"You'll be in My Heart"

Chapter 1

Monica awoke the next morning with a start as she felt her best friend speaking to her heart, and putting everything aside for the moment, including the horrific images of her best friend being held hostage, the Irish angel lifted her dark eyes to the ceiling as she listened to Andrew speak to her, fear and pain evident in his voice.

"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? 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. I love you, little soul mate…I love you…I love you…"

Her dark eyes widening as his voice slowly started to fade away, Monica sobbed brokenly as she called out to him in her heart,

"Andrew, what's happening?"

Silence.

"Andrew, please...answer me..." Her voice broke off as she felt tears rolling down her pale face, but to her horror, there was no reply,

"Andrew..."

"He can't answer you now, sweetheart."

The sound of Rose's tear-filled voice caused the Irish angel to look up at her through anguished eyes,
"Rose? What's happening to him? He just spoke to me and I know something is terribly wrong, but he won't answer me now. Why?" Suddenly, she found herself trembling violently, from head to toe, her best friend's words, filled with so much love, terrifying her.

Wiping at her own eyes, Rose sat down on the bed and reached for the young angel's hands, finding them to be ice cold and shaking as was the rest of her,
"Honey, George Keyser got away this morning by distracting the police…" Saying a prayer for strength to be able to tell this little angel who loved Andrew with everything in her the truth, she continued, wanting to spare Monica as many of the horrible details as she could,
"He set the house on fire where he was holding Andrew hostage, sweetheart."

Her heart seeming to have stopped at those few words spoken by the older angel, Monica's eyes flooded with hot tears as she let out a cry,

"No! No, Rose! Tell me it's not true...tell me it's not true!"

Now sobbing openly herself, as she had wanted more then anything to help her 'Angel Boy', Rose gathered the weeping angel into a tight hug as she rocked her gently,

"I wish it wasn't...but I wouldn't lie to you, especially about something as horrific as this..."

"Rose?" Kevin's voice appeared in the doorway, and both angels looked up and noticed that he had heard every word the oldest angel had just spoke. His face had turned sheet white and he was trembling violently in the doorway,

"George Keyser...set the house on...FIRE? With Andrew...still inside?"

"Yes, honey," Rose uttered softly, beckoning to the other angel as she kept one arm around Monica, who was on the verge of hysterics. As Kevin sank down onto the bed and Rose wrapped her arm around him as well, the older angel struggled to find her voice once more,
"You both know the Father is still in control. I know this is terrible, but we all still have to trust Him. He knows what He is doing, even now when it doesn't seem that way to us…"

"Where is he now, Rose?" Kevin uttered, his heart breaking at this news as he reached across Rose to clasp Monica's hand in his as the Irish angel just continued to repeat Andrew's name over and over in between sobs.

"As far as I know, Kevin, still inside that house. This just happened moments ago. Our Angel Boy spoke to Monica as it was happening," She explained drawing in a deep breath.

"Father, help him..." Kevin whispered through the tears that spilled over onto his face,

"Help our friend, please..."

Standing apart from the police and the squad cars, along with the fire department that had just shown up at the burning building, Philip stared open-mouthed at the flames licking at the cabin. He had witnessed everything that had taken place the last couple of hours, and deep down inside, he knew that there was someone in there...

Someone who was very close to Monica.

"I've gotta help somehow..." He whispered to himself even as he felt his heart pounding loudly in his chest,

"Andrew needs help badly..." Feeling a gentle tugging at his heart to go inside, Philip sucked in a deep breath and walked away from the fire fighters and the cops; but who he didn't notice standing off to the side was yet another figure watching him.

Tess.

Entering the house, Philip searched frantically until he found him….

Andrew.

The human angel was weakly struggling to get his hands and feet free from the ties that bound them, flames scorching his body as he struggled once more before losing consciousness from the smoke and the pain.

Without even thinking, Philip grabbed the angel who was Monica's dearest friend in the angelic realm and lifted him as best he could before he started back out of the room through the flames, knowing he had to get the angel out of here and quickly as he needed medical attention. Finally getting the angel outside, Philip lowered him gently to the ground before looking around for someone to notice him. Knowing he was not visible to the human eye, the demon put his fingers to his lips and gave a loud whistle, watching with relief as several heads turned in his direction.

"Dear God, someone just came out of there!" One of the firefighters yelled to the others,
"Get the ambulance crew here, NOW!"

Looking down at Andrew once more, Philip spoke softly, his heart heavy at the sight of the badly wounded angel who was scarcely breathing,
"God be with you, Andrew," He whispered, before looking up to the sky,
"Take care of him, God."

"I am always with My children, Philip," The sound of the Father's Voice spoke from above and the demon felt a few tears fill his dark eyes as he listened. With a quick nod of his head, he gently laid the angel down on the ground as the ambulance crew surrounded them, and he rose shakily to his feet. As he backed away, Philip's dark eyes widened in surprise as he spotted Tess standing off to the side, watching them.

As he neared her, Tess laid a gentle hand on his shoulder as her brown eyes burned with tears,

"Thank you for helping my baby, Philip. Thank you."

"Will he be okay, Tess?" He whispered, glancing over his shoulder at the paramedics and then at the house, which looked like it was about to explode any minute. With a sigh, he realized he was no longer visible to the humans, so he turned back to the older angel and awaited an answer.

"Only God knows, honey," She uttered weakly, her eyes turning to her beloved 'Angel Boy',

"But I have witnessed what you did to help him, so I would like you to be with the rest of us when we meet at the hospital. Will you be there, Philip?"

Philip looked undecided for a moment,
"Tess, I don't want any fuss made. The things I put Monica through, and in turn, caused Andrew to suffer right along with her, don't allow any room for me to be a hero. I'll be making this up to them for the rest of eternity. Monica has been special to me for a long time and in turn, I know how special Andrew is to her and I wish no harm on either of them anymore."

"I understand that, baby, but you didn't answer my question," Tess replied gently.

Slowly, the kind-hearted demon nodded his head,
"Yes, I'll be there."

Smiling tearfully, Tess squeezed his shoulder gently as she said quietly,

"Thank you." Glancing behind him and watching the paramedics just now loading her friend onto a stretcher and rolling him towards the waiting ambulance, the angel sighed sadly as she nodded at Philip,

"Whenever you're ready to meet us there, baby, we'll be waiting, okay?" As the demon sadly nodded his head, Tess turned back around and hurried towards her waiting caddy.

After Rose had finally gotten Monica to calm down at least a little bit, the oldest of the three looked up in time to see Carla standing in the middle of the bedroom, her green eyes red-rimmed from earlier crying. Releasing her hold on both angels, Rose stood up and looked at the young, blonde angel,

"Any news, honey?"

Lifting a trembling hand to wipe at her eyes, Carla shakily nodded her head as she attempted to form her words,

"He's out of there...Philip saved him; Tess told me to tell you all, as she's on her way to the hospital as we speak."

"Thank you, Father," Rose whispered shakily.

"Philip saved him?" Kevin uttered hoarsely as he moved closer to Monica and drew her close to him. Though she had stopped crying, she had not uttered a word as she just starred down at her hands.

"That's what Tess said, Kevin," Carla replied in a whisper,
"We're all to meet her there as soon as we're ready…Brady and Cindy are headed there too, so we'll need more than one car…"

Monica was on her feet instantly and out the bedroom door, only wanting to get to her best friend's side as quickly as possible. Going downstairs, her mind in a whirl of exhaustion and grief, she grabbed Andrew's car keys off the side table, only stopping when a gentle but firm hand grabbed her arm.

"Little angel, you aren't driving," Brady told her gently as he took the keys from her shaking hand, his heart aching as she starred up at him through hollow brown eyes,
"We're going to take care of him, sweetheart, okay? The hospital is expecting him and we'll get you there too, all right?"

Nodding her head, unable to form any words with her lips, the Irish angel watched as he grabbed his jacket from the back of a nearby chair just as Cindy was hurrying down the stairs, Angel and Wendy in tow,
"Let's get going, Brady; we don't have any time to lose."

"Where's Paddy?" Brady asked, glancing around him and not seeing his son anywhere.

"Apparently still at Amy's, but we'll give him a call when we get to the hospital," Cindy slung her purse over her shoulder and grasped Angel's trembling hand in hers,
"Mon', Carla and Kev are going with Brady in Andrew's car; and Rose is coming with the twins and I, all right?" She nodded over to the two remaining angels who had followed them down the stairs and joined the small group.

"As long as we get to him soon..." Monica choked out for the first time, her voice barely audible,
"As long as we get there..."

Chapter 1

The ride to the hospital was the longest Monica had ever known as she starred miserably out the window of the passenger's seat, her mind going over the last things her best friend had spoken to her…

"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…"

"I'm trying, Andrew," She whispered under her breath as a tear trailed down her cheek,
"But I'm so scared…." Feeling Brady reach across for her hand, she squeezed it tightly, as she remembered all the times her best friend had been her tower of strength and she vowed to herself to return the favor now. He didn't need her to be an absolute mess; he had asked for her to be strong for him, and no matter what it took, she wanted to be that for him. She didn't want to let him down, not again and she had promised to make her mistake a few days ago up to him, not that she had thought the opportunity would come to do that so quickly. Drying her eyes for the last time, she whispered up a prayer for strength, determined to do this for her dearest friend. She would take care of him, Kevin and the Sullivan's just as he had asked her to.

"Tess said that monster poured gasoline right on him," Carla whispered shakily from the back seat as she held onto Kevin's hand.

"I know that guy is human, but monster is right," Kevin uttered, tears falling from his eyes as he thought about his supervisor and friend.

Though Monica felt her stomach lurch at Carla's words, she only nodded her head solemnly before she spoke words for their benefit as well as her own,
"The Father is with him and it will be okay in the end, even if it doesn't feel that way now. Andrew said it would be."

Nobody said anything more and the Irish angel lowered her head to her folded hands, whispering prayer after prayer for the angel who had her heart...the angel who could very well be in serious condition at this very moment. The next thing she realized, however, was that the car had pulled to a stop in the parking lot of the hospital and her hands trembled violently as she fumbled with her seat belt.

As she, Brady and her fellow angels climbed out of the vehicle, Monica raced ahead of the others and towards the main entrance of the Emergency Room. Glancing around her at doctors rushing back and forth, apparently getting ready for an upcoming surgery, the Irish angel's heart leaped into her throat as she overheard some words being said.

"Severe burns to the face and nearly half of his body..."

"When the ambulance pulls up, get him into surgery immediately..."

"Apparently, the fire was set on purpose..."

Feeling a gentle hand on her back, Monica placed her hands over her mouth as she allowed Brady and the others to guide her towards a few plastic waiting room chairs. Before she sat down, however, the angel glanced up and saw Tess making her way towards them, her face pale over what she had witnessed a few hours ago.

"Tess!" The Irish angel let out a broken sob as she felt her former supervisor's arms wrap tightly around her and holding her up so she wouldn't collapse,
"Oh Tess...he's not here yet, is he?"

"The ambulance is still on their way," The older angel whispered hoarsely, closing her dark eyes tightly as she stroked Monica's shoulder-length auburn hair,
"They should be here any minute; the doctors are prepping up an Operating Room for him right now..."

"How bad is it?" Monica whispered, swallowing back her tears, remembering the promise she had made to herself.

Drawing in a deep breath, Tess motioned to Kevin as well,
"Sit down, babies," She said gently, leading Monica over to a chair beside of Kevin and sitting down across from them.

Reaching for Kevin's hand and holding it tightly in her own, Monica met her eyes with those of her former supervisor and waited for her to speak.

"Kevin, you don't know me quite as well as Monica does, but she can tell you that I've never been anything short of honest with her or with Andrew and I'm not going to change that now," Tess began as gently as she could, reaching for each of their hands,
"It's bad, you two. I was there, but couldn't interfere and our Angel Boy was burned badly. I don't know if angels can die, but had it not been for Philip, we may have had the answer to that question by now," She met her eyes with Monica's, seeing a resolution of strength there that she didn't expect to see from her Angel Girl,
"My guess is that he has a long road ahead of him until he recovers or until the Father heals him. Do you understand what I'm telling you, baby?"

Monica nodded her head, despite the fact that she felt as if she wanted to throw up. Glancing at Kevin and seeing the tears making their way down his face, the Irish angel wrapped a supportive arm around him and drew him closer.

"He's gonna be all right though, right Tess?" The youngest angel whispered shakily.

"It's too soon to tell yet, baby," Tess replied regretfully,
"The fire may have done damage to his lungs and organs and we just have to wait and see."

"He's strong though, Kev," Monica whispered to her friend,
"You know that."

"He is strong, Angel Girl, but our boy is going to need all of us, especially you, in the coming weeks...or months," Tess continued, sadness evident in her strong voice.

"And I will be there..." Monica choked on a sob that threatened her, and she drew in a deep breath,
"There's nothing that would keep me away from my best friend when he needs me the most, Tess..."

Before either angel could continue, Kevin looked over Tess' head and spotted a familiar figure walking their way, almost as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders, and he looked as though he didn't belong in such a place. The youngest angel's mouth hanging open, he finally found his voice,
"Philip's here...?"

Rising to her feet, Tess made her way over to the kind-hearted demon and Monica and Kevin watched as she took his hand gently and led him over to the small group. Wanting more then anything to stay strong in front of everyone else, as she didn't want to break down since her best friend had asked this of her, the Irish angel shakily rose to her feet and without thinking, went over to where Philip was standing and wrapped her arms tightly around him, hugging him with all her might,
"Thank you...Thank you for saving him..."

His brown eyes widening in surprise at the greeting he got, Philip looked over her shoulder at the small group gathered in the waiting room. The Sullivan family were crowded together in a small corner, hands clenched together in prayer, while Tess, Kevin and Rose were watching the exchange between him and Monica with shock, but understanding, in their tear-filled eyes. Blinking back his own tears, the demon hesitantly raised his arms and embraced the little Irish angel back gently,
"Your welcome." He whispered into her hair.

After a few more slightly uncomfortable moments, Monica finally pulled away and wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand, determined to get her emotions under control once again; but before anyone had a time to say anything, commotion from the entrance of the ER sounded loud and clear and everyone's heads shot up as they heard a paramedic shout orders as they pulled a stretcher out of the ambulance doors,
"Get him into the OR now! He's scarcely breathing, and we almost lost him on the way here!"

Kevin's eyes widened in horror at the sight of his supervisor and friend, never having seen anything so horrific in his existence. The side of Andrew's face that he could see was almost unrecognizable from the terrible burns that covered that side of his body as well. Not even realizing what he was doing, the youngest angel turned away, unable to even look, as sobs shook through him.

Tears racing down her own face, Carla reached for his hand, and forced him to meet her eyes,
"Kev, he's still Andrew," She whispered, knowing what he was thinking.

But Kevin shook his head, though ashamed at the fact that he had turned away,
"He's not going to make it, Carla…he's not going to…" Pulling away from her, he bolted down the hallway.

Seeing that Tess had put her arms around Rose as the older angel sobbed quietly, Monica realized they had stopped pushing the stretcher for a moment as the hospital staff frantically prepared the operating room. Swallowing back her fear and tears, she approached the unconscious body of her best friend. Despite the fact that the burns were indeed terrible, her eyes only saw the angel that had such a tight grip on her heart, the compassionate gentle angel that was her dearest friend.

Her hand automatically reaching for him, Monica stopped herself, realizing that she stood to hurt him wherever she may touch. Looking at his face, she forced back tears as she found that only one side of his face was badly burned, the other side, though black from the smoke was mostly unharmed. With a trembling hand, she reached down and softly stroked his cheek, hoping that somewhere deep inside, he was aware of her presence,
"I'm here, my dear friend," She whispered, her voice trembling,
"I'm doing what you asked of me, Andrew, but I need you to do something for me, okay? I need you to fight, sweetie and fight hard. Please, do this for me, Andy," Swiping a tear from her cheek with her other hand, she continued stroking his cheek soothingly,
"There is nothing I want more right now than to hold you, but I can't, Andrew, so remember what I told you last night; I am holding you in my heart so tightly, my dear, sweet friend, just so tightly, and I'm not letting you go…"

"Okay, get him in here!"

Hearing the doctor call for the paramedics to wheel him into the OR, Monica kissed his cheek,
"I love you, Andrew…I love you so much and I know it hurts, but fight, my friend, and I'll be right there when you wake up. I promise we'll do this together, Andy…I cross my heart promise…"

As they wheeled him into the OR, Monica watched miserably, feeling like she wanted to collapse on the floor and sob, but instead she swallowed hard and drew in a deep breath, before she turned to rejoin her friends.

"Are you all right, Rose?" She uttered weakly, sinking into the chair next to Andrew's former supervisor, watching as Rose shakily wiped at her blue eyes and tried to gather herself together for all of them.

"Oh sweetheart, I just love that Angel Boy so much, more then my own life...and it's always hard to see him like that," The Search and Rescue angel replied in a whisper as she looked gratefully over at Tess who was holding onto her hand gently, tears streaming from her own eyes as well, before turning back to Monica,
"But Monica, I think you should go after Kevin...it looks like he really needs a friend right now..."

"I...you'll come and get me, though, if there's any news on Andrew, right?" The little Irish angel asked in a shaky whisper, trying to blink back another round of hot tears.

"You know we will, little angel," Philip reassured, speaking up for the first time in a few minutes. Glancing down at his hands and then back up at the remaining angels and the Sullivan's, the kind-hearted demon returned his gaze to Monica,
"Go after Kevin."

Nodding her head miserably, Monica leaped to her feet and headed in the direction the Caseworker had gone. It didn't take her long before she found her co-worker standing with his back up to the wall not far from the waiting room, his head buried in his hands and his shoulder shaking with heavy sobs,
"Kevin..." She started, taking a shaky step towards him.

"Just leave me alone, Monica, okay?" He sobbed, never lifting his head.

"I'm not so sure that is a good idea," She replied softly, wrapping her arm around him and leading him into a small room with a sofa so they could sit down and where he was out of the way of any nosy observers. Wrapping her arms around him as she swallowed her own tears, she felt him give up the fight to be alone as he rested his forehead against her shoulder and cried,
"I know, honey, I know…"

It was minutes later when the younger angel was finally able to speak and then it was in a shaky whisper,
"I couldn't even look at him, Monica…" He uttered, shame heavy in his voice.

"Oh Kevin, it's okay. He's still Andrew; he's still the angel he always was," Monica replied gently, running her fingers through his tousled hair.

"Why did this have to happen to him?" Kevin wept softly, never loosening his grip on his friend.

Monica shook her head, wrestling with this question herself, though Andrew hadn't doubted there was a reason,
"I don't know, sweetie. All I know is that there is a reason for it, as the Father has a reason for everything. I can tell you that even while this was happening to him, Andrew was trusting the Father as he always does."

"Then why am I having trouble with it?" Kevin uttered weakly as he tried to take as deep of breaths as possible,
"Andrew's my friend, and...and I don't even want to think about not having him getting well; it won't leave my mind...I don't want to lose him as my supervisor..."

"And you won't," Monica choked out, unable to hold back the tears in her eyes; but she continued to remain as strong as she could for the youngest angel. Holding him tighter, she rested her cheek on the top of his head,
"Andrew will eventually be back to the same angel we all love with all our hearts; it's just going to take some time."

"You may have to help me when they allow us to see him..." He whispered, as he finally pulled away from the Irish angel,
"Because if I wasn't able to even look at him when they brought him in here...I don't know how I'll be able to do it alone after surgery."

Chapter 2

"Brady? Cindy?"

The sound of a voice caused the two humans to look up and see one of the nurses standing in front of them,
"Jennifer?" Cindy replied, seeing a look of concern on her face,
"What's going on?"

"We've been trying to reach you both by phone, but then one of the other nurses said they saw you both here," The young red-haired nurse explained nervously,
"Your son and his girlfriend were brought in early this morning. Seems her house caught on fire and-."

"What?" Brady's eyes were filled with confusion,
"Patrick was at a youth retreat last night, not at Amy's house."

"The girl's parents are here as well, Brady," Jennifer continued softly,
"And not too happy, if I may say so…"

"Is Paddy okay?" Cindy cried out, jumping to her feet as the reality of the situation sank in.

"Yes, he just had some minor burns, but his girlfriend didn't fare as well, I'm afraid and is much worse off…"

"Oh dear Lord...first Andrew, and now them..." Cindy whispered, finally sinking back down in her seat and resting her head in her hands,
"Where is he? Where's Paddy?"

"He's signing his discharge papers right now, Cin," Jennifer replied sympathetically,
"And Amy's already been admitted into a room, so I assume her parent's are with her right now. Patrick should be out any minute..."

"Why would he lie to us like that?" Brady spoke to nobody in particular, his face a mask of confusion,
"He knows we've got enough on our hands as it is, and we don't need more to add to the load!"

"Let's just wait and hear what he has to say, Brady, okay?" Cindy interrupted quietly, her face still buried in her hands as she tried to ward off tears,
"I'm worrying enough as it is, and I don't want to think that he intentionally lied without hearing his side of the story first."

Trying to keep his anger in check, Brady nodded his head as he reached for his wife's hand,
"Let's go and find out then. The girls are over there with Tess and Rose, so they'll be safe."

Seeing their son as they headed down the hall, Cindy released Brady's hand and quickly approached him, laying her hands on his shoulders,
"Are you all right?"

Paddy avoided her eyes as he struggled for an answer,
"Yeah, mom, I'm okay, but Amy…."

"I want an explanation, son, and I want it now," She replied sternly, once her initial fear over his well being was put to rest,
"You told us you were at a youth retreat last night. How did you wind up at Amy's?"

Patrick took in a deep breath as he forced out his words,
"I lied, mom. I never went to the youth retreat. I went to stay the night with Amy. Her parents didn't know anything about it either."

When counting to 10 didn't help, Brady grabbed his son's arm firmly,
"Patrick Sullivan, so help me-."

"Nothing happened, dad, okay?" He interrupted tearfully,
"We had some candles lit and somehow one of them fell over and caught the curtains of her room on fire-."

"Could it be that it fell over because the two of you were half dressed, all over each other?" The voice of Amy's father, Mark, sounded from behind them.

"Patrick! Is that true?" Cindy demanded, releasing her hold on her son's shoulders to place her hands on her hips,
"And tell me the God honest truth, all right?"

Tears forming in his eyes, the young boy took a deep breath as he looked from his parents to Mark and then back to his father, trying to avoid his mother's harsh look,
"Yes. But nothing happened-"

"And why should we believe that, Patrick?" Brady demanded, his eyes narrowed into slits,
"You lied to us last night! Tell me, why should we believe that?"

"Why are you getting so shook up, dad?" Paddy yelled, his voice though choked with tears, filled with frustration,
"I told you that nothing happened; I thought you'd believe me-"

"Look, Amy told me that you two were all over each other," Mark snapped as he looked Paddy straight in the eyes,
"And you're telling us that 'nothing happened'? That's bull!"

"Then ask Amy, Mr. Richards!" Patrick argued heatedly,
"She'll tell you and I'm sure you'll believe her!"

"Watch your mouth, Patrick," Cindy snapped heatedly, trying to compose herself as she looked up at Amy's father,
"Mark, I'm so sorry about this and I can assure you that this will be dealt with accordingly. How is Amy?"

"The doctor's are with her now," Mark replied, suddenly looking as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders,
"Her face was badly burned and they can only do so much…."

"Oh Mark, I'm so sorry," Cindy replied softly,
"If there is anything we can do…"

"I appreciate that, Cindy," He replied, managing a weak smile,
"Despite how this happened, you and Brady have always been good to Amy."

"She's like family," Brady added, sinking his fingers into his son's shoulder, trying to ward off the fury he was feeling.

"So what are you two doing here? Did something happen to one of the twins?" Mark asked, looking over the Sullivan's shoulders and seeing the twins sitting together with Rose and Tess, their heads still down and tears visible on their identical faces.

His eyes still on his son, Brady drew in a sharp breath as he replied dully,
"No, the twins are all right physically, but...Andrew was taken in just a few minutes ago..."

His head snapping up at the mention of the angel, Paddy's brown eyes widened as he asked,
"What happened to him?"

"I'll fill you in on all the details in a little bit, Patrick, but let's just say Amy isn't the only one who's a burn victim," Cindy lowered her voice slightly as she lowered her blue eyes to the ground, trying to keep her emotions under control.

"What?" Paddy cried out, his eyes widening even more.

"He was taken hostage last night, Patrick, and the house he was in was set on fire, Andrew along with it," Cindy explained tiredly,
"He's in surgery now."

"This is a friend of yours?" Mark asked quietly.

"A friend of the family for years," Brady explained and left it at that.

Laying a hand on Brady's shoulder, Mark nodded his head in understanding,
"He'll have my prayers, Brady."

"And Amy, ours. We'll check in with you later," Brady added, steering his son down the hall and to an empty room.

As Brady closed the door firmly behind him and turned around, he pointed to the sofa next to the wall and ordered in a stern tone,
"Sit. Now."

As their son did just that, Cindy stood next to her husband, and both pairs of eyes regarded him with icy coldness. Brady was the first to speak,
"How could you do something like that, Patrick? I thought we had raised you not to lie!"

"But Angel did-."

"This isn't about your sister right now, Patrick Sullivan," Brady interrupted sternly, folding his arms across his chest,
"This is about you, and why you lied to us."

Silence followed as Paddy lowered his tousled head to his hands, ashamed to meet his parent's angry eyes. The truth was, he was surprised that he had lied like that to his folks; they had always trusted him, and now, he had gone behind their backs during a very difficult time and lied.

"I'm going to ask you this once and only once and I want the absolute truth," Brady broke the silence after a moment. Getting no reply from his son, he continued,
"How far did things go with Amy last night? Do I need to worry about becoming a grandfather twice in one week?"

"No!" Paddy choked out, finally lifting his eyes to meet those of his father,
"Things did not go that far!"

"But would they have, had the room not caught on fire?" Cindy demanded, getting her answer when her son lowered his eyes once more and fell silent,
"Patrick, what were you thinking?"

Still not getting any reply from their son, Brady struggled to control his anger, wondering how things with his children could have gotten out of control so quickly,
"How is it that you weren't hurt, but Amy is burned so badly?"

Tears threatened the teenager's eyes once more,
"I thought she was behind me…I didn't realize that she was trying to put out the fire until it was too late. I…I was already outside when I realized it and then I was afraid to go back into the house."

Once again, Brady and Cindy fell silent as they listened to their son's heartbreaking words. Exchanging a look with one another, Cindy came over to the couch and took a seat next to Paddy, laying a hand on his shoulder,
"Honey, I just want to know what caused you to lie in the first place…"

"I just wanted…I don't know!" Patrick cried out, throwing his hands in the air while looking at his mother,
"I Didn't WANT to lie to you guys-."

"But you did," Brady interrupted,
"There is no way around that fact."

"I know that you guys don't allow me to stay the night at my girlfriend's house," He finally continued, his voice shaking,
"But all of you guys were fighting so much. Everything was going wrong…and I just wanted to get away!"

"Families argue, Patrick," Brady countered, refusing to take all of the blame for this,
"It doesn't mean you take the first opportunity to lie to us and run off to sleep with your girlfriend! You are 14 years old, for heaven's sake! What if it had happened and Amy had gotten pregnant? Are you ready for the responsibility of being a father, because at this moment, I can tell you it is not always a picnic!"

"I didn't think about that…" Patrick mumbled, unwilling to meet his father's eyes.

"I'm sure you didn't." Cindy retorted, feeling more than frustrated at the moment. Drawing in a deep breath, she turned to her husband,
"I am going to take Paddy and the girls home," Looking back to her son, she continued,
"You, young man, are to go straight to your room until your father and I can figure out how to deal with you. Brady, stay with the angels until we hear something on Andrew and Amy and then call to let me know, but I'm not so sure the children are going to be up to seeing Andrew once we are allowed to see him."

Brady nodded his head in agreement, having seen the looks of horror on Angel and Wendy's faces when Andrew had quickly been wheeled through the ER,
"I agree. This is far from over, Patrick. I would have expected you to act more responsibly, especially in light of everything that has happened with your sister. To say I am disappointed would be putting it mildly."

Lifting a hand to wipe away the distraught tears from his slightly burned cheek, Paddy slowly nodded his head before finally lifting his head to meet his father's disappointed gaze,
"I'm sorry, dad...I'm sorry, mom..."

"We know you are, Patrick, but you're going to have to prove to us that you can be trusted again," Brady ran a hand through his disheveled hair as he sighed,
"Until then, go home with your mom..."

"Will...will I at least be able to see Andrew?" Paddy choked out miserably as he thought about the angel who was his friend.

Exchanging a look with her husband, Cindy sighed sadly as she rose to her feet,
"We'll see; nobody knows how long he'll be in human form and we're going to have to wait." Grasping her son's hand, she helped pull him to his feet as they headed for the door,
"C'mon, let's get home."

As his wife and son exited the small room, Brady drew in a shaky breath as he ran his hands over his face; after all that occurred the past 24 hours, he felt twice his age, and now after hearing what had gone on with Patrick and Amy...With an exhausted sigh, the human turned around and headed back towards the waiting room where Cindy was explaining to Angel and Wendy that they needed to get home. As he neared them, he saw Angel nod her head, horror still etched on her tear-streaked face; but he was surprised to see that Wendy didn't seem as eager to leave.

"Mom...I have to see him..." The teenager sobbed as she looked up at her mother,
"He's my friend, and I don't care how he looks right now...I just want to be there with him too..."

Tears streaming from her blue eyes, Cindy looked over at her husband who was standing near the angels and saw the sad look in his own eyes. Noticing that he had overheard their daughter's plea, Cindy sighed through her tears as she looked down at Wendy,
"All right, sweetheart. Just stay with your father or one of the angels, all right?"

Throwing her arms around her mother, Wendy continued to sob as she hugged her tightly,
"Thank you."

Kissing her daughter's head, Cindy finally pulled gently away and nodded her head,
"I love you, darling, and I'll see you guys back at home." As Wendy nodded her head, the human turned around, grasped Patrick's arm and took Angel's hand, and headed out the ER doors.

Chapter 3

"There you are," Brady said quietly with a sigh as he peered into the room where Monica sat with Kevin fast asleep, his head on her lap.

Monica startled slightly, her exhausted brown eyes filled with fear,
"Is it Andrew? Is there-."

"No, little angel," He replied wearily, sitting down on the other side of her,
"He could be in surgery for quite some time. I just wanted to check on you and to tell you that I might know the reason this happened," Seeing the inquisitive look in her pain-filled eyes, he told her what had occurred with Patrick and Amy this morning.

Monica nodded her head in understanding as she gazed down at the sleeping Kevin, her fingers running gently through his hair, hoping to keep the tormented younger angel asleep,
"Andrew knew there had to be a reason, though it seems his injuries are more severe than Amy's are. I'm sorry about Paddy though, Brady and will do all I can to help."

Brady regarded her in silence for a moment, his dark eyes holding his concern,
"Don't you have enough on your plate, honey?"

Fighting back tears, Monica managed a slight smile,
"Andrew asked me to be strong and to help your family and Kevin, so that is what I'm going to do. I'm not about to let him down again, Brady."

Reaching over, the human took her chin in his hand and met her eyes,
"I'm not sure that holding your emotions in is what Andrew had in mind, little angel," He remarked softly.

"Brady, don't, please," She asked, carefully pulling away, knowing that too much gentleness or kindness could easily cause her to break down and she was determined not to do that,
"I have to do this. If I fall apart, I'm of no use to anyone, least of all Andrew and I need to be there for him too. I've caused more than enough trouble for him the last few days and though I'm not blaming myself, the fact remains that had I listened and not gone to see that man, he'd of been behind bars a few days ago and none of this would have happened."

Running a hand through his tangled hair, Brady sighed deeply as he took in what Monica was saying,
"Little angel, I know how much you want to be strong for Andrew; all of us do, as we know he's going to need it. But Monica, being strong does not mean that you can't cry. I can tell that you're on the verge of a breakdown as we speak..."

"Yes, but if I do cry, then I won't stop, Brady," The weary Irish angel whispered, lowering her exhausted brown eyes to Kevin as she continued stroking his hair,
"Andrew doesn't need that-"

"Crying doesn't mean you aren't being strong, Monica," Brady shook his head, watching Monica's face as she seemed to be thinking things through right now. Silence passed between the human and angel and he watched as Monica lowered her head to her lap, taking in shaky breaths. With a deep sigh, the human rested a gentle hand on her shoulder,
"What are you thinking about?"

"I'm thinking...I'm thinking about the last talk Andrew and I had before...before George took him hostage," The Irish angel's voice choked up and she forced back another round of hot tears,
"You're saying a lot of the same things...I told him..."

(Flashback)

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."

(End Flashback)

Shaking her head, the little Irish angel kept her brown eyes lowered to her lap as she finally spoke up again,
"But this is different, though..."

"How so, Monica?" Brady gently pushed, his hand squeezing her shoulder.

"Because...because he was feeling stress with this assignment and he felt like he couldn't get a break," She started, her voice trembling,
"This time...he specifically asked me to be strong for him and for you all; he was just burned severely, Brady, and he's going to need for me to not be a total mess...which I know will happen if you keep being so kind and asking me why I can't cry." Here, she looked up into Brady's exhausted, yet worried, face.

"I still think you are asking far too much of yourself, sweetheart…" He began but Monica quietly interrupted.

"No, Brady. It's what Andrew asked of me when he was fully aware of what was about to happen to him. It's the very least I can do after the trouble I've caused him and after all he has done for me over the years. What good am I to him if all I can do is sit by his bed and cry? He's going to be in pain and afraid and he doesn't need that from me now. I owe him this, even though he has forgiven me for my mistakes as he reminded me of that again last night when we were talking through the connection that God gave us…."

(Flashback)

[I]"Andrew, I'm so sorry this is happening to you," Monica spoke tearfully to her best friend through her heart, her soul aching at the situation he was in at the moment,
"If only I had listened to you-."

"Not another word about that, Angel Girl, okay?" Andrew's words floated down to her as she starred at the ceiling in her room,
"It's forgiven, baby, by me and by the Father. You had no idea George Keyser would go this far. You made a mistake and you learned from it and that is all I care about…"[/I]

(End Flashback)

Brady looked into her exhausted brown eyes as he nodded his head,
"Were you up all night talking to him, little angel?"

"Most of it, until about two hours before George set that room on fire," She replied, leaning her head back against the couch,
"I wanted so much to keep his spirits up, you know? I could tell he was afraid and I didn't want him sitting there alone all night wondering what was going to happen to him…"

(Flashback)

[I]"So, my friend, when all this is over, if we get that time off, what do you want to do?" She asked, trying to lighten the mood for him as she was able to so clearly sense his fear over what George Keyser would do next,
"If we could go anywhere, where would you want to go?"

"Anywhere?" He replied, thoughtfully as he tried to relax,
"I think back to Space Mountain, where I would make a certain Angel Girl ride it as I never got even with her for giving me such a hard time about riding it to begin with."

Hearing the light teasing in his voice, she smiled through her tears,
"That isn't very nice, Andy." She chided back softly.

"Yeah? Well, neither were you that day, Angel Baby," Andrew retorted, his eyes watching George as he paced through the room.

"If you could see me, you would know I'm making a face at you…" Hearing a chuckle escape her best friend, the Irish angel smiled…[/I]

(End Flashback)

"You're a good friend, Monica," Brady replied gently, reaching for her hand and giving it a gentle squeeze.

"Not as good a one as Andrew is, Brady, but I'm trying," Monica replied softly,
"With Andrew and with Kevin. That's why I have to do this."

Several more long hours passed before Andrew's surgeon walked through the OR doors, a look of complete exhaustion on his elderly face. Gently shaking Rose awake, Tess watched as she opened her blue eyes sleepily and looked up at her; as she nodded her head towards the coming doctor, the elderly angel rose to her feet and headed quickly down the hall to the empty room where Brady had told them Monica and Kevin were in.

As she opened the door and saw Kevin still sound asleep on Monica's lap, the Irish angel's hand gently stroking his tousled hair, Tess sighed sadly as she rapped gently on the door,

"Angel Girl, his doctor's here." Sympathy filled her eyes as she watched her 'Angel Girl' try and blink back tears as she gently shook Kevin awake.

After Tess had quickly left the room, Monica kept her eyes on Kevin as he finally awoke, a tired look on his face,

"Kev...it looks like he's out of surgery; Tess just came in and told me..." Watching as a look of horror once again crossed the youngest angel's face, Monica grasped his hand and helped him to his feet, once again fighting tears,

"Come on."

Nodding his head numbly, Kevin clutched her hand tightly as he followed her out of the room and back down the hall to where their friends and the doctor were waiting.

Monica's heart pounded in her chest as the doctor led them into a small, secluded room, which the Irish angel took as not a good sign at all, beings the last time she was in such a room was when they had received the bad news on Patrick Hendrickson's cancer years ago. Seeing Philip standing off to the side, she manage a shaky smile for him, seeing how out of place he felt, before she took a seat on the sofa between Tess and Kevin, never releasing her hold on her younger friend.

"How is our friend doing, doctor?" Tess finally broke the silence as her eyes met with the surgeon.

Drawing in a deep breath, the doctor began to speak, his tone as calm as he could manage,

"We have stabilized Andrew for the time being, and you can see him now. I just want to go over some things with you, so you know what to expect when you go into the room," Seeing that all eyes were upon him, he continued,

"Andrew has sustained some serious burns to about fifty percent of his body. Now, this is not something that people don't recover from, but I do want to stress to you that his injuries are still very critical. He has about thirty percent coverage of third degree burns."

"What does that mean for him, doctor?" Rose asked shakily, trying to absorb all he was telling them.

"Third degree burns destroy all the layers of the skin, and they can cause swelling and some narrowing of his airway. Because of this swelling, we had to insert a tube into his throat to help him breathe. He's not in too much pain though, because third degree burns destroy nerve endings. We have also given him pain medication to help with the rest of the burns, which are considerably more painful. We've dressed the burns, so much of his body is covered in bandages, and he has an IV to give him fluids and antibiotics. The problem with burns is that the body loses his ability to hold in fluids, so we are trying to keep him as hydrated as possible in order to prevent shock."

"So what happens now?" Carla whispered tearfully, wiping at her eyes.

