerous and I don't want anything to happen to you…to either of you…"

"We'll be fine, Angel Girl, and so will Angelica," Andrew whispered through his own tears as he wrapped his dearest friend up in a tight hug before pulling away and looking deep into her dark eyes,
"Stay here with Cindy, Wendy and Kevin, and we'll be back soon."

Nodding her head weakly, Monica uttered softly,
"I love you..."

"And I you, my sweet girl," With a final kiss to her forehead, the angel and Brady hurriedly exited the study and the next thing they heard was the sound of Brady's car starting up and pulling out of the driveway.

Placing her hand over her mouth as she felt her shoulders shuddering with soft sobs, Monica didn't even notice that Kevin had stepped up to her until he asked again,
"What's going on...? I'm surprised to see you here, Monica..."

"George Keyser has Angel," She managed to say, through her tears, trying to figure out where she stood with him,
"He killed a girl…Angel's age when I was back in Special Forces…I knew I had seen him before, but I didn't remember where until an hour ago…"

Kevin's eyes widened in shock as he listened to her words. He had more questions, but he put them aside for the moment, seeing the uncertainty in her eyes when she looked at him,
"Cupcake, I'm sorry about what I said that day in the study…I was out of line and I know it."

A sob escaping her, Monica shook her head,
"You weren't really and I was terrible to you through most of this assignment anyway."

"Well, I understand that a whole lot better now too," He explained softly, a new understanding for her in his dark eyes,
"Andrew pretty much laid it out for Brady and I that day after you left for the cabin."

Fresh tears spilled over at the realization that though her best friend had sent her away that day, he had then come in here to defend her. Her heart so full of love for him it hurt, she shook her head helplessly,
"He has to come back…they all have to be all right…"

"They will be all right," Kevin tried to reassure her as he glanced over at Cindy and Wendy; Cindy's arms were still wrapped tightly around her daughter even as they listened to the two angels talk,
"George Keyser will be caught tonight; I trust completely that he will."

"Okay, where is this Winterbury Park?" Brady asked as his eyes were strained to see through the rain that was still pouring down. Although the storm had passed long ago, it was still raining heavily and it was hard to see through the windshield,
"To think that my little girl is out there with that monster...so help me, Andrew, if he so much as lays another hand on her-"

"Don't think about that right now, Brady," Andrew interrupted, his voice though firm, was shaking madly with concern,
"Just concentrate on getting there and getting Angel home."

"I just can't believe any of this," Brady muttered, his eyes still searching for a sign to tell him which way to go,
"How are we going to know where in this park he is?"

"Monica said he murdered Rachael in the woods south of the park entrance and that seems as good a place as any to start looking," Andrew replied with a sigh. Seeing a sign up ahead, he motioned to Brady,
"Turn right up here," He stated before holding onto the dashboard as Brady made a sharp turn into the park entrance.

Looking around him, Andrew could tell the park was already swarming with police as Brady parked the car and the two got out. Looking south, Andrew spotted the woods his friend had mentioned up the hill and closing his eyes briefly, he nodded his head as the Father spoke to his heart that was where they should go.

As the human and one angel started slowly making their way into the woods, Andrew drew in a deep breath and motioned to Brady once again,

"You go that way, I'll go that way. Keep your eyes peeled for either of them..." As his human friend immediately started looking, all the while taking a flashlight out of his jacket, Andrew turned back around and kept walking.

It seemed to be a lifetime for the angel before he heard a piercing scream in the distance and he immediately broke into a run, ignoring the tree branches scraping up against his face and arms as he ran. He was then able to make out another male voice, and Angel's scream seemed to grow even closer which caused Andrew to quicken his pace. His heart pounding loudly in his chest, the angel wasn't sure if any of them would make it in time before he spotted her familiar figure running in his direction; her jacket was torn from her back, her shirt was ripped, and her long blonde hair was disheveled and wet from the rain.

