Learning to trust

PROLOGUE

"So, where are we headed exactly, Simba?" Kevin piped up from the back seat, deciding to break the silence in the car. Though things had been stressful the last several weeks for all of them and especially the last few days for his two closest friends, the youngest angel couldn't help but feel hyper at the aspect of having a few days off to relax and try to unwind.

"The Father told me down along the Oregon coast, Kev," Andrew replied with a slight smile as he kept his eyes on the highway,
"It's supposed to be really beautiful there and with it being off season, it shouldn't be packed with tourists either."

"Hey, hey!" Kevin chirped as tour guidebooks appeared next to him on the seat and he grinned up towards the heavens. Picking up one of the books, he started reading things off,
"Cool! Museums, whale watching, and look at all the restaurants! I can't wait to eat!"

Chuckling softly, Andrew even saw the hint of a grin on his best friend's face as she gazed out the window, having not said anything since leaving the Sullivan's an hour ago. He knew that they were both tired after two sleepless nights, which had left their emotions all but raw, but on the same token, he wanted her to relax as well and to try and put the current situation between them in the back part of her mind as much as possible. He knew it would be hard as he could so clearly feel the loss of trust in their relationship and knew she could as well, as they were so in tune to each other, but he was hoping, if they could both just relax a little over the next few days, they could at the very least talk out some of the other things that had driven her to betray him in the first place.

"If you need me to drive for awhile, just let me know," Monica said softly, watching as her best friend rubbed at one of his tired eyes. Though tired herself, she felt much too tied up in knots to want to sleep.

"Simba, can we charter a boat?" Kevin asked as he continued to skim through the books the Father had provided.

"We'll see, Wonder Boy," Andrew replied with a wink in the rearview mirror before turning his attention back to his best friend,
"I may take you up on that in awhile," He told her gratefully as he saw her nod her head. Trying to push aside his own grief over the conversations they had yesterday, he reached over and laid a gentle hand on her leg, waiting until she looked over at him, the simple gesture bringing tears to her eyes,
"Angel Girl, I know yesterday was miserable, for both of us, but we have a little break now and I want you to enjoy it too, okay? It's been a tough couple of months, but now it's time to relax."

Reaching down and lacing her fingers through his, she smiled slightly as she felt him squeeze gently,
"I'll try; but I haven't relaxed in a while, so I may not know the definition..."

"Here's a dictionary, Monica!" Kevin piped up from the backseat as a broad smile spread across his younger face,
"Looks like the Father had everything prepared for us!" He gave his co-worker a wink to try and lighten her mood and was relieved to see what sounded like a small laugh escape her as she accepted the thick book.

"I don't think she meant literally, Kev, but thanks anyway," Andrew shot back over his shoulder before looking gratefully at his youngest charge in the review mirror,
"We'll be stopping for lunch in about another hour or two, so if either of you have suggestions of where you want to eat, then shoot."

Kevin appeared thoughtful for a moment before he spoke up with an impish grin,
"How about Denny's for a snack, Ruby Tuesdays for an appetizer, Sherri's for lunch and The Ground Round for dessert?"

Andrew shot him a look in the rearview mirror once more,
"I was thinking of maybe one stop, if we want to get to the coast today, Kev, and I'm thinking you can get all those things in one place," He winked over at Monica, noticing how she kept her fingers intertwined in his as if needing reassurance, not that he minded as maybe he needed it too.

"Gee, Simba, you sure know how to suck the fun out of everything," Kevin grumbled playfully,
"What's a road trip without a true food run?"

"Well, I just don't want to have to stop for gas every couple of hours and if you pig out on too much food in 4 different restaurants...we may never make it to Oregon," Andrew shot back with a wink,
"Let's just pick one restaurant, Wonder Boy, and once we reach the coast there'll be a lot more to choose from."

"Then which is better? Denny's or Sherri's?" Kevin lounged in the back and looked back and forth between each of his friends, all the while hoping that Monica would pipe up and tell them which one she wanted.