"Andrew will start immediately with hyperbaric treatments. A hyperbaric chamber is a chamber that we use to treat burn victims and other types of injuries and diseases. You may have heard of it in conjunction with SCUBA divers who come to the surface too fast. The chamber is full of pure oxygen, and during a treatment we slowly raise the pressure inside the chamber in order to force the oxygen into the body tissues. It does a lot to help with healing. He will also continue with antibiotic therapy to prevent infection, and we will be updating all his vaccinations." The doctor concluded with a sigh,
"Your friend is in very serious condition. There was damage to his lungs so we have to be very careful that pneumonia doesn't set in or we're looking at yet another problem."

Tightening her grip on Kevin's hand as she saw how pale he appeared, Monica squeezed it tightly and fought back a batch of tears as she whispered,

"Can we see him now?"

Glancing from the Irish angel to the rest of the small group gathered around his desk, the doctor nodded his head sadly,

"If you all are ready, then I'll show you up to his room in the Intensive Care Unit." His gaze fell on Kevin's pale face and sympathy filled his eyes,

"Are you all right, son?"

Forcing back his fears, the youngest angel weakly nodded his head as he whispered,

"Yeah...I'm fine." Although he said the words, Kevin still kept a firm grip on Monica's hand and his brown eyes still clouded with hot tears as he spoke. Sighing softly, the doctor wordlessly nodded his head and rose to his feet.

As they rounded the corner to the Intensive Care Unit, the doctor turned to them once more,
"I would ask that only two of you at a time go in to see him. He's not conscious and if he were, the breathing tube would prohibit him from speaking."

Turning to her Angel Girl, Tess said softly,
"Baby, why don't you and Kevin go and see him first?" She urged gently, seeing the haunted look in Kevin's eyes and hoping that seeing Andrew might help him somewhat.

Monica nodded her head numbly as she opened the door to her best friend's room and led Kevin inside, all the while telling herself that she would not cry.

Kevin stood paralyzed once the door had shut behind them, looking over at his friend and supervisor who was seemingly covered in bandages. There was indeed a breathing tube down his throat and as the doctors had been unable to find a place in Andrew's arm or hand to insert his IV, they had inserted it in his neck. The angel's entire body appeared to be swollen to twice it's normal size and the younger angel felt sick on his stomach as he hung back.

"Kevin?" Monica whispered, feeling him tense up and stop walking.

"Go ahead, Monica," He urged her shakily,
"I'm just going to stand here for a moment…"

"Kevin, it's okay...you don't have to be afraid..."

"I'm not afraid," He whispered, his brown eyes still on his friend's unconscious body,

"I-I just want to stay back for a few minutes, that's all..."

Knowing that there was nothing she could do to try and urge the Caseworker to come closer, the little Irish angel nodded her head slowly as she made her way to Andrew's bedside. Feeling like her legs would collapse from under her, Monica took a seat in the hard chair set up next to a table and scooted it as close to his bedside as she could get. Wanting more then anything to touch him, the younger angel drew in a shaky breath as she realized there was no place on his body that was not covered with thick white bandages, except for the side of his face that wasn't burned.

Reaching a trembling hand out, she ever gently stroked his right cheek with all the love in the world and whispered to him,

"I'm right here, sweetie. You'll make it through this, I have all the faith in the world that you will. I love you so much, Andy...just so much..."

Kevin watched as Monica spoke softly to their friend, hating himself for feeling the way he did. As much as he wanted to approach them, his feet felt rooted to the floor where he stood and a moment later, he turned and fled out the door, knocking past the other angels, Brady and Philip, who were waiting in the hallway.

Monica turned around and realized what had just happened, and lowered her head miserably for a moment, before turning back to her best friend, knowing she only had another minute or two before she should allow the others to see him,
"You're so brave, my dear friend, just so brave," She whispered shakily to him,
"I'm here for you every step of the way, Andrew and as soon as you're out of the ICU, I won't leave your side unless I have to in order to help the Sullivan's," Caressing his cheek with her hand, she continued,
"There are others who want to see you, but I won't be far, I promise. I'm right here if you need me; you just let me know, okay? I love you with all my heart, Andrew and I'm fighting with you on this, okay? I'll be back later, I promise," Not wanting to leave him, the Irish angel rose to her feet and leaned down to place several small kisses on his cheek,
"I'm holding you in my heart, Andy, always…" Backing away slowly as her legs shook madly underneath of her, she finally turned and went out of his room,
"Where did Kevin go?" She asked weakly as she glanced down the hall.

"He didn't say, sweetheart, but if I were you I might want to check the cafeteria first or maybe outside," Rose softly replied, following Monica's gaze,

"Is everything all right?"

Not sure whether to nod her head or shake it, the Irish angel sighed deeply as she attempted an answer,

"He...I don't know, Rose; he wouldn't come near him, and then he just bolted." Glancing quickly at everyone, she finished,

"I better go and find him...I'll be back in a little bit."

"All right, Angel Girl," Tess replied softly as she watched her young friend head down the hallway in search of the youngest angel. Turning towards Rose, she nodded her head towards her 'Angel Boy's' room,

"C'mon, baby." As the two older angels entered their friend's hospital room and closed it behind them, Tess lifted up a prayer that Monica would be able to find Kevin, soon, and get through to him...as she knew that their wounded friend would need him as much as the rest of them.

Chapter 4

"It's so hard to see him this way, Tess," Rose whispered as they stood beside of Andrew's bed,
"I can understand how Kevin must be having trouble.."

"We all love you, baby," Tess said softly to the unconscious angel stroking what of his blond hair was not covered by gauze,
"We're all pulling for you and the Father is with you."

"You hang in there, honey," Rose added gently moving to kiss his cheek as tears trailed down her own,
"Trust, just like you always do and He will see you through this."

As the two angels prepared to leave his room, Rose broke down once more as Tess ushered her from the room,
"I don't understand this Tess," the older angel sobbed bitterly,
"That man should have been behind bars, not out kidnapping little girls and holding that dear sweet angel hostage…"

"I know, baby," Tess sighed through her own tears as she shot a glance back to her young friend before they headed out the door,

"I never have understood how humans can do such things...especially to sweet beings like him and Angelica." Laying a gentle hand on the Search and Rescue angel's shoulder, as her blue eyes refused to leave Andrew's unconscious figure, Tess continued,

"I know how much you love that Angel Boy, baby..."

"It's like watching my son suffering before my very eyes, Tess..." She uttered weakly, finally turning away,

"And I'm still trusting the Father, but it can be really hard sometimes, even for an old angel like myself."

Wrapping a gentle arm around Rose's shoulders, Tess nodded her head sadly as they headed back out into the hallway where the rest of the group were still waiting,

"You aren't the only one, baby...you aren't the only one."

"Kevin?" Monica approached the younger angel outside in the courtyard where she had finally found him.

"Leave me alone, Monica, okay?" He stated flatly, not looking at her,
"I mean it this time. I want to be alone, you got that?"

Swallowing hard, but not willing to leave him alone in his misery, she ventured a step closer,
"Kev', it 's okay. I understand, I do-."

"No, you don't!" He cried out, rising to his feet from the stone bench he was sitting on,
"You look at him and just see Andrew, but I can't do that! Every time I look at him, I feel like I'm going to throw up, okay? I'm supposed to be his friend-."

"You ARE his friend," She argued, feeling the beginning of a headache coming on,
"You're like a son to him, Kevin-."

"I thought I told you to leave me alone for now?" He snapped at her. Though he wasn't angry with her, but more with himself, he continued anyway,
"Just get out of my existence for awhile, okay?" Storming off, Kevin headed down the street.

At his words, Monica brown eyes widened in shock as she finally allowed several tears to fall down her cheeks. As she watched the youngest angel storm away from her, the Irish angel slumped down on the bench that he had just vacated and rested her pounding head in her hands,

"Father, forgive me...please, forgive me..."

"Are you all right there, little angel?" Philip spoke as he stepped close to her and looked down at her.

Startled, Monica lifted her head and wiped at the wetness on her face as she looked up at the kind-hearted demon who had rescued her best friend early that morning,

"I don't know right now, Philip...I just infuriated Kevin more then I had intended, and...and I don't know how I feel anymore to be honest..." Drawing in a trembling breath, the angel met Philip's sympathetic brown eyes as he took a seat next to her.

"I accidentally overheard what occurred with Kevin, little angel," He spoke carefully, not wanting to scare her away,

"I'm sure that he's just scared and frustrated over what has happened to Andrew; I don't think he has had to experience things like this that much..."

"He was overall fine that last time something like this happened to him, Philip," Monica choked out as her eyes continued to stare into Philip's face,

"When Andrew and Brady were trapped in that collapsed hotel...Kev was there for him; he wasn't afraid to look at him. In fact, he was the one who encouraged me that he was 'still Andrew'. But now..." She shook her head miserably as she was unable to continue.

"Kevin is looking with his eyes, little angel, and not with his heart as you are," Philip offered gently, watching as she nodded her head sadly,
"And as far as not knowing how you feel anymore, maybe if you would stop holding it all inside of you, you would better understand."

"I can't do that, Philip; I can't let him down again. Had I not disappointed him the first time, he probably wouldn't be here now and now everyone is so intent on me becoming a crying mess, and it won't do Andrew any good. There is no happy medium with me, Philip. If I break down, there is no coming back from that. I know myself at least that well," She continued in a whisper, her fingers rubbing at her pounding temple.

Sighing softly, the demon knew he would not win this fight with her as one thing he had learned about her was that she was the most stubborn angel he had ever met,
"Well, they are getting ready to take Andrew for treatment, so at the very least, why don't you find a quiet place to lie down for awhile? You look ready to drop, sweetness…"

"I need to head over to the Sullivan's and talk to Angel," Monica shook her head adamantly,
"I have to make sure her intentions are still not getting an abortion. I haven't even spoken to her since I came back on the case as that is when everything with Andrew started happening…" Her voice trailed off as she drew in a shaky breath and whispered,
"Andrew…"

Seeing the haunted look in the little Irish angel's eyes as she said her best friend's name, Philip watched as she struggled to hold back a round of tears. With a deep sigh, the demon rested a hand on her shoulder and waited until she looked his way again,

"Monica...let Carla take care of Angelica for now. I overheard that she has gone over there for a while to try and speak with her again; right now, your Andrew needs you once he's out of treatment, and I fully believe that you need some shut eye." Seeing that she was about to object once again, Philip laid a finger against her lips and silenced her,

"Please, Monica. Listen to me. You need to sleep, and you need to stop holding in these emotions that that are struggling to be set free; it's not healthy for you, sweetness."

"It may not be healthy for me, but it won't be healthy for Andy either if he ends up worrying about me if he hears me sobbing by his bed; he's got plenty to worry about as it is..."

"I'm not taking no for an answer, Monica," He stated firmly, getting up and placing his hands firmly on her shoulders. The kind-hearted demon regretted it instantly though as he felt her tense up under his firmer hold and hurt filled his eyes as he saw a brief flash of fear in hers and he immediately released her,
"I'm sorry," He whispered sadly, lowering her eyes.

Realizing what she had done, Monica closed her eyes for a moment and shook her head,
"No, I'm the one who is sorry, Philip. I know in my heart you aren't ever going to hurt me, but sometimes, things remind me, no matter how much I don't want them to…" She drew in a shaky breath feeling terrible over hurting the demon,
"I can't seem to do much right today, Philip. I'm sorry."

"You've done plenty of things right today, little angel, and don't you forget it," Philip smiled sadly at her as he kneeled down next to where she still sat,

"You helped Kevin while your Andrew was in surgery; you didn't leave him a few minutes ago out of fear because of the way he looked; you're trying to be so strong for all involved in this, including the Sullivan's and Patrick's girlfriend, while at the same time, trying to not 'disappoint' Andrew. But Monica, I know I'm probably the last one you'd want advice from, but I believe that you will not disappoint Andrew if you let your emotions go every once in a while. When he told you to be strong for them, I don't think he meant for you to not cry...and as far as I know, it takes a lot to disappoint your best friend, doesn't it?" He watched as she lowered her head in shame and with a sigh, he continued,

"I'll leave you alone now, little angel. But please take what I said to heart because now, I only want to speak the truth to you."

Watching him go through tear-filled eyes, Monica lowered her head miserably. Her best friend was in critical condition, she had somehow upset Kevin and now she had hurt the feelings of the demon who not only had saved Andrew, but was trying to be her friend, and all of a sudden the loneliness she felt for Andrew was overwhelming. She relied on him more than any other angel and now, for the first time in so long, she felt incredibly alone.

"How are Angel and Patrick doing, Cindy?" Carla came through the kitchen door several hours later and saw the human standing by the sink, her blonde head lowered as if deep in thought.

Turning around, Cindy attempted a weak smile on her pretty face and sighed softly,

"I'm surprised to see you back here, Carla; I thought you'd still be at the hospital." She lowered her blue eyes as she spoke, a look of sadness once more appearing on her face.

"I just wanted to stop by and check up on Angel for a few minutes," The little blonde angel explained as her green eyes watched her human friend.

Running a hand through her blonde hair, Cindy drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly,

"Well, Angel has been up in her room ever since we got home, and of course I haven't let Patrick out since then. I just need some space from him, as I don't think I'll ever understand why he lied to us like that. But Angel has been really quiet for the past few hours, and she won't speak to me."

"This certainly has been a rough day," Carla remarked wearily,
"Between Andrew, Amy and Paddy and now we can't even find Kevin," She ran a hand through her hair tiredly.

"Can't find him?" Cindy asked worriedly, as she put away another dish.

"He ran out of Andrew's room when he and Monica went in to see him. Apparently he can't handle the way Andrew looks right now and is ashamed of that. He took off and Monica went to look for him." She sighed and tried to smile, though she didn't feel it in her heart,
"Would you like me to try to talk to Angel?"

"It certainly couldn't hurt, Carla, even though the last time she was adamant that she only wanted to talk to Monica. Maybe she'll talk to you this time," Cindy replied, feeling at the end of her rope and unsure of what to do about anything anymore.

Carla nodded her head as she turned around and headed slowly up the stairs, trying to find the right words to say before she entered the teenager's room. Before she entered, however, she shot a glance into Patrick's room that was across the hall from Angelica's, and sighed sadly as she saw the young boy curled up on his side, his back to her, and the angel couldn't tell if he was in a deep sleep or quietly crying.

Turning back to Angel's door, Carla gently knocked on it. But she was greeted by silence. Frowning in concern, the blonde angel knocked again, and once again, there was no reply.

Sucking in a nervous breath, Carla quietly pushed open the girl's bedroom door and found Angel sitting in the chair next to her window, her baby blue eyes turned away from the angel. With another deep breath, Carla softly closed the bedroom door and turned her sympathetic green eyes toward the teen,

"Angel?"

Turning to look at Carla, Angel lowered her eyes as tears filled them,
"Everything is falling apart," She whispered helplessly,
"And its my fault. I should have told Mr. Keyser 'no' and then none of this would be happening now. I wouldn't be pregnant and my parents wouldn't be so upset. Andrew wouldn't be in the hospital….it's my fault, Carla, it's all my fault…"

Tears welling up in her own eyes, Carla knelt down in front of the girl and laid her hands on her knees gently,
"No, honey, no. It isn't all your fault. A lot of things happened in this whole situation to lead up to this. Some mistakes have been made and some things just happened because of the person this man is. Don't take it all upon yourself, Angelica, okay, because it just isn't true."

"It is true, it is…" She sobbed brokenly,
"I ruined things for everyone….my family, Andrew might die and he's Monica's best friend and she'll never forgive me if that happens…nor will I ever forgive myself for this happening to begin with…"

"Sweetheart, Andrew isn't going to die-"

"We don't know that," Angelica continued to sob as she looked through blurred vision into Carla's saddened eyes,

"None of us know that..."

"Baby girl, angels cannot die," Carla choked out, her heart hurting as she said those very words,

"I've been told that sometimes, their human bodies can, but not the angel themselves; and Andrew will not die...and none of it is your fault."

Her lower lip quivering, Angel shook her head,

"Then who's fault is it? I was the one who allowed Mr. Keyser to do this to me...and I could've stopped it. Carla, I could've stopped it, and I chose otherwise! And now one thing has lead to another, and...and...I'm so scared..."

"Angel, you made a mistake…we all make them, sweetie and most of the time we learn from them as well. We're all scared, Angel, angels and humans alike, but don't take this whole thing and make it your responsibility," Carla pleaded.

Angel shook her head miserably,
"I'm getting rid of this baby….I don't want it as a constant reminder of what that monster did….it's better off dead…"

"Angelica, no, that isn't the answer-."

"It is to me, Carla," Angel uttered weakly, turning her eyes away from the angel and back to the window,

"Can I be alone again? I just want to be alone..."

"Sweetheart, there are other options beside an abortion-" Carla tried to get through to the teenager once again, but Angel once again interrupted.

"Please, Carla...just go," She let out a soft sob as she pleaded with her, her tear-filled eyes still turned away, and finally, Carla nodded her head and rose to her feet, reluctantly walking out the door.

After the angel had gone, Angelic pulled open the drawer to her desk and removed an envelope. Opening, she again confirmed that there was enough money there to pay for the abortion; all she had to do was find a doctor willing to do it for her.

Chapter 5

Early the next morning, Monica stirred from where her head was resting beside that of her best friend. She had walked for a long time last night, until she had been fairly certain their friends had gone back to the Sullivan's for the night, before she had returned to Andrew's room. She had sat up with him most of the night before finally drifting off to sleep at dawn, completely exhausted.

Raising her tousled head, she looked up at her friend's face and her eyes widened at seeing him awake. His eyes held both pain and fear, and the little Irish angel wasted no time in laying a hand on his cheek,
"Andrew…." Knowing he couldn't actually speak to her vocally, but if he was coherent enough, he could speak to her through their connection,
"You're awake, sweetie…"

Andrew blinked his eyes slowly as he tried to focus on the Irish angel's face. He knew that he wanted more then anything to speak to her, but he found instantly that he couldn't. Closing his eyes briefly before opening them again to meet her brown eyes, he decided upon trying to speak to her through his heart,

"You're here, Angel Girl..."

"I told you I wouldn't leave your side unless I absolutely had to, sweetie," Monica whispered shakily, her hand still stroking the cheek that wasn't burned beyond recognition,

"I'm here, and I'm not going any place. I'm just so happy you're finally awake, my friend; just so happy."

"Where's Kevin?" He spoke from his heart once again, his voice filled with pain and exhaustion.

Her tired mind was spinning in a million different directions, determined not to burden him with anything that could upset or hurt him,
"It's early, Andy. As far as I know, everyone is at the Sullivan's," She offered, at least thinking it was not a lie. As far as she knew, that was where everyone was,
"How are you feeling?" She whispered gently.

"I'm not sure you really want the answer to that one, sweetie," He replied, his eyes clouded with pain.

Monica nodded her head as she stroked his cheek with the back of her fingers,
"I can only imagine how much it hurts, honey. I wish…" But she changed her mind on what she was going to say,
"Have I told you lately how much I love you, Andy? Just how much…" Her voice was barely a whisper.

"I love you too, little girl," He uttered, and Monica blinked back a round of tears as she noticed her best friend's pained eyes start to tear up. With as much gentleness as possible, the Irish angel reached her hand out and wiped them away before laying a loving kiss on his cheek.

"Just don't ever forget it, Andy..." She whispered before she went back to stroking his cheek,

"The others will be here soon, and I know they're going to be so happy to see you."

"Stay here, though?" He asked in a pained whisper, his green eyes looking up to meet hers.

"As long as you need me," Monica replied softly, as he fell silent for a moment.

"What about everyone else? The Sullivan's? Are they okay?" He asked her weakly.

"You know what?" She told him, forcing back hot tears, though her voice trembled,
"I don't want you worrying about anything, okay? You let me do that this time. You just concentrate on getting better. Deal?"

"If you say so, Monica..." He replied in exhaustion as he closed his green eyes again for a few moments,

"You're the boss this time, I guess."

Smiling sadly as she continued stroking his face with gentle fingers, the Irish angel nodded her head,

"You got that one right, sweetie."

"Kevin, honey, why don't you want to come to the hospital with us?" Rose gently asked as the early morning turned into afternoon and the angels, plus Brady and Wendy were preparing to head to the hospital to check up on Andrew and Amy,

"If our Angel Boy is awake, I'm sure he'll want to see you as well. You know that."

"Rose, please..." The youngest Caseworker pleaded, fiddling with his spoon as he seemed to had lost his appetite ever since yesterday,

"I...I can't! I mean, I hate myself for feeling this way, but Andrew..."

"Andrew loves you, Kevin, and he's your friend," The older angel replied, her voice firm although it was also laced with sadness,

"Why don't you just give it another try?"

"Rose, I said No!" He snapped at her angrily, tossing his spoon down on the table in disgust.

Seeing the exchange between the two, Tess stepped forward and spoke up calmly,
"That's fine, Kevin. You can stay here and no one is forcing you to go. Just tell us what you would like us to tell Andrew when he asks about you?"

Kevin was silent for a moment, his eyes on his cereal bowl before he spoke up in a quiet tone,
"Tell him I need to make things right with Paddy as that is not a lie. I do and I will."

Tess nodded her head affirmatively,
"Then just make sure you do, baby. I don't want to be the carrier of any lies to anyone."

"I said I would!" Kevin snapped, before he got up and made his way up the stairs.

Rose sighed heavily as she shook her head,
"This is certainly a mess…"

"Yes, baby, it is and we have to remember that there were three angels dealing with this assignment long before we entered the picture and none of the three of them are in the best shape right now," Seeing Rose's perplexed expression, she continued gently,
"Kevin had never dealt with a case like this before and this particular assignment snowballed for the three of them and picked up momentum so fast, I think it left them breathless. Think about it, Rose, Andrew the last ten or so years has had an extremely level head on him and remember how stressed he was the other day? That wasn't like him, and now he has this whole thing on his plate. What affects that Angel Boy affects his two charges every bit as much."

"Well, I can see where Kevin is falling apart with not feeling like he can go and see Andrew because of how he looks, but Monica has been extremely strong through all of this-." Rose began as she grabbed her jacket as they waited for Brady and Wendy.

"Too much so," Tess interrupted gently,
"And when it all comes crashing down on her, it's going to hit hard, so be ready. She and Kevin are reacting completely differently, but neither way is healthy for those two babies."

Rose nodded her head in understanding, now completely getting the points that Tess was making,
"You know what else I don't understand in this whole thing, Tess? Philip. He seems to keep showing up when Andrew and Monica need help and I couldn't believe it when Monica hugged him yesterday. Not that he hasn't more than proven himself, but it was still a bit shocking to this old angel."

Despite her worry for Andrew and all involved, Tess smiled slightly,
"I'm just going to sit back and see how that one plays out, baby. I have a feeling about it, but it's too soon to tell."

Rose sighed softly as she nodded her head in agreement before lifting it as she heard Wendy and Brady descending the staircase to the main floor,
"We're ready whenever you two are," Brady greeted the two angels with a tired sigh as he shrugged into his jacket.

Offering Wendy a reassuring smile, Rose gently grasped the girl's hand in hers and squeezed it,
"Then let's get going. I think there's somebody there who'd like to see you if he's awake..."

Monica looked up almost an hour later as she heard the door opening, a small sad smile crossing her face as she saw Tess, Rose, Brady and Wendy walk through. The red-haired Search and Rescue angel's blue eyes filled with tears instantly as they came upon Andrew's open eyes as they locked on her face,
"Oh sweet Angel Boy..." Coming quietly over to the side of the bed where Monica was sitting, the oldest angel reached a hand out and lovingly stroked his cheek with her fingers before kissing it gently,
"Sweetheart, I can't tell you how happy I am that you're awake..."

Gently stroking her best friend's blonde hair, Monica listened as he spoke to her heart and she turned to face the other four,
"He says it's great to see you too, Rose...and that he missed you..."

"We missed you too, baby," Tess replied with a smile, also stooping to kiss his cheek.

"How are you feeling, Andrew?" Wendy asked in a tearful whisper as her fingers hesitantly moved to touch his face.

"Not great, Wen', but I'm really glad to see you," He replied through Monica as he managed a wink for the teenager. He knew "not great" was an understatement, but with Wendy and Monica in the room, he didn't want to upset them with the severity of just how much pain he was in at the moment.

"Andrew, what you did for Angel and I…" Brady began shakily, his eyes meeting those of the angel,
"Especially after the way I treated the three of you…I don't know how to thank you for that…"

Monica felt tears cloud her eyes as she replied for her best friend,
"He says that thanks aren't necessary, Brady. For him there was no other option and he's just glad you and Angelica are okay."

"I'll just be glad when that monster is behind bars," Brady seethed quietly,
"For what he did to you and to Angel," Seeing a bit of distress in Andrew's eyes, he sighed softly and turned to look at Monica,
"The police called this morning; they found that little girl you knew about, little angel, and the girl's parents have finally been notified."

Monica just nodded her head, her emotions feeling too raw right now to speak as she just entwined her fingers in her best friend's blond hair.

Silence filling the room, Tess sucked in a deep breath and took a seat in an extra chair next to her 'Angel Boy's' bed, her dark eyes shining with love towards him as she spoke gently,
"Baby, Kevin has also asked me to tell you that right now, he's going to try and make things right with Patrick, so that's why he's not here with us. I'm sure he'll be by later, Angel Boy," She offered him a tender smile before glancing over at Monica and seeing the sadness evident in her own eyes. Deciding against saying anything further regarding the youngest Caseworker, Tess reached tender fingers out and stroked her injured friend's cheek.

"He wants to know how Angel is doing," Monica finally broke the silence again as she looked over at Brady and Wendy, her eyes still clouded with tears. Attempting a shaky smile to her best friend, she shook her head slightly,
"I thought I told you not to worry about that, sweetie."

Light chuckles filled the room before Wendy replied quietly,
"I think Carla is talking to her right now; but I also know how worried she is about you, Andrew...we all are."

"He's telling you all not to worry about him….the Father and his Angel Girl run a tight ship," Monica replied with a shaky laugh. Noting the weary look in her best friend's eyes as they met with hers and silent communication passed between them, she continued,
"He's getting kind of worn out, you guys, but he'd love to see you all back later on…"

"Enough said, baby," Tess replied, giving her Angel Boy another kiss on the cheek,
"We have someone else to check on right now anyway. You rest, baby and we'll be back to see you soon."

Rose as well planted a kiss on the top of his head,
"I love you, honey, and we're all praying for you to get better."

A sad smile appearing on her face as she listened to her best friend reply to Rose, Monica glanced up at the Search and Rescue angel and replied softly,

"He says he loves you too, Rose...and he always wants to thank you for talking some sense into him the other day about the Father having a plan..." Her voice choked up at the words she spoke, but the Irish angel forced back hot tears as she glanced down at Andrew.

Tears springing to her eyes once more, Rose stroked her friend's cheek a final time before nodding her head,
"Any time, honey. Any time." With that, the elderly angel finally turned around and followed the rest of her friends out the door, closing it gently behind her as she allowed her tears to fall down her face. Glancing over at Tess, the angel sighed shakily as she whispered miserably,
"Why does this have to be so hard, Tess?"

As the two angels and two humans walked down the hallway towards Amy's room, Wendy grasped Rose's hand and gave it a tender squeeze, replying before Tess had a chance,
"Because we love him so much, Rose..."

Chapter 6

Kevin knocked softly on the door to Patrick's room not long after the others had gone to see Andrew in the hospital and after he had taken some time to cool down. In his heart, he knew that the only one he was really mad at was himself, but it seemed to keep causing him to lash out at his friends who were only trying to help him.

"It's open," Paddy's voice sounded from the other side of the door and Kevin tentatively opened it and stepped inside.

"Hey, Patrick," He began, unsure of whether he would be welcomed in or not.

"Hey yourself, Kevin," the teenager responded dully as he laid on his bed, his eyes fixed on the ceiling.

"I heard about Amy…I'm really sorry, man," Kevin continued, tentatively taking a seat on the chair across from the bed,
"I'm sure your folks will let you out of here to go and see her sooner or later…"

Patrick was quiet for a few moments, considering all that was on his conscience, before he replied in a quiet but honest voice,
"I'm not sure that I want to see her."

Kevin swallowed hard, instantly knowing that he was not the right angel to talk Patrick at this time after hearing those words, but he plunged ahead anyway,
"How come?"

"No matter how I say it, Kevin, it's going to come out terrible, you know? Amy was…beautiful, but she's never going to look like that again and I'm just not sure…"

"Are you going to break things off with her?" The angel asked in horror, almost afraid of the answer.

"I don't know yet," Paddy replied uneasily as he turned his eyes to the angel,
"I'm not proud of feeling this way, Kevin, but it is the way I feel."

Guilt filled Kevin's heart as he pondered what it was the teenager was telling to him and he lowered his head in shame as the words he was hearing was basically how he was feeling about Andrew's current situation,
"Just because of the way she looks now?"

"I told you, I can't help feeling this way," Paddy repeated, shrugging his shoulders helplessly as he lowered his eyes to the bed,
"And by the way, aren't you feeling the same way about Andrew?"

Kevin's face turned a deep shade of red at that comment and it didn't go unnoticed by Paddy, as the human almost immediately regretted the words. With a sigh, he mumbled,
"Sorry...dad told me."

"I guess I'm not the best one to talk to you at the moment, Patrick," Kevin replied softly, staring at the floor before he rose to his feet,
"For the record though, I hope you change your mind, or at the very least think things over."

Patrick nodded his head slowly as his eyes returned to the ceiling,
"You too, Kevin," He added, never turning his head as the angel left his room.

Closing the door behind him, Kevin closed his eyes and drew in a shaky breath, unable to believe how closely Patrick's situation hit close to home for him. He had no idea what to do to change the way he was feeling inside, but before he could contemplate it anymore, a soft and tired voice with a certain Irish lilt broke into his thoughts.

"Kevin, can we talk, please?" Monica's voice was hopeful as she looked up into his eyes.

"What do you want to talk about, Monica?" Kevin questioned, lowering his head as he leaned up against the wall in the hallway.

Sucking in a shaky breath, the Irish angel prayed that the youngest Caseworker wouldn't snap at her like he had the day before. Finally finding the courage to reply, Monica whispered,
"Kevin...I'm really sorry that I angered you yesterday; but I'm just really worried, and Andrew has asked about you..."

Sighing softly, the youngest angel moved from the wall and headed towards the staircase. Sensing Monica following right behind him, Kevin was silent until they arrived in the kitchen and they took a seat at the table,
"I was never really angry at you, Monica...I was never angry at anyone other then myself, to be honest."

She nodded her head as she fell silent for a moment,
"You know, it was you who reminded me after Andrew and Brady were caught in the explosion that he was still Andrew, despite his injuries. Kev, it's the same this time too. He's still the same angel he always was, nothing has changed with that. Won't you please go and see him?"

Kevin shook his head helplessly as he starred at the tabletop,
"I can't, Monica. I want to, I do, but I just can't. Not yet."

The weary angel rested her head in her hands for a moment before asking softly,
"What do I tell him when he asks where you are, Kevin? I don't want to hurt him and I don't want to lie, and I don't know what to say when he asks. Help me with this, please, because I don't know what to do."

Feeling a rush of guilt fill him all over again at the question, Kevin gulped as he attempted an answer,
"I don't think Simba needs me that much, Monica...he needs you-"

"Kevin, how in the world can you say that?" The Irish angel demanded, lifting her head and stared at him through shocked eyes,
"Yes, he needs me and the others...but you're one of them, Kevin! He may be human right now, and he may not look like he used to, but he's still our friend and our supervisor! If I tell him that, it's only going to hurt him more and you KNOW that!"

Cringing slightly, the youngest angel avoided her gaze once more as he looked back to the table,
"Just keep telling him I'm busy with the assignment, Monica..."

"This isn't fair to him, Kevin!" She cried out, blinking back tears,
"He's going through something awful and he needs his friends, all of them, to be there for him! I promise you, I am not trying to pick a fight with you, but it just looks like you are being so selfish! Can't you just put whatever it is you are feeling aside long enough to spend just a few minutes with him? That's all I'm asking for, Kevin, just a couple of lousy minutes out of your existence to let him know that you care enough to be there for him!"

"I can't!" He snapped back, hating the tone he was taking with her as everything she was saying was true,
"Stop pushing me, okay? I'll see him when I feel up to seeing him!"

Shaking her head in disgust, Monica rose shakily to her feet and glared down at the youngest angel, hoping that her final statement would get through to him,

"I can't believe you these days, Kevin," She snapped back, watching as he avoided her gaze once again,

"You obviously don't know what a true friend is, or you would be there for him REGARDLESS of how he looks right now. He would do that for you, you know?" With that, the little Irish angel disappeared, leaving Kevin alone in the kitchen just as the tears started to come.

"Baby, what happened?" Tess asked gently as Monica reappeared in the hospital just as she and Rose came out of Amy's hospital room,
"You look like you had just been rung through the ringer..."

Feeling her cheeks and noticing that they felt warm from her deep anger towards Kevin, Monica forced herself to take deep breaths as she faced her former supervisor,
"Oh Tess...I just tried to get Kevin to come here, but he's being so selfish! I don't know what to do...how am I going to tell Andrew that one of his charges, one of his friends, doesn't want to see him because of the way he looks right now?"

"Baby, Kevin is dealing with this as best he can, and it may take some time. Maybe Andrew won't ask where he is-."

"He's already asked once today," Monica protested, her entire body shaking from fatigue and from holding in almost every emotion she was feeling,
"I don't want to hurt him, but I can't lie to him either, so where does that leave me? It leaves me telling him the truth and watching him get hurt and I just can't do that!"

"Sweetheart, he doesn't have to know right now the specific reason Kevin isn't here at the moment," Rose replied, also wanting to spare Andrew this pain,
"Maybe just tell him Kevin is having a hard time with this and leave it at that."

"It still feels like a lie, Rose," She whispered miserably.

"Angel Girl, it's not a lie," Tess tried to reassure her,
"None of us want to see our boy hurt over this...he's got enough on his plate as it is." With a sigh, the older angel ran her hand through her shoulder-length hair before speaking once again,
"You go on back to our Angel Boy, baby, and I'll try and take care of Kevin. Okay?"

Nodding her head miserably, Monica watched as her friend disappeared down the hall before lowering her head to avoid Rose's sympathetic gaze,
"How could Kevin do this, Rose? How could he?"

Gently wrapping an arm around the younger Irish angel's slumped shoulders as they walked slowly back to their friend's room, Rose sighed sadly as she said,
"I don't know, honey...I really don't know..."

Glancing up at Andrew's former supervisor and seeing the stress evident on her face, Monica whispered shakily,

"This is having an effect on you as well...isn't it?"

"This is having an effect on all of us, sweetheart," Rose replied with a sad smile,
"I love that boy like a son and it breaks my heart to see him in pain. We all hurt with him, little angel, even those of us who are pretending it doesn't hurt as much as it does," She looked at Monica knowingly and watched as the young angel lowered her eyes,
"You're taking on way too much, sweetheart and not being true to how you feel. You've always had a habit of burying things that hurt deep within yourself and no good has ever come of it."

"He asked me to be strong, Rose, and I'm trying to be. He's done so much for me, and I keep making things a mess. Well, I'm not messing this up too. I can't." She protested as they stopped walking outside of Andrew's door.

"Listen to me, honey," Rose placed her hands on Monica's shoulders, as she continued,
"You're going to make this an even bigger mess by continuing this way. Bottling things up and not resting are not the way to help him, because eventually these things are going to stop you dead in your tracks. Not to mention that eventually, Andrew will be able to see it as well. He knows you and the only thing stopping him from knowing this now is the pain he is in at the moment. You can only fool him so long, Angel Girl."

Monica was silent for a few moments as she lowered her exhausted dark eyes to the ground, going over everything Rose was saying to her. Hearing the elderly angel let out a soft sigh, Monica finally lifted her head and followed the supervisor through the door and into their friend's room. Seeing that he was still asleep, the Irish angel headed over to his bed and took a seat once again next to him. Glancing down at his hand and seeing that although most of his arm was covered in bandages, his fingers appeared free and not injured. With all the love in the world, Monica carefully clasped his fingers in her hand and gently rubbed them.

This action caused her best friend to slowly open his eyes again and let out a groan that was barely audible from the tube in his throat. Lifting her dark eyes and seeing him looking over at her and Rose, the Irish angel stood up and stroked back the hair in his eyes as she whispered to him,
"How did you sleep, sweetie?"

Speaking through his heart, he replied tiredly,
"Pretty well, I think. Have I been out long?"

"Since this morning, Andy," Monica replied softly, her eyes never leaving his,
"How is the pain, my friend?"

He hesitated, not wanting to worry her anymore than she was already worried, but wanting to be honest as well,
"It's pretty intense, Angel Girl, but I'm hanging in there."

Turning her head to repeat his words to Rose, and also to hide tears, she was grateful when Rose stepped forward so she could compose herself,
"It will get better each day, honey, as you heal," the older angel replied gently, touching his face tenderly.

Monica let out a deep breath as she prepared to turn back around, her emotions in check once more, when she heard him ask the question she had been dreading.

"Where's Kev? Did I miss him while I was asleep?"

Her heart pounded loudly, as she reached for his hand once more, saying a silent prayer for the right words and that he would not be hurt as it would surely break her heart as well,
"Sweetie, Kevin is having a lot of trouble with all of this, you know? He isn't sure of how to handle it and is really struggling at the moment. I'm trying to help him through it, but I think he needs to work it out on his own and he once he does that, nothing will keep him away. He loves you so much, but it's hard for him to see you like this, just as it is for all of us, but Kev….he just needs a little time, honey, that's all," She finished, her voice trembling despite the control she tried to put into it.

Rose exchanged a sympathetic look with Monica as she continued stroking her 'Angel Boy's' face lovingly. It was silent in the room for a few moments before the Irish angel glanced up as she heard her friend speak to her heart again,
"Will you tell him for me that I'm looking forward to seeing him...when he's ready?" He raised his pained green eyes to look at his friends, trying to hide the hurt that he did feel over Kevin's unwillingness to see him.

Blinking back more tears, Monica nodded her head as she rubbed his fingers with her hand carefully,
"Of course I will, sweetie. Of course I will."