"Angel!" He cried out, making his way towards her and catching her up in his arms as she all but tried to climb into his arms in her terror to get away,
"I've got you, sweetheart, I've got you," He uttered, holding her tightly as she shook violently in his arms.

"And now I have both of you."

Andrew looked up as George Keyser approached them both, a gun in his hand that was aimed on the angel and human teenager. The angel chose not to say anything as he met his steely green eyes with those of the murderer and rapist.

"This park is crawling with police and you two are my insurance that they aren't catching me," He growled angrily,
"If they so much as try, you two won't get out of these woods alive."

Brady's eyes filled with horror as the scream he had heard suddenly died, and now all he heard was nothing except for the shouting of the police. Looking wildly around him and not seeing Andrew anywhere nearby, the human felt himself hyperventilating as he shouted,
"Angel!"

Silence.

'God, You wouldn't dare direct us here and not allow us to rescue my little girl...You wouldn't be that cruel to us,' The human thought angrily to himself as he continued walking, his eyes wild as they searched through the woods,
'Where is she, and where did Andrew disappear to?'

Suddenly, though, Brady heard what sounded like a loud sob coming from another direction and not wasting any time, ran past the trees and bushes and towards the sound of the voice, hoping against hope that it was his daughter. As he came closer to the noise, he stopped suddenly as he found himself looking into the barrel of a gun and Andrew and Angelica were clinging tightly to one another as the gun was aimed at them. Although frightened beyond belief, he came up behind his friend and his daughter and stood next to them, his hand stroking his youngest triplet's wet hair,

"Daddy's here, sweetheart."

"So you want to die as well now, do you?" George Keyser snapped as he cocked the trigger of the gun and stepped closer,
"I have no problem with that, as long as I don't get caught."

Before Brady could reply, Andrew took a step forward and spoke up firmly,
"You have no need for three hostages as it is only going to slow you down. Angel is hysterical at the moment and won't be able to move quickly. Why don't you let them go and take me?"

"Andrew, what are you doing?" Brady hissed as his daughter turned around and wrapped her trembling arms around him, all the while sobbing violently.

"Think about it," Andrew continued, ignoring Brady, his only goal to get the two humans to safety,
"Brady could inform the police that you have a hostage so they won't shoot you. Just let them go."

Tilting his head and raising an eyebrow, George Keyser glanced over at the two humans, the oldest one shooting surprised and horrified looks Andrew's way. Finally, a smirk appeared on George's face and with a motion as quick as lightning, grabbed the angel roughly and pulled him to his chest, the gun now aimed at his head,
"Guess that's what I'll have to do then. Sorry we couldn't have more fun, Angelica."

"Andrew!" Angel sobbed brokenly as she looked at the human angel over her father's shoulder, her sobs tearing through her as she saw the frightened look on her friend's face,
"Andrew..."

"Andrew, you can still get out of this!" Brady cried as well, his eyes filling with tears as well over what his friend was doing,
"Don't DO this!"

"I have to, Brady..." He uttered weakly, closing his eyes tightly as he felt the man's hold on him tighten,
"I love your family too much to let him do anything more to you all."

"I suggest you both get out of here before I change my mind," George told them,
"And make sure you tell the police that I won't hesitate to kill your friend."

"Get out of here, Brady," Andrew added quietly,
"Take your daughter and go home to your family."

Brady's mind was swimming as he put his arms around his daughter,
"Andrew…what do I tell Monica and the others?"

The angel's eyes filled with tears as he replied softly, remembering their conversation from earlier,
"You tell my Angel Girl I love her and to trust it will all be fine in the end. She'll understand."

Burying her face deep into her father's shoulder, Angel continued to sob as she muttered over and over again,
"Daddy...Andrew..."

"You will not get away with this, George Keyser," Brady confirmed, his dark eyes still on his angelic friend, who he could tell was more frightened then he let on,
"You have my word, you will not get away with this."