"I heard Sherri's had the best ice cream floats," The Irish angel finally replied softly much to Kevin's relief, and the youngest caseworker's mouth watered at her words,
"Plus, you can eat breakfast, lunch or dinner at any time of the day."

"That sounds like a plan then," Kevin grinned with a happy sigh,
"I can have breakfast, lunch and dinner in one sitting! Works for me!"

"We'll have to see if there is even a Sherri's in the next town we come too first," Andrew advised, all this talk about food making him hungry,
"I don't think I ate anything yesterday and I don't think you did either, Mon'," He added, casting a glance at her.

She shook her head as she turned to look out the window, wanting to hide the sadness in her eyes at the very mention of yesterday. Releasing his hand, she ran it through her shoulder length hair, noting how he kept his hand on her knee. Drawing in a shaky breath, knowing how hard Andrew was trying to keep things comfortable between them and how hard Kevin was trying to keep things light, she knew she had to at least try for now, at least until she had some time alone to sort out her thoughts,
"No, and I'm starved," She replied, tentatively reaching for Andrew's hand once more,
"And if they have pancakes, I think they will be on my agenda."

"I think they even have blueberry pancakes, Angel Girl," Andrew shot a quick glance at her and smiled,
"I think I'm up for one of their turkey sandwiches, and french fries sound really good at the moment..." As he spoke, his stomach growled and he couldn't help but smile as Kevin laughed from the back seat.

"Your stomach is definitely agreeing to that statement, Simba!" He chirped, picking up another pamphlet and leafing through it,
"I think I even saw a flier in here about a bowling alley not too far from here! That sounds like fun! How many days do we have off anyways, Andrew?"

"At least a full week, Kev, so we may just be able to see everything in those pamphlets next to you," He replied before yawning,
"But yeah, bowling sounds fine after we have a bite to eat. I think I can beat my little Angel Girl in a round; we'll see how much she's improved since the last time we've played," He shot a wink at his best friend and grinned tiredly at her to let her know that he was only kidding.

"I'll have you know, I've been practicing," Monica informed him with a small smile, watching as he chuckled.

"How much further?" Kevin asked, as he continued to sort through the tourist information that had been given to them.

"About an hour to the next town, Kev," Andrew replied, having noticed the sign along the road about a mile back,
"So, I say when we get there, we grab a bite to eat, bowl a quick game so we can stretch for a bit, and then hit the road again. I'd like to be checked in by nightfall, as a few of us aren't quite up to your standard of energy today," He glanced over at Monica and noticed she seemed to be struggling to keep her eyes open,
"Why don't you catch a little nap before we get there, Angel Girl?" He suggested,
"Then if you feel up to driving a bit when we hit the road, I'm more than willing to let you." He watched as she nodded her head wearily as she glanced over at him with hesitation in her dark eyes. Knowing what she was thinking and his heart aching at her uncertainty, he released her hand and keeping one eye on the road, he held out his arm. He saw her hesitate briefly, before she scooted closer and rested her head against his shoulder, though he didn't feel her relax until he had wrapped his arm around her.

"Just get some shut-eye for a while, Mon; I'll wake you when we get there," He whispered as he gave her shoulder a tender squeeze and before long, he heard her even breathing against his shoulder and he knew that she was finally asleep.

Several hours after the three angels had walked out of Sherri's, Kevin's happy chatter of how delicious his meal was floating through the air as he continued to slurp at his chocolate shake, Andrew pulled his car up in front of a large bowling alley and before he or Monica could take off their seat belts, Kevin had bolted from the car and started running towards the main entrance.

"Kev, wait up!" Andrew called after him with a tired laugh and shake of his head. Holding his hand out, he helped his best friend out of the car and wasted no time in wrapping his arm around her shoulders,
"The alley isn't going any place!"

"Yeah, but we want to make sure we get one and I need to check out the snack bar," He called back over his shoulder as he vanished through the doors.

Andrew chuckled as he remarked to Monica,
"You know, if I didn't know for a fact he was an angel, I'd say he is a really big 5-year-old."