Closing his eyes briefly as he tried to take deep breaths, Andrew fell silent once more before he heard Rose speak to him again,
"It will all be okay in the end, Angel Boy; things will work out. You just hang in there and let your body heal, and all of your friends will be here whenever you need us."

"He says he knows and is very grateful," Monica whispered, as she turned away for a moment, unwilling to allow him to see the two tears that raced down her face.

"You're a blessing to all of us, honey," Rose replied softly, kissing the top of his head,
"I'm going to leave you two kids alone for now and go and see where the others are. I'll be back later, sweetheart," She reached for his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze before she left the room.

There was silence for a moment, before Andrew spoke to her heart once more,
"Angel Girl?"

Chapter 7

Wiping at her eyes, she turned around and forced a smile as she took the seat beside of his bed once more,
"What is it, sweetie?"

He was quiet for a moment before he asked the question, his voice filled with pain,
"Did you and Kevin see me when they first brought me in here?" Seeing her nod her head jerkily, he continued,
"How bad is it?"

The question nearly took her breath away as she struggled for an answer and finally settled on,
"The Father can heal anything, Andy, you know that…"

"That isn't what I asked you, Mon'," He replied shakily, tears flooding his green eyes.

Feeling tears welling up in her own eyes as well, she lowered her head miserably,
"It's bad, sweetie…it's really bad…"

Tears slipping onto his face, he continued through his heart,
"That's why Kevin won't come…he saw what I looked like-."

"No!" Monica cried out, rising to her feet, though she couldn't face him,
"That isn't it at all…He's just having trouble with this having happened to you, that's all," A sob rose to her throat, making speech difficult, and she knew she could never live with herself for lying to him, not now, and not even about this. Drawing in a trembling breath, her back still to him, she whispered,
"That was a lie, Andy…I'm sorry. You're exactly right on why he isn't here….I just wanted to protect you is all…"

"Please turn around, Monica..." Andrew's pleading voice sounded to her heart, and it took all of the Irish angel's strength to do so. Once she did, she immediately wanted to turn away again at seeing the tears streaming from beneath his pained green eyes,

"Mon', why?" He choked out before she could turn away again.

Her lower lip quivering, Monica finally slumped back down in the chair and lowered her exhausted brown eyes to his bed,
"I'll never know why, Andrew...he-he keeps saying that he 'can't' right now, and no matter what I say, I can't get him to come here." Forcing back hot tears, the Irish angel looked deep into her best friend's eyes,
"He practically fell apart the day you were brought in here...he couldn't seem to handle it." Almost immediately wishing that she had kept the last couple of words to herself as she saw the pain flashing in his eyes, Monica laid her hand softly on his and whispered shakily,

"I don't want to hurt you with this...I really don't, but I cannot lie to you. I can't..."

"I don't want you to lie either," He replied, his words to her heart choked,
"I just…I didn't think it was this bad…it must have been horrible for you two to see that…"

"Sweetie, all I saw was YOU! I don't know why Kevin sees any differently-," She cried out, her heart breaking at his words.

"Because Kevin sees the truth…" He uttered tearfully.

"No, no he doesn't and neither are you right now," The little Irish angel could feel the tears longing to be set free, even as she fought against them, but she had never felt more helpless. She had hurt her best friend with this truth and she couldn't get Kevin to change his mind. But what hurt the most was the fact that she couldn't even wrap her arms around her friend to comfort him,
"Yes, this happened to you through no fault of your own, but you are still you, Andrew!"

"I don't know if you really think that, Angel Girl..." He uttered weakly, lowering his eyes and turning his head away from her,
"I may still be an angel...but I probably won't ever be that same angel again, and because of that, Kevin won't see me-"

"Yes, you will, sweetie!" She cried in reply, reaching her hand out and stroking his cheek, wishing he would face her again,
"And he will see you; Tess is going to make sure of that-"

"None of us can force him, Mon'," He gently interrupted, turning his exhausted eyes to the ceiling and forcing himself to take deep breaths,
"And we both know how stubborn he is..."

"Andy, don't give up on this," Monica pleaded, shaking her head hard,
"He will see you. He...HAS to!"

"I don't need him here, Monica, especially if he is here out of pity for me," Andrew replied, his hurt turning to anger and frustration at his situation,
"And if you're feeling sorry for me, I don't need that either. I don't want anyone here out of a sense of obligation."

"That is not why I'm here!" She cried out brokenly, hurt flashing in her dark eyes,
"How can you even think that?"

"Because I can see the pity in your eyes; because you knew how bad this was but didn't want to tell me," He replied bitterly.

"Andy, please, that's not why I'm really here..." The Irish angel pleaded, finally after so many days giving in and allowing her tears to fall,

"You know me better then that; I never come here out of 'pity'. I come here because I care about you and love you with all my heart-"

"It still doesn't change the fact what I see," He interrupted, his voice still holding bitterness,
"I may be a cripple right now, but I'm sure not blind..."

Monica's eyes widened in horror at her best friend's words and she covered her mouth with her hand, trying to keep a choked sob in. Finally, the Irish angel whispered miserably,
"You're not a cripple, Andy! I don't think that, Rose and Tess don't, the Sullivan's don't, and I know that Kevin doesn't!"

"Then stop treating me like I'm going to break!" He snapped, his anger at his own situation turning on the one angel he loved more than any other,
"You won't tell me about the Sullivan's, you didn't want to tell me about Kevin…you act as if I'm dying or is that something else you haven't told me?"

The sobs now tearing through her, Monica tried to choke out the words she wanted to say,
"No, I've been trying to do…what you asked of me…and trying to allow you the time…to get better without having to worry about those things…because I love you…and I didn't want to let you down again! You're not the only one hurting here, Andrew…I let that man get away…and that is why you're here…so I've been trying not to let you down again…but obviously, I can't do that right either…." Sobs escaping her, she turned and bolted out the door of his room.

Regretting his tone with her almost immediately, and wanting more then anything to get up and go after her, instead the injured human angel slumped painfully back into the bed and closed his green eyes, allowing the tears to come again.

Peering into the half open door of Kevin's temporary room back at the Sullivan's, Tess swallowed back a long lecture and the frustration she was feeling and instead, knocked softly on the door,
"Kevin? Can I come in?"

"I guess nobody can leave me alone right now, so be my guest," The youngest Caseworker grumbled, his back to her as he looked out the window.

"I thought maybe you and I could have a little chat about your reluctance to go and see Andrew, baby," She began carefully.

"The answer to that is still no, Tess," He replied numbly,
"I just can't do it right now, okay?"

She was quiet for a moment, considering her next words carefully,
"How would you feel, baby, if it were you lying in that bed and one of your dearest friends didn't come and see you? I can guarantee, you would be hurt for starters…"

Cringing at those words, Kevin kept his back to her as he replied quietly,
"But it's not me-"

"No, it's not; but what if it WAS?" Tess urged, stopping right behind him and hoping he would turn around to face her,
"Wouldn't you feel a bit abandoned? Wouldn't you feel like the reason your friend wasn't seeing you was because of the way you looked?"

Whirling around, his face flushing deep red, the youngest angel snapped back,
"That's not why I'm not seeing him-"

"Don't you lie to me, Wonder Boy," Tess snapped back, narrowing her eyes at the Caseworker,
"Don't you DARE lie to me, you got that?" Seeing him shrink back a bit, the supervisor sighed sadly before lowering her voice a notch,
"Kevin, I just want you to think about how Andrew must be feeling right now. He's asked about you more then once since he woke up, and none of us are going to lie to him; but we also don't want to see him hurt anymore then he already is...and right now, you not seeing him IS hurting him."

"I know that, Tess, okay? But did you see him when they wheeled him into the ER that day? I had never seen anything so awful in my existence and to know that was Andrew! I couldn't even look at him in the ICU after surgery! Do you think it is going to hurt him any less to go in there feeling this way?" He cried out in frustration.

"You need to stop seeing with your eyes, baby and look a little closer with your heart," Tess stated firmly,
"Beneath all those bandages is your supervisor, who thinks the world of you and who loves you-that part of him hasn't changed, Kevin."

"I just need some time, Tess, please? If everyone would just quit telling me what a terrible friend I am, maybe I could have a few minutes to think!" Running a hand through his hair, he turned to face her,
"Can you at least give me that much?"

Sighing heavily, Tess silently whispered up a prayer of strength to the Father before looking straight into Kevin's frustrated eyes,
"I can, Kevin. But please, do not forget what I said; I know that you love Andrew as much as the rest of us do, but you're going to have to put these feelings about how he looks right now aside sooner or later." With a shake of her head, the elderly angel turned around and headed out the door.

Almost as soon as Tess shut the door behind her, Kevin fell to the chair next to the window and buried his face deep into his hands,
"I'm sorry, Andrew...I'm really sorry..."

"Monica? Monica, wait just a minute!" Philip called out as the little Irish angel practically shoved past him as she ran down the hospital hallway. But before she could go any farther, the kind-hearted demon gently grasped her arm and brought her to a halt,
"Little angel, what's the hurry? What happened?"

"I can't...I can't...talk right now...I keep letting him down, Philip; I keep...hurting him, and now I just...did it again..." Monica whispered through her tears as she avoided Philip's eyes. Lifting her hand that the demon wasn't holding onto, she wiped at the tears that continued to fall from her eyes and continued,
"He's so...upset right now...so frustrated and hurt...and I can't do anything right these days..."

Without another word, Philip gently led her into one of the small rooms similar to the one where they had been told about Andrew's condition and closed the door behind them. As he helped her to sit down on the couch, she leaned into him as her sobs came harder. Relieved that there was no fear in her now for him, he gently wrapped his arms around her,
"Let it out, sweetness. You've been holding it inside for far too long…"

The demon uttered not another sound as the exhausted Irish angel cried as the minutes ticked by, as he rocked her in his arms. As the violent sobs finally turned to a quieter weeping as her body shuddered, he then asked quietly,
"Will you tell me what happened?"

Never lifting her head and through tears, she explained what had transpired in Andrew's room not long ago as he listened with patience and sadness. As she concluded, the tears still flowing, he spoke gently to her,
"When someone is hurting, little angel, it is the easiest to lash out at the one you are closest to. That's what Andrew just did. He's frightened and frustrated and needed to vent his anger over those things and you were there. What he said was out of anger, Monica, not because you had done something wrong."

"It's Kevin..." She whispered into his chest as she allowed the tears to continue flowing,
"Kevin's the one...that won't see him...and because of that, it's hurting Andrew...Oh Philip, I didn't want to tell him; I didn't want to tell him at all..."

"But you could not lie to your best friend, sweetness," Philip assured her, running a gentle hand through her short auburn hair to try and calm her down,
"And that is who he is, injuries and all."

"I just wish...K-Kevin would see that..."

"I believe he will eventually," The demon soothed as he finally pulled away,
"Just give him some extra time. He'll come around." As he saw the doubt in her doe like brown eyes, Philip sighed sadly as he continued,
"Listen, I don't think you want to stay away from your Andrew for too long; I can see it in your eyes-"

"I don't want to hurt him again..."

"You won't, and if I know better, I think Andrew just wanted some time by himself for a few minutes," He tried to reassure her,
"C'mon, I'll come with you to his room. How 'bout it?"

Monica almost looked undecided, unsure if she could bear it if Andrew lashed out at her again, even though she knew in her heart his anger was not really at her, but at his situation,
"I…I'm not sure I can…pull myself together enough to go back in there yet…" She whispered her voice catching on a sob.

Rising and gently pulling the still trembling angel to her feet, Philip replied gently,
"I don't think that matters to Andrew at all, little angel. I think it matters much more to him that you are honest about how you feel instead of trying to hide it, and I think he'll prove that to you once we get there."

Nodding her head weakly, she felt Philip wrap his arm around her shoulders to lead her back down the hall. Knowing she couldn't lean on her best friend right now, she was grateful for the kind demon's strength, as she continued to swipe at tears as they headed towards Andrew's room. All she could do was pray that he was no longer angry with her.

Chapter 8

Upon arriving back at Andrew's room, Philip was relieved to see that his doctor had just removed the breathing tube from the angel's throat and had raised the head of the bed so he was sitting up a bit more, which hopefully offered Andrew some physical comfort at least. As the demon opened the door, he noticed the angel starring at the ceiling, a look of sadness and regret in his green eyes.

Moving towards the bed, he felt the Irish angel pull back, so he released her with an encouraging smile, before he moved forward to greet the angel,
"Andrew?"

The angel turned his head slightly at the sound of the demon's voice,
"Philip," He responded, his voice hoarse from the tube that had been in his throat the last few days,
"Tess told me what you did…that you pulled me out of there the other day…thank you," His eyes moved beyond Philip to his best friend and his heart ached at the sight of her. Though her head was lowered, he could still make out the tears that continued to trickle down her pale, exhausted face. Though it hurt that he had wanted more than anything to go after her and just hold her, but it had once again been Philip who had been there to comfort her, he knew he should be grateful that at least she had not been alone with the hurt he had inflicted. He knew that feeling sorry for himself and feeling upset over Kevin were normal feelings for anyone in his situation, but to take it out on his best friend had been uncalled for, especially when she had only been trying to keep him from any emotional hurt. Turning his attention back to Philip for the moment, he continued,
"I'm not sure of why you were there, but I'm thankful that you were…"

Lowering his dark eyes, Philip took a step closer to the human angel and offered him a gentle smile, laying his hands on the bed railing,
"I had just suddenly felt an urge to check up on you two, and when I knew in my heart that something was happening to one of you..." The demon shook his head as a look of sadness crossed his face,
"I had to do something."

Taking as deep of breaths as possible, Andrew hoarsely replied,
"Once I get out of here...I'm going to find some way to make it up to you, Philip. I'm really grateful for what you did for me..."

"Hey, you don't have to do anything, man," The demon shook his head again and smiled slightly,
"All you have to do is recover fully, and your friends will be happy."

Andrew nodded his head sadly as he replied,
"I'd like to talk to Monica for a few minutes, if you don't mind, and then if you'd do me another favor," He added quietly,
"Not that I have the right to ask anything of you after all you've done for us-."

"What do you need, Andrew?" Philip interrupted gently.

"For you to take her back to the Sullivan's," He replied softly,
"As much as I love having her here, she needs some sleep and I'd be grateful if you'd keep an eye on her for me," Surprised that he really didn't like saying those words, the wounded angel shook off the feeling as he saw Philip nod his head.

"You've got it, Andrew. Rest well tonight and I'll leave you two alone," Turning around he walked back to Monica and told her softly
"I'll be right outside, little angel," before he left the room and quietly slipped outside.

"Angel Girl..." Andrew began quietly, meeting her tear-filled eyes with his,
"You can come closer; it's okay..."

Sucking in a deep breath and doing just that, the little Irish angel slowly sat back down in the chair she had abandoned only a few minutes ago and was silent for a few uncomfortable moments. Finally looking back up at her best friend, Monica whispered shakily,
"I'm sorry about earlier-"

"No, Mon'," He quietly interrupted, his voice filled with regret,
"I'm the one that's sorry; I had no right to take my anger out on you when you were only trying to help...it was completely uncalled for and I know that now." His green eyes filled with hot tears as well as he spoke,
"I know that you're not here out of 'pity', and I should've known better..." The wounded angel took a deep breath and let it out slowly,
"I was just upset and frustrated over all of this...but not at you. Will you forgive me, Angel Girl?"

"You know I do…" She whispered, her voice catching in a sob as the tears started up again,
"Why would you even ask me such a thing, Andrew…" Her emotions completely spent, she rested her forehead on his bed and cried bitterly.

"Sweetheart, don't, please," He pleaded, knowing he had no way other than words to try and comfort her,
"Angel Girl…c'mon…"

"I'm sorry…." Monica whimpered miserably,
"I've been trying to do what you asked…and be…strong, but…I'm afraid for you….and worried about you….and…and…I can't even put my arms around you to…tell you that I love…you…"

Andrew closed his exhausted eyes to try and ward off the tears threatening them as he listened to his best friend speak, and finally he found the words to say,
"Sweetheart...your words are completely enough right now, and just by being here..."

"But I want to...hold you so...badly, Andy..." The weary Irish angel sobbed as she gently grasped his fingers in her hand again and laid gentle kisses on them,
"And to know that I c-can't...and for who knows...how long..."

"Whenever the Father has planned, Angel Girl..." He uttered weakly, his heart breaking as he listened to the sobs tearing through her as she held onto his hand.

"You always seem…to get hurt when I do something I shouldn't….that hotel with Brady…and now this…a…and I tried so hard with Kevin, but….I just can't do anything right…." She uttered, resting her tear-dampened cheek against his hand.

"You're talking nonsense, little girl," Andrew choked out, never having felt more helpless and hating the feeling,
"And you know it…You do plenty right, including being my best friend, you got that?" Tears spilling from his eyes,
"You're tired and I want you to go with Philip and rest, okay? I don't want to see you back here till tomorrow afternoon."

"Please, don't make me go…" Monica pleaded brokenly,
"I want to stay with you…"

"Monica, you're exhausted-"

"I can't leave you...not now..." The Irish angel continued to plead, looking deep into his eyes and seeing the tears shining in them,
"Please, Andy...please..."

Wanting more then anything for her to stay as well, but also seeing how drained she was, Andrew drew in a shaky breath as he continued to try and talk some sense into her,
"Angel Girl...you're only going to get even more tired if you stay here with me tonight; it won't do you any good-"

"But I don't want to leave you alone tonight...if I sleep, I want it to be here; I promise I'll sleep, but I want to be with you," She choked out, blinking back more tears as she looked into her best friend's swollen and scarred face.

Andrew fell silent as he listened to her pleas and her promises to him and with a deep sigh, the wounded angel finally gave up and nodded his head tiredly,
"Just go and tell Philip the change of plans...and make sure you keep that promise about sleeping. If I have to call a nurse to get you a cot, I will..."

No sooner has he said the words did the door open and Philip pushed a cot through it, followed closely by Tess carrying a blanket and pillow,
"Already done, Andrew," He replied softly, as he opened the cot and laid the blanket and pillow on it,
"And Tess brought this over as well…" He added, laying the angel bear down on the bed as well, watching as the Irish angel looked at it through tear-filled eyes as another sob escaped her.

"C'mon, baby," Tess beckoned gently,
"You need to rest and so does Andrew."

Still crying, the little Irish angel moved to kiss her best friend's cheek,
"Thank you…I love you so much…"

"I love you too, sweetheart," He uttered miserably. Watching through tear-filled eyes as Tess helped to settle his best friend, the tears fell as he watched her clutch the Angel bear desperately, knowing it was him she wanted to be holding onto.

As his friend finally cried herself to sleep, he turned sorrowful eyes to Tess,
"I just want to hold her, Tess…and I can't…" He uttered through tears.

Sighing sadly, as she watched her Angel Boy also beginning to drift off to sleep, she replied softly,
"Until your arms are able to, baby, just hold her in your heart. The same way she is holding you."

Early the next morning, Mike Richards walked outside of his daughter's hospital room and saw Brady and Wendy heading down the hallway in his direction. Offering a forced smile to the duo, the human asked gently,
"Hey, Brady. How's your friend doing this morning?"

A look of sadness appearing on both Brady's and Wendy's faces, Brady wrapped a gentle arm around his daughter's shoulders as he replied softly,
"He's hanging in there as much as possible; we just dropped by for a few minutes and he and his best friend were still asleep." Sighing deeply, he looked into Mike's worn-out eyes,
"How's Amy doing?"

"I wish I could say she was getting better with each day...but she keeps asking about Patrick," A flicker of anger crossed the older man's eyes as he mentioned the teenager who had his daughter's heart,
"I take it the young man's still grounded, or else he would've come to visit..."

Though Brady knew that there was more to it then his son merely being grounded, he nodded his head,
"Cindy and I are so furious with him, we haven't let him out of his room yet, other than for meals. But I'll bring him to see her soon. Just as soon as we have a long talk, but things have been more than a little crazy lately."

Mike nodded his head in understanding,
"I just think it would do Amy good to see him, despite how disappointed I am in them both for what they were planning to do that night. Hopefully, between the two of us, we can get them back on the straight and narrow."

"Believe me, unless Patrick wants to spend the rest of his teenage years in his room, he's going to agree to that path," Brady replied, a hint of annoyance in his voice for his son.

Running a hand through his tousled hair, Mike sighed heavily before attempting another small smile,
"Well, Amy's still resting right now, so why don't you and I go and get a cup of coffee, Brady?"

Nodding his head, Brady turned back to Wendy and was about to say something when the young girl gently interrupted,
"I'm going back to Andrew's room, daddy...I'll see you later."

Brady leaned down to give Wendy a loving kiss on the cheek before speaking softly to her,
"I'll be back in a little bit, sweetheart; stay in Andrew's room, and if you need anything, you know you can ask Tess or Rose, all right?"

"I know, daddy," She replied, before headed back down the hall to Andrew's room. Peeking in, she saw that he was awake, though Monica had yet to stir, so she slipped in quietly and approached his bedside,
"Good morning," She whispered to him, offering him a shy smile.

Turning his eyes to the teenager, Andrew managed a small smile,
"Good morning, kiddo."

"How are you feeling?" She asked, sitting down in the chair beside his bed and being careful to keep her voice down.

"Well, slightly better than yesterday, so I suppose right on target," Andrew replied, trying to keep his voice light.

"I'm glad to hear that," Wendy offered him a gentle smile as she hesitantly reached over and touched his cheek,
"You'll keep getting better throughout the coming days; you're strong, Andrew."

"Thanks, sweetie," The human angel replied with a soft sigh as he felt her soft hand on his cheek,
"I'm trying..." Turning his eyes towards his sleeping best friend, his tender heard filled with sadness as he remembered the day before,
"Have you ever just wanted to hold somebody, but not able to?"

Lowering her blue eyes to the bed, Wendy nodded her head sadly,
"Yeah, sometimes..."

"That's what I wanta do so badly right now for Monica," Blinking back a round of tears, Andrew kept his green eyes on his best friend's sleeping figure,
"I want to hold her so badly, but I don't know when I'll be able to...I just wish there was someone who could do it for me, you know?"

"No one could take your place, Andrew," Wendy replied knowingly in a whisper, glancing over at her Irish tongued friend,
"Not in her eyes. I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone love anyone else as much as she loves you, other than the way God loves us all, of course."

Andrew nodded his head, not trusting himself enough to speak as his eyes remained on his best friend who was still sleeping restlessly,
"When she'd be dreaming, like she is now, all I'd have to do is touch her cheek and she'd calm down," He whispered tearfully, almost more to himself than to Wendy,
"I can't even do that for her now. I don't think I'll ever take another hug from her for granted ever again after this…"

"But she understands that, Andrew and doesn't hold it against you that you can't do those things right now, though I'm sure she feels the loss of it, just as you do. She's been so strong for you the last few days; trying to help you and Kevin and wanting to make you proud of her," She sighed softly, feeling badly for her two angelic friends,
"Sometimes I think she feels your pain as much as you do…"

Closing his eyes at the mere mention of Kevin, Andrew drew in a shaky breath as he replied to her last statement,
"I wouldn't doubt it...just looking at her from here, I can tell she feels it..."

Reaching carefully for his hand and holding it gently in her own, the teenager rubbed her friend's fingers as she spoke,
"I know you're also thinking about Kevin, Andrew..."

"I'm not sure I wanta talk about him right now, sweetheart," He quietly interrupted, his voice holding no anger, just sadness. Turning his head back to the teenager, his eyes swollen red from the tears, the angel sighed,
"No offense to you, Wen'; I mean no offense by that statement...I just don't want to think about Kev at the moment if you don't mind."

Deciding not to push it, Wendy nodded her head and changed the subject,
"Did you hear about Amy?"

Andrew's eyes clouded with confusion as he shook his head slightly,
"Amy? Patrick's girlfriend?"

Nodding her head, the teenager continued,
"The same morning this happened to you, Andrew, Paddy had spent the night with her, intending to…well, you know….anyway, they had some candles lit and one got knocked over and the curtains caught fire. Paddy got out, but didn't realize Amy wasn't behind him. Her face was burned pretty badly and she's here in the hospital. The worst part is, Paddy won't come and see her," She sighed softly,
"Daddy and Monica figured what happened to you has something to do with Amy…"

Andrew's green eyes widened in shock as he listened to the teenager speak,
"Amy...the same thing happened to Amy...?"

Nodding sadly, the teenager lowered her head as she concluded,
"It's like the same things are happening to you and to Amy, while the same things are happening with Kevin and Paddy." She shrugged her shoulders helplessly as she looked back into her angelic friend's pained eyes,
"I may be wrong, but maybe you two are here so that you can help each other heal...? And maybe Paddy and Kev are supposed to help one another, too?"

Chapter 9

Cringing once again at the mention of his youngest charge, Andrew pushed aside his personal feelings to listen what his human friend was explaining to him,
"You think...?"

"I overheard Patrick explaining earlier to Kevin that...he's actually thinking of breaking things off with Amy," Wendy commented sadly, rubbing her friend's fingers gently with her hand,
"Because she's 'no longer beautiful' as he put it..."

Andrew's eyes filled with tears against his will and he turned his eyes away from the young girl,
"I can't believe this, Wendy...you're not mistaken, are you?"

"No, I'm certain," She replied sadly, shaking her head,
"I didn't mean to listen, but once I overheard, I couldn't quite believe what I was hearing."

"I suppose it explains a lot about why this happened though and I'm surprised no one told me till now," He remarked wearily.

"I think Monica was going to when you were a little stronger," Wendy replied gently with a sigh,
"I just don't understand why Paddy and Kevin don't see what Monica and I see when we look at you. You're still you, Andrew. The sweet angel we love and nothing changes that…"

"I just don't feel like me anymore, Wen," The wounded angel whispered, deep down in his heart not wanting to talk about Kevin and his feelings, but also knowing that he needed to sooner or later,
"Although I can't really blame Kevin for feeling the way he does...I guess that part I can understand. It just also shocks me that Paddy is doing the same thing..." He shook his head tiredly as he leaned his head back against the bed and stared at the ceiling.

"You're not blaming yourself, are you, Andrew?" Wendy gently asked, giving his hand a careful squeeze, not wanting to hurt him.

Shaking his head wearily, the angel glanced over at the young girl and whispered,
"No...I'm just confused about everything is all; I wish I wasn't in this hospital so that I could see what was actually going on, and help..."

There was silence in the room for a moment other than an occasional weary whimper from the still sleeping angel, before Andrew spoke once more, his voice a shaky whisper,
"Wendy…do you have a mirror?"

The teenager's eyes widened with concern at what he was asking, already knowing the reason why he wanted one,
"Andrew, it's too soon…give yourself some time to heal first…"

"Wendy, please," He said quietly, seeing her indecision before she dug around in her purse and pulled out her compact,
"Put it where I can see my face, Wen…."

Her blue eyes flooding with tears as she looked at him, the small compact clutched in her trembling hands, Wendy bit her lip as she whispered,
"Are you sure about this, Andrew..."

"I know it's bad, but I want to know...how bad," He uttered sadly as he looked at her through blurred vision,
"Please, Wendy..."

Nearly sobbing, the teenager leaned over and placed the compact up to Andrew's eye-level, her eyes on him the entire time. She watched as her friend drew in a sharp breath and let out a gasp at what he saw and Wendy already regretted showing him in the first place.

On the human angel's part, Andrew stared wide-eyed at his reflection in the compact mirror in front of him and wanted to sob. His entire left side of his face was blistered, red and swollen from the fire, and it looked like most of his skin had peeled off on that side. Choking on a sob, the angel closed his pained eyes and turned away from the mirror,
"Okay..."

"Wendy, what are you doing?" Monica's voice cried out as she awoke and realized what was occurring.

"I'm sorry…I'm sorry…." Wendy sobbed miserably,
"He asked…he wanted to know…."

Moving to his bedside, Monica nearly broke down once again as she saw the tears streaming from his pain-filled green eyes. Her heart was pounding loudly in her chest as she reached out and touched his cheek with a trembling hand,
"Tell me what you are thinking."

Trying to find his voice, but not meeting her eyes, Andrew managed to find words,
"I'm thinking that…I'm wondering how you can look at me, Monica…"

"Why?" She demanded, her voice trembling,
"Because of what you just saw in a mirror?" Swallowing the lump in her throat, she continued, her voice softer,
"Let me tell you what I see, Andrew. I see my best friend. I see love and gentleness and an angel who selflessly gave himself to protect his friends. The things I love about you, Andrew, no fire can touch, okay? Your gentle heart, those compassionate green eyes, your smile," She reached for his hand as she allowed the tears to fall from her eyes,
"In time, the Father will heal what is wrong…but He never took the best parts of you away to begin with."

"Now I know why Kev's not here...I must look like a monster compared to what I used to look like," The human angel shook his head miserably as he whispered shakily,
"I just..."

"No, you do NOT look like a 'monster', sweetie," The Irish angel gently scolded as she stroked his cheek soothingly and waited until he looked into her brown eyes,
"And Kevin is just worried about you; but that doesn't change the love he has for you." With loving hands, Monica reached out and stroked back his tangled blonde hair from his tear-filled eyes,
"And nothing will change the love Wendy or I have for you; or the rest of us. We love you so much, sweetheart, and we don't care what you look like. Your heart is still beautiful, and that's all that matters..."

Choking back a sob, Andrew nodded his head shakily, completely overwhelmed, not only by what he had seen, but also by her unconditional love for him.

"She's exactly right, Andrew," Wendy whispered tearfully,
"It's all that matters."

Pulling himself together a little more, Andrew looked over at Wendy,
"Thank you, sweetheart," He said softly, before turning his eyes back to his best friend,
"Do something for me?"

"Anything," She replied softly, wiping at her eyes with her free hand.

"Close your eyes for a moment," He whispered. Waiting until she did, he continued, his voice thick with emotion,
"My dear sweet Angel Girl, in my heart, I am holding you so tightly right now," Closing his own eyes, he put all the love he could muster into the special connection that only they shared, before he opened his eyes once more and saw tears streaking her face.

"I feel it, my friend," Monica whispered, a trembling smile on her face,
"I feel it."

Later that afternoon, Cindy knocked softly on the door to Angelica's room and poked her head inside, sighing deeply as she saw her daughter sitting in the same rocking chair near the window just like the last time she had seen her. Walking quietly into the room, she spoke gently,
"Angel, honey, are you all right?"

Silence greeted the young girl and with a deep breath, Cindy came further into the room and stood next to the teenager,
"Your father and your sister will be arriving home soon, and your dad will be having a long talk with Patrick. I'll be leaving for the hospital to check up on Andrew and Amy in a few minutes; would you like to come along, sweetheart?"

Once again, Angel was silent, but she also shook her head in reply, lowering her exhausted blue eyes to the carpet. Kneeling down to her youngest daughter's eye level, Cindy gently laid her hands on her knees and whispered softly,
"Honey, please, talk to me. What are you thinking about?"

Finally looking up and seeing the love and tenderness in her mother's eyes, Angel whispered miserably,
"About how this is all my fault. How it's my fault I'm pregnant. How it's my fault Andrew has been hurt. How it's my fault Monica hates me now."

Her eyes clouding with tears, Cindy shook her head,
"Baby, none of that is true. In looking at the things that man has done, I'm certain now that had you refused him, he would have hurt you. He tried to do that anyway and Andrew is hurt because he loves you and your dad so much and he didn't want to see either of you hurt and God will heal him when it is time, sweetheart. Though it's hard in the meantime, that is the truth. As for Monica, she does not hate you, Angel. You always have been and always will be her 'little shadow' and she loves you so much. She hasn't been here only because Andrew needs her right now and other than God, no one is better for him than she is right now," Reaching up, she touched her daughter's cheek,
"Come with me to the hospital and you can talk to them both. I know they would love to see you."

Angel looked like she was about ready to object until she saw the look on her mother's face, and with a shaky sigh, the teenager nodded her head in agreement,
"Okay."

Smiling through her tears, Cindy nodded her head as she helped pull her youngest daughter to her feet, wrapping a gentle arm around her shoulders,
"Let's get going then." Watching as Angel attempted a tiny smile her way, but not succeeding much, Cindy sighed as she led the teenager down the hallway and down the stairs. After she had grabbed her purse and headed for the door, the front door opened suddenly and an exhausted looking Brady came through.

"Hey, sweetie," He greeted her with a sigh as he hung his jacket up in the closet,
"You two headed to the hospital?"

Cindy nodded as she grasped Angelica's hand in her own and looked at her husband,
"Yes; is Wendy still there?"

"Yeah, she asked if she could stay with Andrew, so I agreed," Brady explained as he ran a hand through his disheveled hair,
"I need to have a long talk with Patrick, so when you get home, if you could also bring Wen with you, that'd be great. She hasn't left Andrew's side since this morning, but she's gonna have to come home later..."

"I'll bring her," Cindy replied, looking into her husband's eyes,
"We shouldn't be too long," She watched as Angelica made her way out to the car as she continued,
"I want to have a family dinner tonight, Brady. No one eats in front of the television or in their rooms or you or I in our study working. I think because you and I are always so busy, we've gotten away from some things that are important and we need to get back to them, like family dinners and praying before meals, just for starters. I don't think we've been setting the best example, not intentionally of course, but we've just let things slide and if we don't get back to them, we're going to run into more and more problems with the kids," She shook her head tearfully,
"Paddy was going to sleep with his girlfriend at 14 years old, for heaven's sake. What happened until waiting until you were married?"

Brady nodded his head as he listened to the things his wife was saying,
"I couldn't agree more, princess. If I had been a better example and living my life the way I should be I'd of never blown up at Angel the night she told us or at the angels last week when I told Monica I wanted her out of the house," Reaching down, he placed a hand on his wife's cheek,
"For the first time in our marriage, I felt afraid of losing you and I don't ever want to feel that way again."

"Neither do I, Brady," Cindy shook her head as her tears streaked her face,
"I don't ever want to lose you..." Reaching up, she wrapped her arms tightly around her husband and hugged him tightly,
"I love you so much, Brady Sullivan, and I never want to let you go..."

"I love you too, princess...and I always will..." Brady replied as he pressed tiny kisses on his wife's cheeks and forehead. Finally, he forced himself to pull away, but his hands still lay on her slim shoulders,
"I'll get dinner started this evening before you come home, sweetheart; I'm going to fix this family up a nice meal and we're all going to enjoy it...after I have a word with our son though."

Smiling weakly, Cindy laid a quick kiss on Brady's cheek before looking up into his caring eyes,
"Thank you."

As his wife and daughter departed, Brady let out a sigh as he ascended the steps to the 2nd floor and knocked on his son's door before opening it. Seeing Patrick lying on his bed, his eyes focused on the ceiling, Brady entered the room and took a seat in the desk chair, his eyes on his son,
"I think it's time you and I had that talk, Patrick," He began, his voice stern, but not unkind,
"You've had a few days to think things over I would hope."

Paddy nodded his head as he inhaled deeply and left the air out slowly,
"Yeah."

"Even putting the lie aside, son, as you would not have told us your true intentions for that night and still been permitted to leave the house, would you like to explain to me why at your age, you left here that night with the sole purpose of sleeping with Amy? I realize you have feelings for her, that you may even love her, but you both have your entire lives ahead of you. With that type of intimate relationship should come certain commitments and lets also look at the fact that God expects us to wait until we're married. So what made you decide that you were ready for that; that your way was better than God's way?"

Paddy sat up slowly on his bed and leaned up against the headboard, going over in his mind what his father was telling him. Finally after several minutes of uncomfortable silence, the teenager lowered his head to the bed and mumbled softly,
"I didn't think that my way was better then God's way, dad...but you are right. I loved Amy, and I wanted to show her as such; and I was pretty angry at the family over what was going on with Angel and all that, and I wasn't thinking clearly. I haven't been thinking clearly the last few weeks..."

Brady leaned back in the desk chair and folded his arms across his chest as he gazed over at his son,
"Can you explain this to me a little bit more, son? And also, what do you mean by 'loved Amy'? DO you want to spend the rest of your life with her or not?"

Shrugging his shoulders, the teenager finally looked into his father's brown eyes and sighed,
"I don't know anymore...after the fire, my feelings for her have changed a little bit; and I guess the house catching on fire was a way to wake me up and realize that I wasn't ready for a sexual relationship."

"Patrick, you haven't even seen her since after the fire, so how could your feelings for her change?" Waiting for an answer and not getting one, Brady repeated,
"Patrick?"

His cheeks red with shame, he never raised his eyes as he simply said,
"Amy was beautiful, dad…"

Brady drew in a deep breath and forced down his anger before he spoke again,
"So tell me, son, have you been seeing Amy for the last year and a half because she looked good on your arm, or because you loved the person she was inside? Let me give you an example, Patrick. I've spent a good bit of time at the hospital the last few days between work, Andrew and Amy. Andrew's injuries are horrific, there's no lying about that, but watching Monica as she talks to him and spends time with him, she doesn't even see those injuries, son. The reason for that is because she loves him; she loves who he is and nothing, not even a fire can change that. So if you are telling me that because Amy no longer looks the same that you aren't in love with her anymore, then you never loved her in the first place. You loved the way she made you look."

"Did you hear anything I said at all, Patrick?" Brady demanded, narrowing his eyes,
"You can deny it, but you only loved the way she looked; it's plain and simple. Now, would Amy come and see you if it was you in that hospital? Of course she would; because she loves the person inside of you; she wouldn't have cared about the scars or any of that."

"I just can't look at her right now, dad," Paddy shot back, lifting his frustrated eyes to his father,
"Not until she's fully recovered..." Stopping in mid-sentence, he shook his head hard,
"No, I don't even think after that she'll be the same. I really think it would be best to break things off with Amy as soon as possible, dad...for both her and for me."

Chapter 10

Peering through the glass part of the door of Andrew's room, Cindy had to smile. It seemed that Wendy and Monica were doing a wonderful job in keeping Andrew's spirits up as the sound of soft laughter filtered through to her. Giving Angelica an encouraging smile, she opened the door and poked her head inside,
"Did we not get invited to the party?" She asked with a smile as the threesome turned their eyes to her.

"Hi mom," Wendy chirped with a grin,
"Andrew and Monica were just telling me about some of their funnier assignments."

"I see," Cindy replied, noticing that Angel was hanging back a little and fighting back tears. Approaching Andrew's bed, she kissed his cheek,
"How are you feeling, my friend?"