Chapter 24

"Angel!" Cindy cried out as she saw her husband and daughter come through the door a few hours later. Wrapping her arms around her sobbing daughter, Cindy broke down into tears as well,
"Thank you, God, thank you," Reaching her arm out to Brady, the threesome held tightly to each other for a moment.

Hearing the sound of the front door, Monica, followed closely by Kevin hurriedly came down the stairs, their eyes widening at the reunion before them.

"Are you all right, baby?" Cindy uttered, pulling away to look into her daughter's eyes,
"Did he hurt you, sweetheart?"

"H…He tried, mom, but I got away…." Angelica sobbed, turning around, she saw the angels as Kevin moved to hug her tightly, followed by Monica, whose dark eyes were focused on Brady.

Releasing his hold on his wife, seeing the Irish angel's stare, he blinked back his own tears,
"Monica…"

"Where is he, Brady?" She asked, her voice scarcely a whisper as she found herself beginning to tremble by the look in Brady's eyes,
"Where's Andrew? He's still outside, right? Is he talking to the police?"

"Monica...I-I don't know how to say this..."

"Just...tell me, Brady, and get it over with," Monica whispered, not feeling good about this at all. Something had happened, and whatever that something was, the Irish angel didn't believe that her best friend was outside,
"Where is Andrew?"

Lowering his head and pulling Angelica close to him, Brady was about to speak when Wendy ran down the stairs, sobs tearing through her at seeing her father and sister, unharmed, in the front hallway,
"Angel!" Like a bolt of lightning, the slightly older twin made her way over to her sister and immediately wrapped her up in a tight embrace, never wanting to let her go. As the two sisters embraced, Brady laid a shaking hand on Monica's shoulder and gently pulled her aside.

"Little angel...Andrew...he...George Keyser was going to kill Angel and I after we had found him, but..." He stopped there, not sure of how to continue.

"But what, Brady?" Monica demanded, feeling tears already filling her eyes.

"But Andrew, he gave himself as a hostage to save Angelica and I. George has him now," He finished, his voice choking up as he looked into the little Irish angel's wide eyes.

Monica felt as if the room was spinning as her eyes welled up with tears at Brady's words. Suddenly feeling as if she couldn't breath, she continued staring at him, the words not even wanting to register in her mind.

"I tried to talk him out of it, sweetheart, but he refused," Brady continued as gently as he could despite the fact that he was fighting tears,
"The police know that George has him, so he shouldn't hurt him as he needs him to keep the police away-."

"No! You're lying, Brady!" She cried out, not wanting to believe this at all,
"You're lying. It isn't true! It isn't true! He said he'd be fine!" Furiously, she pounded her small fists against Brady's chest as her anger began to turn to tears.

"Daddy's telling the truth, M-Monica..." Angel whimpered as she finally pulled away from her twin sister and buried her face into her mother's shoulder,
"But Andrew...he...he..." As her mother gathered her into her arms, Angelica released the rest of the tears from her eyes as she clung tightly to Cindy.

"No...no, he can't be..." Monica continued to sob as she felt Brady's arms wrap around her, but the pounding of her fists on his chest weakened as she allowed him to hold her,
"Andrew..."

"Why would he give himself to that creep?" Wendy cried as she wiped angrily at the tears in her blue eyes, her heart aching for her missing angelic friend,
"Why, daddy?"

"He would've killed your sister and I, sweetheart," Brady uttered as he forced himself to take deep breaths,
"And you know how much Andrew loves this entire family...and he wanted you to know that he loves you so much, Monica, and that it will all be okay in the end. He...he said you would understand."

"But it wasn't supposed to end like this…" Monica sobbed brokenly, pulling away from Brady and sitting down on the couch, feeling as if her legs were going to give way under her.