The Irish angel laughed softly as they headed for the door,
"With the appetite of about 12 5-year-olds," She added.

Pausing briefly before he opened the door for her, Andrew looked into her eyes,
"Are you okay?" His emerald eyes glimmered with concern as he watched her look away briefly, though when she looked back, she had forced a smile.

"I'm fine. Come on, I'm anxious to beat you at a game of bowling." She replied as she opened the door and walked into the alley.

"You mean, I'm going to beat YOU, Angel Girl," Andrew quipped as he hurried up behind her and grabbed his best friend around the waist. Relieved when she squealed, the older angel lifted her into his arms and carried her across the alley,
"Now you're not going anywhere!"

"Oh, you are so going to regret this," The Irish angel couldn't help laughing as she held tightly to her best friend's neck as he hurried after Kevin,
"I swear you are, Andy..."

"Really? I don't think so," The supervisor shook his blonde head, never putting her down as they reached their co-worker in a spare lane,
"Hey, Kev, Cupcake here thinks she's gonna beat me at this game!"

Raising an eyebrow, Kevin spread his arms across one of the chairs and looked at his two friends,
"Nahhh...Monica won't beat you," As the Irish angel shot him a pointed look, Kevin continued,
"Because I'm gonna beat BOTH of you!"

"In your dreams, Wonder Boy," Monica retorted as Andrew finally set her back on her feet,
"This one is mine, all mine!"

"I got you guys shoes," Kevin indicated with a grin as he pointed to them,
"And I already ordered us pizza and root beer…oh, and a mocha latte for Cupcake here."

"You did all that in the minute it took us to get in here?" Andrew asked, bewildered, ignoring the fact that Kevin had already ordered more food after they had just eaten.

"Hey, you don't call me Wonder Boy for nothing," He winked as he tied his other bowling shoe and got up to select a ball,
"Hey, here's a light one, Cupcake! Catch!" He looked like he was ready to toss the ball at her, before he doubled over in laughter at the startled look on her face.

"You wouldn't DARE!" Monica cried as she took a seat in another chair and snatched the shoes from his hand, watching as Andrew took a seat next to her and shook his head with laughter.

"You're right, I wouldn't," Kevin remarked as he winked at his co-worker,
"But the look on your face was priceless, Cupcake!"

Shooting a mock glare his way, she playfully smacked him over the head with her shoe and chuckled as he cried out in mock agony. As he watched his two charges and friends, Andrew lifted up a silent prayer of thanks to the Father for at least lightening the mood a great deal the last few minutes. Maybe this was exactly what they needed.

CHAPTER 1

Monica rubbed her eye with the palm of her hand, as finally at 7:00 that night, she found herself driving up the Oregon coast, hopefully not far from the hotel as she was feeling more than tired by now. Though she knew that they hadn't both meant to fall asleep while she drove, Andrew had finally given into sleep, his head against the window and though Kevin had chattered at her for miles, all the food he had inhaled that day finally caught up to him and made him sleepy, for which she had been grateful to be alone with her thoughts for a few hours. It hadn't helped much, as it didn't change anything, other than the fact that she wanted to try to enjoy herself on this break, if for no other reason than to please her best friend, and she would do anything right about now to do just that.

Her exhausted eyes gazed out along the shoreline as she drove. The sun was slowly fading away, but the beautiful coastline and ocean still in plain view,
"Hey, you guys," She called out softly, deciding to wake them as they were nearly there and so that they could see the breathtaking sight as they drove.

Hearing a groan coming from behind her, Monica looked in the rearview mirror and saw Kevin stretching sleepily from the backseat,
"Are we there yet?" He asked with a wide yawn.

"Just about," Monica replied as she blinked her eyes tiredly to try and keep them open. Glancing over at her best friend and saw that he was still sleeping soundly, the Irish angel tentatively reached a hand out to shake his shoulder. Hearing a groan escape his sealed lips, the younger angel gave his shoulder a firmer shake and called to him,
"Andrew...wake up. You don't want to miss this view!"