"Better then yesterday, which is a major improvement," He replied as he tried to smile back at her,
"Your daughter and Mon' are doing a good job at helping, you know?" Feeling Wendy giving his hand a light squeeze, the human angel flashed her a small smile before turning back to Cindy and Angel. Blinking back a few tears at the sight of the teenager, who was trying to hold herself together for him, Andrew nodded in her direction and urged her forward,
"Hey, sweetheart..."

Covering her mouth with her hand to ward off sobs, Angel took a tentative step closer to her injured angelic friend and after glancing over at Monica, met Andrew's green eyes steadily,
"Andrew...I'm so sorry about all of this..."

"Angel...don't apologize now," Andrew tried to reassure her as he kept his own eyes on her face,
"You did nothing wrong, okay?"

"Wendy," Cindy said quietly, knowing no one else other than these two angels were going to be able to get through to her daughter,
"I'm going to go and check on Amy. I'm sure she'd love to see you."

Understanding immediately, Wendy rose to her feet and squeezed Andrew's hand,
"I'll be back to say good-bye for the night," She told him softly, before exchanging a smile with Monica and following her mother out of the room.

"Angel?" Monica urged gently, her own eyes filled with concern.

"I…I don't understand why you are both…being so nice to me…" The teenager sobbed brokenly,
"I did this…I'm the reason you are hurt, Andrew, and the reason your best friend, Monica is lying here in pain…I started this whole horrible mess and…and I'm just so sorry…"

Doing what Andrew could not, Monica reached out and pulled the girl into her arms as Angel all but slumped into the angel's lap as she sobbed,
"You didn't do this, sweetheart," She whispered sadly.

"No, you didn't," Andrew replied firmly, though his eyes reflected the pain Angelica was in at the moment,
"The only person responsible for this is George Keyser. I've never blamed you, Angel, not for a moment."

"But because I never told him 'no' to begin with..." Angel stopped as she slumped against the Irish angel, although her tear-filled eyes were still focused on Andrew,
"That is how it all started, Andrew...he ended up taking you hostage, and then...and then..." Her voice broke off as she was unable to say the next words and her tears flowed faster.

"Angel, please...listen to me..." Andrew pleaded, the feeling of helplessness once again returning as he was unable to comfort the girl except with his words,
"I'm telling you the truth, honey...I would never, ever blame you for something like this, and I don't blame you. And neither does Monica, or your family..."

"But I still blame myself for it, A-Andrew," Angel whimpered as she finally pulled away from Monica,
"I...I want to hug you so bad, but because of me, none of us can..."

Blinking back her own tears, Monica caught Angel's hands up in her own,
"That's only for right now, sweetheart. There will come a time when we'll all be able to hug Andrew again, okay? I promise you that, Angel."

"You don't hate me?" She whispered tearfully, looking into the Irish angel's eyes,
"You don't hate me because my teacher did this to your best friend?"

"I could never hate you, little shadow," She replied, tears falling from her own eyes as she squeezed her hands tightly,
"I love you and so does Andrew and nothing changes that."

As Angel looked doubtfully over at him, Andrew smiled sadly,
"What are you looking at me for? She's the Angel of Truth." He winked at her before he continued,
"No one hates you, honey. We're sorry about what happened to you and we love you and that is all you need to remember, okay?"

Standing up, Monica placed her hands on Angel's shoulders and moved her closer to Andrew's bed. Taking the girl's hand in her own, she brought Angel's fingers to her best friend's uninjured hand. Smiling knowingly, she whispered softly to the teenager,
"It isn't quite as good as a hug, but it helps…"

Andrew smiled as he felt Angelica clasp onto his hand as he wrapped his fingers around hers and gave a gentle squeeze, watching as a trembling smile crossed her face.

Cindy knocked gently on the door to Amy's room and pushed the door open, poking her head inside to smile over at Mike and Amy,
"Hello, Mike." Her loving blue eyes turned towards the wounded Amy and offered her a friendly smile,
"How are you doing here, sweetheart?"

As she and Wendy walked into the room, the brunette teenager sighed wearily as she greeted them, her dark eyes filled with pain,
"Hi, Wendy..Hi, Mrs. Sullivan...I've done better..." She let out a deep sigh as she closed her eyes.

Coming over to the side of the bed, Wendy offered her a sympathetic smile as she grasped her brother's girlfriend's hand in hers, squeezing it gently,
"We just wanted to stop in and check up on you and our friend Andrew, before we left for the night. Are you feeling at least a little better then you were yesterday, Amy?"

"Yeah, I am, Wendy," Amy admitted, though there was deep sadness in her hazel eyes,
"How is Paddy doing? I…haven't seen him at all…"

Seeing that Wendy wasn't sure of how to answer that one, Cindy smiled gently at Amy,
"He's really upset, sweetie, and in a good bit of trouble, but he'll be by in the next day or two, I promise," She replied, thinking to herself that her son would indeed be here if she had to drag him herself.

"Will you tell him that I miss him?" She asked sadly, doing her best to be brave and not cry about how hurt she really was that Patrick had not been by to see her.

"Of course we will, Amy," Wendy replied with a soft smile,
"And my brother misses you too. Dad just isn't finished reading him the riot act yet is all," She added with a wink.

Amy let out a small giggle at those words and she nodded her head weakly,
"I'll be waiting for him, Wendy," She replied, squeezing her friend's hand tightly,
"Thanks for stopping by...you two and Brady are great. And you've got some great friends as well..."

Exchanging a sad smile with her daughter, Cindy nodded her head,
"I see you met Tess and Rose, eh?"

"Yeah..." Amy sighed wearily before letting out a yawn. Her hazel eyes flickered, and it was enough to catch her father's attention. Rising to his feet, Mike glanced up at Cindy and Wendy and smiled thankfully at them.

"I appreciate you all stopping by daily," He said as his daughter slowly started to drift off to sleep,
"It means a lot to both of us." Sighing softly, his own dark eyes showing exhaustion,
"Tell your friend as well that we're continuing to pray for him as well; I may stop by his room tomorrow and let him know myself..."

"He's appreciate that Mike," Cindy replied as she and Wendy headed out the door to go and gather Angel and head home,
"We'll see you tomorrow."

Heading back to Andrew's room to say good-bye, Cindy was more than relieved to see the first smile on Angel's face that she had seen in weeks as she opened the door,
"You about ready, honey?"

Angelica smiled at her mother and sister, as she gave Andrew's hand a final squeeze and then moved to hug Monica,
"Yeah, mom."

"We're having a family dinner tonight for the first time in awhile," Cindy explained to the two angels,
"Monica, would you care to join us?"

The little Irish angel looked undecided for a moment, but the fact was she still wanted to talk to Angel about the baby and what she planned to do, as well as hopefully touch base with Kevin as their last discussion hadn't been all that pleasant. Turning to her best friend, her dark eyes showing her concern, she asked him softly,
"Will you be okay if I go for a few hours? I'll be back tonight, but if you need me, Andrew, I'll stay right here…"

His green eyes filling with exhaustion, Andrew tried to keep them open as he turned tiredly to his best friend,
"Go on with them, Angel Girl...I'll be fine..."

"Are you sure?" The Irish angel asked uncertainly, not willing to leave him if he really needed her.

Before the human angel had time to reply, another head poked inside the door and Rose's voice sounded from behind them,

"I'll stay with him, Monica. It looks like our Angel Boy's getting a bit tired anyways..." She nodded over to their friend and all four smiled as they saw that he had just now fallen asleep. Laying a gentle hand on the Irish angel's shoulder as her brown eyes were still focused on Andrew, Rose continued gently,
"Go and have dinner with the Sullivan's, honey, and you know if Andrew needs you, he'll tell you."

Letting out a soft sigh and now completely understanding how Andrew felt last week at wanting to be two places at once, Monica leaned down and planted a gentle kiss on his forehead, before lightly resting her own against his,
"I love you," She whispered as a single tear escaped her eye. Turning to Rose, she moved to hug the older angel tightly,
"It's so hard to leave him, Rose, but thank you for staying. I'll be back in a couple of hours."

"You know it's my pleasure, sweetheart," Rose replied, giving the young angel a tight squeeze,
"A few hours out of here will do you good, honey, and he'll be just fine."

"He's in good hands with you and the Father, Rose," Monica replied tearfully, wiping at her eyes, unable to believe how hard it was for her to go. Turning to the Sullivan's, she managed a smile,
"Ready when you are."

With a sympathetic smile, Cindy wrapped her arm around her angelic sister's shoulders,
"We'll see you later, Rose," She whispered over her shoulder, before the foursome departed.

Taking a seat in the chair Monica had abandoned, Rose reached for the sleeping angel's hand and held it gently in her own,
"She does love you, Angel Boy," She whispered with a smile,
"But then again, so do we all."

Chapter 11

"That was a great dinner, Brady," Monica complimented as she helped to clean up the dishes and silverware from the table and bringing them to the sink,
"One of the best I've had in a while."

Smiling tiredly at the little Irish angel, Brady rested a hand on her shoulder and squeezed,
"My pleasure." He was about to continue, when the smile faded from his face as he saw Kevin and Patrick finish up their own meals and head back upstairs. Sighing deeply, the human shook his head as he accepted the offered dirty dishes from Monica and started loading them in the dishwasher,
"I thought a nice family dinner would do those two especially some good...but it looks like I still haven't gotten through to Patrick yet."

Glancing over her shoulder at the staircase where Kevin had just bolted up, Monica felt uneasiness settle in her stomach, not only for knowing that she had to talk to her co-worker again, but also wanting to be near her best friend again and know that he was doing okay. Closing her eyes and quietly whispering up an "I love you" to Andrew, Monica drew in a shaky breath and turned back to her two human friends,
"Is there anything you would like help with? Because I need to go and speak with Kevin and Angel before I head back to the hospital-"

"You never have to help clean up the dishes, little angel," Brady shook his head at her as he smiled slightly,
"Go ahead and go talk to them; Cindy and I will finish this."

"Thank you," She replied, reaching up to kiss his cheek,
"I'm going to talk to them and then grab a quick shower and a change of clothes and head back. Thanks again for dinner, you two."

Monica walked up the stairs slowly, not looking forward to speaking with her co-worker at all especially since he had barely uttered a word through dinner, but then again, her last words to him had been in anger. She knocked softly on his door and called out,
"Kev? Can I come in for a minute? I come in peace, I promise…"

Hearing his slightly disgruntled reply of,
"Suit yourself," She sighed and opened the door. Seeing him sitting in the chair by the window, she closed the door and leaned up against it, her tired eyes regarding him thoughtfully,
"I'm sorry about the other day. I had no right to judge you on how you feel," Sighing softly as he still didn't look at her, she continued,
"What happened to Andrew has been hard on all of us, and this is just the way it's been hardest on you is all, but he understands that-."

Kevin whirled around to face her, horror etched on his face,
"He knows? He knows I can't bring myself to look at him? Monica-!"

"He figured it out on his own, Kevin," She replied as calmly as she could,
"I told him you were just having trouble dealing with what happened to him, but then he started asking how bad his injuries were and then he put two and two together. I couldn't lie to him, you know that."

"I can't believe you would tell him about this, Monica!" The youngest Caseworker cried as he rose to his feet, horror and slight anger in his eyes,
"How could you do that? I thought you said that him knowing that would hurt him more-"

"I wasn't about to lie to him when he asked, Kevin, and you know it," Monica interrupted, struggling to remain calm again,
"I could've easily stated that you were only having a difficult time for right now, but would come to see him later, but that would've been a lie. And I'm through with lying, Kevin..."

His heart pounding wildly in his chest, Kevin slumped back down in his chair as he thought his legs were going to collapse from underneath him,
"He's never going to forgive me...he's never going to forgive me or trust me ever again, Monica..."

"Kev, that's not true," Monica shook her head as she felt tears welling up in her brown eyes all over again,
"Andrew still loves you, and you'll always be his friend; and I don't think he's losing his trust in you because of your feelings..."

"I sense a 'but' coming..." The youngest angel interrupted, his head lowered to his hands,
"He still wants me to visit, doesn't he?"

"Yes, of course he does!" Monica cried, coming closer to her young friend and looking down at him,
"But he's also not going to push you...because he does know how he looks and he understands why it's so difficult...it doesn't stop the hurt he's feeling about it, but he does understand."

"I feel so terrible," He whispered after a moment, not raising his head,
"I can't even help Paddy to see Amy because I feel the same way about Andrew. What kind of angel am I anyway?"

Kneeling down in front of the chair he was in, Monica rested her hands on his knees and spoke gently,
"The kind of angel who is afraid, Kevin, that's all. It was wrong of me the other day to insinuate that you were not a good friend, because that isn't true at all. I know you want to see him, but are just afraid of the package he comes in right now. But, what you have to think about and realize is that Andrew is your friend because of who he is, not what he looks like. All of the important things that make him who he is are still there, Kevin. The fire didn't change that and God will heal him when it's time, but even knowing that doesn't make this any easier on any of us," She drew in a deep breath, wishing she could rid herself of the unsettling feeling she still had in the pit of her stomach as she continued,
"No one is going to push you with this, least of all me. If and when you go to see him, I want it to be because you are ready and you want to see him. In the meantime, just know that Andrew understands and that he still loves you, okay?"

Kevin only nodded his head and the Irish angel had a feeling he was taking in all she had said, but that she wasn't going to get any response from him tonight. Rising to her feet, she leaned over and gently kissed the top of his head,
"And for the record, I love you too, Kev."

She watched as Kevin nodded his head again, appearing to try his hardest to hold back tears from forming in his eyes. Sighing shakily, the Irish angel squeezed his hand gently before turning back around and heading out the door, but not before hearing the soft sobs finally escaping the youngest angel as she left. Unable to keep her own tears in any longer, Monica bit her lip and closed her dark eyes as she closed Kevin's door and took deep breaths.

Finally making her way towards Angel's room once more, Monica lifted her hand and rapped softly on the door. Hearing the tiny voice call for her to come in, the Irish angel stepped into the room and smiled slightly as she saw the teenager sitting up against the headboard of her bed, trying to keep her mind focused on a book in her hands. Taking a seat across from the young girl, Monica started gently,
"It was really good to see you this afternoon with your mom in the hospital, sweetheart. I know that Andrew really appreciated it."

Setting aside the book she couldn't keep her mind focused on, Angel looked up into the Irish angel's gentle, yet sad eyes,
"You were right about some of the things you two told me this afternoon, Monica..." She whispered, wrapping her arms around her knees,
"But I'm still so scared for him..."

"I know, Angel. I am too, but in the end, he will be okay, if that is what the Father has planned," She replied softly, trying to summon her courage to broach the subject she had come here to discuss,
"Angel, honey, I wanted to talk to you about the baby and what you plan to do. When we last talked, you were still pretty upset and now that you're a bit calmer, I just wanted to find out what your intentions are."

Angelica was quiet for a moment, not meeting her friend's eyes,
"You won't like it, Monica…I haven't changed my mind. In fact, I have enough money saved for the procedure and…I wanted to ask you to go along with me as my legal guardian."

Monica's eyes widened for a moment as she found herself once again struggling to remain calm, though the truth be told, she felt too drained to cause any kind of uproar and the discomfort that had seemingly settled all through her human body was making her wonder if she wasn't getting sick,
"Sweetie, you know I can't do that. I can't stop you from pursuing this option, but I can't be a part of it either and what I would really like is for you to consider your other options."

"Monica, I can't do that," Angel shook her head stubbornly as she finally lifted her blue eyes,
"I'm sorry, I know I'm being stubborn about this...but I can't consider the adoption! I don't want to be a mother; I CAN'T be a mother at all at the age of 14."

"Angel, I know that all of this is hard, but could you just do me a favor?" Monica pleaded, not wanting to pressure her too much right now, knowing that if she did, Angelica could fly off the handle once more.

Sighing in annoyance, Angel replied,
"What is it?"

"Just consider this as carefully as possible, please," The angel softly said, looking deeply into the teenager's eyes,
"As I said, I can't stop you; nobody can. But I just want you to keep thinking long and hard about this. I have had assignments in the past wanting to put their baby up for adoption; some have been in the same situation as you are. But..." A small smile graced the angel's tear-streaked face as she continued,
"But the day they actually gave birth to that baby was the happiest day of their lives, and they wouldn't change it for anything. Just feeling that wee one in their arms was enough to know that they made the right choice."

"Monica, all I would do is look at that baby and remember what George Keyser did to me and I would hate the baby because of that. The best thing I could do for myself and for this baby is to put it out of its misery before it is even born," Angel replied, almost coldly.

Lowering her eyes for a moment to hide the shock in them, Monica tried one more time,
"Angelica, your baby never asked to exist and that wee one is not at fault for what happened either. What you need to remember is that where you may look at him or her as a reminder of what happened, somewhere out there is a couple, who have maybe been trying to have a child for years and have been unable to. This same baby, who would be a curse to you, would be a blessing to them. Yes, you would still technically be a mother, but you'd never have to see the baby again and you can even ask that you not know who adopted it. Angel, there is a life growing within you; a little person-that is what you are talking about killing. Please think about that carefully."

Sighing in exasperation and in exhaustion, Angelica rubbed at her temples carefully as she contemplated over all the angel was telling her. Finally after moments of silence, the teenager numbly nodded her head and replied, her eyes still lowered to her lap,
"All right...I'll do that at least...but it doesn't mean I may change my mind."

Patting the young girl's knee gently, Monica nodded sadly as she whispered,
"That's all I'm asking, little one." With a soft sigh, the Irish angel lifted her brown eyes to the ceiling and felt her heart pound in her chest as she was starting to get an intense feeling that her best friend needed her right now. Biting her lip, Monica turned back to Angel,
"I'll leave you alone now to think about this, sweetheart. I'll see you tomorrow, all right?"

"Sure, Monica. Give Andrew my love," Angel replied wearily, as the angel quietly left the bedroom.

Twenty minutes later, after the fastest shower in history, her hair still wet as she hadn't bothered to dry it, so great was the need to return to Andrew, Monica was in his car and racing back to the hospital. She only wished she could shake the feeling that something was just not right.

"C'mon, Angel Boy, hang in there for me, honey...it'll be okay," Rose lovingly wiped a cloth over her younger friend's brow, which was covered with sweat as he struggled to take deep breaths. His doctor had appeared several minutes before and was taking his vital signs, trying to figure out what exactly was wrong.

"Monica..." He uttered weakly, closing his green eyes tightly as held onto Rose's hand as tightly as he could,
"Monica...where are you..."

Before the elderly angel could reply, the door swung open once more and Monica burst in, her wet hair swinging around her face as she rushed to Andrew's bedside,
"Is something wrong?" She gasped as she neared her friend.

His face a mask of worry, the doctor jotted down the wounded angel's vital signs and turned worried eyes to the other two angels,
"It appears he's run an infection from one of the burns, ladies..."

"What does that mean exactly?" Monica asked shakily, her hand moving to her best friend's forehead, gasping when she felt the fever raging through him.

"It means we have to hope to alleviate it or contain it before it spreads," the doctor replied grimly,
"We're putting him on a stronger anti-biotic to fight off the infection. Let's just hope it works."

"And if it doesn't?" The Irish angel uttered, feeling Rose's hand on her shoulder.

The doctor was quiet for a moment before responding,
"A bad enough infection that we can't control can lead to death, so let's just hope the anti-biotics work. I'll be back to check on him intermittently."

Feeling completely sick, Monica slumped down into the chair beside of Andrew's bed,
"He was fine earlier," She whispered tearfully.

Running her hand lovingly through Andrew's bangs, Rose blinked back more tears as she gazed at her injured friend,
"I don't know how it happened, sweetheart...these kinds of things sometimes appear out of nowhere. Let's just pray that it doesn't spread..." Grasping the cloth from the table again and placing it over her 'Angel Boy's burning forehead, she continued stroking his hair,
"We're here, sweetheart...it's going to be okay, we're right here..."

"Monica..." The human angel whispered miserably as his eyes flickered open and looked up at the ceiling,
"Monica...where are you...?"

Grasping his hand gently in her own and rubbing his fingers with her hand, Monica choked on a sob as she whispered lovingly to him,
"I'm right beside you, sweetie; and I'm not going anywhere..."

"Monica, I don't see you...where are you?" Andrew continued weakly, all the while forcing himself to take deep breaths.

"I'm right here, Andy…I'm right here…" She repeated, even as he continued to call out for her, the pain in his voice causing her to burst into tears,
"I'm right here…"

"Oh sweetheart, listen to me," Rose uttered, tears in her own eyes as she sat down next to Monica and reached for her hand,
"He doesn't know what he is saying right now, little angel. His fever is high and it's hard to say what he could say until this infection is under control. He could speak of anything that has weighed heavily on his heart lately or years ago, but don't be hurt by it, okay?" Seeing the helpless look in the younger angel's tear-filled eyes, Rose reached out and drew Monica to her, tears falling from her own eyes, both from worry about Andrew and by the force that the Irish angel held onto her.

"Oh Rose...I just want to comfort him and tell him it will be okay..." Monica whispered through her tears as she clutched tightly to the older angel, burying her face in her shoulder,
"Father, help him...oh Father, help him please..."

"He hears us, Angel Girl," Rose replied through her own tears as she closed her dark eyes and lifted up a prayer of her own,
"Oh sweetheart, He hears us loud and clear, and He will help our Angel Boy."

However, Rose's reassuring words didn't appear to be doing much help, as the little Irish angel continued to sob brokenly in her arms.

Chapter 12

By 3:00 the following morning, little had changed in Andrew's condition as Monica continued to sit by his bed. She was exhausted, both physically and emotionally, but determined not to leave him, even for sleep. Rose had slipped back to the Sullivan's to update them on Andrew's condition and Tess and Carla had both been in a few times, but the doctor wanted visitors limited as much as possible, though with Andrew calling out for his best friend almost continuously, it was agreed upon that the Irish angel stay.

Wringing out the washcloth once again in cool water, she tiredly bathed his burning forehead, all the while whispering comforting words to him, before she was interrupted by his restless ramblings once more.

"Angel Girl….Monica?…I'm sorry….I didn't mean to….hurt you like that…God, please bring her back….bring her back…I love her…so much…shouldn't be there….please…"

"I'm right here, sweetheart, I'm not leaving you," Monica whispered reassuringly as her tears fell from her saddened eyes,
"It's all be all right, love; I'm right here..." As she wiped his forehead tenderly, she nearly sobbed as he continued to whisper wearily to her, his voice filled with pain.

"Angel Girl...I didn't mean it...I won't leave you ever again...cross my heart...oh God, please...bring her back..."

"Shhh," The Irish angel whispered through her tears as she tenderly lifted her hand and wiped at the tears escaping from her dearest friend's pain-filled green eyes,
"Don't worry, Andy. Please don't worry..." Rising to her feet, Monica moved aside the bed bar and sat down carefully next to him, her hand caressing his feverish cheek.

"Little Angel?"

The sound of Philip's voice caused her to look over through tear-filled eyes at the demon that had just slipped quietly in the door. She opened her mouth to greet him, but found that no words came out and she just shook her head instead as the silent tears fell.

Approaching them, Philip wrapped an arm tightly around her trembling shoulders as he gazed down at Andrew in silence for a moment,
"How is he doing?" He asked finally.

Finally able to find her voice, Monica swallowed the lump in her throat,
"Not good, Philip. His doctor said that…that infection was the leading cause of…of…death in burn victims…"

"But we both know that is not going to happen, right?" He replied gently, looking into her exhausted and reddened eyes.

"I-I don't think so, Philip..." She uttered weakly, her shaking hand still stroking Andrew's cheek,
"I know he's...he's an a-angel, but he's as human...as can be, and human bodies can die...it's so possible, and I can't stand seeing him like this..." Lifting her free hand to her mouth as she choked on a sob, Monica raised her eyes to the demon and uttered miserably,
"It's bad enough seeing him in pain...but this..."

Philip lowered his eyes to Andrew and his heart filled with sadness as the angel continued to call out to Monica. As he tightened his arm around the sobbing Irish angel, the kind demon closed his dark eyes tightly and drew in a deep breath,
"Why don't we pray for him then, little angel? I don't think it would hurt..."

Crying too hard to answer, Monica just nodded her head, as she felt Philip's other arm wrap around her tightly as she rested her head against his chest.

"God," Philip began, feeling a little unsure of himself but willing to do anything for this little angel and her friend,
"Please heal your angel, Andrew. You know the pain he is going through and we ask that you bring him healing that only You and Your love can bring. Please bring Monica peace in knowing You are in control and help her to be what it is Andrew needs most right now, which I believe is his best friend. In Your Son's name, Amen," Finishing, he smiled slightly to himself,
"I guess I'm a little rusty…"

Pulling away slightly, Monica managed a shaky laugh,
"You were fine. Thank you," Wiping at her eyes, she looked up at him, grateful for the company and not wanting him to slip away just yet,
"Why are you here, Philip?" She asked gently, her eyes meeting with his,
"I'm glad that you are, I just don't totally understand…"

Philip lowered his eyes shyly to the ground as he tried to find the right words to say in answer to her question,
"I actually wanted to talk to both of you guys once your friend is able to do so; I figured, as it was both of you I've hurt the most in the past...that I should talk to you first..."

"What do you mean?" Monica cocked her head as she stared up at him.

"I'll talk to you both about it when the time is right..." He replied, attempting a small grin in her direction,
"But I'm also here because...because I care about you, and I care about Andrew too. Very much; and I worry a lot about you two..."

"I'm grateful that you're here, Philip," The Irish angel whispered as she smiled shakily through her tears,
"I almost feel, I don't know...relieved whenever you show up, you know?"

The kind-hearted demon blinked back tears at her words, the wetness in his eyes something he had not felt for as long as he could remember,
"Little Angel, you have no idea what it means to me to hear you, of all angels, say that. After all I did to you and the way that I hurt you; a way that still causes you pain at times…."

"It's mostly in the past, Philip, really," Monica interrupted shakily,
"And the decision that night on that ship, was ultimately mine."

"But then I tried to hurt you a second time," He added sadly,
"I knew I cared about you then, Monica, I just didn't know the right way to show it."

"But you know now," She replied, reaching for his hand and squeezing it gently,
"Will you stay with me for awhile?"

Seeing the hopefulness in her eyes, he nodded his head,
"If you need me, sweetness, I will be here."

The next 24 hours seemed to pass too slowly for the angels and Philip, and by the time night had fallen once again, Monica had finally fallen asleep with her head resting on Andrew's bed, her hand gently holding his. After her dearest friend had finally fallen asleep, and his fever seemed to have broken, Monica had given in and decided to get a bit of rest.

By the middle of the night, the weary Irish angel finally awoke from a deep sleep and noticed that her best friend was slowly starting to wake up. Rising to her feet, even as she was still trying to get the sleep out of her eyes, Monica reached her hand out and felt his forehead gently and was relieved to see that he was cooler then the last time she had checked. After he had slowly opened his eyes, the Irish angel felt a few tears forming in her eyes as she smiled bravely down at him,
"Hey, sweetie..."

Andrew focused his eyes on her face, trying to remember what day it was and he found that he was unable to as the last thing he clearly remembered was Angel being here. Looking up into his best friend's face, he had the feeling that something had not been right though, as she looked wiped out and her eyes were red and swollen from crying,
"Angel Girl?" He uttered weakly,
"What's wrong? What happened?"

Sitting on the edge of his bed, she reached for his hand as she explained,
"You had an infection, my friend and have been pretty out of it. The last 36 hours have been more than a little scary, but your fever has thankfully broken and I think you're going to be just fine," Feeling tears running down her face, she hastily wiped them away,
"Are you feeling better, sweetie?"

"A bit tired and all, but I think I'm okay, all things considering..." He uttered wearily as he blinked his green eyes to try and focus on her face again,
"You look exhausted..."

"Don't worry about me; after I knew you were going to be okay, I knew I could rest easily," Monica gently interrupted, stroking his right cheek with her fingertips,
"I'm just glad you're okay...oh Andrew, I'm so glad you're going to be okay...I was so scared," She shook her head as she forced down a sob, not willing to allow herself to break down right after her best friend had woken up from a horrifying ordeal.

"But I do worry about you, little one," He replied softly, seeing the emotional struggle within her,
"Mon, I know you're hurting and if I know you at all, which I do, you haven't left this room in 36 hours. I know you don't want me worrying about anything, but nothing is going to stop me from looking out for you, okay? You have been wonderful through this entire ordeal, sweetie and I don't know what I'd do without you here, but with that being said, I don't want you bottling things up either, okay?"

"I'm all right, Andy, really," She protested, even as her voice trembled and the tears welled up in her swollen eyes.

"Angel Girl, take my hand," Waiting until she had curled her fingers around his, feeling the way her hand trembled, he whispered softly to her,
"Now let it out…"

Her lower lip now trembling uncontrollably, Monica lowered her head to the bed, even as she sat next to her best friend, and rested her wet cheek against his hand. She wanted more then anything to just throw her arms around him and hold him tightly, and it broke the little Irish angel's heart that she couldn't do that, so she had to settle for the next best thing.

As her shoulders trembled with each sob, Monica tightened her hold on Andrew's hand and as her head was lowered to the bed, she felt the feather-like touch of his fingertips on her cheek. The little Irish angel moved her head as her cheek brushed up against his fingers, never wanting to let his hand go,
"I...I just love you so, so much..."

From where he was laying, Andrew felt hot tears trickle down his own scarred face as he felt the tears on her cheek. Although it wasn't the same as holding her, it did feel good to be able to touch her face again, even if he had to strain to do it,
"I love you too, little Angel Girl...and it'll be okay..."

"I know that in my heart," She whispered tearfully, as her breathing hitched as she tried to stop crying, the feeling of his fingers on her face bringing her more comfort than anything had in days.

"It will be, sweetheart," Andrew replied softly. Glancing up at the clock on the wall and seeing that it was just after 2:00AM, he turned his eyes to her as she slowly sat up,
"I want you to sleep, okay?"

Completely spent now, after crying so hard, she nodded her head as she got off his bed and through blurred vision, she moved the cot over so it was level with where he lay. Lying down, she positioned her pillow so it was near his head, as she closed her eyes in complete and utter exhaustion.

Turning his head slightly, Andrew was able to kiss her forehead gently as he watched a tear slip down her cheek,
"I love you so much, baby," He repeated as he watched her give into the sleep her body craved. Smiling softly as he closed his own tear-filled eyes, he whispered as he drifted off to sleep,
"That's my girl…"

By noon the next morning, Monica felt someone gently shaking her shoulder and the Irish angel looked up into the faces of Tess and Rose. Relief was evident on both of the older angel's faces and Monica's eyes widened as she sat up on the cot. With a wipe at her eyes, she asked somewhat tiredly,
"What is it...?"

"Sweetheart, our Angel Boy's being moved out of the ICU," Rose spoke gently, nodding over to the doctors who were bringing in a stretcher to get the angel ready for the move,
"He's asking for you."

With no more words, Monica rose to her feet and made her way over to her friend, who's tired face held a bright smile. Reaching out and holding onto his hand, Monica wiped at the happy tears on her face as she gave it a gentle squeeze,
"You're really going to be okay..." She whispered tearfully as she looked into his eyes.

"You doubted?" He spoke, winking at her.

A small laugh escaping her, she shook her tousled head,
"Not for a moment," She replied, leaning down to kiss his forehead.

"Ready to roll, Andrew?" The orderly, whose name was Greg asked with a chuckle as they got him situated on the stretcher.

"You bet," He replied with a grin,
"Can I bring a passenger?"

The second orderly, Paul, looked around for any signs of a doctor and not seeing any in sight, he replied,
"I say go for it. After all, she is your girl."

"Hop up, Angel Girl," Andrew urged, mischief in his eyes as she raised her eyebrows in amusement of Paul's comment, and sat down on the stretcher as they started moving Andrew out of the room,
"That she is, Paul," He added, winking at Monica, and grinning as he heard chuckles from Rose and Tess.

As the four angels and two orderlies finally reached a spare room on a different floor that was already set up for Andrew, Monica carefully hopped off of the stretcher and tenderly grasped her best friend's hand again as Paul and Greg started to move Andrew from the stretcher to the bed. Several minutes passed before the two orderlies started to leave, but Paul turned back around to the foursome before heading out the door,
"You know, Andrew, if it's all right with your doctor and you continue to recover nicely in the next few days, you could very well be out of this place and on your way home."

"Really?" Rose's blue eyes widened in surprise at those words.

Paul nodded his head as he smiled broadly,
"I take it you know Brady and Cindy Sullivan, right?" As Rose nodded her head, the orderly continued,
"Andrew is going to still need a doctor or two at his house, plus some physical therapy, but if his doctor says it's a go, and the Sullivan's agree, then your friend here could be going home and Brady or Cindy could be his doctor."

A broad smile spread across Monica's face as she glanced down at her best friend,
"Thank you so much. I'll make sure Andrew's a good boy."

As Andrew chuckled, Rose handed Monica a bag,
"I brought you a change of clothes, honey, as you haven't been home and I believe that Paul here can find you a shower."

"Is that a hint, Rose?" The Irish angel teased lightly, before she hugged her and laughed,
"Thank you. You're a God send."

"So they tell me," Rose replied with a smile, shaking her head in relief at the change of mood that was present in the room.

Moving to kiss Andrew's cheek, Monica smiled,
"I'll be back," Her eyes danced happily as she added,
"You're coming home, my friend!"

His lips twitched with a smile as he watched her follow Paul out of the room,
"You take care of my Angel Girl, Paul."

"On my best behavior, Andrew," the orderly grinned back as they departed.

"It's good to see a smile on your face again, baby," Tess remarked as she took a seat beside of his bed.

"It feels good to actually feel like smiling," The young angel remarked, looking back and forth between his two older friends,
"Mon' and I had a long talk in the middle of the night last night...and although I obviously don't feel like getting up and doing a dance, it'll be good to get out of here..." A quick look of sadness cross the human angel's face as he remembered Kevin, but it disappeared as he tried to shove that feeling aside for the time being, as he was so grateful to be going back to the Sullivan's in a few days.

Exchanging a look with Rose, Tess sighed as sadness crossed her own face and she looked down at her hands. Andrew, however, didn't notice this, and he frowned in concern,
"Tess...Tess, what is it...?"

"Baby, I have some news I need to tell you...some not very good news, actually," She sighed deeply as she reached for his hand and rubbed his fingers softly,
"I don't want to change your mood, sweetheart, but I was just told from the Father Himself early this morning."

"He told you what?" Andrew lowered his voice a notch as he felt fear fill his heart. What exactly could be on Tess' mind that would make her look so sad. As he watched his two former supervisors exchange worried looks, Andrew felt his heart race as he asked again, his voice even lower then before,
"Tess...please. What is it?"

"Angel Boy...I wish this wasn't so, but I was told from the Father today that after you get out of the hospital, you will still be in human form," Tess sighed heavily as she reached her free hand out and stroked her friend's cheek,
"Baby, that also means that you won't be able to supervise for quite some time; I'm going to be taking over as Monica and Kevin's supervisor until you can again..." She lowered her sad brown eyes as she finished,
"Unfortunately, we don't know when that'll be baby...it could be a few weeks, it could be a few months...or it could be a few years..."

Chapter 13

Andrew swallowed hard upon hearing this news as he fought to keep his emotions intact,
"You're taking them away from me?" He asked quietly, his eyes filling with tears.

"There's more to it than that, baby," Tess replied patiently as she reached for his hand,
"This is a temporary situation and you will still see them. From what I've been told, the assignments will be relatively easy ones, so they can still spend time with you in the evenings. The Father has no desire to take them away from you now, especially Monica, as she has been so good for you through all of this and she'll still want to be an active part of your healing and she needs to be, for both of you. She is also still assigned to Angel as she is making progress there, though it is slow as that little girl is so stubborn, so it is a good match," Seeing him relax a little at this news, she continued,
"Most importantly, Angel Boy, you are back on this case, with Paddy and Amy. There is a lot of work there that needs to be done. She was released from the hospital yesterday and Patrick has yet to see her and he's talking about breaking things off with her because of how she looks now. We both know it is wrong of him to do that, and that is where you come in, baby."

"Because Kevin feels the same about me..." Andrew whispered dejectedly as he lowered his eyes,
"All of this links together..."

Sighing softly, Tess nodded her head,
"Yes, that's right, Angel Boy." She gave his hand a tender squeeze as she saw that he never lifted his eyes to meet hers,
"Sweetheart, none of this is meant as a punishment..."

"I know that," Andrew interrupted softly,
"I know now why it's happened, but that doesn't mean that all of this is not taking me by total surprise, because it has. I thought I'd still be able to supervise them..."

"And you will again eventually," Rose jumped in, sympathy filling her heart for all of her friends,
"Honey, Tess said it's only temporary, and it is. I know that all of this will make more sense to you once it's over and done with, Angel Boy."

He nodded his head sadly,
"It makes sense now, I suppose, though I'm not thrilled with the arrangement," He looked up at Tess to reconfirm what she had said,
"They'll still be at the Sullivan's in the evenings?"

Tess smiled, seeing the love he had for his two charges in his green eyes,
"The Father promises, baby. He knows the three of you are like family to each other and He is not taking that away from any of you."

"Don't say anything to Monica about this yet, please? I want to be the one to tell her and the one to tell Kevin too, providing he'll see me. If not, you'll have to tell him, Tess. But please, let me tell my Angel Girl."

"Of course, baby, of course," Tess reassured gently, reaching her hand out and stroking his cheek that was now covered in tears,
"I would never deny you of that, Angel Boy."

Sighing sadly, Andrew closed his eyes as he nodded his head,
"Thanks..."

Silence filled the small hospital room before Andrew spoke up once again, his voice laced with tears,
"Can I be alone for a few minutes, please? I'd really just like some time alone..."

Worry filling her heart, Rose sighed softly before nodding her head in agreement,
"We'll be right outside if you need us, and Monica should be back in a few minutes." As the angel nodded his head in understanding, the Search and Rescue angel leaned over to kiss his forehead as she whispered into his ear,
"We love you, sweetheart. So very much."

"I know, Rose," He whispered sadly,
"And I love you too, both of you," The two older angels waited for a moment, sensing he was about to say something else,
"I told you a week or so ago, Tess, that there were times I wished I had never been promoted…I know now, I didn't mean that at all, because despite the reasons, and they all make sense, I don't want to give them up, even temporarily."