"I can't believe this," Kevin uttered, finally saying something, as he had been shocked at all he had heard. He felt tears forming in his eyes as he sat down next to his Irish friend and wrapped his arm around her shoulders,
"Was this even part of the Father's plan?"

"I don't know, Kev," Brady responded softly, his voice anguished,
"What else could I have done? All I could think about was getting Angel home safely and that is what Andrew wanted as well. What else could I have done?"

"Nothing," Monica whispered, pulling away from Kevin and wiping at her eyes. Though her heart was breaking as she remembered the feeling she had had earlier about her best friend being taken away from her, she knew she had to be strong for him. That was something she had never been able to do in the past, but this family still needed help and George Keyser was still at large, so she forced herself to swallow her emotions in order to help with this assignment that her best friend had worked so hard on,
"There wasn't anything else you could have done. Andrew's mind was made up and when that happens, nothing can change it."

"She's right, there wasn't anything either of you could've done," Tess' sad voice appeared in the living room and the small group turned to face her, Rose and Carla. All three angels' faces held looks of sadness for their friend and Tess continued as bravely as she could,
"But I also know, from the Father Himself, that that boy is scared out of his wits; he's been made completely human during this past hour, and that's why the Father has directed me to go and be with him. Apparently, George Keyser has taken him to the hideout he's been staying at during the time he's been on the run...but unfortunately, our Angel Boy won't be able to see me."

"Oh my God..." Cindy cried as she held her two daughters as close to her as she could, almost afraid to let either of them go,
"The police are still looking for that man, aren't they? And he hasn't hurt Andrew in any way, has he?"

"No, not at this point," Tess replied with a shake of her head,
"And the police have the place under surveillance, so we can only pray that this will be over soon and Andrew will be back safe and sound."

Brady shook his head sadly,
"You guys have done so much for us and I've been so hateful to you," He looked from Kevin to Monica,
"Andrew doing this today and we wouldn't have even known about this man's prior victim had it not been for you, Monica. We informed the police as well as Andrew told me on the way there that the poor girl was never found."

"It's okay, Brady," Kevin replied shakily as Carla sat down next to him and took his hand,
"This whole thing hasn't been easy for any of us."

"Tess?" Monica asked softly, her pain-stricken eyes hopeful though her voice remained calm,
"Am I back on the assignment?"

"Yes, sweetheart, you are," Tess replied with a sigh as she looked upwards,
"But right now, I've got to get going. Somebody needs me," Before she disappeared, the older angel turned back around to face her friends, both human and angelic,
"Just keep praying, each of you; our boy will need it..." With that, she disappeared from the Sullivan's living room.

"You did a smart thing this evening, Andrew, a VERY smart thing," George Keyser glared down at the human angel several hours later after they had arrived at a small cabin in the middle of nowhere. After he had bolted and locked the door, the human crossed his arms in front of his chest and stared over at the couch, where he had ordered Andrew to sit when they had first arrived,
"Although I would've preferred all three of you, you will do for now."

"You had no need for all three of us, George," Andrew replied as calmly as he could, not wanting him to see how scared he really was.

"Stupid police are out there," George muttered to himself as he snuck a peak out the window,
"You'd may as well make yourself comfortable as this could be a long haul."

"Why don't you turn yourself in, George?" Andrew asked quietly,
"The police aren't going to give up and the best thing you can do for yourself is to give up quietly."

"You really have lost your mind, haven't you Andrew?" George growled as he turned away from the window and made his way over to where Andrew was sitting. Roughly grabbing the angel by the shoulders and giving him a hard shake, the human snarled,
"You think I'm going to turn myself in? Well guess again; because I've got another plan..."

The angel's green eyes widened in surprise and horror as he wrenched himself free from George's grasp,
"I'm not even sure I want to know this..."

"You don't," He interrupted, shaking his head as he turned away from Andrew to grab his gun,
"And you know what'll happen if you try any funny stuff now, don't you?"