"It's been a rewarding experience for both of them to work with you, baby," Tess replied softly, her heart aching at the fact that this was hurting him so much.

"It's been every bit as rewarding for me. I couldn't have asked for two better charges…" He whispered shakily.

"It's only temporary," Tess reminded him gently, before she took Rose's arm,
"C'mon, baby, let's give this boy the time he asked for."

Just as the two angels were walking out the door, Monica came back through, her eyes puzzled,
"Where are you two going?" She asked, then turned her eyes to her best friend and seeing his tears, fear gripped her heart,
"Andy? What is it? What's wrong?"

Tess laid a gentle hand on her 'Angel Girl's' shoulder and sighed softly,
"I'll leave you two alone for a while, baby...there's something he needs to tell you."

Nodding her head, the concern never leaving her eyes, Monica listened as the two older angels shut the door behind them and she hurriedly made her way towards her best friend,
"Andy...sweetie, what is it?" She took a seat on his bed and reached for his left hand, rubbing his fingers gently.

"Angel Girl, Tess and Rose just told me something that I need to tell you..." He began through his tears, his voice choking up as he spoke,
"Sweetheart, I don't know how to begin..."

"Just tell me, I'll understand," Monica soothed as she squeezed his hand gently and looked into his saddened green eyes.

"Oh sweetie, I hope so," He replied with a sad sigh as he tried to find the words to begin,
"You know I'll be going back to the Sullivan's in a few days," Seeing her nod her head, he continued gently,
"Though we weren't sure before, we know now that healing for me is not going to be instantaneous, it's going to take time. I've also been asked to focus on Patrick and Amy and the issues there, so as of when I'm released, I'm technically back on the assignment, and you will continue to be assigned to Angel on a part-time basis."

"This is good news though, right?" Monica asked, confusion still clouding her pretty features.

"To an extent, yes. I know the Father will heal me when it is time, but…until it is time, I won't be able to supervise you or Kevin and Tess will be taking over supervising you both on your assignments."

Monica's brown eyes widened in shock and she felt like she had been punched in the stomach. Her hand shook as it gripped Andrew's and she shook her head hard as she continued to look into his sad eyes through her own blurred vision,
"No...Andrew, no..."

"I'm so sorry, little one...I'm so sorry..."

"They can't do this," The Irish angel's voice trembled as she struggled to keep control of her emotions,
"Andy...they can't take you away from us..."

"Tess isn't taking me away from you, and they're not taking you two away from me," Andrew tried to reassure her, although his own heart was broken over the situation,
"She told me that I'll still see you guys at the Sullivan's in the evenings, but...during the course of your assignments..." He shook his head tearfully as he was unable to continue. The deep confusion and pain showing in his dearest friend's doe-like brown eyes was enough to make him want to break down and hold her.

"I…I thought I was going to be able to be there for you while you got better…" She uttered tearfully, biting her lip to hold back tears as he was so obviously upset about this as well. Lowering her head for a moment as she took several deep breathes, she struggled to put her own feelings aside for him,
"But…I'll be able to be there with you in the evenings like you said and this is only temporary until you are better and then we'll be back together all the time again," Looking up at him as a single tear escaped her eye against her will, she forced a smile,
"It will by okay, my friend. We've gone through worse, so we can get through this."

Seeing the strength she was trying to show for his sake, only made him want to cry as he looked into her eyes,
"I know we will…I just have to figure out what I'm going to do without you while you are working…"

"I don't know what I'm going to do without you either, Angel Boy..." Monica choked on a sob as she called him the affectionate nickname Tess and Rose had dubbed him. She closed her eyes to force back more tears and as she opened them, she saw tears sparkling in her best friend's green eyes. Reaching a trembling hand out, she gently wiped at them before stroking his cheek,
"Please don't cry, Andy...it'll be okay, and whenever we can, I'll definitely be there with you...and so will Kevin."

Andrew lowered his eyes to the bed as he tried to take deep breaths,
"I'm gonna miss you though..."

Her tears finally escaping, the little Irish angel leaned her head gently down on her best friend's lap and let the tears fall onto the sheets. After she made sure she was in no way harming him, Monica closed her reddened eyes as she whispered shakily,
"I'm going to miss you too."

Three days later there was a flurry of activity at the Sullivan household as they prepared for Andrew's arrival. His room was done up with fresh flowers and anything else Cindy and the girls could think of to make it cheerful for him. Brady had stocked up on gauze in order to change his bandages several times a day and anything else he may need for his friend medically.

Finally, Andrew arrived with Greg, Paul and Monica from the hospital, the older angel smiling at the "Welcome Home" banner that was displayed over his bedroom door as the two orderlies carried him up the stairs on a stretcher. Monica followed close behind, her dark eyes showing her worry for her friend as well as over the fact that Kevin was nowhere to be seen. She knew that if her co-worker and friend did not see Andrew today, then Tess would be telling him about the temporary arrangement, and she felt her eyes cloud up at the thought that tomorrow, she would be separated from her best friend.

"Welcome back, baby," Tess grinned as she, Rose, Carla and Wendy all stood in his bedroom while Greg and Paul got the angel situated on the bed.

Wincing a little in pain, Andrew attempted a smile,
"It's good to be back, Tess," He replied as Rose kissed his cheek lovingly.

"We'll have you up and around in no time, honey," The oldest angel added with a wink,
"Brady and Cindy will see to that."

"I hope so, Rose," Andrew replied somewhat weakly, although his eyes sparkled at the thought of finally being out of the hospital. Turning his head to Carla and Wendy, the human angel grinned at his other two friends,
"The room looks great, you guys..."

"Welcome home, buddy," Carla smiled tearfully as she went over to her friend and rested her hands gently on his face as she leaned over to kiss his forehead gently,
"We sure missed you around here; and with everyone's help, you'll be brand new before you know it." With a wink, she continued jokingly,
"Including yours truly; after all, I was your nurse several years ago."

The room filled with soft laughter as Wendy stepped forward and looked shyly down at her angelic friend,
"And you've got me too, Andrew." With as much gentleness as possible, the teenager kissed both of his cheeks and then leaned her forehead against his, her blue eyes meeting his green ones,
"We love you so much, and we're glad you're home..."

"Me too, sweetie and I love you too," Andrew replied, giving her a wink.

As everyone continued to talk, Monica slipped quietly from the room and headed across the hall to Kevin's room, knocking softly before she opened the door. Seeing her friend sitting once again in the chair by the window, she closed the door behind her and leaned up against it,
"Andrew's here, Kev." She said softly,
"You can't avoid him forever, you know."

Kevin was quiet for a few moments as he nodded his head,
"I know. I just don't know if I can do it, Monica…"

Drawing in a deep breath, she drew the last card she held in her hand to try and get the youngest angel to see her best friend,
"Kevin, tomorrow things are going to change and I would really encourage you to talk to him tonight, for both of your sakes."

Kevin frowned slightly as he turned to face the Irish angel,
"What do you mean that things are going to change...? Things have already changed-"

"Kev, I mean really, truly changing," Monica interrupted, forcing herself to not lose her temper,
"Andrew wants to talk to you about it...but if you don't, Tess is going to have to. It's up to you." Still seeing the deep sadness and slight fear in the Caseworker's eyes, Monica continued,
"Whatever you chose to do, you're going to have to make the choice today, Kevin; that's all the time you have..."

With that, the little Irish angel turned around and opened the door again, walking out it before Kevin could reply. As she headed back to her best friend's room, she whispered up a silent prayer that she hopefully was able to get through the stubborn youngest angel. Walking back into Andrew's room, she smiled slightly as she saw that Brady, Cindy and Angel had also joined the large crowd and chatter continued to float through the air.

Seeing Monica's distraught look, Tess frowned slightly as she laid a hand on her 'Angel Girl's' arm, whispering softly to her,
"Baby, what happened with Kevin?"

Shrugging helplessly, the Irish angel lowered her head sadly as she answered,
"I don't know if he's going to see him or not...he was saying that he didn't know if he could do it. But one can hope, though, right Tess?"

"We sure can, baby," Tess replied softly, wrapping her arm around her young friend and drawing her close,
"I'm proud of you, Angel Girl. You've handled yourself beautifully through all of this with Andrew and you've been there for him, and he's needed that."

"I've really tried, Tess," She replied sadly, swallowing back tears,
"There's nothing I wouldn't do for him. You know that."

The older angel nodded her head,
"I know you're upset about tomorrow, sweetheart, but it is only temporary and I promise you will be here with him every evening. I know you wanted more, but the Father still needs us to help some of His other children."

"I know," Monica whispered as she finally pulled away from her older friend,
"It's just so hard right now...and I want him to get well..."

"You and me both, baby girl," Tess sighed as she looked back over at Andrew who looked like he was about ready to nod off again,
"You and me both. Just keep being his best friend, and he will get well."

Chapter 14

Kevin hesitantly opened his bedroom door some few minutes later and cautiously poked his head out. His eyes welled up with tears as he watched two orderlies depart from his friend's room, one of them speaking some final words to Brady and Cindy before heading down the stairs. As he shut the door behind him, the youngest orderly with the nametag that read "Paul", turned around and smiled brightly at him,
"You can go in and see your friend. He'll be okay."

As Kevin attempted a shaky smile, the youngest angel continued to watch as Paul followed his co-worker down the stairs and after he had heard the sound of the front door closing, he turned to face Brady and Cindy, who's eyes were upon him. With a soft sigh, Brady came towards him first and laid a hand on his shoulder,
"It's okay, Kev. You know you can see him...I know you want to."

Pushing aside the tears threatening his eyes, the Caseworker nodded his head numbly as Cindy squeezed his shoulder before the two humans headed towards their study quietly. Sucking in a deep breath, the angel headed slowly towards his supervisor and friend's room and softly knocked on the door. No more then a few moments later, Monica opened it up, her face streaked with tears upon seeing him. With a nod of her head, she allowed Kevin to enter and the youngest angel's teary brown eyes came to rest on his injured friend who was sound asleep at the moment.

Kevin took in the sight of his friend, and felt as if he was going to be sick. He could see very little of the angel he knew and loved beneath the bandages and the burn scars on his face and before he knew it, he had turned his head away, unable to look any further,
"I can't, Monica…I just can't….it's like it isn't even him…"

Grabbing Kevin's arm to lead him from the room, not wanting to risk Andrew waking up and hearing those kinds of hurtful words, even though she knew that what Kevin was saying was not aimed at hurting Andrew, Monica took him to the hallway, softly closing the door behind her,
"It is him, Kevin," She replied, choking on a sob,
"Why can't you see that?"

"I can't…I don't know why, but I can't…" He stated miserably,
"You said you wouldn't pressure me…"

Crossing her arms in front of her and looking at the floor, she nodded her head,
"I did, so do what you want. You need to talk to Tess though to find out about tomorrow, though I'm sure the changes are going to come as a big relief to you."

"What changes, Monica?" Kevin demanded, tears now streaming down his pale face,
"I want to know what changes-"

"Talk to Tess," The Irish angel repeated, sadness evident in her voice as she looked into Kevin's eyes,
"She'll tell you."

"Monica...it's not that I don't want to see him...but I can't...right now..."

"You keep saying that, Kevin, and that's fine with me," Monica interrupted, keeping her voice low so as to not wake up Andrew,
"If you can't see him, then you can't see him; but you know where he'll be if you change your mind." Unable to hold back her tears any longer, she turned around and headed back into her best friend's room, leaving Kevin standing outside in the hallway.

Almost as soon as the little Irish angel disappeared, Tess stepped forward and rested a gentle hand on the youngest Caseworker's shoulder,
"Baby, I do need to talk to you."

"What's going on, Tess? Monica said things are changing…what is she talking about?" He asked, wiping at the tears on his face.

Leading the younger angel into his room and closing the door behind them, Tess sat him down on the bed and launched into the same explanation she had given Andrew a few days ago,
"So baby," She concluded softly,
"In the morning, you and Monica will be leaving here with me to get back to work. Monica will continue to spend some time with Angel, but Patrick is now Andrew's assignment, as you aren't in shape to help that young man right now."

Kevin lowered his head, now understanding what his co-worker had meant about him finding the changes a relief…it would be easier to avoid Andrew when he wasn't here and as terrible as it was, he only wished they wouldn't be returning here in the evenings. If he wasn't here, his absence couldn't hurt Andrew and that made things easier for both of them,
"I understand, Tess," He replied softly, feeling ashamed of the way he was feeling,
"And please, if any of the cases take longer than a day, I'll finish them, so Monica can be back here with Andrew. He needs her…and he certainly doesn't need me right now, feeling the way I'm feeling…"

"Now that is where you are completely wrong, Kevin," Tess interrupted firmly as she shook her head,
"He does need you, just as much as he needs Monica. Baby, I'm not trying to hurt you or anything, because that's not my intention, but if you stay away from that angel any longer, you're only going to cause him to hurt even more." She narrowed her eyes sternly at the youngest angel as she spoke,
"You may not believe this, Kevin, but he's hoping that BOTH of you will be here during the evenings. He asked Rose and I personally if you would, and we told him yes."

"But I can't, Tess!" Kevin cried as more tears came to his eyes,
"Why can't you understand that I can't-"

"Baby, for the past few weeks, all I've been hearing coming from you is about how you feel," Tess lectured, not aiming to hurt the youngest angel, but she was reaching the end of her rope with him and she was not about to cause Andrew anymore pain,
"What about what your supervisor feels? He wants to see you so desperately, and the last time he saw you was the night George Keyser took him hostage. Do you understand that this is hard for him, too?"

"Of course I do!" He cried out, feeling angry at that accusation,
"I'm not completely selfish, Tess, regardless of what you might think! All I think about is how he must feel! I was devastated when I found out that he knew why I hadn't been to see him, because I knew how much that had to hurt him! What is it you want, Tess? For me to walk in there and not be able to look at him? Is that going to hurt him any less, huh? You seem to have all the answers, so try that one on for size! Will that make him feel better, or just you because I'm at least there?" Blindly, he wiped at his eyes, forcing back more angry tears,
"I really don't need you to make me feel terrible, thanks, because I'm doing a fine job of that all by myself!"

Tess' brown eyes widened in shock as she stared at the youngest angel, not really of how she should reply to the words Kevin had spoke to her. Retorts were on the tip of her tongue, and she wanted to give Kevin another piece of her mind, but she decided against it as she nodded her head and rose to her feet,
"Have it your way, Kevin." With that, the supervisor turned around and started to head towards the door, but before she left, she turned back around and spoke coolly to the other angel,
"But know that you can't put this off forever, and that you're going to have to talk to him one of these days."

Turning around, the supervisor left the room and shut the door tightly behind her. Looking up, Tess felt a bit of relief flow through her as Carla came down the hall and approached her,
"Baby, I need to talk with you for a minute..."

"What is it, Tess?" The little blonde angel asked, her voice tinged with concern.

Nodding towards Kevin's closed bedroom door, Tess began speaking,
"I need for you to have a little talk with that angel in there, Angel Child. He's still refusing to see our Angel Boy, and not even I can get through to him." She drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly,
"He can't be putting this off because of the way Andrew looks right now, and you've always been able to get through to Kevin..."

"Enough said, Tess," Carla attempted a smile for her as she nodded her head,
"I'll get right on it."

"You may want to give him a little time to calm down, baby. I riled him up pretty good, it seems and he may not be very receptive to any more good-doers, if you know what I mean?" Tess added with a sigh.

"I'll wait till a little later tonight, Tess, once everyone has headed to bed. That gives him time to cool off and me time to think of my strategy," Carla replied with a wink.

"Well, you're going to need one for that angel, baby. He's the toughest case I've encountered for awhile. Monica and I have talked till we are blue in the face, so I hope you have better luck with him."

"I'll do my best," The blond angel replied with a sigh, hoping that she could come up with the words to say to sway Kevin before any irreversible damage was done.

Later that night and with a heavy heart, Monica slipped back into Andrew's room after getting ready for bed, glad to see that he was awake. Walking around to the far side of the bed, she sat down on it, facing him and forced a smile,
"How are you feeling? Did you have a good nap?"

Nodding his head sleepily, Andrew sighed tiredly, not really sure of what to say right now. Finally, as he felt his best friend gently grasp onto his uninjured hand, the older angel turned his head to face her as he forced out his next words,
"Angel Girl..."

Concern filling her heart, Monica reached her other hand out and held onto his hand with both of hers,
"Sweetie, what is it?"

Sighing deeply, the older angel lowered his eyes for a few moments before lifting them again to look into Monica's face, unable to stop the tears from forming in his green eyes,
"Mon'...I accidentally overheard part of the conversation you had with Kevin earlier...I didn't mean to, but I heard it. He still won't see me, will he?

Tears in her own eyes, she shook her head miserably,
"I've said everything I know to say, Andrew, but nothing is working. Tess spoke with him too and Carla is going to try later…I'm so sorry," Her voice trembled, her fierce protection of him right now making the fact that he had once again been hurt ten times as worse,
"He loves you…he said as much…and he feels terrible about this…"

Andrew left out a deep breath as he nodded his head sadly,
"I'm sure he does." He responded softly.

A tear escaped her eye as she watched the sadness etched on his face,
"I'm so sorry you keep getting hurt, my friend. It positively breaks my heart, Andrew and now I have to leave you tomorrow when all I want to do is stay right here with you."

"You and me both, Monica," He whispered back, forcing back another round of tears, not wanting to release them in front of his best friend now,
"I'm sorry I eavesdropped...I heard his voice when I started to awake, and I didn't want him to know..."

"Oh Andrew...sweetie, don't apologize, don't apologize for anything," The Irish angel uttered through her tears as she scooted closer to her friend,
"It's not your fault, love, so don't think it is..."

"What can I do to at least have him look at me? He won't even do that..." Andrew sighed as he felt his friend gently rubbing his fingers soothingly,
"Is there anything I can do?"

"Just continue being your sweet self, my friend," Monica whispered shakily as she climbed up onto the bed carefully next to her friend and situated herself next to him, her elbow propped up on one of the pillows. Reaching a trembling hand out, she smoothed back a lock of blonde hair from his tear-filled green eyes and kissed his forehead,
"That's all anyone can ask of you."

He was quiet for a moment as he nodded his head once more,
"Are you going to be okay tomorrow?"

"I don't want you worrying about me, okay? I've worked with Tess before and we had a good working relationship. I'm a little nervous about being with Kevin, because I can't deny the fact that I'm upset with him, but I'm going to try to put that aside for all of our sakes, because I can't change him. He has to do that himself," She replied with a small sigh.

"I'm really going to miss you," He remarked, looking into her eyes,
"You've been here almost every second, sweetie, saying what I need to hear when I need to hear it…"

"And I'll be here by dinnertime tomorrow night and every night until you wish you could get rid of me," She replied with a short laugh, though her eyes were filled with tears, dreading this separation.

"Could never happen, Angel Girl," He replied tiredly.

Seeing the weariness coming over him, she knew she should go and let him sleep, but leaving him seemed impossible to her before she absolutely had to,
"Would it be okay with you if I stayed here tonight?" She whispered tearfully.

"I'd like that actually," He whispered as a few more tears escaped his tired eyes,
"I love you so much, Angel Girl...sometimes I think a little too much..."

"In the words of my best friend from a few years back, I don't think there's such a thing as 'too much'," Monica shook her head tearfully as she raised her arm and wrapped it carefully around the back of his bed, making sure that her hand was close enough to stroke his blonde hair. As she carefully made herself comfortable on her best friend's bed, she rested her forehead against Andrew's and gently kissed his nose, her vision blurring up as she whispered again,
"And I love you right back, my dear sweet friend."

As she rested her head against his and prepared to drift off to sleep, she remembered something she hadn't told him. Seeing as he was still awake, she whispered softly,
"Philip wants to talk to us both at some point. He was in your hospital room with me the first night you had the infection and we had a good talk about a lot of things. Anyway, he said he wanted to talk to us both when you were feeling better."

"Maybe he is thinking about coming back, Angel Girl," He replied quietly, still not liking those moments when the kind demon seemed to be there for his best friend when he could not be, but at the same time, knowing he was indebted to Philip for not only saving him in the fire, but for bringing Monica back from the darkness a few years ago.

"I don't know, but a big part of me hopes he will..." The Irish angel whispered as she lovingly stroked his hair, all the while closing her eyes tiredly,
"He cares so much about us, Andy...it's hard to believe this is the same demon I was once so scared of."

"I know," Andrew replied wearily as he closed his eyes as well, enjoying the feel of his best friend's hand gently stroking his hair,
"He's helped us so much...but I don't know how I'll be able to repay him for saving my life..."

"He's already said you don't have to do anything except get well, my friend," She smiled gently down at him as she kissed his forehead once more,
"And I fully believes that he means it."

Nodding his head silently, Andrew fell silent once more and the next thing Monica heard was the sound of his even breathing next to her ear. Sighing shakily, the little Irish angel rested her head once again near his and closed her brown eyes as she felt wet tears falling down her cheeks. As she kept her eyes shut, she reached her free hand out and gently clasped her best friend's in her own and gave it a gentle squeeze before falling asleep herself.

Chapter 15

"Hey Kevin," Carla poked her head in the door of his room once the house was quiet for the night. Watching as he sadly turned around to face her, she continued,
"I can't sleep and I found ice cream in the freezer. Want to join me? I could really use the company."

Kevin appeared undecided for a moment, not really in the mood for ice cream, which was a rarity for him, but Carla looked so hopeful, he agreed,
"Sure, Car. I've been starring at these four walls long enough, I suppose," Getting up, he moved to follow her quietly downstairs and into the kitchen where they could talk without disturbing anyone.

As the little blond angel dipped up bowls of ice cream, she began to chatter, deciding to keep things light in the hopes that it would be Kevin to bring up the subject of his issues with Andrew,
"I'm not sure, but I think this assignment is going down as the longest in angelic history," She remarked with a chuckle.

Unable to even laugh, Kevin dipped his spoon into the chocolate and vanilla flavored ice cream, his stomach churning as he brought the spoon to his mouth and tasted it. It almost tasted like rubber and he set his spoon back on the table. As he pushed his spoon and bowl away from him, he didn't even notice Carla watching him out of the corner of her eye.

"Kev, are you all right?"

Wiping a hand over his face, determined not to start crying in front of Carla, Kevin uttered wearily,
"I think so..."

Shaking her head, Carla scooted her chair closer to him and rested a loving hand on his slumped shoulder,
"I don't think you are, honey...what's on your mind, Kev?"

The youngest of the two rested his head in his hands and rubbed at his eyes as he felt tears start to well up in them. He shook his head miserably as he felt the gentle hand of his friend rubbing his shoulder; after several moments of silence, Kevin finally found his voice and he choked out through his tears,
"I'm not okay, Carla..." Lifting his head, he looked at her through blurred vision,
"Car...I really, really have missed my supervisor these past few weeks; I've missed my friend, and I feel so horrible having these feelings towards him because of the way he LOOKS. I-I couldn't even look at him this afternoon, and...and I hate the feeling that I'm actually relieved to be going back to work tomorrow so that I won't have to look at him."

Carla was quiet for a moment as she continued rubbing his back gently,
"You know, the easiest thing for anyone to do is to look at someone with their eyes. I've seen it in humans so much over the years and sometimes they pass up knowing this perfectly wonderful person because of what they see on the outside. Its all….surface stuff really. With humans, looks fade with age and if you don't have a connection with the person, then you really have lost out, you know? Because, then what is left after the pretty faces fade away with age?" She paused for a moment, wondering if he was understanding what it was she was trying to say,

"It's the same with Andrew, sort of. You don't love him, Kevin based on what he looks like to begin with. You love him because of who he is. His patience and his caring and his fairness. The things he has taught you…none of that involves the external package, Kevin. It's who he is on the inside that made you care about him and none of those things have changed. They are all still very much intact and as strong as ever."

"Carla, I'm just so scared to go up there and see him..." He replied in a whisper,
"I also feel like...I'm gonna be sick, to be perfectly honest; I just don't recognize him as our Andrew..."

"I know he doesn't look like he used to, but you can trust me on this, Kevin," Carla waited until he faced her again and she took his chin gently in his hand,
"The Father will restore him to the way he used to be; and Andrew still loves you for you. He always has, honey..."

"I thought he was gonna hate me, Car-"

"Oh no, no, no, Kev...he doesn't 'hate you'," Carla whispered gently as she reached over and gathered her friend into her arms tightly, rocking him gently,
"He has never 'hated you', Kevin; he thinks you're a wonderful charge and a wonderful friend. He wouldn't trade you in for anything."

"But how do I get over that sick feeling in my stomach whenever I look at him, Carla?" Kevin continued to weep as he clung to the blonde angel,
"How do I get over it? I never wanted to hurt him in the first place, you've gotta believe that..."

"You stop looking at him with your eyes, Kevin and look with your heart, because your heart knows the true Andrew and your heart sees what the eyes cannot. What the eyes see right now, Kevin, is only temporary, but what your heart has always seen and can still see is forever," She replied in a whisper.

For the first time in days, a small smile appeared on the youngest angel's face,
"I've really missed him, Carla, but I guess he's been there the whole time. I just couldn't see it."

Smiling tearfully at the youngest angel, Carla wrapped her arms around him a final time but pulled away slowly as she heard the sadness return to her friend's voice,
"But it's too late now..." Kevin lowered his brown eyes to the tabletop as he went back to fiddling with his spoon,
"Tomorrow Tess is taking over as supervisor, and...and I pretty much laid into her earlier..." He blinked back another round of hot tears as he kept his eyes lowered.

Reaching out to rest a hand on his shoulder, Carla turned him around to face her and smiled slightly,
"Kevin, when it comes to a friend's forgiveness, it's never too late."

Early the next morning, Kevin was out of bed before the rest of the Sullivan's, and before he got dressed and ready for the day he dreaded, the youngest angel slowly made his way to his supervisor's temporary room again and put his hand on the doorknob. Silently saying a prayer that his friend would be able to forgive him for what he had done, Kevin drew in a deep breath and pushed it open.

The sight before him caused tears to well up in Kevin's eyes as he saw Monica laying down on top of the covers of Andrew's bed, her left arm draped around the back of his head and her forehead resting against his. Her free hand rest gently holding Andrew's uninjured one, and both angels appeared to be sound asleep.

"I wish I could have seen sooner what you've always seen, Cupcake," He whispered tearfully.

Hearing a soft voice, Monica stirred slightly and wearily opened her eyes, realizing that the morning she had been dreading had come. Sitting up slowly, her eyes grew wide at the sight of Kevin, who had tears in his eyes and a tearful smile appeared on her own face,
"Kev…are you…?"

"I don't want to wake him, Monica…" He whispered shakily,
"But I really want to talk to him."

"Trust me, Kevin, he wants that too," She replied, looking down at her sleeping friend. Kissing his forehead gently, she watched as his tired eyes slowly opened and met with hers,
"You have a visitor, my friend," She told him gently as she stroked his cheek,
"I'll be in to say good-bye before we leave, sweetie," Wanting to leave the two angels alone, she gave Andrew's hand a loving squeeze before she got up and started for the door. Stopping in front of Kevin, her eyes shining with tears, she kissed his cheek softly as she whispered,
"Thank you…" Before she left the room, closing the door behind her.

Kevin lowered his head for a brief moment before he looked over at his supervisor, tears instantly falling down his face as he saw Andrew looking over at him, surprise evident on his own face.

"Kevin?" He uttered wearily, blinking his green eyes so as to make sure he wasn't imagining things.

"Hey, Simba..." The youngest angel choked out through his tears as he made his way over to his friend and took a seat on the bed, facing Andrew. Forcing back a sob at the deep scars on his older friend's face, Kevin wiped at his eyes quickly before speaking again,
"How are you feeling, Andrew?"

Still in shock that his youngest charge had finally seemed to have come around and was actually in the same room with him, Andrew sighed softly before replying,
"Tired, sore...but better then earlier, I guess."

Sadness creeping back into his heart, Kevin nodded his head slowly before he spoke again,
"Andrew...Andrew, I am so, so sorry for not seeing you even once when you were in the hospital. I was scared, confused and worried...I just couldn't face you, I hate to say..."

"Kevin," Andrew interrupted gently, his compassionate green eyes focused on his youngest charge,
"What matters is that you are here now, and I'm so thankful. I've missed you, Wonder Boy and just wanted the opportunity to talk to you."

Tears escaping his eyes, he shook his head in almost disbelief,
"That's it? I treated you terribly and you're not even angry with me?"

"You couldn't help the way you felt, Kevin," Andrew whispered gently,
"You just needed time to work it out and you have and that's all I care about, Kev."

"I'm still so sorry for all of this, Andrew..." Kevin whispered hoarsely, his vision becoming blurred by the tears,
"I didn't want to feel that way; really I didn't...I wanted to see you so badly, and I missed you Simba."

"You think I don't believe that, kid?" Andrew asked gently, his eyes still on his friend,
"Kev, I totally understood where you were coming from...but that doesn't change the fact that you're still my friend, and that I care a great deal for you, both you and Mon', and I love you both so much."

Biting his lip to ward off another round of tears, Kevin nodded his head numbly as he reached for his supervisor's hand, his own hand trembling slightly as he clasped onto it,
"We all love you too, Simba...I just want you to get better; I'm going to miss having you around during the day..."

"But I'll see you all during the evenings, so I'll be looking forward to it, Wonder Boy," Andrew smiled tiredly at his younger friend as a few tears escaped his own eyes,
"Take care of Cupcake out there, and watch out for Tess, okay?" He gave a tired wink in Kevin's direction, and was relieved to see a small chuckle escape him.

Kevin tried to smile, though he was more than concerned about this new working situation,
"I'll watch out for both of them, in different ways, of course," He replied, a real grin appearing on his face as Andrew chuckled,
"I'll see you tonight, Simba, and hopefully, we'll all be in one piece…"

"Let's hope so, Kev," Andrew grinned as his youngest charge stood up to leave. Looking up at him seriously, he added,
"Thank you, Kevin."

But the angel shook his head,
"No, Andrew, thank you, for being so patient and for still being my friend."

By mid-afternoon, Kevin wasn't sure any of the three of them were going to survive the day.

Tess seemed to have woken up on the completely wrong side of the bed as her mood was anything but good. Her style of supervising was much gruffer than Andrew's could ever be, and she was not at all amused by his jokes and told him as much on more than one occasion. She had especially not taken lightly his remark of,
"Did you fall out of bed this morning, Tess?" as she had then laid into him full force, along with Monica who had made the mistake of giggling at his joke, until Kevin was red in the face and the Irish angel on the verge of tears.

The first assignment went well, despite it all, though Tess seemed to find a million mistakes that had been made by them both, finishing up her tirade with,
"It's a wonder anything has a happy ending with you two assigned to it."

Monica seemed just as bewildered by the older angel's mood and Kevin knew her mind was on her best friend anyway as Tess continually snapped at her about paying attention, which was always followed by her muttering about not knowing how Andrew ever put up with them both.

By the time dinner time rolled around and the three angels pulled back up in front of the Sullivan's house, Kevin lounged grumpily in the backseat and Monica sitting stiffly in the front next to Tess, there was an uncomfortable silence in the air between them. As Tess put the car into park, she let out a heavy sigh and ran a hand through her hair tiredly. Seeing that the two younger angels still haven't gotten out of the car yet, Tess turned towards them and spoke for the first time during the entire drive.

"I hope that tomorrow things will go at least a little better then today," She remarked, noticing that neither Kevin nor Monica turned to meet her eyes,
"And please, Kevin, no more jokes, all right?" With that, the oldest angel grabbed her car keys and opened the car door, heading back into the Sullivan house without waiting for the two youngest angels.

"What is UP with her today?" Kevin grumbled, annoyed beyond belief as he finally pulled off his seat belt and climbed out of the vehicle, waiting for Monica to do the same.

The Irish angel shook her head, fighting tears over what a horrible day this had been and thinking that a good cry before seeing Andrew might be a good idea,
"I have no idea, Kev, but I'm not sure I can handle another one like it," She replied shakily as they walked in the front door.

Carla looked up in concern, having seen Tess storm upstairs, and she raised her eyebrows at the two angels.

"Not. A. Good. Day." Kevin replied, enunciating every word for emphasis, watching as Carla grinned in amusement, though the other two angels were not smiling.

Monica muttered an "Excuse me" and headed upstairs, cringing when she realized that Tess was in Andrew's room and not even wanting to hear what was being said. Bolting past, she headed into her own room and closed the door behind her.

On Andrew's part, his green eyes widened in shock as he saw the little Irish angel bolt past his room and the next thing he heard was the sound of her door closing tightly. Turning towards Tess, the human angel asked quietly, concern etched in his voice,
"Tess...what happened?"

"Today was NOT a good day with those two angels, Angel Boy," Tess mumbled as she shook her head in annoyance,
"I don't know how you put up with them to tell you the truth..."

"Tess, they're my charges," Andrew gently interrupted, feeling shocked that his older friend and former supervisor would even be saying such a thing. After all, Tess had worked with Monica for so many years way before he did,
"I've been working with them for over 20 years, so I know their quirks, and what makes them tick; I've gotten used to it, plus Kevin's jokes..." He fell silent for a few moments before repeating,
"What happened?"

"They're impossible is all, Angel Boy. They are insubordinate, disrespectful, and have the attention spans of 4 year olds just to name a few issues. They both found it funny when Kevin asked if I fell out of bed this morning," She paused for a breath, thankfully not noticing the fact that Andrew had to suppress a smile at the last remark.

"Tess, there is no way we are talking about the same two angels," He responded firmly. Though he was not particularly enjoying this discussion, he was grateful to be involved with what was going on as opposed to lying here all day wondering if and when the Father was going to heal him.

"Believe me, Mr. Halo, we are. Their work was sloppy, though somehow by the Grace of God alone, the assignments got resolved. Are you telling me this is not normal behavior for them?" She crossed her arms in front of her and looked at him pointedly.

"Yes, I am telling you that, for the most part. Yes, Kevin jokes around a lot, but as far as either of them being disrespectful, insubordinate or sloppy as you put it, there is no way, Tess. That isn't like them at all, I assure you."

Tess raised an eyebrow in surprise at her young friend's words and she shook her head hard,
"Well, I'm telling you, that's how they were acting today. And by the way, I did not fall out of bed, like Kevin asked..."

"I didn't think you did, Tess," Andrew shook his head, smiling slightly in her direction,
"Kevin has on occasion asked me if I did as well, so that's really nothing new."

Slumping down into the chair next to her 'Angel Boy's' bed, Tess leaned her head in her hands and rubbed her temples gently,
"I think this old angel is getting a headache, Angel Boy...I do know this though, Andrew; they did give me disrespect today, and I can only hope to God that it won't be like that tomorrow."

"Tess...there has to be a reason why they were 'disrespectful' as you put it," Andrew carefully interrupted, his eyes on his former supervisor,
"Why do you think they were?"

"All I can figure baby, is that they are rebelling against not having you as their supervisor, but I have no choice in that matter and neither do they, so it really isn't fair of them," She remarked with a sigh.

Unsure of what to believe at this point, Andrew sighed softly,
"Would it help if I talked to them, Tess? Maybe I can get to the bottom of what is going on with them."

"I hate to ask that of you, Angel Boy. You're supposed to be resting-."

"I don't mind, Tess," He replied patiently, wanting to get to the bottom of this…this whatever it was,
"If they are acting as you say they are, I will talk to them about it. You are their temporary supervisor and I expect them to treat you with the same respect they treat me."

"I'd appreciate that, baby," Tess remarked, squeezing his hand as she rose to her feet,
"I'm going to go and help Cindy with dinner to get my mind off today. You rest, sweetheart and I'll see you later."

Andrew nodded his head as he watched his older friend leave his room and with a deep sigh, he closed his eyes and lifted up a silent prayer that what Tess was saying was just a misunderstanding. Before too long, the human angel had fallen into a restless sleep.

Chapter 16

A few hours later, after the Sullivan's and the rest of the angels had finished eating dinner, Monica headed back up the stairs and stopped next to Andrew's half open doorway. Tears instantly filled her eyes as she watched Cindy gently helping her best friend eat his own meal and she could see the frustration on his face that he was unable to do it himself.

Forcing back a round of tears to prepare herself emotionally, as she didn't want to start crying over the day's events immediately, the Irish angel gently knocked on the door and poked her head inside,
"Hey, Andy..." She whispered.

"Hey there, Angel Girl," Her best friend replied as Cindy rose from her chair and looked at each of her angelic friends.

"I'll leave you two alone, and I'll bring you up some dessert when it's ready, okay, Andrew?" Cindy smiled in his direction and Andrew returned it with one of his own as he nodded his head. As the human closed the door behind her, Monica lowered her brown eyes before making her way over to Andrew's bed and taking a seat next to him.

"I was wondering when you were going to come see me," He remarked softly, wanting to proceed with caution as he was having a bit of trouble with Tess' remarks from earlier,
"You look like an angel who has not had a very good day, sweetie."

Swallowing back a round of hot tears that she thought she had gotten out of her system earlier, she shrugged her shoulders, not wanting to burden him with the things that had happened today,
"It was okay. Mostly, I just missed you. How did things go for you today?" She finally met his eyes, though she held back from touching him, afraid any contact right now would cause her to break down.

Noticing her attempt at changing the subject, he felt a knot in his stomach, as he tried to judge what her behavior was stemming from; guilt or hurt and right now it was hard for him to tell,
"Not too bad. Pretty boring to be completely honest. Angel and Wendy were both in but not a word from Patrick yet, who I do need to talk to, but tomorrow is another day, I suppose."

"Yeah," The Irish angel whispered, lowering her eyes again as she tried to figure out exactly what to say. Silence fell over the bedroom before Andrew broke it again, his voice tinged with deep concern for her.

"Mon', Tess came in when you guys got home...she seemed rather disappointed, but I'd like to hear it from you too, Angel Girl. You and Kevin, actually," Andrew began carefully, trying to meet her eyes again,
"What happened this afternoon, Angel Girl?"

"Andy, please...I don't want to burden you with this," Monica shook her head as she tried to hide her tears once again,
"Everything went wrong...that's true; but I don't want you to worry-"

"Sweetie, you know me well enough to know that if I see that something is wrong, I'm going to worry, regardless of what you say," Andrew interrupted softly,
"Now tell me. What happened? I want to hear all sides of the story..."

Monica closed her eyes for a moment, the one action all it took for her tears to spill over onto her cheeks,
"It was horrible, Andrew. Kevin and I couldn't do anything right, she kept snapping at us, saying how it was a wonder any of our assignments ever had happy endings….and everything with the assignments turned out fine, Andrew…I promise they did…but she nit picked at every little thing, including any attempts Kevin made to lighten the mood…there was just no pleasing her…nothing I tried to say or do was right…she may have just been in a bad mood, I don't know…I don't know…" Miserably, she covered her face with her hands as she cried softly.

Andrew felt the first churnings of anger in his stomach, though he tried to hold them off. His first few years of supervising his best friend had been rough due to her lack of confidence after the mistakes she had made in Special Forces and when she had still been dealing with the aftermath of Philip, but with much love and patience on his part, her confidence in herself had finally been restored. Now, here he was, stuck in this bed, unable to supervise his two charges, while Tess was apparently beating her confidence to a pulp and he was determined to do whatever it took to keep that from happening,

"I'll talk to her," He muttered, his voice filled with anger and frustration over his own situation that he tried to hold back,
"Angel Girl-."

"No, Andrew, please don't," Monica cried out softly, her voice catching in a sob,
"If you do, it'll only be worse tomorrow and…and maybe it was just a bad day for her…maybe tomorrow will be better…I'll do better…"

"Monica, I'm sure you did perfectly well on your assignment," He interrupted, trying to keep his anger in check so that he didn't take it out on her,

"You always do well on the cases, and I'm sure this was no exception; maybe you're right, maybe Tess did just have a bad day. It happens to all of us..."

"Oh Andrew, I didn't want to break down right now...especially not right now," Monica shook her head miserably as she finally reached for his hand and held onto it tightly for strength,

"I don't know if I'll be able to face Tess the rest of the evening...I can't..."

"I'm not making you go back out there, Angel Girl," The older angel shook his head as his heart broke over all that had happened earlier,

"And you know you don't have to be afraid to cry in front of me; you know that by now, sweetheart."

"I know, but…you have enough to deal with…"

"Little girl, listen to me, okay? Let's get a few things straight between us. First off, I know that despite what I am dealing with that this has taken a toll on you. After so many years with you, I know by now that when I hurt, you feel it right along with me. Secondly, knowing what is going on with you and with Kevin, and being able to help, makes me feel not quite so helpless. I want you to come to me when something is wrong, all right? Promise me you will."

Nodding her head weakly, she rested her head next to his as the tears continued to fall, especially when she felt him turn his head so his cheek rested against her hair.

"I'm sorry you went through this today and I want to know if it happens again tomorrow," He added, not even wanting to send her back out there if that was to be the case, but knowing he didn't have a choice as he wondered how Kevin was doing.

Before he could wonder any further, Kevin poked his head in the door and sighed softly when he realized what was going on,
"Guess you heard about today, huh?" He asked, sitting down on the other side of his supervisor.

Turning to face his youngest charge, Andrew nodded his head tiredly,

"Yeah, Mon' told me just now..."

"Was she always like this, Andrew?" Kevin asked as he grabbed an extra pillow at the foot of his friend's bed and hugged it,

"You know, back when you and Cupcake used to work with her...?"

"No," Monica answered immediately, shaking her head even as she never lifted it from where it rested next to her best friend's,

"She used to lose patience with us quite often, but I always used to love working with her. She at least had a sense of humor back then...but now..." The little Irish angel sighed heavily as she closed her eyes tightly.

Andrew appeared thoughtful for a few moments before he spoke once more,
"Kev, we're going to sum today up to Tess having a bad day, okay? However, if it happens again tomorrow, I'm talking to Tess-."

"Andrew, please…" Monica pleaded, not wanting to make things worse.

"Angel Girl, I am not having you coming in here in tears every night because something is going on with Tess or Kevin so angry he is about to explode," He replied gently, knowing his youngest charge's temper as well as he knew Monica's sensitive heart,
"And no matter what happens tomorrow, I don't want either of you…" He looked at Kevin and then turned his eyes to his best friend and waited until she looked at him to continue,
"To take anything negative that she may say to heart. You are both wonderful caseworkers; I know it and the Father knows it," He felt tears wetting his eyes as he continued,
"Caseworkers that I am more than proud to supervise."

"Thanks, Simba," Kevin replied softly, even as he felt a blush rising to his cheeks,
"That's good to hear after a day like today."

Smiling Kevin's way, Andrew then turned back to Monica and moved his head enough to kiss her forehead as she snuggled as close to him as she could without hurting him,
"Are we on the same page about this, Angel Girl?"

"Yes, sir," She replied shakily with a slight nod.

"Good," Andrew replied with a slight sigh of relief,
"Oh and Kev, tomorrow, you may want to refrain from asking Tess if she fell out of bed."

Seeing the grin in his supervisor's green eyes, Kevin replied as seriously as he could muster,
"But I did refrain, Andrew. I stopped myself before asking her if she fell out on her head."

Though he tried to look stern, Andrew lost the battle as a laugh escaped him, causing Kevin to join in and a moment later, Monica giggled through her tears.

As laughter filled the room, Andrew said a silent prayer of thanks at the gift of a few moments of laughter with his charges and dearest friends.

By nightfall, Tess sat alone in the Sullivan's living room after everyone else had retired to his or her rooms for the night, unable to sleep a wink. She wasn't looking forward to the next day, especially after a horrible first day back at supervising the two youngest angels; but she also knew that this was what the Father expected of her, and she had no choice.

The truth was, she really did not want to continue supervising Monica and Kevin; they were Andrew's charges now, and only his. Guilt filled her weary heart as she had felt the entire day that she was taking them away from her 'Angel Boy', and although she wasn't entirely mad at Monica and Kevin, she had taken her frustration out on them instead. As she leaned back against the couch and watched the flames flickering in the fireplace, Tess flinched slightly and turned away from it, memories of the fire that had nearly killed Andrew a few weeks ago.

Sighing in exhaustion, the elderly angel ran a hand through her tangled, shoulder-length hair and then turned back around as she heard footsteps coming down the stairs. Leaning forward to see who it was, Tess sighed as she saw that it was only Rose. As the Search and Rescue angel made her way into the living room, Tess attempted a small smile in her direction.

"What are you doing up at this hour, Tess?" Rose asked quietly, not wanting to wake anyone up.

"I could ask you the same thing, baby," Tess replied just as quietly.

"I just checked on Andrew a few minutes ago, and he was in a bit of pain, so I gave him some of the pain killers Brady and Cindy requested; I was just coming down to get a quick drink of water before I headed back to bed," She explained as she came closer to the couch and took a seat,
"Is something on your mind, Tess?"

"Is he sleeping now?" Tess asked, avoiding Rose's question.

Rose nodded her head, wondering what it was that Tess was hiding,
"Yes, with his Angel Girl sound asleep beside him. Of course, she's been there since after dinner, almost as if she is avoiding someone," She appeared thoughtful for a moment,
"Now that I think about it, Kevin was uncharacteristically quiet during dinner this evening."

Sensing that Rose was waiting for her to say something, Tess sighed heavily,
"The three of us didn't have the best day today, I'm afraid."

"What's going on, Tess?" the older angel asked, concern in her eyes.

"I suppose I'm not too thrilled with taking over supervising those two, Rose. That is Andrew's job and it just breaks my heart that he is unable to do it. They want him there, he wants to be there, and instead they are stuck with me. I pretty much made their day miserable to the point where neither of them spoke a word the whole way home tonight; Monica trying not to cry and Kevin looking like he wanted to chew my arm off," She sighed once more and shook her head,
"It wasn't their faults, they were fine. They handle their assignments differently than I would have, but certainly not wrong and they work well together-I just didn't feel right being there with them."

"You know, Tess, all things considering, it seems they tried their best today and wanted to make the most of the situation. We all know that Andrew has been through hell the last two weeks, there is no denying that, but those other two little angels have gone through it too, in their own way," Rose reminded her, not wanting to attack her friend, but wanting her to see the truth,
"Of course, they would rather be here with Andrew, but having to work with you doesn't have to be a curse for any of you."

"It sure was this morning, Rose..." Tess grumbled, regretting the words as soon as she spoke them. Shaking her head, she turned back to the oldest angel,
"I don't know where that came from...These last couple of weeks have been more then difficult on all of us, and I guess it got the better of me today. Hopefully my Angel Girl and Kevin will accept my apology in the morning..."

"I'm sure they will," Rose gently interrupted, resting a hand on Tess' shoulder and squeezing,
"Monica and Kevin are able to forgive just about anyone; and if Andrew was able to forgive Kevin so easily this morning, then I'm sure you have nothing to worry about."

Reaching up and squeezing her friend's hand, Tess attempted a weary smile her way,
"Thanks, baby...so are you going to get your drink of water or what?"

Rose chuckled as she released her friend's hand and nodded her head,
"Yeah, I guess I am; are you coming back upstairs, or are you going to sleep on the couch?"

"I don't know yet, I'm tired but I can't seem to sleep..." She shrugged her shoulders in reply before leaning her head back against the couch again,
"I'll see you in the morning, Rose."

With a worried sigh, Rose nodded her head,
"G'night, Tess."

Chapter 17

By the time the triplets were due to arrive home the following afternoon, Andrew felt as if he were going to crawl out of his skin. Though he didn't want to admit it, he was quickly becoming disheartened by this whole situation. He was sick of being in a bed and longed to be out working beside of his two friends and charges. He was tired of wondering when healing would occur and prayed constantly that it wouldn't be months or years, as Tess had said, as at this point, he wasn't even sure he could handle days or hours. He was tired of feeling the pain of the burns on his body, though he always put on a cheerful face when Brady or Cindy would show up to change the bandages and treat the wounds.

He spent the morning worrying about his two charges, frustrated that he had no say in the matter that they had to be out there working at all. For as loving an angel as Tess was, when she was moody or something was on her mind, she could be ruthless and he worried about Kevin getting into a battle of wills with her and he worried about Monica's newfound confidence being shaken or worse. As a supervisor, he had a fierce protection of them both and it didn't add to his feeling of helplessness that he was unable to help them now.

Looking over at the clock with a heavy sigh, the angel realized he was also tired of counting minutes as the day dragged on ever so slowly. Rose and Carla would visit periodically, but they too, were working other assignments. He desperately missed Kevin's jokes and he had never realized how much Monica's chatter, aimed at keeping him from feeling sorry for himself, could fill the silence that seemed to surround him for most of the day. Most of all, he missed being able to close his arms around her when her heart ached, or brush away her tears as they fell. Tess had been right all those years ago when she had jokingly said he liked taking care of Monica, but now, it was he who needed taking care of, so much so he couldn't even feed himself, and he hated it, though he was trying his best to accept God's plan.

Leaning his head back against the pillows and staring up at the ceiling, Andrew let out another deep sigh before he began whispering a quiet prayer,

"Father, I'm sorry for my impatience, but I'm really getting frustrated here...I can't do anything, and I'm really feeling restless. I don't know what Your plan is, but I'm trying so hard to trust You that whatever it is, it's for the best...it's just so hard..."

"He knows it's hard, Angel Boy."

Andrew glanced up at the familiar sound of Rose's voice and he attempted a small smile before turning his green eyes back to the ceiling,

"I know..."

Coming into the room and taking a seat on the bed next to her friend, Rose sighed softly as she reached gently for his hand,

"Besides that though, honey, are you doing any better? I know that you were feeling quite a bit of pain last night when I checked in on you..."

"It's about the same, Rose. Sometimes I think I am so used to it, that I don't even feel it," He sighed softly,
"I think I'd keep the pain all the time if I could just catch a glimpse of what was going on in the real world."

"I know, Angel Boy," Rose replied sympathetically,
"I can only imagine how frustrated you must feel and how lonely…"

"I hate it, Rose. I positively hate it. I'm trying not to question the reasons, but I feel like I've had to give up everything I care about for this and who knows how many more weeks it will last and I don't even feel like I can get through another hour."

Rose gave her former charge's hand a loving squeeze, trying to find some reassuring words to say to him although she knew there wasn't much she could say right now to make him feel better,

"I really am sorry that this all happened in the first place, sweetheart. You just keep on being strong though, all right? You've handled all of this extremely well, and I'm so proud of you; all of us are..."

"I almost feel like I'm ready to give up, Rose..." Andrew uttered weakly, forcing back hot tears as he didn't feel like crying right now,

"I don't know if He'll heal me, or when, and I'm tired of wondering when or if it will happen..."

"No, Angel Boy, don't give up. Not now-"

"That's easy for you to say, Rose," He replied sadly,
"I'm useless at the moment! Patrick won't come and talk to me, my charges are now working for Tess, I can't feed myself or get out of bed…I can't even hold my best friend when she is crying, Rose, so why shouldn't I give up?"

"Because your friends love you, sweetheart and they need you. Kevin just found you again, can you imagine how devastated he would be to watch you throw in the towel. He follows your example, Angel Boy, he always has, and we won't even discuss your Angel Girl. She would be inconsolable if you were to give up. You have her heart like no other does or ever will, honey. The sun rises and sets in your eyes as far as she is concerned. Myself, Tess, the Sullivan's…we all love you and we all know you are going to get better, but you have to keep fighting and trusting in order for that to happen." She squeezed his hand gently, hoping she was getting through to him.

"But how much longer am I going to have to do this?" The younger angel weakly asked, trying to push back the tears in his eyes but unable to do it any longer,

"That's all I've been hearing the last few weeks, Rose: Trust, trust, trust...I HAVE been trusting, and what good has come out of it? Nothing. I know that I shouldn't give up, but I just don't know what to do anymore...I feel so helpless and I hate it so much..." A choked up sob escaped his lips as he turned his head away from his friend and former supervisor.

Before Rose could try and reply with some reassuring words, another voice appeared in the doorway and both angels turned to face Kevin as he asked,

"Is everything okay in here?"

Drawing in a deep breath, Rose turned to the younger angel,
"Your supervisor is talking about giving up, Kevin," She replied gently.

Kevin's eyes widened, completely forgetting about stress of his own day, as he looked at Andrew,
"You can't do that. I know this is hard, Andrew, but you can't just give up."

"Kev, I'm not good for anyone right now, okay?" Andrew argued weakly, not looking at his friend,
"I'm not even sure why I'm doing this in the first place…"

"I can tell you why?" Kevin stated firmly as he approached his friend,
"Because God needs you and if that isn't enough, Cupcake and I need you too and we aren't going to let you give up, you got that? We aren't giving you up, Simba, and I think you know that. We love you and we need you and soon, though not soon enough, you'll be supervising us again and we'll be forgetting all about this horrible time," Looking into Andrew's green eyes, as tears filled his own,
"Fight for us, Andrew, okay? If nothing else makes sense, you have two angels who work for you and we want you back, but you have to want to be back."

"Of course I want to be back, Kevin," Andrew turned his head to meet his youngest charge and looked at him through blurred vision,

"But no matter how much pleading I do, or how much asking, it's not happening...do you think I want to stay laid up here for the rest of eternity?"

"No!" Kevin cried through his own tears as Rose stood to her feet and moved aside so the youngest angel could take her spot at Andrew's bed,

"No, of course I don't think that! I can see it in your eyes, Simba, that you want to be back more then anything. But you have got to keep fighting for us...we're not going to just let you give up, because we love you too much to see that happen! Don't you see, Andrew? Although it's hard to keep trusting God right now, you can't give up on the fact that He will heal you...I won't let you do that."

Getting no response at first from his friend, Kevin continued,
"For you to give up would cause more hurt than you could ever imagine. I'm still learning and I need you out there and you're the one I want to learn from. No one else, Andrew, just you. You think you are so helpless, but you aren't. Who did Monica and I both come to last night after having such a crummy day, huh? You! And why do you think that is? I'll tell you why. Because you aren't as helpless as you think you are. You still know the right things to say and do to alleviate my temper and her hurt," His voice trembled as the words tumbled out,
"We don't come to you to give you something to do…we come to you because we know what we will find; acceptance, love, support and all those other things you give to us so freely, Andrew."

Tears fell from Andrew's eyes as he listened to his youngest charge, as he nodded his head,
"I love you both so much, Kev….and I miss you both so much…."

Thinking about how today had been only slightly better than yesterday, Kevin nodded his own head tearfully,
"And we miss you and what keeps us going is that we respect you so much and love you so much that we want to make you proud of us. That and the fact that we know you'll soon be back with us as that is all we want."

Andrew closed his eyes tightly as he listened to everything his friend and young charge was telling him. He knew that Kevin was indeed right, but it was still so hard, and why did it have to last so long? Finally turning back to Kevin and meeting his sad eyes, the older angel took a shaky breath and nodded weakly,

"I know you're right, Kev...but-"

"I am right," Kevin gently interrupted, reaching for his friend's hand and squeezing it tightly,

"And I'll tell you what to do when you feel like you can't do anything right now; think of the time when the Father will finally heal you. Think of the happiness you'll feel, and the happiness we all will feel. It will not be forever, Simba. Trust me; I know what I'm talking about. The day He will heal you will be the happiest day of my existence..."

Choking on another sob, Andrew once again nodded his head as he attempted his next words,

"I'll try..."

"You know we're here for you, every single step of the way," Kevin smiled, relieved when Andrew returned the smile with a shaky one of his own.

"I needed to hear those things, Kev," He replied softly,
"Thank you for caring enough to say them."

"Anytime, Andrew," He replied, his smile fading somewhat as he heard loud voices coming from downstairs and he immediately knew that the stress of the last two days had caused two angels to snap. Looking a little nervous and uncertain, and not wanting to upset Andrew, he looked at Rose,
"Maybe we ought to close the door?"

Rose nodded her head in concern, and before heading to the door, she leaned forward and gave Andrew's forehead a gentle kiss,

"I'm going to go down there and see if I can help settle some issues, honey. I'll be back in a little bit..." Exchanging a small smile with Kevin, the Search and Rescue angel headed quickly to the door and walked through it, closing it tightly behind her.

As the angel headed to the stairs, the angry voices became louder and Rose couldn't help but flinch as she heard Tess yelling at Monica.

"I don't know what has gotten into you today, but I have had it up to here, Miss Wings!" The elderly angel snapped, not seeming to let the Irish angel get a word in,

"Kevin seemed to be doing just fine with the case, but your mind was off in la-la land! I'd like an explanation, and I would like one now!"

"I was trying to do what YOU wanted, Tess and YOUR way, I may add!" Monica snapped back, her cheeks flushed with anger,
"But then when your way doesn't work for me, I get yelled at! That's all you've been doing for two days if you want to talk about having 'had it up to here'!"

"You and Kevin act as if you are on some vacation!" Tess ranted, taking a step closer to the younger angel,
"Joking and laughing! Are you forgetting that there is an angel up there who has been through more the last few weeks than anyone should ever have to go through? Or do you forget that as soon as you walk out the door in the morning?"

Monica's fists clenched and unclenched at this accusation, almost to angry to speak, but then she completely exploded, her Irish temper reaching its limit,
"Don't you dare presume to tell me what I feel! I think about him all day, Tess! Where do you think my mind is when I'm off in 'lala' land as you call it?! I'll tell you where! With Andrew! Oh, and please forgive Kevin for trying to lighten the mood a little bit! It's the only thing that makes the day bearable other than helping our assignments, with NO help from you, I may add! But don't you dare tell me I forget about him when I walk out this door-you got that?"

"Young lady, I am still your supervisor and I expect-."

"You are NOT my supervisor!" She spat back at her,
"You may have been once, but you aren't anymore! Tomorrow, you can find yourself another angel to supervise!"

With that remark, Monica whirled around and started towards the staircase, not even noticing Rose watching from above, and Tess continued yelling even until she heard the sound of the door slamming from upstairs,

"Miss Wings, get back here! We aren't finished yet-"

"Oh I think you and Monica pretty much are finished with that discussion, Tess," Rose interrupted as she finally made herself visible, and Tess was surprised to see the oldest angel appeared more stern then she remembered ever seeing her,

"Come with me, Tess; you and I need to have a long talk."

"Not now, Rose," Tess snapped back, her face flushed red as she started to move past Rose after Monica,

"Monica needs to understand where I'm coming from-"

"Not now, Tess," Rose ordered sternly, grasping the angel's arm and bringing her to a halt,

"Right now, you're coming with me."

Chapter 18

"Kevin, open the door," Andrew demanded once more, feeling frustrated with not being able to hear what was occurring downstairs,
"Was today no better?"

"Well, it was at first," He explained with a sigh,
"She was almost sociable the first half of the day, then she sort of snapped. Where she picked on me more yesterday, she was on Cupcake's back for the remainder of the afternoon, telling her how to work the assignment. Cupcake was so uncomfortable with the way Tess wanted her to handle it, she wasn't sure of what to do. You've never opposed us handling things our way, but today was Tess' way or no way for some reason." Hearing footsteps coming up the stairs, Kevin slipped out of the room for a moment, despite Andrew's protests to see who was coming, fully prepared to hide if it was Tess,

"Cupcake?" He asked worriedly, seeing her reddened face and the angry tears in her eyes,
"What the heck just happened?"

"I quit, that's what happened," Monica replied shakily,
"I'm not working with her and no one can make me!"

Eyes widening in surprise, Kevin gently grabbed the Irish angel's arm and pulled her into Andrew's room and nearly jumped out of his skin as Monica nearly slammed the door behind her,

"Cupcake, calm down!" The youngest Caseworker urged, shooting a glance over at Andrew and seeing the same shocked expression on his face. Turning back to Monica, he hesitantly reached over and grasped her shoulders and moved her towards the desk chair set up next to Andrew's bed and practically forced her to sit down in it,

"Take a breather for a minute, Monica..."

"Andrew, I am not working with Tess anymore!" She burst out again, her eyes flooding with angry tears,

"She was...HORRIBLE today! Worse then yesterday, and I just cannot do it anymore...please don't make me do it!"

Trying to gather his senses with this new situation, Andrew met her eyes with his own,
"Kevin's right, Monica. You need to calm down before we discuss anything, okay?" He stated somewhat sternly, though his mind was spinning with what Kevin had told him as well as Monica having told Tess she quit.

"But she-," The Irish angel began, her eyes wild with anger.

"Not a word," Andrew repeated, though more gently this time,
"Time out, Angel Girl. You're shaking and need to take a minute to settle down," He watched her lower her eyes as she struggled to control her temper, as he continued,
"Kevin told me part of what happened today with her wanting you to do things her way. Now, what just happened downstairs?"

She was quiet for a moment as she brought her anger under control,
"She was laying into me about it again and then she…she…" Her dark eyes clouded with tears as she looked up at him,
"She insinuated that because Kevin may crack a joke and I laugh that I'm forgetting all about you and what you're going through when we leave here in the morning and that isn't true! I think about you all day, Andrew and want to be here with you and for her to say that…" Her voice caught in a sob as she lowered her head.

Andrew's face flushed a deep red as he heard the words his dearest friend spoke about Tess' accusations, and it took everything in him to not get angry himself,

"Then what happened, Angel Girl?"

"She also thought that Kevin was doing a better job at the assignment then I was, because I couldn't stop thinking about you...and she just...she just...started yelling at me as soon as we walked in the door!" The Irish angel continued through her sobs,

"I had so much on my mind from yesterday, and I wasn't at all happy with her then, but now...now she went too far with all those accusations, Andrew, and I'm not working with her anymore! I'm not!"

"Simba, it really was bad..." Kevin confirmed gently as he gazed over at his friend and supervisor,

"She's not exaggerating..."

"If I have to continue working out there, I'd rather have someone else supervise us temporarily! Carla or Rose, or even Sam! I can't handle Tess anymore...instead of reassuring us about your situation that you'll be all right, and having patience with us...she yells at us for not paying attention! I can't do it anymore, Andy..." The little Irish angel lost control of her tears once again as she slumped forward in the chair and rested her head next to her best friend's hand. As her trembling one grasped gently onto his and she felt Kevin's hand rubbing her back gently, Monica felt like she was falling apart inside and there was nothing she could do about it.

Silence filled the room for a few moments before Kevin spoke up quietly,

"I think Rose is having some sort of talk with Tess right now, Cupcake...so you don't have to worry about her giving you a horrible time at the moment."

"Just let it out, sweetheart," Andrew tried to soothe his best friend as well as he felt her clutch his right hand desperately,

"You both had a rough day, so just let it all out, Angel Girl."

"I…I just can't do this…it's one thing to have to be away from you all day…but…to have to fight her all day….I can't…I just can't…" Monica sobbed, all the worry and stress from the last few weeks coming to a head with Tess' accusations as she completely lost control of her emotions. She felt like she had lost so much the last few weeks and she knew that her best friend's losses were even greater, and it suddenly felt like more than she could bear.

"I know, little one," Andrew whispered, understanding more than she was telling him,
"Neither of you should have to fight her at all. It wasn't supposed to be that way, you two," Still hearing her defeated sobs, the loss at not being able to hold her filled him once more with great sadness.

"Maybe Rose can talk some sense into her," Kevin added softly with a sigh. As he watched his Irish friend's shoulders trembling with tears, his eyes grew wide as he saw Andrew pull his fingers away and slowly and shakily raise his arm. Glancing at his supervisor, he saw the pain this action was causing him, but even greater was the determination in his green eyes as he gently laid his unharmed hand on Monica's head, his fingers working softly into her hair, as her sobs almost instantly began to calm somewhat.

The feel of his hand in her hair, caused a quieter sob to escape her as she closed her eyes, his touch something she had missed more than anything the last few weeks. With Andrew's touch came peace and a feeling that all would eventually be all right, like a reassurance from the Father Himself and despite the pain she knew this simple action must have caused him, she could feel the love in his fingers as his thumb gently brushed through her bangs,
"Andrew…." She whispered tearfully, not opening her eyes as she cherished the touch she would never take for granted again.

"All right, Tess, out with it," Rose demanded after they had left the house and the two angels were now standing outside in the driveway. She released Tess' arm and folded her own arms across her chest, trying to look as firm as possible, as she wasn't used to giving orders like this,

"What in the world is coming over you?"

Eyes still flashing sparks, the supervisor clenched her fists as she shook her head hard,

"You should know what's 'come over me', baby...that little angel was giving me disrespect, and I'm not gonna let it continue-"

"She was giving you disrespect?" Rose interrupted, raising an eyebrow,

"I don't think so, Tess...I think it was the other way around, to tell you the truth."

"You don't know anything about it, Rose-," Tess snapped, trying to turn and walk away, but Rose once again stopped her firmly.

"I know what I just saw and heard and I know by now that Monica gave up lying years ago and the one thing that really makes me angry and not to repeat what she said, but how dare you even think you know what she is feeling about her best friend right now?" Rose countered, managing to keep her own anger in check over Tess' insinuations to the Irish angel,
"She has been with him every step of this horrible journey, and one look at her face when she walks out the door with you and Kevin in the morning and you can tell it breaks her heart each day to leave him. Both of those angels want to be here with him, but they go with you because that is what they are supposed to do and they know that and from what I've seen, they have been coping as well as they possibly can under the circumstances you are placing them under. But for you to even insinuate to that little angel that she FORGETS about him when she leaves here was cruel, hurtful and completely uncalled for!"

Tess' face once again flushed in anger, but before she could say anything in reply to Rose's words, another voice appeared next to them,

"Rose is right, Tess, and that's why I'm here."

"Sam?" Tess' eyes widened in surprise at her own supervisor, but she couldn't get another word out before Sam interrupted, his voice holding disappointment in the slightly younger angel.

"I'm taking you off this assignment, Tess, and I think you know why," He narrowed his eyes at his friend, wanting her to make sure the seriousness of this situation, and all of the accusations she had made,

"As of right now, you're coming with me, and Rose..." Here, the Angel's Angel laid a gentle hand on her shoulder and looked into her frustrated blue eyes,

"I know that you're in Search and Rescue, but the Father wants for you to continue supervising Monica and Kevin until Andrew can again." Although he saw apparent shock in the Search and Rescue angel's eyes, he was pleased as she nodded her head in understanding. With a nod of his own head, Sam turned back Tess and the sternness returned to his eyes,

"You and I have quite a bit of talking to do, Tess."

As the redheaded angel watched Tess turn angrily to walk off with Sam, she sighed slightly as she headed back into the house, wanting to check on the three angels. Opening the door to Andrew's room, she breathed a sigh of relief that they were all together, though Monica appeared to have fallen asleep in the chair with her head on Andrew's bed and the older angel noted with a tearful smile how Andrew's fingers were lightly running through her hair.

Andrew and Kevin both looked up from where they were quietly talking when Rose walked in the room,
"Rose, what-." Kevin began, but quieted, knowing she would tell them anything they needed to know.

Touching Andrew's cheek lightly, she nodded towards Monica,
"Is your Angel Girl all right, honey?"

Andrew sighed softly, shaking his head slightly,
"I don't know, Rose. She's completely drained, I think, having gone from the hospital for two weeks straight into this situation with Tess, whatever that is. Tess had no right to say those things, Rose," He added, anger sparking in his eyes, though he kept his voice low,
"No right at all."

Rose nodded her head as she continued stroking her young friend's cheek, and spoke quietly so as to not wake up Monica,

"No, she didn't; but that's why Sam showed up while I was talking to her..."

"Sam?" Kevin and Andrew repeated the name of the Angel's Angel, and after exchanging a quick glance with his youngest charge, Andrew turned back to Rose,

"Sam showed up? How come?"

Wiping at a few tears in her blue eyes, Rose looked down at the little Irish angel and then back up at the other two,

"It seems that he has taken Tess off of the assignment, honey. He wasn't too happy with her either, and he just told her to come with him." A tearful smile appeared on her face as she turned to look over at Kevin, who's brown eyes were wide with shock,

"But, now it's time for the good news. Sam told me before he left, that the Father wanted me to supervise you two little angels until Andrew here can again."

A slow grin spread over Kevin's face at Rose's words,
"Really? Will I be allowed to joke around again?"

Rose and Andrew both chuckled softly as Rose nodded her head,
"It wouldn't be the same without your sense of humor, sweetheart."

Andrew looked up at his former supervisor with tears in his eyes,
"Thank you, Rose, for agreeing to do this. I know I can trust you with them and that takes a big load off my shoulders. I didn't know how I was going to send them out there tomorrow and I just hope her confidence hasn't taken too much of a beating."

Kevin sighed heavily,
"Yeah, we couldn't do anything right with Tess…"

"Well, you've got nothing to worry about now, honey," Rose smiled lovingly down at her 'Angel Boy' and stroked back his blonde hair,

"And it's my pleasure."

Before anyone else could say anything, a soft groan came from Monica's sleeping figure and her brown eyes fluttered open. At first, the Irish angel wasn't sure of what had happened until she saw Andrew slowly and shakily start to lower his hand from her hair, and placed it back to the bed; but tears instantly filled her eyes again as she immediately remembered earlier that afternoon. Glancing up at Kevin and Rose, and seeing a bit of relief in both of their eyes, Monica sat up and rubbed sleepily at her dark eyes,

"Was I crashed for that long?"

"No, honey, not for too long," Rose shook her head with a tearful smile as she pulled up an extra chair next to Andrew's bed and sat down, while Kevin once again sat on his supervisor's other side,

"In fact, I'm glad you're awake now, little angel; there are some things I'd like to talk with you about-"

"I'm not in trouble for the tone I took with Tess, am I?" The little Irish angel's voice trembled as she spoke.

Reaching over, Rose took the younger angel's trembling hands into her own and squeezed them gently,
"Tess was way out of line, sweetheart and the things she said were positively not true, okay?"

Seeing his best friend cast a glance his way, Andrew smiled encouragingly at her and watched as she slowly nodded her head.

"I'm not entirely sure of what is going on with Tess, Angel Girl, but I do know that she loves you and Kevin but for right now, whatever is wrong is keeping her from doing her job the way she should be doing it," Rose continued softly, seeing the pained look in the young angel's eyes,
"I've been asked to take over for her, if that is all right with you."

Monica's brown eyes filled with tears all over again and she wasn't sure where her voice went for the next few moments. Finally, after looking over at her best friend and then at Kevin, who both looked pleased at this bit of news, the Irish angel turned back to Rose and smiled tearfully,
"You would...do that?"

The elderly angel nodded her head with a smile,
"Of course I would. Anything for you three..."

Choking on a sob, Monica flung her arms around Rose and held onto her with trembling arms while looking at Andrew over her shoulder,
"Thank you...thank you..."

Chapter 19

Early the following morning, Rose gently shook Monica awake from where she slept beside of Andrew. Watching as the little Irish angel opened her dark eyes sleepily, Rose smiled at her,
"Rise and shine, sweetheart. I've just been told we have tomorrow off, so you can spend the whole day with your Angel Boy, but for today, we need to get going," Seeing the sleepy angel nod her head, Rose touched her cheek gently,
"We'll be waiting for you downstairs," She added, before gently touching Andrew's sleeping face, before leaving the room.

Sitting up, Monica sighed before she leaned over and lovingly brushed her lips against Andrew's forehead,
"Have a good day today," She whispered to his sleeping form,
"You know I'll be thinking about you and I'll see you tonight. I love you, sweetie," Stroking his blond hair for a moment, she then got up and hurried to get ready to meet up with Kevin and Rose.

Andrew awoke about an hour later to the realization that it was Saturday and that he could no longer feel the warmth of his best friend sleeping beside of him. Sighing softly, he felt the loneliness he always did once she would leave, as even in sleep, he liked knowing she was there. He remembered having quite a bit of pain last night and Monica waking up and giving him a pain killer, before she had run her fingers through his hair until he had drifted back off to sleep, the effects of the drug and the soothing motion of her fingers finally allowing him to relax.

Still feeling a little tired, he yawned before he caught a glimpse of Patrick out in the hall and knew that this was as good a time as any to try to talk to the teenager, who had managed to avoid him for two days now,

"Paddy?"

The angel watched as Patrick reluctantly walked into his room and Andrew immediately noted that Patrick seemed intent on looking anywhere but at him,

"What's up, Andrew?" Patrick asked, studying the ceiling as he awaited an answer.

"Patrick, can I talk to you for a few minutes, please?" The blonde angel asked gently, waiting for the teenager to turn to look at him, but his heart was saddened as Paddy never turned his way. Instead, he kept his eyes lowered as he slumped into a desk chair.

"I guess so. What's on your mind?"

Andrew drew in a deep breath before he returned Paddy's question with a question of his own,

"Will you at least look at me first, Paddy?"

Cringing slightly, the teen reluctantly lifted his head to glance up at the human angel, but seeing the deep scars on his face and entire body, Patrick almost immediately turned away and looked down at his sweaty hands,

"Sorry, man...but I guess I can't right now." Drawing in a sharp breath, the teenager shrugged his shoulders before continuing,

"So what do you wanta talk about?"

Trying his best not to be rattled by the reminder of what he looked like at the moment, Andrew plunged ahead,
"I was wondering how Amy was doing?"

Patrick shrugged his shoulders as he starred out the window,
"I heard she went home, but that's as much as I know. She's called a few times, but I've been busy…."

"Sounds like you've been busy avoiding her…" Andrew remarked softly, his green eyes never leaving the teenager.

"Call it what you want," Paddy remarked coldly.

The angel was quiet for a moment before he continued,
"I wonder if the reason you can't look at me is because you don't want to think about Amy. You don't want to think about the fact that a fire that was partially your fault, you walked away from unscathed, while she suffers. Do you feel guilty, Patrick?"

Rising to his feet in anger, Patrick replied harshly,
"Why should I feel guilty? I'm glad I don't look like her or like you."

"Patrick, just hear me out, okay-"

"No, I don't want to talk about it; I don't want to talk to you, Andrew!" Paddy finally turned around and faced the human angel, his face flushed red with anger, and Andrew had to force himself to not flinch,

"You got that?"

Without waiting for a reply, Paddy turned around on his heel and bolted out the bedroom door, and the next thing he heard was the sound of the front door slamming shut and the angel visibly cringed. Turning his sad and exhausted green eyes to the ceiling, he mumbled aloud,

"Now what, Father? That did not go too well...worse then I thought..."

Only hearing that he needed to have patience, Andrew sighed heavily, hoping his patience wouldn't wear out anytime soon.

Rose smiled to herself on the drive home after an early day as the Father had told her after one completed assignment for them to enjoy the next day and a half off. The day had gone very well and she could not have been more pleased with the work the two young angels had done, which made her even more concerned by Tess' outburst yesterday, but she could only hope that Sam had gotten through to her and that she would return to them soon.

Kevin and Monica had been a little hesitant for part of the day, which she had expected as neither of them had ever worked with her before, not to mention the two traumatic days they had spent with Tess. Kevin had been very quiet all morning and when he finally did crack a joke, it had been hesitant and she had noticed that Monica had stifled her laugh; a reminder of the accusations that Tess had made the day before. But as the day wore on, her two temporary charges had begun to relax. When the Irish angel would seemingly tune out, lost in thought about Andrew, Rose had just wrapped her arm around her shoulders in understanding, knowing that was what was needed in that moment.

"You two did fine work today," She remarked, breaking the silence in the car as they journeyed back to the Sullivan's house.

Monica smiled slightly from where she sat in the passenger's seat, although deep sadness was still evident in her dark eyes,

"Thanks, Rose...that means a lot to hear right about now."

"It's the truth, little angel," The elderly angel remarked, looking in the review mirror back at Kevin,

"How you doing back there, honey? You also look like you're ready for a day and a half off tomorrow."

Nodding his head with a crack of a smile, Kevin met Rose's eyes through the mirror,

"As ready as I'll ever be." He fell silent for a few moments before he spoke up once again,

"I can see why Andrew loved having you as a supervisor, Rose; you're amazing..."

Feeling a blush rise to her cheeks, Rose let out a chuckle as she continued staring at the road ahead,

"I try, Kev. But no worries, you'll get your regular supervisor back before long. I just know it."

There was silence for another moment before Monica looked up at Rose with tears glistening in her eyes,
"Do you really think so, Rose?" She asked quietly as they pulled into the driveway of the house.