"Of course," Andrew replied calmly, drawing in a deep breath as he closed his eyes for a moment, offering up a silent prayer,
"Be near me, Father, please. Help me to trust You…"

Feeling the Father's love in his heart, brought him some relief, despite the fact that he was still human. Despite the fact that he had no idea that Tess was watching from the corner of the room, her dark eyes filled with concern, the human angel then felt another tug at his heart as he listened to the one he shared such a deep connection with.

"I love you, Andrew…I love you so much. I'm proud of what you did, but please be careful," He closed his eyes once more as he listened, forgetting for the moment where he was and the situation he was in, as the words spoken to his weary heart brought some peace to him,
"I'm not willing to lose you and I know you must be afraid, but I'm holding you so closely in my heart right now and I won't stop until you're okay and even then, not ever. I cross my heart."

After she had whispered up her message to her dearest friend, Monica lowered her head to her bed and buried her face deep into her hands as she allowed her tears to fall,
"Oh Andrew...my dear sweet Andy..."

Hearing a knock on her bedroom door, the exhausted Irish angel slowly lifted her head to see Kevin standing in the doorway, clad in his pajamas as well, his brown eyes filled with fear,
"How you doing, Cupcake?"

Wringing her hands together as she moved over for her co-worker to take a seat next to her, Monica lowered her head to her lap as she whispered,
"I'm trying with all of my heart to believe that he's going to be okay...but it's so hard. I am relieved that Angel is safe and sound with Brady and Cindy again, but my best friend...my best friend gave himself to George Keyser to save them. I'm just so frightened, Kev..."

"So am I, Monica," Kevin uttered as he felt a few more tears fill his eyes as he reached for his friend's hand and squeezed it gently,
"Believe me, I've been praying for him, and this family, all evening."

"The funny thing is that when we were at the cabin earlier today, I had this feeling…this terrible feeling that something was going to happen to him. Most of the time when I feel that way, it's nothing other than old fears, but this time it was different," Letting out a deep breath, she wiped at her eyes,
"I said I wasn't going to do this. I need to be strong for him and this family. Andrew would want that from me and it's the least I can do after everything else."

Kevin regarded her in silence for a moment before speaking softly,
"You know, Cupcake, in light of everything that has happened today, I just want to tell you again that I'm sorry. You've apologized to me countless times the last few weeks and now I understand what you were going through with what happened to Angel. But I haven't been that easy for you to get along with either and I think right now, especially right now, we should try to do better. The last few days haven't been the same without you here, just like things aren't the same when Andrew isn't around. I know that what you and Andrew share goes deeper than anything I could probably imagine, but there is a chance that you and I are going to need each other in the days to come," He paused, not really used to saying what he was feeling as he usually just spoke of such things in a joking manner,
"I guess that what I'm trying to say is that you and Andrew are like my family and despite the fact that you and I bicker so much, I do love and respect you, Cup…Monica, just as much as I do Andrew and I think especially right now, it is important that you know that."

Trying her hardest to hold back her tears, but not really succeeding as she found them trailing down her face, Monica squeezed the youngest angel's hand tightly as she looked through blurred vision into his face,
"We love you too...and I know that Andrew feels the same way, Kevin. You're...you're almost like my little brother, and you're almost like a son to Andrew," Lifting her hand to wipe at her eyes again, the little Irish angel shook her head,
"I just don't want anything else to happen to him; I really thought that the reason all of this had happened to begin with was for us to find Rachael's killer, and have her body found so her family could be at peace. But now with Andy being held hostage..." Her voice broke on a sob and she found she wasn't able to continue.

Reaching for her other hand, Kevin held them tightly in his own as he looked into her tear-streaked face,
"Pray with me then, Monica." As she nodded, the youngest angel lifted up his voice to the Father,
"Father, we ask of You to be with our dear friend and Your angel, Andrew right now as he's in a very dangerous situation. We know that You're holding him right now before we even ask, but Monica and I are both so frightened that we don't know what else to do except to just ask you to protect him and bring him home safely to us. And please also be with this family; there's still a long road ahead for them, and they're going to need us to be strong...and so does Andrew. Thank you, Father. In Your Name, Amen."