Turning off the car, Rose looked over at the younger angel in what was almost surprise. The past few weeks, she had heard Monica be nothing less than completely optimistic with Andrew, but now what she was hearing was that the Irish angel was maybe losing heart, just as Andrew had been yesterday and Rose knew that for both of their sakes, that couldn't happen,

"C'mere, little angel," She began, reaching out to pull her closer as she wrapped an arm around her shoulders,
"And Kevin, you listen up too in case you have any of these thoughts running through that over active mind of yours. The Father is still in control of all of this and He knows what He is doing, even when we don't. I know you three have been here for weeks and though you love the Sullivan's, it still must be wearing on you to be in a situation where at first you had no idea what was going to happen to things happening that you couldn't even imagine happening. But through it all, God is there, sweetheart, and He hasn't forgotten Andrew or either of you for that matter. That's why you have some time off today and tomorrow. He knows you want to spend time with Andrew and just as importantly, He wants you both to take care of yourselves a little. He knows you're tired and He knows you have questions and worries. He's still there, little angels; He hasn't gone anywhere."

"I know, but that doesn't change the fact how hard it is, Rose..." Monica uttered weakly as she leaned her head on the Search and Rescue angel's shoulder,

"And I can only imagine how hard it is for Andy..."

Running her hand through the Irish angel's auburn hair gently, Rose nodded her head as she rested her chin on the top of Monica's head,

"It has been, sweetheart; but just keep repeating to yourself that the Father is in control. And trust me, it will help," Gently pulling away, Rose looked from Monica's eyes to Kevin's and winked,

"Look how old I am; I've been around longer then Tess has, and I'm still repeating those words." She was relieved when a small chuckle escaped both younger angels and with a squeeze of Monica's shoulder, Rose nodded towards the house,

"And now, instead of speaking about Andrew, let's go and speak TO him. What'dya say?"

As the three angels climbed out of the car, Rose watched as Monica raced ahead of her and towards the front door. As the oldest angel and Kevin followed behind and entered the house, Rose's eyes widened somewhat as she saw Brady come storming through the kitchen,

"Rose, I'll be back in a little while. It appears we have a missing teenager on our hands..."

Frowning slightly after Kevin had climbed the stairs after Monica and towards Andrew's room, Rose questioned,

"Missing?"

Nodding his head, Brady hurriedly shrugged into his jacket,

"Yeah. I talked to Andrew not too long before you arrived home and asked him if Patrick had come to see him. It appears that boy has, and it wasn't a pleasant conversation. Anyway, Andrew stated that Patrick left the house and hasn't come back since."

Sighing softly and deciding that seeing Andrew would have to wait, Rose left her coat on,
"Well Brady, lets get going then and find your son."

Casting her a grateful smile, Brady nodded his head in agreement,
"Thank you, Rose. I appreciate the company."

Andrew looked up through saddened eyes as his door opened and he saw the two eager faces of his charges coming through it. Just the sight of them made him feel a little bit better, especially with now knowing Paddy was missing,
"You two are home early," He commented softly as they each came in and took a seat on the bed on either side of him.

"Hey, you're stuck with us till Monday," Kevin replied with a grin.

Andrew raised an eyebrow at his youngest charge's eagerness and attempted a smile for both their sakes,

"Oh really now? Should I be scared or what?"

"Nah, Angel Boy," Monica shook her head as she reached immediately for his hand and squeezed it gently,

"You're just gonna have a hard time getting rid of the two of us, that's all."

Not wanting to destroy the good mood both of his friends were in, Andrew forced another smile on his face,

"Well then, I'm glad to hear it; I guess you have tomorrow off then huh?"

"Thankfully," Kevin winked his supervisor's way,

"So now I get to bug you constantly!"

Andrew let out a small chuckle, but it soon died on his lips and he lowered his eyes to the bed. Noticing the sudden change of mood, Monica felt worry fill her heart as she could only wonder what had occurred that afternoon while they were gone,. Giving his hand a gentle squeeze and waiting until he faced her, she asked quietly,

"What's wrong, my friend?"

Andrew sighed as he looked into her concerned eyes,
"Paddy is missing. I called him in here to talk this morning and it didn't go very well at all. I tried to get him to talk about Amy, but he wouldn't open up. He wouldn't even look at me and when I asked him if he felt guilty about what happened to her…well, he said he was glad he didn't look like Amy or me…."

Feeling his hurt with her entire heart, Monica blinked back tears as her hand moved to stroke the hair back from his face,
"He's confused is all, Andrew," She looked up at Kevin and seeing him nod his head, knowing what she was thinking, she continued,
"Much like Kevin was and it took more than one conversation to make him understand."

Nodding his head in agreement, Kevin added softly,
"She's exactly right, Simba. It may take several attempts to get him to come around. If it would help, I'll talk to him as I've been where he is."

Andrew blinked back tears of his own as he turned his head to look at his youngest charge,

"I'd appreciate that, Kev...I really do." Turning to look back to his best friend as he felt her squeeze his hand comfortingly once more, he uttered wearily,

"I appreciate all you guys have done for me these last few weeks...I don't think I've told you just how much it means to me that you're here."

"Andy, there's nowhere else we'd rather be," Monica shook her head as Kevin nodded in agreement.

"Just like I told you yesterday, Simba, we're all here for you every single step of the way, and we ain't going anywhere," The youngest Caseworker added, smiling at his friend,

"We know that you would do the same for us, and that's only one of the many, list long reasons we love you."

Gently resting her forehead against that of her best friend's, the Irish angel whispered,
"Ditto."

Chapter 20

By late that night, Monica didn't think sleep would ever come. Brady and Rose had returned a few hours ago, having found no sign of Patrick, and had decided to call it a night. The police had been notified, but Brady was fairly certain his son was simply rebelling out of guilt and would return home in the morning, though it had taken much convincing to get Cindy to finally go to sleep.

To make matters worse, Andrew seemed to be having a particularly pain-filled night, as he slept restlessly, occasionally caught up in nightmares, and nothing the Irish angel tried to do seemed to make him anymore comfortable. The dreams caused him to try and thrash in his sleep, which only caused him pain with the movement, as he would cry out softly. He wasn't due for another painkiller for a few more hours, and nothing else was helping.

By 3:00 in the morning, Monica was at her wit's end as silent tears streaked her cheeks, as she rested her cheek against his head,
"I'm sorry, Andy…I don't know what else to do," She whispered miserably. She kept repeating the word "trust" to herself over and over again as Rose had told her to do, but right now, it all seemed hopeless and she was starting to wonder if this whole horrible ordeal would ever be over,
"Please Father, tell me what to do for him….even if I can take his pain for a few hours so he can just rest…please…"

As soon as she whispered the desperate prayer to the Father, Monica looked down and saw that her best friend had finally seemed to have calmed down and had stopped tossing and turning. Breathing a sigh of relief, the little Irish angel turned exhausted eyes to the ceiling and whispered tearfully,

"Thank you..."

Several hours passed into the night, and still, Monica refused to close her eyes and try to sleep as her main focus was keeping an eye on her best friend. Letting out a long sigh, the younger angel glanced over at the clock and noticed that it was now just after 6:00AM. Leaning her forehead against that of her best friend's, Monica closed her eyes in exhaustion and didn't open them until the bedroom door creaked open softly.

"Cupcake, I'm surprised you're still awake," Kevin whispered so as to not wake up Andrew.

Raising her head wearily, she shook her head sadly,
"He had a terrible night last night, Kev," She replied back softly, gently stroking back Andrew's blond hair,
"He was in a lot of pain and nothing was helping, until I asked the Father for help and now he's been sleeping peacefully for the last…" She looked up at the clock,
"Three and a half hours."

"So, why are you still awake then?" He asked gently, walking over to sit down on the bed beside of her.

She shook her head once more,
"I was afraid he'd need me and I wanted to be awake in the event that he did," She replied tiredly, as she fell silent for a moment. Looking back up, she knew that there was no other angel she would ever tell this to, other than Kevin,
"You know, I'm ashamed to say this, Kev, but despite what Rose said yesterday…I'm starting to feel really discouraged. I'm…losing faith that the Father is going to heal him and it hurts to see him in pain and not be able to do anything…"

Kevin's brown eyes widened in shock as he listened to his Irish friend speak, and it took everything in him to not snap,

"Monica, you cannot do that...you know that Andrew almost gave up hope the other day as well, right?"

Tears instantly filling her saddened eyes, Monica lowered her head as she continued stroking Andrew's hair,

"No, I didn't..."

"Well, he did, and I'm not gonna let you make that same mistake!" The youngest angel firmly stated,

"You can't give up-"

"What else do you expect for me to do, Kev?" Monica whispered hoarsely, her tear-filled eyes still on her best friend,

"Tell me what else HE is supposed to do...it's been weeks now..."

"You continue doing exactly what you've been doing," Kevin demanded quietly,
"He looks to you for the truth more than to anyone else and if he so much as senses that you've lost hope, he will too."

"I would never let him know that," Monica replied through tears,
"I know how much that would hurt him-."

"Then don't even speak of such things again," Kevin replied, his voice sounding a little harsh, even to him,
"He doesn't need that from you."

The Irish angel lowered her head again in shame, all the while her fingers continued to smooth back Andrew's blonde locks. Drawing in a trembling breath, Monica silently nodded her head as she lowered her head down to Andrew and pressed her forehead to his,

"I'm so sorry, my dear sweet friend..."

"Just don't give up on him now, Monica...not now..." Kevin pleaded one final time as he shook his head. Sighing softly, the youngest angel moved closer to his two friends and his voice softened,

"I'm sorry I sounded harsh, Cupcake, but I just care about you two so much, and love you both so much...I'm not going to have my two best friends lose hope all in the same week, okay?"

Monica nodded her head as tears fell from her eyes,
"I understand, Kevin…maybe I just needed to say it is all and maybe it only feels that way because I'm tired and last night was so bad…for a few hours there, it felt hopeless…"

"I'm sure it did," He replied back gently, reaching for her hand and giving it a gentle squeeze,
"I also know how much it means to him to have you here by him all night, as it keeps him from being alone with his thoughts. You've been so good for him, since the moment this happened, don't stop now, because maybe, just maybe, we're in the home stretch," He smiled softly at her as he saw the hopeful look in her exhausted eyes,
"Now, why don't you lie down and sleep for awhile. I'll stay up in the event he wakes up…"

"Will you wake me up when he gets up?" She asked wearily, her eyes filled with sadness over their situation,
"We only have today and I don't want to lose any time with him."

"You bet," Kevin smiled gently as he leaned back in a chair and watched as the Irish angel leaned back against the pillows and rested her head once more against Andrew's,

"Now sleep, Cupcake."

Just before it hit noon, Kevin looked up as he saw Philip appear in the bedroom, and the young angel's eyes widened,

"What are you doing here, Philip?" He asked quietly as he didn't want to disturb the two sleeping angels.

The demon lowered his head for a brief moment, and before he could reply, both heard a small groan escape Andrew. As the human angel's green eyes fluttered open and came upon his best friend's sleeping figure next to him, and then Kevin and Philip standing in the middle of the room, Andrew uttered sleepily,

"What's going on?"

"I'm not sure yet," Kevin replied softly, unlike his two friends, he found himself unable to completely trust the demon. As he had little experience with them, he couldn't deny the fact that the demon had been more than helpful to his two best friends the last few years, but at the same time, he knew the demon had done a lot of damage earlier on and for that reason alone, he was unsure of Philip.

"I wanted to talk to you and Monica," Philip stated softly, looking into Andrew's eyes, feeling a little uncertain himself.

"She's sleeping," Kevin stated protectively, which warranted a glance from Andrew, as the youngest angel lowered his voice and explained, his eyes never leaving Philip,
"You had a bad night last night, Simba…she was up with you till after 6:00 this morning."

Andrew's tired green eyes widened in horror as he looked at his youngest charge. Glancing over at Philip, the angel could tell that the demon was just as surprised as he was,

"6:00? What in the world..."

"What's going on..." Monica's sleepy voice beside of him interrupted him, and he turned his head to his right to look over at her,

"Is something wrong?"

"Philip here just wants to talk to you two," Kevin interrupted, still not sure of whether to leave his two friends alone with the demon. He shot a glace over at Philip, and then back to the two sleepy angels,

"Are you two okay with that?"

Glancing over at her best friend and seeing him raising an eyebrow her way, Monica couldn't help but giggle as he whispered,

"We'll talk later about you staying up till after 6:00AM this morning..." Turning his green eyes back to Kevin and Philip, the human angel managed a shaky smile and nodded at his youngest charge,

"It's okay, Kev..." His eyes turned to Philip and he was shocked at the next words that came out of his mouth,

"We trust him completely."

Kevin's mistrustful eyes continued to look at the demon, unwilling to leave Philip alone with Monica and an immobile Andrew,
"I'd prefer to stay, if that's all right."

Sensing Kevin's mistrust of him, Philip nodded his head,
"That's fine with me."

"What's on your mind, Philip?" Monica asked, sitting up wearily and running a hand through her hair.

The kind demon looked uncomfortable for a moment, before he began, somewhat hesitantly,
"I wanted to talk to you both…about coming back to God. I've been thinking about it for some time now, but didn't want to do anything to make the two of you uncomfortable after the things I did years ago…"

Kevin's eyes widened in shock as he looked over at Philip and then turned back to his two surprised friends. Although he didn't want to leave them, as he wasn't all too sure if the demon was being completely honest, he also knew that this was a conversation that didn't involve him, and he figured nothing would get accomplished with him in the bedroom. Clearing his throat, the youngest angel stuttered,

"I...I'll be out in the hallway in case anything goes wrong." He shot a warning look Philip's way before slowly and hesitantly heading out the room, but leaving the door open. Standing next to the wall, the youngest Caseworker watched cautiously from there as the threesome continued talking.

"Your friend is a piece of work..." Philip shook his head and chuckled a little before turning back to the two angels in front of him.

Ignoring the statement, Andrew spoke up about in shock over what he had said just moments ago,

"You want to turn back to God?"

"I've been sort of stuck between the two realms for some time now…ever since bringing you back from the darkness, Monica. But I'm not foolish enough to think anyone is going to forget the things I did to the two of you. Though I know it wasn't intentional, a few weeks ago in the hospital courtyard, you made that very clear…" Philip lowered his eyes regretfully.

Monica's cheeks flamed with shame,
"Philip, I wasn't even in my right mind that day…I wasn't thinking…"

"Little angel, it still happened; there's no denying it," Philip gently interrupted as he took a seat in the chair next to the bed,
"I shouldn't have just figured that you had forgotten all of it in the courtyard. I was stupid to think that..."

"It's all right, Philip," The Irish angel whispered, reaching for Andrew's hand and holding it gently in her own, squeezing it tightly,
"You don't have to worry about it..."

Lowering his head to his hands, the demon was silent for another few moments before continuing, his voice filled with worry,
"I would like to know the honest truth from both of you about this; what would you think, or rather, how would you feel, if I chose to ask God to let me come back? I don't want to hurt either of you with my presence continuously if I chose to do this..."

The room was quiet for a few moments, before Andrew broke the silence,
"Philip, you have more than proven yourself the last few years. You saved me from that fire a few weeks ago and a few years ago you brought my Angel Girl back to me when I thought I would never see her again," His eyes clouded with tears at the memory before he continued softly,
"But I'm just speaking for myself here and not for Monica, so with that being said, I would encourage you to talk to the Father and if I can help in any way, please let me know."

Philip smiled as he nodded at the older angel,
"Thank you, Andrew. I appreciate that," His dark eyes turning to the weary Irish angel, he spoke gently,
"Little angel?"

"Philip," She began shakily as she met his eyes with her own,
"Before I tell you my opinion on this, I think you need to know that I'm never going to forget the things that happened a long time ago. As much as I wish that I could, when something triggers the memories, it all comes back and it still hurts and will probably always be so," Seeing the kind-hearted demon lower his eyes, she continued,
"However, though I'll never forget, I long ago forgave you and as Andrew said, the things you have done for us since then….I don't even know how to begin to thank you because if it weren't for you both of those times, I might have been separated from my best friend for the rest of eternity and that is something I don't think I could ever bear…"

"You don't have to thank me for anything, Monica," Philip gently interrupted, lifting his eyes to the two angels,
"In fact, I know I don't deserve it..." He added with a shrug of his shoulders,
"I just...I just don't want all of the memories to come back if you end up seeing me 24/7 if I end up going to God..."

"You won't," Monica shook her head hard as she looked into his dark eyes,
"I don't feel any fear in me whenever I see you anymore, Philip, and I think that's a very good thing."

"I completely agree," Andrew joined in with a nod of his head,
"Philip, we're not just saying these things...they're the truth. And if you really want to know my opinion...I'd be glad to see you come back, you know?"

Philip was quiet for a moment as he nodded his head,
"Well, thank you for your opinions. You've both given me things to think about before I make this choice…" The demon stood up and prepared to leave them but Monica interrupted him.

"What would cause you to not come back?" She asked softly.

Smiling slightly, Philip glanced at Andrew before meeting his eyes with hers,
"I know now that you two forgive me. What I have to decide is if I can forgive myself." With those words, the demon vanished from the room.

Chapter 21

By mid afternoon, there was a loud knock on the front door and Cindy rushed to the door, hoping and praying that the police had found Patrick. Glancing through the mirror in the front door, the human yanked open the door and tears instantly filled her blue eyes as she saw two police officers roughly holding her son by the arm,

"Patrick Sullivan, you had better have a good explanation, young man!"

"Mrs. Sullivan, we found your son down at the nearest pub, obviously getting drunk with some of his older friends," One of the officers said, his eyes looking down at the teenager and glaring at him,

"It turns out that one of the bar tenders had willingly given some of these teenagers drinks, although they were under age, and he's been there since last night. He said so himself."

Cindy watched in horror as Patrick all but stumbled in the house, obviously still intoxicated, and as she looked up, she saw Brady standing at the bottom of the stairs, his face beet red with anger. As she finished conversing with the officers, she then closed the door as they left and turned back to her husband.

Turning around, Brady called up the steps,
"Kevin! Can you give Cindy a hand, please?" Turning back to his son, his angry eyes narrowed as he continued,
"If I deal with you right now, I may do something I regret because I have never been so angry in my life," Looking up at his wife, he continued,
"Princess, I'm sorry, but I have got to cool off."

She nodded her head in understanding as her husband walked out the back door, just as Kevin came down the steps, the young angel grateful for a diversion from stewing about Philip's visit, though he was in no way prepared to see Patrick leaning up against the wall as he was unable to stand without it,
"Cindy, what-?"

"He's drunk," She replied as evenly as she could, her own temper nearly at it peak,
"Can you help me get him upstairs so he can sleep it off? If Brady sees him again before tomorrow, he may kill him…"

Kevin nodded his head as he reached over and helped Cindy support Patrick, all the while confusion still etched all over his face,

"How the heck did this happen?!"

"I don't know and right now, I'm not sure I want to ask; I just want to get him upstairs and then I need to cool off myself," The human muttered under her breath as she and the angel made it to the second floor and headed towards Paddy's bedroom. As the twosome got the teenager situated on his bed, Cindy shook her head angrily as she watched her son fall asleep instantly,

"I do not believe this..." Turning back to the young angel, Cindy ran a hand through her blonde hair and asked quietly,

"I'll be downstairs if you need me, Kevin..."

Nodding his head, the angel looked down at Patrick, who had immediately passed out and he let out a loud sigh,
"When is this all going to end, Father?" He muttered aloud, knowing he had to pass this news on to his two friends. He was starting to wonder though why on earth he and Monica were being assigned all over the place when it seemed like there was plenty here to keep them busy.

Knocking softly on Andrew's door, as he hadn't bothered the two angels since Philip's visit, he slowly opened the door to find them engaged in quiet conversation despite the fact that Monica seemed to be struggling to stay awake,
"Patrick's home, you two, and as the saying goes, he's 'drunk as a skunk' and passed out on his bed."

"Oh no, you can't be serious!" The Irish angel cried out as she sat up straight on her best friend's bed, her exhausted eyes wide,

"Patrick?!"

Leaning up against the door jam, Kevin nodded his head as he looked from Monica to Andrew, who looked like he was about ready to pass out as well from the news,

"Unfortunately, I'm serious...two police officers just brought him home; looks like that's where he ended up yesterday afternoon, Simba..."

"This is getting totally out of control!" Andrew burst out in rage, his green eyes looking up at the ceiling,

"I cannot take this anymore...I can't..." His voice lowered a notch as he shook his head, his eyes still turned away from his two closest friends.

There was silence in the room for several moments, before Kevin spoke up softly, saying the only thing he knew to say at the moment,
"The Father is still in control, Andrew, we all know that," not getting a response from either of his friends as Andrew continued staring at the ceiling while Monica's head remained lowered as she toyed with the edge of the blanket, he continued, his heart pounding loudly in his chest,
"C'mon you guys, you know it's the truth…Monica, tell him!"

As the Irish angel looked up, tears fell from her shame-filled eyes,
"I don't know anything anymore, Kevin and there is nothing about this I understand anymore…I don't understand why Paddy is doing this and I don't understand why my best friend is still in the shape he is in…"

"But you know the Father will heal him, Monica…" Kevin stated firmly, remembering their conversation earlier that morning.

A sob escaping her, she looked away, unable to lie,
"I don't know that anymore…I'm sorry, but I don't…." Ashamed at her thoughts and feelings, she jumped up off the bed and out the door, closing it behind her.

"Simba, what is this all about?" Kevin asked firmly, coming closer and taking the seat the Irish angel had just abandoned,

"You and I had this talk earlier-"

"You know what this is all about, Kevin," Andrew interrupted numbly, his eyes still examining the ceiling,

"I cannot do this anymore...and if you were me, you'd probably be feeling the same way. Monica's right...I don't understand anything anymore; and I don't know anymore whether or not the Father will heal me. It just doesn't look like I'm gonna have that kinda luck..."

"This isn't about luck, Andrew!" Kevin cried, on the verge of tears now as he heard the words his supervisor and friend was saying. Just listening to them was tearing him up, and he didn't know what else he could say to make him understand,

"It's about trust-"

"And I have been, but I've trusted until I'm blue in the face, Kevin," Andrew interrupted, finally moving his tear-filled green eyes to his youngest charge,

"Just let me be alone for a while, all right? I know that you're gonna try and talk me out of it, but it's no use right now..."

"Andrew, no one has more trust in God than you!" Kevin pleaded,
"He may be testing you, but He is still there!"

"Kevin, please, I just need some time alone. This all keeps going from bad to worse but I've tried to remain optimistic, but now things are still not getting any better and I find out that not even Monica believes I'm going to get better! How long has she felt this way while she's been lying to me?" Hopeless tears streaked his cheeks as he turned away from his youngest charge,
"Just go, Kevin, all right?"

Though completely furious at the Irish angel right now, Kevin continued to try to fix the situation,
"She's tired, Simba, that's all. She didn't mean it, just like you don't mean the things you are saying right now-."

"Kevin! Go!" Andrew snapped, unwilling to hear anymore.

Looking shocked at his friend's outburst, Kevin fought back tears as he headed towards the door, seeing that now was not the time to try to discuss this with him,
"This conversation isn't over," He replied quietly, before he closed the door, his heart breaking the sound of Andrew's sobs from the other side.

The rest of the day passed increasingly slow for both the Sullivan's and the angels, and despite Cindy's urges, neither Kevin or Monica had come downstairs for dinner that evening. Both Wendy and Angelica had also appeared rather quiet as the day wore on, and the usually chatty Wendy had barely said a word at dinner. Patrick, on the other hand, was still passed out in his bedroom upstairs and although both Cindy and Wendy had tried to get Andrew to have a bite to eat, the human angel kept refusing, stating that he wasn't hungry. On top of it, Brady hadn't returned home since that afternoon, and Cindy could only believe that her husband had grabbed a hotel for the night instead of returning and facing Patrick.

Several hours after dinner was over, Angel climbed the stairs slowly to her room and just as she was about to head into her bedroom, she stopped at Andrew's door. Tears instantly filled her baby blue eyes as she heard soft sobs coming from the other side, and unable to just stand there, the teenager knocked softly and pushed it open a crack,

"Andrew, can I come in?"

Not getting a reply, the teenager walked into his room and hesitantly took the chair beside of his bed. Reaching for his hand, she held it gently in her own, her thumb running over his fingers in what she hoped was a calming manner until his sobs began to lessen. It was only then that she spoke,
"You're afraid, aren't you?" She asked softly,
"You're afraid that God isn't going to make you better and that you'll never feel like you again," Seeing him nod his head, Angel continued, her eyes never leaving his face,
"I feel that way too sometimes. I know our situations are different, but I'm not the same either and as things progress, I won't look like I used to either," Angel chewed on her lip for a moment, trying to find the words to express her feelings,
"I was going to abort this baby, Andrew, but you probably know that. I even have the money to do it…but I've been thinking a lot about it and to do that would be like giving up and not trusting what God has planned for me and for this baby and I don't want to do that, because in those moments when nothing feels certain for me anymore, I know that God is the one thing that is certain. I know I don't want to raise this baby, but I also know I don't want to kill it either, because God has a plan for it, otherwise I never would have gotten pregnant in the first place…"

"I know I'm giving up as well, Angelica, but-"

"Andrew, you can't do that," Angel interrupted gently, giving his hand a loving squeeze,

"It would be just like me giving up and having that abortion. Everything would've changed if I had it, for the worse...yes, things are changing drastically right now, but it could have been much worse, you know? The same goes for you. I know...I know in my heart now, that the God who created you and I, has a plan for you, too, Andrew, and He will see you through this. I wish I knew when, but only He does...maybe He wanted you to realize the truth first, before He decides to heal you..."

"I just wish I knew why it has had to take so long," Andrew weakly replied, finally turning to face her for the first time,

"I can't do anything for myself, Angel. I can't feed myself, or even hold my best friend; and not even she believes that I'm going to get well, so I've stopped believing that it's going to happen."

She appeared thoughtful for a moment before she spoke softly,
"Maybe God knows how much you take care of everyone else all the time, especially Monica, and maybe He wanted you to know just how much of a difference that makes them, as now they are taking care of you because they love you so much."

As he considered her words, a small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth,

"Maybe you're right, sweetheart. Thank you for giving me something to think about."

"I know I'm right," She whispered with a grin as she leaned over and kissed his cheek,
"And you're gonna know it too."

By the time the house had gone quiet that night, Monica was no longer able to stand it as she crept quietly to Andrew's room. She hadn't spent a night away from him since the fire and to try to do so now even though she felt too ashamed to face him, was impossible.

As she opened his door, she saw him turn his eyes to her as tears filled her own. Her head lowered, she sat down next to him and reached for his hand as she tried to speak through the lump that was lodged in her throat,
"I'm sorry…I never should have said that earlier. It just felt at that moment like the world was closing in on me as things have been so hard lately," Still looking down at their hands, she reached up and wiped at the tears on her face,
"What I said wasn't even true…I know that now, and the reason I know it is because last night, when you were in so much pain and I couldn't seem to make it any better for you, I asked the Father to take it from you so you could rest…and He did….He's still in control of this whole thing, Andy…it was me that had forgotten that because of how helpless I was feeling…I'm so, so sorry…"

"Monica, I had given up on myself as well..." Andrew finally whispered back, letting out a shaky sigh,

"Way before you this morning...I'm sorry as well for even bringing it up; the news about Patrick just shocked me, you know?"

"It shocked all of us, Andy," The Irish angel whispered back,

"But Paddy had free will, and he used it the wrong way. I don't know how any of us will get through to him now, but it's in no way our fault, or the Father's."

Silence passed between the two friends before Andrew spoke up again,

"Angel stopped by after dinner this evening."

Lifting her head, Monica's brown eyes widened as she asked, nervousness evident in her voice,

"What...what'd she say?"

"She's not going to get the abortion," He replied gently,
"She's going to give the baby up for adoption and she also gave me some things to think about too."

Feeling the first bit of relief she had felt in what seemed like weeks, she looked up at him through tear-filled eyes,
"So, you're not giving up either?"

Tearfully, he shook his head,
"If the Father hasn't given up on me, there is no reason for me to give up on Him. How about you, Angel Girl?"

A sob escaped her as she shook her head,
"Well, the least I can do is hang in there a little longer for Him," She whispered with a tearful smile,
"After all, we are talking about the angel who is my favorite ray of sunshine on the cloudiest of day, you know?"

Andrew let out a laugh through his own tears at those words and he wearily squeezed her hand,

"Not me, Angel Girl; I think it's the other way around...you and Kev have been great, little girl..."

"So you're not gonna chew my head off right now?" Kevin's sleepy voice appeared in the doorway and both angels turned towards him,

"I can come in, and not have to worry?"

"It's safe, Kev," Andrew answered as he continued to hold onto his best friend's hand, his eyes on Kevin as he entered the room and took a seat on the other side of him,

"What are you doing up at this hour anyway? I thought you were sound asleep."

Shrugging his shoulders, the youngest Caseworker yawned sleepily before replying,

"I couldn't sleep a wink...that's not anything new these days."

"Kev, I'm really sorry about earlier this morning," The older angel sighed tiredly before continuing,

"You were right, and Angelica had me think through some things; I just apologize I was so stubborn..."

A slight smile formed on the youngest angel's lips,
"So everything is okay now? No one is giving up?"

"That's right, Kev," Andrew replied with a smile,
"No one is giving up. Though I do think it is time two angels who have to work tomorrow get some sleep."

"Enough said, Simba," Kevin replied sleepily as he started from the room,
"Maybe I can sleep now knowing you two are under control," He threw over his shoulder jokingly.

Chuckling tiredly, Andrew turned his attention back to his best friend, who was struggling to keep her eyes open,
"Let's go, little one. It's time to hit the hay," He watched her with eyes filled with love as she nestled down beside of him and was asleep almost before her head hit the pillow.

"Monica, I'm glad you all are home!" Cindy called out less then cheerfully the next afternoon as the Irish angel walked through the kitchen and was about to head up the stairs to Andrew's room,

"I really need to run to the store for a few minutes to grab some food for dinner tonight; I was so frustrated over yesterday, that I just couldn't do it, and I wasn't about to leave Andrew alone by himself this morning while you three were gone. So would you mind just watching Angelica while I'm gone? Brady's still at work, and Patrick and Wendy are still at school." The human finished in a rush as she shrugged into her jacket and grabbed her purse off the table.

"Cindy, don't worry about it," Monica started to object, feeling more cheerful this afternoon then she had in a while,

"You can stay here, rest, and I'll go and get the food. Just tell me what you need, and I'll pick it up."

"Oh, Mon', would you really?" Cindy breathed a sigh of relief as she looked gratefully at her angelic sister.

"Of course," Monica smiled in return, accepting the car keys and the short grocery list from her friend's hands,

"In fact, I'll take Angel along with me; just tell Andrew where I've gone, and I'll be back shortly, all right?"

Ten minutes later, the little Irish angel had managed to gather Angel together, and before too long, the twosome was in the car on the way to the nearest store.

Angel's spirits were high as well as the two chatted on the short drive to the store, the teenager expressing her relief and thanks at finally having decided to give the baby up for adoption when he or she was born.

"Sweetie, I can't begin to tell you how relieved I am at your decision," Monica smiled as they exited the store and carried the two bags of groceries to the car.

"Me too, to be honest," Angel replied as the angel unlocked the trunk and they put the bags inside,
"I really think it is what God intended and I can certainly live with that."

Closing the trunk, the Irish angel smiled as they got back into the car and she fastened her seatbelt,
"Well, I need to thank you as well for whatever you said to Andrew last night because it sure did help," She remarked as she started the engine and backed out of the parking space,
"He had given up and so had I."

"Well, I had to for awhile, but the things you told me kept going through my mind," Angel smiled as she leaned back in her seat,
"It just took me awhile to accept them."

Monica smiled as she watched the road ahead, but before she could say anything else, she felt the cold, hard feel of steel against her temple. The color draining from her face, she looked up into the rearview mirror in horror as the voice holding the gun spoke up,

"Just do as you're told, little lady and maybe neither of you will get hurt…."

Chapter 22

"How'd work go this afternoon, Kevin?" Andrew asked as his youngest charge settled himself comfortably in the chair next to his bed,
"Anything interesting that happened?"

"Nothing except for the usual," Kevin shrugged his shoulders with a wink at his friend and supervisor,
"Pretty much as the same as our last work day, although I wished we could've stayed here." The youngest angel leaned his chin in his hand as his eyes watched Andrew,
"By the way, Cupcake and Angel went to the store; they should be back in a few minutes. Cindy wanted me to tell you."

Andrew nodded his head and let out a yawn,
"All right." He was silent for a few moments before a concerned look crossed his face and he looked over at his friend again,
"Have you heard anything regarding Tess yet, Kev?"

A look of sadness crossed the Caseworker's face as he lowered his eyes to his hands,
"Unfortunately, no. I don't know why Sam hasn't come by and given us any news regarding her whereabouts; but I guess it's out of our hands right now, and we're not supposed to worry about it. When she comes around, she comes around."

"It just feels weird without her here, you know?" Andrew whispered, sighing softly as he recalled the hurtful things he had heard his former supervisor say to Monica several days ago,
"I just hope she comes around, as you said..."

"So do I," Kevin nodded his head in agreement,
"Although I'm still not all too happy with her, that doesn't mean I don't want her to see the light so to speak."

"None of us do, Kev," The supervisor uttered, the sadness still evident in his voice. He closed his eyes for a brief moment and when he opened them again to look at his charge and continue speaking, his green eyes widened as they came upon another figure in the room,
"Philip?" He watched as the demon nodded his head and looked from him to Kevin and back again. It took a few short moments before Philip spoke, his voice hesitant and quiet.

"Kevin, do you mind if I speak with your friend one more time alone? It's really important..."

After having overheard the conversation this demon had had with his two friends the other day, Kevin drew in a deep breath as he contemplated over whether or not to leave the room, and turned to face Andrew,
"I'll be out in the hall if you need me...or if he tries to do anything funny."

Andrew watched as Philip lowered his head to hide a chuckle as Kevin headed out the door and the older angel shook his head as well at his youngest charge's suddenly protective instincts of he and Monica when the harmless demon was around. Suppressing a smile himself, he looked up at Philip,
"Have you reached a decision?" He asked, nodding towards the chair by his bed as an invitation for the demon to sit down.

"Yes, I have," He replied softly meeting the angel's eyes,
"I want to come Home to God, Andrew," Tears shone in his dark eyes as he continued to speak,
"The darkness isn't right for me, though I had to learn it the hard way and I started thinking about returning when your Angel Girl fell. Her heartache over the loss of the Father's love and her strong desire to return made me start thinking and you probably don't know this, but it was Him who led me here that day with her, just as it was Him who led me to you in the fire. I don't understand it, but…"

"I think about the time you started wondering if the door was open, Philip, the Father was showing you that it was," Andrew replied gently,
"He knows your heart, Philip and maybe…maybe that is why He allowed Mon' to fall in the first place; so that changes in you could begin." Seeing Philip nod his head, the angel continued,
"So, what can I do to help?"

"Well," Philip began hesitantly,
"I was hoping you might pray with me for God to bring me back and at the same time…maybe we could pray for healing for you. I don't know if it is time for either of these things to happen, but God promises that when two or more are gathered in His name, we'll be answered in one way or another…"

"It definitely wouldn't hurt, Philip," Andrew replied with a gentle smile. Holding out his hand, the angel watched as Philip looked almost hesitant before he reached his own trembling hand out and grasped onto Andrew's hand. With as much strength he had left in his hand, Andrew gave the demon's hand a tight squeeze before he began,
"Father...Philip and I come to You once again, and he has spoken to me about wanting to return to You. I think I'm slowly starting to realize why a lot of these things have been happening in the first place, and I know that one of them is because You want Philip to return Home. I lift him up to You right now, Father..."

With his own eyes closed, Philip held on tightly to Andrew's hand as he drew in a shaky breath and whispered up his own prayer,
"God...it's been a long time. A little too long for my liking...Please, I'm asking You to forgive me for everything that I did to cause Your angels pain in the past; I'm still struggling to forgive myself, but I want so much to come Home. And please...if it's Your will, please heal Andrew. I know how much You love us all and that it breaks Your heart to see Your children in pain; and right now, Andrew's in a lot of pain. I lift him up to You, and I trust You to take care of him. In Your Son's name, Amen."

As the prayer finished, the angel and the demon exchanged one last look as friends on opposite sides of the spiritual realm, before Philip felt the light of God's love surround him and fill his heart until it surely felt as if it would burst. Tears of joy raced down his face as he was once again engulfed in the unfailing love of his Creator.

Turning once more to look at Andrew, Philip's tears fell unashamedly as he watched the angel transform before his eyes; the scars and bandages vanishing from his wounded human form, as the light, filled with the Father's love shone brightly through the entire room.

"Thank you, Father," Andrew whispered through tears, as he found himself standing for the first time in weeks, the pain that had bound him now completely gone and his human form restored to one that was vibrant and without damage from the horrible fire three weeks ago.

Glancing down at himself, Philip also noticed that the dark clothing that he had worn earlier was gone, and in it's place, he was wearing a crisp white shirt and tan slacks. His heart continued to burst with love, the newly transformed angel looked over at Andrew and started laughing through his tears of happiness,
"He's amazing!"

"Yeah...He is," Andrew choked out through his tears and with a bright smile, the angel reached over and grabbed his friend in a big hug,
"Welcome home, Philip."

Watching from the doorway with shocked eyes, Kevin stood rooted to his spot, his brown eyes wide open and his jaw dropped. It wasn't until the two angels released one another in the bedroom and Andrew turned to look his way, did the youngest angel find himself step forward,
"Simba...?"

"Hey, Kevin," Andrew replied with a tearful smile and a moment later, he found that his youngest charge had thrown his arms around him. Hugging him tightly, Andrew thanked the Father over and over again for the ability to be able to hug his young charge.

"You're better…" Kevin uttered, pulling away, wiping at his eyes.

"The Father decided it was time," Andrew replied, looking over at Philip,
"He also decided it was time that Philip return to us."

Kevin looked over at the newest angel in awe, now seeing the light of God's love in his eyes and he felt embarrassed by his mistrust,
"Welcome back, Philip…I'm sorry about earlier, it's just that Andrew and Monica…well, they mean everything to me and…"

"There is no need to explain," Philip assured him with a smile,
"I understand completely as they mean a great deal to me as well."

"I can't believe this," Kevin laughed as he shook his head awe,
"Everything happened so...quickly!"

"That's how God works, Kev," Andrew replied, looking between his two friends,
"Wait'll Monica sees you, Phil..."

"Wait'll she sees YOU, Andrew!" The youngest of the three interrupted, hugging his supervisor again,
"I can't wait to see the look on her face!"

As the three angels laughed, the sound of the front door opening sounded from downstairs and Wendy shouted, "I'm home!" before rushing up the stairs. As the teenager started to head to her bedroom, she shot a look into Andrew's bedroom, but did a double take as she saw her angelic friend now standing in the middle of his bedroom. The scars and bandages were nowhere in sight, and his face shown with the Father's Love once again. Dropping her backpack to the ground, Wendy gasped,
"Andrew?!"

"Hey, sweetheart," Andrew held his arms out and in a flash, the teenager had nearly thrown him off his feet in a bear hug,
"My gosh, it feels great to be able to hug you all again..."

"God healed you?" Wendy felt tears slipping onto her cheeks as she continued holding onto Andrew.

"What is all the commotion about?" Rose's voice sounded from the hallway, as she then entered the room followed closely by Cindy, Brady and Carla, who had just returned from an assignment,
"Angel Boy!" The oldest angel cried out with joy upon seeing him and wasted no time in wrapping her arms tightly around him,
"Oh honey, the Father came through…"

"With flying colors, Rose," Andrew replied, hugging her back tightly,
"Now I can properly thank you with a hug for taking care of my two charges."

"You know there is no need to thank me, honey; that joy was all mine to be able to work with them for a few days," Pulling away, she squeezed his hands tightly, her eyes shining with joy.

"I love a good miracle," Cindy remarked as she, Brady and Carla all gathered around the newly transformed angel, all of them exchanging hugs with him.

"I want to thank all of you for everything the past few weeks," Andrew said softly with tears in his eyes,
"Without all of you and my Angel Girl, I don't know what I would have done," Blinking back tears, he looked over at Philip, who had been watching the scene before him happily,
"And we have a new member of God's angelic army…."

All eyes turned to Philip, though no one was sure of what to say, until Rose stepped forward and wrapped her arm around the angel who had finally come Home,
"I always knew you'd come back."

"Thanks to the Father, and Andrew," Philip replied as he smiled at the oldest angel,

"I couldn't have done it without them, to be honest."

"But you did," Andrew smiled back at his friend and wrapped an arm around his shoulders,

"And we're really happy right now; it really is great to have you back, my friend."

Taking a step closer to the new angel, Cindy wiped at her eyes before reaching over and laying a gentle hand on the angel's shoulders,

"I have to agree with him, Philip. You're part of them now, and I hope you know that you're always welcome in our home anytime."

"Thank you, Cindy," Philip smiled through his tears as he looked at the rest of the crowd gathered in the bedroom,

"Thank you all."

Monica swallowed back a round of hot tears as she gazed around her at the abandoned, run down house that George Keyser had brought she and Angel to after showing up in the backseat of the car. Angel was in tears and the human angel was doing her very best to remain as calm as she could for the teenage girl's sake, but it was not an easy task. Especially knowing that this was the man who had not only killed Rachael before her eyes years ago, but had also raped Angel and nearly killed her best friend. To say he was a loose cannon would be putting it mildly and Monica knew that there was no telling what he could or would do to them. She knew she could call out to Andrew at any time, but her heart broke at knowing that there would be nothing her best friend could do to help them with his injuries, so she refrained from causing him any more pain for the time being.

"So, Angel, I hear you're pregnant," George snarled, coming closer to the terrified young girl and grinning when she pressed herself up against the wall.

"Keep your hands off of her," Monica rose to her feet in frightened defiance, not about to allow him to hurt Angelica again.

George grinned as he looked the angel up and down, causing shivers to run down her spine, though she stood her ground,
"I have no interest in a pregnant woman, baby," He replied softly, reaching out and grabbing Monica's wrist to pull her closer to him,
"Now you, on the other hand…."

Feeling his hot breath against her face, the little Irish angel came to the end of her rope, as all of her fury and frustration came to a head, along with the fact that she was never going to allow anyone to hurt her in this way again. Before she realized what had even happened, her hand had formed a small fist as she hit him as hard as she could muster in the face, feeling a combination of angelic guilt and human form satisfaction when she realized she had managed to bloody his nose.

"You little-." Grabbing her, George threw her down to the ground, his eyes ablaze with rage.

"Stop it!" Angelica shouted, her voice filled with anger as she jumped on Keyser's back and placed her hand over the man's eyes, all the while biting into his shoulder.

Howling in pain, George Keyser released his hold on the little Irish angel and all but threw Angel off of his back and onto the hard floor. Smiling as she groaned in pain from where she landed, Keyser sneered down at her and got into her face,
"You should know better, Miss Sullivan to not mess with me."

Fury rising in her veins, Monica rose shakily to her feet and moved so that she was standing over the teenager, her eyes narrowed into slits at George,
"Why do you do this, George? Haven't you hurt enough people lately? Does it bring you pleasure to see others in pain?"

"I do what needs to be done!" George snarled, getting in the angel's face once more,
"You never did know when to shut up, lady! But I'm about to shut you up!"

As he threw her down to the floor once more and aimed the gun at her head, Monica cried out to Angel,
"Angelica, you stay back!"

Angel began to sob upon hearing the order from her friend as well as from the pain in her ankle, which prohibited her from doing anything anyway. Hysteria began to take over as she heard her former teacher hiss at the little angel.

"How about a little fun, lassie and then we'll really HEAT things up in here?"

Anger and fear rushed together as Monica struggled against him until he grabbed a handful of her hair and yanked her head back, a cry of pain escaping her.

"I will shoot you, have you got that?!" He screamed at her, waving the gun in her sheet white face,
"I have no qualms about that at all! Or maybe I should just go ahead and torch the place and see how well you fight then!"

Breathing so hard, she felt lightheaded, understanding what it was he meant to do, she did the only thing she knew to do, as she knew her angelic form was not going to be returned to her at this time. Closing her eyes, she spoke with her heart, her terrified voice laced with tears and fear,
"Andrew…I know you can't help me, but we're in trouble…I love you, my friend and pray for us…I don't think this is going to have a happy ending…"

Chapter 23

The laughter in Andrew's bedroom soon started to die down as the newly transformed angel took a step back from the crowd and made his way over to the bed. Kevin frowned in concern as he watched his friend and supervisor sit down heavily on the bed, and then put his fingers to his temples; he didn't miss the deep worry evident in his green eyes as he seemed to be hearing something only he could.

"Simba?" The youngest angel broke the silence as he took a step towards him,
"Andrew, what's wrong?"

"Shhh," Andrew whispered, his eyes looking down at the carpet. His eyes closed for a brief moment, and soon the group watched as he opened them suddenly and fear instantly took over the once joyous look on his handsome face,
"Oh God, Monica..."

"Angel Boy, what is it?" Rose asked quietly, her eyes on her young friend as he quickly rose to his feet, his eyes wild.

"Monica's in trouble...she and Angel are both in trouble..." He stuttered, running a hand over his face,
"Something happened on the way home from the grocery store..." He stopped for a moment before continuing, his voice trembling,
"George Keyser has them."

"Oh my God," Cindy uttered as she all but collapsed against Brady,
"What is he doing to them?"

"I don't know…I don't know…" Andrew uttered, his hands shaking,
"She won't say…but then again, she doesn't know…"

Philip closed his own eyes for a moment before meeting them with Andrew's,
"We're being called to go, my friend," He said softly.

Feeling the same knowledge fill him, Andrew nodded his head,
"Then we need to go…"

"Be careful, please…" Kevin uttered, on the verge of tears,
"And bring them home…"

Andrew all but grabbed his youngest charge into a tight hug and held onto him for a few moments before pulling away,

"We'll be okay, Wonder Boy. And we'll bring them home; we promise."

"We know you will, Angel Boys," Rose whispered through the tears that started up in her own blue eyes. Reaching first for Andrew and drawing him into a big hug, the Search and Rescue angel then turned to Philip and embraced him as well,

"Go and get our girls."

"I'm calling the police," Brady uttered, both anger and fear filling his heart. As he gave his wife a final squeeze, he whispered into her ear lovingly,

"They're going to get them both; you don't have anything to worry about, Princess. Keyser will be caught tonight, I know he will."

Drawing in a shaky breath, Philip turned to Andrew and whispered,

"You ready?"

Nodding his head, Andrew closed his green eyes tightly before grasping the other angel's hand in his own,

"Ready." Finally, in the blink of an eye, both disappeared from the bedroom, leaving the rest of the group standing there in shock.

Angel continued to sob brokenly as she watched through horrified eyes, as George Keyser seemed to saturate the room with gasoline. Both she and Monica were now tied to chairs with the gas poured all around them and for the first time in her young life, she was sure she was going to die.

"Father, I'm afraid…I'm so afraid…" Monica whispered through tears, watching as George finished and threw the empty gas can down by the door.

Angrily wiping at the blood on his face from his nose, he turned to them,
"Time to say 'good night' ladies…"

"You won't get away with this," Monica uttered her Irish voice thick from tears,
"They're going to catch you and then God will be the only one who can help you…"

No sooner had she said these words did the room seemingly fill with bright light that did not come from a match, as George whirled around and came face to face with Andrew and Philip, who were both glowing brightly with God's love.

Monica felt herself nearly collapse and her vision blurred with hot tears as she saw her dearest friend in the entire angelic realm standing before her...unharmed and glowing brightly with Philip by his side. The newest angel looked slightly hesitant, but his dark eyes were filled with love and determination to help save them. Choking on sobs, the Irish angel struggled once more against the bonds that held her,

"ANDREW!"

His eyes filled with tears for his best friend and Angel, Andrew turned towards George Keyser and glared at him,

"Put the gas down, George."

"No...no, this isn't possible," The human uttered, pointing at the blonde angel with the match he held in his hand,

"You're supposed to be dead, man!"

"Didn't you know, George?" Philip asked softly, as with no more than a look, the new angel snuffed out the match and caused the ropes holding Monica and Angel to fall away,
"You can't kill an angel…"

"Angels?" George uttered, looking away as he saw Angel all but fly into Monica's lap, despite the fact that she was limping.

"Sent by God, George, to tell you that He loves you, despite all of the terrible things you've done," Andrew added, as he heard the sound of sirens outside and knew that this was finally over.

"And it seems you'll have plenty of time to get to know Him in prison," Philip replied,
"And I'd use the time wisely."

Police rushed in at that moment, wasting no time in handcuffing George Keyser and reading him his rights. As he was led from the house, Philip quietly approached Angel and Monica, both of whom were trembling. Kneeling down, he tenderly ran his hand over the Irish angel's face,
"We'll talk later, little angel. Right now, I think there is someone else who wants to see you," Carefully picking Angel up in his arms, he headed outside where Brady was waiting anxiously with the police.

Andrew felt tears well up in his eyes as they met with Monica's, noting worriedly that she didn't move from the chair as she just watched him with tears streaming down her pale face,
"Angel Girl…" He whispered hoarsely, his own voice trembling over what had nearly happened here.

Her vision blurred by tears, she just looked up him, watching as the glow began to fade around him,
"You are so beautiful…" She whispered, her voice catching in a sob.

His own vision blurring up, Andrew took a shaky step towards her and stopped when he was just a few feet from his best friend. Not wanting to waste anymore time, the blonde angel held his slightly shaking arms out to Monica and whispered through his tears,
"Come here, sweet baby..."

With those words that she had been longing to hear for three long weeks, Monica let out the sob that she had been holding in and leaped off the chair and in no time at all was in her best friend's arms. Her arms wrapped as tightly as possible around his neck as she buried her tear-streaked face into his white shirt,
"Oh Andy..." She whimpered as the tears flowed faster,
"My dear sweet Andy...you're-you're better..."

Nodding his head as he wrapped his arms as tightly as he could around her waist, Andrew pressed tiny kisses into her hair and on her cheeks,
"Oh Angel Girl, I don't want to let you go..."

"Me neither," Monica whispered into his chest as she ran her fingers through his now silky blonde locks,
"Andy, I love you so much...I just love you so much...and t-thank you. Thank you..."

After a moment, he finally pulled away somewhat and took her tear-streaked face into his hands, his heart rejoicing at being able to finally do so,
"Are you okay? Did he hurt you?" His eyes searched hers as he asked the urgent questions.

But the Irish angel shook her head tearfully,
"The only thing that hurts is my hand…." As soon as the words were out, Andrew had caught her hand up in his own, seeing the red and slightly swollen knuckles as he turned questioning eyes back to her,
"He was going to…he wanted to…."

"Oh baby," He uttered, understanding what she could not say, as he wiped at her tears,
"But he didn't, right?" Tears glistened in his eyes, as he had to ask the dreaded question.

"It…wasn't very angel-like, but I think I broke his nose…" Monica confessed through tears.

Andrew's eyes widened in shock for a moment, before he threw his head back and laughed, then pressing his lips firmly to her forehead, he chuckled,
"That's my girl."

She laughed shakily with him, before her laughter turned to tears once more as she flung herself again into his arms, her tears a mixture of fear and joy as she felt his hand on the back of her head,
"Andrew…"

"Do you have any idea how much I love you?" He whispered into her ear as he rocked her gently,
"Little girl, there are no words. I don't think words to express the depth of it will ever be created," Feeling her clinging to him as tightly as her trembling arms would allow, he kissed the side of her head,
"You're safe now, sweetheart. Now, let's get you home…"

"Don't let me go…" Monica whimpered softly.

"Not a chance, baby," He whispered back to the little angel who had his heart,
"You can count on that."

During the long drive back to the Sullivan's house, Andrew kept his arm wrapped around his best friend's shoulders as her own arms refused to release him. Gently kissing the top of her head, the blonde angel then turned back to Angelica who was sitting on his other side and was leaning into him heavily, her blonde head resting against his chest,
"It's all over now, sweetheart."

"I'm so glad you're okay, Andrew," Angel whispered through her tears as she wrapped her own arms snuggly around him and closed her eyes,
"And thank you for saving us..."

Glancing up to the front of the car where Brady was driving and Philip was sitting in the passenger's seat, Andrew smiled at his two friends through the review mirror and replied,
"There's nothing Phil or I wouldn't do for you two ladies. I love you both so very much..." Here, he laid a gentle kiss on Angel's head before tightening his arms around both the teenager and his best friend.

"So how on earth did you two wind up going from the grocery store to being in the hands of that monster?" Brady asked, still trying to piece everything together,
"Though just let me say that I am eternally grateful for the connection God gave the two of you or this could have had a much different ending," He shook his head, trying not to even consider the possibilities of what could have happened to his daughter and the angel.

"I forgot to lock the car when we got out," Monica replied, still visibly shaken from the events of the last few hours,
"He was in the back seat and we didn't know it."

"He had a gun on Monica the whole time she was driving," Angel added tearfully, swallowing back another round of tears at how afraid she had been.

"But he's behind bars now," Philip spoke up, turning around in his seat and looking at the trio behind him,
"And if it's the Father's will, he won't be out for a long, long time."

"Thanks to you two..." Monica uttered into her best friend's chest as she looked from Andrew to Philip,
"I...I can't believe..."

"It's okay, little angel," Philip gently interrupted, turning around again and looking into her tear-filled brown eyes,
"I'll explain everything once we get back to the house, and once we've all calmed down some. Everything's happened so quickly, it's taken our breaths away so to speak."

"That is has, Philip," Andrew remarked. Though he knew that there were still things to work on with this assignment, he couldn't help but to feel content for the moment. The Father had healed him, brought Philip back to the Light and his best friend was safe and right where he wanted her to be. Feeling her still trembling up against him, he reached for her hand and kissed her palm gently, feeling the coldness of her hand in his. Knowing that what George Keyser had tried to do had shaken her terribly, he tightened his hold on her.

Tightening her trembling arms around her dearest friend, Monica closed her eyes tightly as she leaned her head up against his shoulder once again,
"I hope you don't mind, but I don't want to let you go just yet..."

"I never mind that," The older angel smiled tearfully down at her as he ran a hand through her hair,
"Because I'm not letting you go either, little one."

Chapter 24

"Oh thank God!" Cindy cried out as the front door opened and she saw Brady carrying a sleeping Angel inside, closely followed by Philip, then Andrew, with his arm wrapped protectively around her angelic sister's shoulders,
"Are you two all right?"

"They're a little shaken up, Princess, and Angel has a sprained ankle, but they'll be fine by morning, I'm sure," Brady replied, his own eyes filled with relief,
"George Keyser is now safely behind bars and the police will be by tomorrow."

"Thank you, Father," Rose uttered as she approached her friends. Taking Andrew's free hand in her own, with the other, she gently touched the Irish angel's pale face,
"Are you all right, sweetheart?"

The caring and concern in Rose's eyes, combined with just feeling overwhelmed at all that had happened today, both good and bad, caused the tears to well up in Monica's eyes once more as she nodded her head numbly, feeling unable to speak at the moment.

"She'll be okay, Rose," Andrew replied softly, squeezing his former supervisor's hand tightly,
"She just needs a little time is all. They both had a few close calls and we all know from experience that man is unpredictable."

"You got that one right, honey," The older angel sighed with a shake of her head before reaching over and hugging both of her friends gently,

"We're just so glad you kids are all right..."

As Brady and Cindy headed back up the stairs a few moments later, Brady still carrying the sleeping Angelica in his arms, the four remaining angels turned to the sound of footsteps pounding down the stairs and Kevin flew down them, his face a mask of concern for all,

"You guys are all right!"

With his free arm, Andrew reached out and pulled his youngest charge close to him and Monica and hugged them both tightly for a few moments before speaking,

"They'll be just fine; a little shaken up, but they're fine."

"Monica, I don't know what I'd do if anything else had happened..." Kevin whispered tearfully as he grasped the Irish angel's hand in his own and squeezed it tightly,

"I really don't know what I would've done..."

Monica squeezed his hand tightly, finally finding her voice as she blinked back tears,
"Me neither, Kevin…" She whispered, before she felt Kevin wrap her up in an uncharacteristic tight hug.

"I'm so glad you're okay, Cupcake," He uttered as he pulled away and watched as Andrew gently led their friend over to the sofa.

Andrew suppressed a smile as he wrapped an afghan around his best friend's shoulders as they sat down and drew her into his arms once more,
"Seems our little Cupcake has one heck of a right hook," He teased in an attempt to make her smile.

Kevin's eyes bugged out as he took a seat on Andrew's other side and watched Monica let out a chuckle through her tears,

"You punched the guy?"

"I can't help feeling a wee bit guilty...but it sure felt good afterwards," The little Irish angel spoke up for the first time as she kept her arms wrapped around her best friend's waist,

"But my knuckles hurt though..."

"I'll bet," Kevin shook his head in awe before a small smile appeared on his face. Turning back to Philip, who was still standing off to the side watching the trio, Kevin was about to say something else before the new angel gently cut in.

"I'll be upstairs with Rose to give you all some time together," He spoke softly, exchanging a smile with all three angels.

"Are you sure?" The Irish angel whispered as she slightly lifted her head and looked at the angel,

"You can stay if you want to..."

Shaking his head, Philip winked at her before following Rose up the stairs,

"No, it's all right, little angel. I'll catch you guys before you hit the rack, okay?"

Meeting his friend's eyes, Andrew smiled in his direction,

"Thanks for your help tonight, Philip."

"Any time, my friend," With a final smile and nod, the angel turned around and headed up the stairs after Rose.

Monica's tired eyes followed the newest angel as he headed upstairs, before she asked softly,
"So, will you fill me in on what I missed here? I leave for a few hours and the next thing I know Philip is an angel and you're all better, which I am so thankful for, Andrew," She tightened her arms around him as she finally felt herself start to relax.

"I want to know what happened out there!" Kevin chided excitedly,
"What happened after you decked him?"

Feeling a shudder flow through his best friend, Andrew looked over at Kevin and replied gently,
"I'll tell you what? I'll fill you in on all of that later, Kev, but lets not rehash it tonight. We could all stand for a good night's sleep tonight and I don't want a certain little angel having nightmares if possible."

Understanding filled the youngest angel's eyes as he nodded his head, unable to help smiling at the contented look on Monica's face that had been absent for so long,
"Works for me, so tell her about you and Philip, Andrew. Cupcake, it was amazing!"

Blushing slightly, Andrew shook his blonde head even as a smile graced his handsome face,

"You've seen these kinds of transformations before, Kev-"

"Not like that, though!" The Caseworker interrupted, awe still evident in his dark eyes,

"It was like, one minute you and Philip were praying, and the next...WHAM! You both were standing there glowing! Talk about cool!"

Unable to contain a laugh as she snuggled closer to her best friend, Monica raised her eyes to her best friend and raised a hand to lovingly touch his face,

"And I for one, love seeing him glow...he's so beautiful."

"Angel Girl," Andrew lowered his head into her hair as he felt his face continuing to flush a deep red and he heard Kevin chuckle next to him.

"It's the truth though, Andrew, and I was never more glad to see it than I was today. I refrained from calling out to you for so long, because I didn't know the Father had healed you and I didn't want to cause you anymore pain with not being able to help me," She explained softly.

"Hey," He said gently, taking her chin in his hand,
"You can always call out to me. Even if I could not have been there, someone would have, though I'm glad in this case it worked out to be me," Seeing her nod, he kissed her forehead gently as he released her chin, before he drew in a deep breath,
"I want to tell you both again, thank you, for everything you two have done for me the past few weeks. Kev, you knocked some sense into me when I most needed it-."

"I'm just sorry it took me so long to be there for you, Simba," The youngest angel remarked sadly.

"The important thing is that you got there, Kevin," Monica chided him softly, watching as he smiled his thanks.

"That's right," Andrew agreed, looking into Kevin's eyes,
"It doesn't matter when it happened, but that it did and I had lost all will to fight the day you laid into me and that means a lot to me, Kevin."

"You know I'd do anything for you, Simba," He replied, his voice thick with emotion,
"We both would. You're the best supervisor we could ask for and we love you."

Blinking back tears, the oldest angel turned to his best friend,
"And you, Mon', I don't think I could ever thank you enough. You were there through it all; the infection, staying up all night to be with me, always being so positive. You have no idea what it means, Angel Girl."

"I think I do, my dear friend," Monica looked through blurred vision into his face and smiled a shaky smile,
"You have always done that for me, and you're always so strong; and I wanted so badly to return that favor...just so badly, Andrew."

The tears streaking his cheeks, Andrew pressed his lips firmly on her forehead and pulled her as close to him as he could. Removing an arm from his best friend to reach for Kevin, the older angel pulled both of his charges and friends into a firm hug as he whispered tearfully,
"I love you both so much...I couldn't have asked for better charges, you know."

Wrapping an arm tightly around his supervisor, Kevin reached with the other one and pulled the little Irish angel close as well. With tears filling his own dark eyes, the youngest angel smiled before closing his eyes and just enjoying the closeness he had with his two dearest friends.

Andrew awoke early the next morning and gazed down at the Irish angel who was still fast asleep in his arms. She had drifted off to sleep last night while the threesome had been talking downstairs, and instead of carrying her up to her own room, he had brought her where she had been accustomed to staying the last week-with him. The older angel had been concerned about nightmares, given the previous days events, but Monica had slept peacefully all night and he knew it mostly had to do with the Father healing him as she could sleep without fear or worry for the first time in three weeks.

Carefully disentangling himself from her warm embrace, he got up and covered her with the blanket. Seeing her stir slightly, he softly touched her cheek with his hand,
"Sleep, sweetheart," He whispered, shaking his head in amazement at the effect his touch always seemed to have on her as she immediately settled back into a deep sleep. Smiling, he gently kissed her temple before slipping out of the room, quietly closing the door behind him.

Seeing Brady and Cindy talking quietly in the study, the angel knocked softly on the door,
"Everything okay?" He asked carefully, seeing deep concern on their faces.

Brushing at a tear on her cheek, Cindy looked up at him and replied softly,
"Patrick never came home last night."

His green eyes filling with sadness over the words his friend spoke, Andrew took a step into the room and took the seat next to Cindy while Brady sat on the arm, gently rubbing his wife's back,
"Oh Cindy..." Reaching out to wrap a gentle arm around her shoulders, his eyes filled with tears again as felt her literally collapse against him. Turning to Brady, the angel's eyes filled with deep worry, he asked carefully,
"What do you think has happened to him?"

"I don't know, Andrew," Brady shook his head in reply as he ran a hand through his hair, exhaustion written all over his face,
"But I do know that we can't go looking for him tonight..."

Leaning his chin on Cindy's head as he ran a loving hand through her blonde hair, Andrew sighed softly before speaking up once again,
"We'll find him, Brady; he'll have to come home eventually."

"I suppose that is what we should allow to happen at this point instead of dragging him home," Brady sighed heavily, looking down at his wife,
"The more we force him to come back, the more determined he is going to be to leave and we can't keep him locked up in his room forever."

"I know," Cindy whispered brokenly, shaking her head,
"It's just that 6 weeks ago, we had three kids who weren't in any trouble, who were racing to the front door to greet our angelic friends and now we have a pregnant daughter and a missing son…"

"God sent you angels for a reason, Cindy," Andrew replied gently,
"As he knew you were going to need them. When Paddy comes home, I'll have Kevin try to talk to him as he best understands Paddy's situation. Mon' is still working with Angel and she's no longer considering abortion…"

"She was considering that?" Brady looked shocked at this revelation.

"Yes, she was, 'was' being the part to remember. She now wants to give the baby up for adoption, so things are getting better slowly. Sometimes they just take time is all, but don't lose faith that God has a plan in all of this," Andrew reminded them, looking at each of them in turn.

"I can't forget that," Brady shook his head before a small laugh escaped him,
"We've been hearing those words continuously around this house the past few weeks."

"And don't forget that they're all true," Andrew continued, finally pulling away from Cindy, but keeping his hand on her shoulder,
"Paddy will be all right, and no matter how longer this assignment takes, it will all turn out all right in the end."

A few tears forming in his own eyes at the words his angelic friend spoke, Brady looked gratefully over at Andrew and looked into his green eyes,
"We're so glad you all are here, Andrew; you all have been great throughout all of this...".

"I could say the same for you, Brady," Andrew replied quietly, looking between each of his human friends.

"There isn't anything we wouldn't do for any of you, Andrew," Cindy replied, managing a small smile as the angel drew her close in a hug once more.

Some time later, Monica stirred slowly and opened her tired brown eyes. Immediately realizing that Andrew must have already gotten up, she also knew that she wasn't alone as she slowly sat up and saw Philip sitting in the chair near the bed.

"Good morning," He told her with a smile, watching as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes,
"Or should I say good afternoon?"

"Is it that late?" She asked, stifling a yawn.

"You needed the rest," He replied gently, watching her intently,
"But I wanted to talk to you to make sure that you were okay…both with what happened yesterday…and with me."

Shivering slightly as she pulled the extra blanket tighter around her shoulders, Monica leaned up against the wall and smiled sleepily at the new angel,
"Of course I'm 'okay' with you, Philip-"

"Because I know it must've taken you by total surprise," He gently interrupted, leaning his elbows on his knees as his brown eyes watched her,
"It's all right to admit it, little angel."

"Maybe a wee bit," The Irish angel yawned again as she wrapped her arms around her legs,
"But I really am happy that you chose this; and I'm also glad to see you and Andrew getting along so well." A sleepy smile spread across her pretty face as she recalled the exchanges between Philip and her best friend the night before.

"He's a great angel, Monica," Philip said seriously as he watched her,
"You picked out the perfect best friend for all eternity, and I know he's just as proud to call you his best friend." A smile graced the angel's face as he continued looking at Monica.

A soft blush rising to her cheeks, the little Irish angel nodded her head as she smiled back,
"He is, Philip; he's...he's amazing, beyond words can describe. But I also want to be your friend as well, and that's the honest truth," She lowered her eyes briefly to the bed, but lifted them when she heard Philip speak up again.

"How are you doing after last night, though?" He gently asked,
"Andrew told me how you knocked that guy in the nose and busted him a good one. He's proud of you, little angel," Philip shot her a wink and smiled as she laughed.

"I wasn't willing to go where he wanted to go, Philip, and don't take this the wrong way because all is forgiven, but I think dealing with you, when you weren't so nice, made me a bit stronger. I just didn't realize it until yesterday," She replied softly with a smile.

"Well, I suppose we're even then," He told her returning her smile,
"It was watching you and Andrew that taught me the meaning of true friendship. Even through the times you've hurt each other, you both seem to come back stronger than ever."

Unknown to either angel, Andrew had stopped right outside the door, on his way in to check on his friend, but had hesitated, hearing the conversation between her and Philip.

Monica considered his words carefully before she spoke again,
"Having a friendship, Philip, is a bit like being an angel, I think, meaning that you never stop learning. Andrew and I are proof of that, because we have done our share of hurtful things to each other, but with each of those things, we've grown and even now, we're still learning. At least I am. I had another friend once, as you well know, but she put herself ahead of anyone else, including God, to do what she wanted to do and though it took me a long time to see it, I know now that Andrew would never do that; not now," She smiled as she lowered her eyes for a moment, thinking about her best friend,
"I know he's always going to be there, no matter what stupid things I may do, and he reminds me of that at least a hundred times a day and not necessarily with words. What I feel for him runs so deep in my heart and though I love all my friends," She looked at the new angel to let him know she included him in that statement,
"Andrew will always have a special piece of it that no one else could ever fill, nor would I want them to."

Feeling a deep blush rise to his cheeks, Andrew smiled slightly as he heard the words his best friend was saying about him, before turning slowly away from the slightly ajar bedroom door and headed back downstairs to give his two friends some privacy.

Chapter 25

As Andrew headed back downstairs, the angel's green eyes widened in shock as he heard commotion coming from the living room. Quickening his pace, the blonde angel stopped in the doorway as he saw Brady letting lose his fury to Patrick, who had finally arrived home just moments ago and was sitting on the living room couch. From his vantage point, Andrew could tell that the teenager was once again drunk and he wasn't listening to anything his parents were telling him. Cindy was sitting across the room in a separate chair, tears streaming from beneath her blue eyes and Andrew's heart immediately went out to his human friend.

"I have had it up to here with you, young man!" Brady shouted, waiting to see if there was any sort of regret in his son's eyes to at least assure him that he was sorry for his actions. But what made him angrier was that the teenager continued to sit there, slumped on the living room couch, and his dark eyes staring off into space.

"What has gotten into you?" Brady demanded, his voice loud enough to be heard across the street,
"Don't you think this family has enough to deal with considering the fact that Angel is pregnant?"

"Yeah," Patrick growled, rising clumsily to his feet,
"Your perfect baby daughter, huh, dad? Guess she's now a bit tainted if you ask me! Not so perfect and sweet anymore, now that she allowed her teacher to use her…."

"That's enough," Brady snapped, his face red with fury,
"Don't you dare go pointing any fingers when you don't even have the courage to go and see Amy after your not so pure intentions resulted in a fire that hurt her!"

Andrew watched in horror as Patrick drew back his fist, prepared to unleash his anger on his father violently, despite Cindy's protests. Just as the angel was trying to decide whether to interfere with free will, a cry behind him stopped Patrick in his tracks.

"Paddy, don't!"

At Monica's cry, the drunken teenager lowered his hand, though he still trembled with rage,
"Why are we surrounded by angels who can't seem to make anything better?" He snapped in Andrew and Monica's direction,
"Oh wait, that's right…you were able to save ANGEL!" He snarled out his sister's name as if it left a bad taste on his tongue.

"Don't you even bring them into this, Patrick Sullivan!" Cindy snapped harshly, her face though streaked with tears, was also red with fury,
"Don't you even!"

"And why not?" Patrick snapped, glaring over at his mother,
"They've never intervened, not once, these past few weeks! So I have every right to blame them!"

"Patrick, please...just listen to your parents, they can help you understand-" Andrew began as gently as he could as he took a step closer to the drunken teenager, but he was interrupted as Paddy got into his face and shouted.

"Shut up!" Before the angel even had time to think, he felt Patrick's fist come in contact with his nose and the next thing he knew, he had stumbled into Monica and if wasn't for her arms, he would have fallen to the floor,
"Just shut up, angel!" The teenager continued shouting, still fuming.

"Patrick!" Brady shouted, his anger nearly reaching its limit.

"That's enough!" Cindy cried out, quickly becoming frightened by this sudden violent streak within her only son.

Monica's own face was flushed with anger and once she made sure that Andrew had his balance, she moved to stand between him and the angry teenager, before her best friend could object as he was still recovering from his shock over what had just happened,
"You need to calm down, Patrick Sullivan," She snapped heatedly,
"It's obvious that you have problems right now and things on your mind, but if you think slugging your father or Andrew is going to solve it, then you have another thing coming! If you're angry, that's fine-lets talk about that, but don't you dare raise your hand in anger to anyone who loves you! We've dealt with one person who liked to inflict abuse on others the past few weeks and I, for one, am not in the mood to deal with another one! That man caused the problems with your sister and with Andrew, no one else! However, the problem with Amy, you caused by following your own free will and instead of accepting that and trying to fix it, you prefer to blame everyone else. Seems to me, it's time you had a little chat with your Creator and faced the fact that you need to take some responsibility for your own actions!"

Shaking his head in anger, Patrick shoved past the two angels roughly and started storming up the stairs to his room, all the while shouting back at all of them,
"I'm outta here then, if that's the way you feel!"

"Patrick Sullivan, get back down here!" Brady shouted after his son as he started after him,
"We're not through talking yet-"

"Yeah, well I AM!" The teenager sneered over at his father before turning around and racing up the stairs. But Brady wasn't about to let Patrick go off without his say, and the human took the steps two at a time as he raced after him.

Hearing the angry voice upstairs, Cindy shakily wiped the angry tears from her eyes before her face turned to worry and she headed over to Andrew,
"My God, are you okay?" She asked, turning his head gently with her hand and inspecting his nose where her son had just laid into him.

Though he winced slightly, the angel managed a smile,
"I'm okay, Cin'. No real harm done and after the last few weeks, that was a walk in the park."

Still feeling the effects of her Irish temper and now knowing Andrew was all right, Monica lowered her head and muttered,
"I need to cool off…" Before she grabbed her jacket and headed out the front door to the porch.

Cindy sighed heavily as she shook her head,
"I think we are all at the end of our rope with no end in sight, Andrew. Seems like no sooner is something fixed that something else goes wrong…"

"I'm not really sure everything was fixed to begin with, Cin..." Andrew whispered before letting out a sigh,
"But that's why we're gonna continue to stay here until everything is fixed-"

"Get out of my way!" The sound of Patrick's voice filled the living room once again and the teenager shoved past his mother and Andrew one more time. Two suitcases were in his clenched hands and his face was red with anger, and he still appeared to be swaying on his feet from the alcohol.

"Patrick Sullivan, get yourself back here this instant!" Brady shouted from the stairs as he hurried down them and stood next to his wife and angelic friend,
"I'm not going to tell you again-"

"No way!" Paddy shouted, turning to glare at the three behind him,
"I'm not gonna live with you all anymore!"

"Patrick, if you leave this house, don't say I'm not warning you right now that we may not let you back!" Brady fumed as he stared into his son's drunken eyes,
"At least not until you've got your life in order again, and you're back to the son we love-"

"You can forget about that, DAD, because I'm NOT coming back!" The teenager shouted back.

"Paddy, you don't want to do this…" Cindy pleaded, looking at her son through tear-filled eyes.

"Oh believe me, mom," He all but spat back at her, as he walked out the front door
"I do!"

Monica jumped when the front door slammed as she whirled around to see Patrick with two suitcases and it didn't take her long to realize what was happening,
"You're making a huge mistake," She told him, though still angry, managing to control it,
"Probably the biggest you'll ever make."

"Save it, angel!" He snapped, glaring at her with near hatred in his eyes.

"The streets aren't the nicest place to be and you're headed down the same path as your grandfather once was, Patrick, with your drinking to try and solve your problems. It won't help, I can promise you that, but what do I know when you seem to have all the answers." She retorted as her own fiery eyes met with his.

"You're right, you DON'T know anything!" Paddy snarled back at her,

"You and your angel friends, who have done nothing to help these past few weeks, have done nothing to help us, so why should I even listen to your crap?!" With that final saying, the teenager turned on his heel and stormed down the street and the Irish angel watched helplessly as he disappeared from sight.

"What the heck just went on down here?" Kevin asked several minutes later as he and Philip walked into the living room and found Andrew and Monica sitting side by side on the couch, the older angel's arm wrapped tightly around her trembling shoulders as she was fighting sobs, while Brady and Cindy were clinging tightly to one another in the middle of the room,
"It sounded like something dropped on the house..."

"Paddy left home, Kevin," Andrew replied softly, watching the look of shock that appeared on his youngest charge's face,
"He was drunk and turned a bit violent and then he left."

Seeing Cindy becoming more distraught, Brady gently led her from the room and out onto the patio.

"I can't believe this," Kevin uttered weakly, sinking down into a chair,
"When are things going to turn around?"

"I don't want to do this anymore…" Monica whispered, the events of the last six weeks, suddenly becoming too much for her.

"Little angel?" Philip said gently, watching as she rose to her feet and looked at Andrew.

"I want to go Home. We've been here for six weeks and though I love this family…I feel like we've been fighting something for weeks and I'm not sure I have it in me to fight anymore," She whispered tearfully.

"Angel Girl," Andrew said gently, meeting his eyes with hers,
"We can't give up. Not when we are still needed…"

"Andrew's right, Monica." The voice of Sam sounded next to them, and the four angels turned towards the Angel's Angel. Although his eyes were sympathetic for them all, he also carried a seriousness about him,
"You all can't leave yet; there's still stuff that needs to be done."

"But I can't do this anymore, Sam..." The weary Irish angel whispered miserably, sinking back onto the couch next to her best friend and fumbling for his hand,
"I-I want to go Home so badly..."

"You will, my friends," Sam looked from each angel to the other,
"Now, none of this that happened just now was not part of the plan; but now that it has happened, the Father is calling His angels to find Patrick and bring him home. For good."

"Who?" Kevin asked blankly.

"You, Kevin," Turning back to Andrew and Monica, he met his younger friend's eyes and added,
"And you two as well..."