As Kevin finished the prayer, Monica released his hands in order to wrap her arms tightly around him in a warm hug,
"Thank you, Kevin," She whispered softly,
"I'm really glad you came in here and we had this talk as I've been worried about where I stood with both you and Brady, and I know that despite the situation he is in right now, Andrew is worrying about us, you know? That's how he is…he could be looking evil in the face and thinking about how you and I are doing. That's one of the reasons I love him so much."

"Is your connection with him working?" Kevin asked hopefully, as he pulled away to look into her eyes.

"I'm not sure," She admitted sadly,
"I spoke to him before you came in, but haven't heard anything in return yet."

Almost as soon as she said those words, Monica stopped talking and she lifted her eyes to the ceiling as his frightened voice drifted down to her,
"I love you too, baby girl..."

Nearly breaking down into another round of sobs, the little Irish angel nodded her head again as she grasped Kevin's hand once again, her voice choking up as she spoke,
"He hears me."

Chapter 25

Andrew awoke early the next morning, after having not drifted off until only a few hours ago, having spent part of the sleepless night speaking to his best friend through their hearts, but panic immediately seized him. Looking down, he realized that while he had been in an exhausted sleep, George had tied his feet and his hands together. Sharply looking up at the man holding him hostage, he once again struggled to remain calm,
"What's going on?"

"I'm getting out of here, that is what's going on," George replied hastily,
"And I'm sorry you have to pay the price, but the police need a little distraction in order for me to leave and unfortunately, you are it, Andrew."

Andrew felt his heart pounding in his chest as he watched the man pick up a large container of gasoline and began pouring it around the room hastily,
"You don't want to do this," He stated, desperately trying to change the human's mind as he felt his forehead beading with nervous sweat.

"I don't have a choice. You were right, the police aren't going anywhere, so I have to. I'm not going to jail, Andrew," He replied, making sure to splash the gasoline on the curtains and furniture as well.

"George...please, really, this isn't necessary!" The angel tried to reason with him one more time as he watched every movement the human made. But before George replied, Andrew was taken totally by surprise and he felt his heart literally leap into his throat as he felt the gasoline now being splashed on him as well.

"Sorry, dude, but it is," George shrugged his shoulders carelessly, not seeming to care less at what he was doing,
"I don't want you squealing, so this has to be done." Quickly, he pulled a lighter out of his pocket and then grabbed a box of matches on the table next to the couch,
"I'll catch you later in the next life, Andrew." With that, he struck one match and threw it to one side of the room, while with a quick flick of his wrist, struck another one and tossed it onto the couch where Andrew was laying.

As George vanished, panic welled up inside of the angel as he watched the room ignite, including the far end of the couch and he knew he didn't have much time. Closing his eyes against tears, heat and the smoke, he spoke with everything that was in his heart,
"Angel Girl, listen to me, baby. Things are happening that are going to be hard, but you hang onto the fact that the Father is in control. I don't understand this either right now, but there is a reason for everything…you told me that yesterday and don't you dare forget it now. Do you hear me, little one?" As the flames loomed closer, he continued frantically, his thoughts completely focused on his best friend, trying to think of everything he wanted her to know,
"I love you…I love you so much and the Father loves us all. Be strong for me, sweet girl and take care of Kevin and the Sullivan's as they need you now. You can do this, Monica, I know you can. Remember that other than the Father, you are my world, sweetheart and I'm going to need you, I think, in the weeks to come," The angel cried out as he felt the first of the many flames lick at his skin,
"I love you, little soul mate…I love you…I love you…" Turning his eyes upward, his face a vision of pain, he whispered aloud,
"Father, Your will be done…."