"What view...?" The older angel grumbled sleepily as he rolled over onto his other side and Monica couldn't help but giggle at the way his blonde hair was disheveled.

"Oh cool!" Kevin exclaimed, suddenly wide-awake and looking out the window from the back seat,
"Check it out!"

Andrew sat up straighter and rubbed the sleep from his eyes as he looked out the window at the coast and smiled,
"One of the Father's most wondrous creations," He remarked, his eyes taking it all in.

"I'm glad we're nearly there," Kevin quipped excitedly,
"Because I'm starved!"

"I don't see how," Monica remarked, turning her attention back to the road as she rubbed her hand across her eyes once more in order to see well enough to search for their hotel,
"You about cleaned out the snack bar at the bowling alley."

"Did not," Kevin retorted as he leaned his elbows on the backs of both of his friend's seats,
"And besides, my stomach is growling again. I can't help it if I'm hungry..."

Reaching into his back pocket and pulling out the pamphlet the Father had given to him a few hours ago with their motel information on it, Andrew rubbed the sleep from his green eyes as he looked over it,
"Take a right over here, Angel Girl; the Edgewater Motel should be right up ahead, I believe..."

Leaning over his supervisor's shoulder, Kevin peered at the pamphlet and remarked,
"You sure it's a motel, Simba? It looks more like a cabin, slash house to me..." Reaching over, the youngest angel turned a page of the pamphlet, ignoring the mock annoyed look Andrew gave him.

"It's technically called a 'fourplex' which I think means it looks like a house, but there are actually four units in each one," Andrew explained, looking at the information as Monica turned into the parking lot,
"Each one has two fireplaces, two decks, ocean views from many of the windows, fully equipped kitchen and a Jacuzzi hot tub."

"Does fully equipped mean it comes with a stocked fridge?" Kevin asked hopefully.

"Not generally," the older angel laughed,
"But with the Father, it's hard to say," He grinned as Monica stopped the car and leaned back wearily in her seat, as passkeys appeared in his hand,
"Actually, it looks like we've already been checked in."

"Cool deal!" Kevin cheered as he flung open the door of the car and hopped out, making his way over the trunk and flinging it open as well. Several bags for all three of them were scattered around and he pulled the heaviest suitcase out,
"Let's get this vacation rollin'!"

"Aren't you tired at all, Kev?" Monica uttered as she yawned sleepily from the driver's seat,
"You were snoozing soundly just a few minutes ago..."

Shrugging his shoulders, the youngest angel made his way over to Andrew and snatched the keys from his hand as he headed towards the main entrance,
"Right now, I'm just hungry! C'mon, you sleepy heads!" He called over his shoulder as he skipped up the steps like a little boy.

"He's going to have to eat alone," Monica remarked as she got out of the car and struggled with a few of the bags,
"All I want to do is sleep."

"I hear you, Angel Girl," Andrew agreed, taking the remaining bags as well as taking one from her as he closed the trunk and they headed up the steps.

"He stocked the fridge," Kevin beamed as his two friends entered their place of residence for the next week. The youngest angel had already pulled out a pie and was cutting himself a substantial hunk of it,
"I'll take the room down here if you want…there are two others upstairs and one of them has a fireplace and a deck! But I'd rather be closest to the fridge."

"Whatever suits your fancy, Wonder Boy," Andrew remarked with a shake of his head, still unable to believe the huge appetite his youngest charge had,
"I'm too tired right now to argue with you."

"Both the upstairs master bedroom AND the great room have televisions as well!" He continued, putting another chunk of pie into his mouth,
"This is gonna be an awesome week, I tell ya!"

"Well, Kev, enjoy the downstairs; Mon and I are going upstairs," The supervisor yawned sleepily as he was trying to keep his eyes open as he talked,
"Have a good night, but please don't eat ALL of the food in the fridge...we're gonna need something to eat in the morning." As Kevin gave him a thumb's up sign before disappearing into the large kitchen, Andrew rolled his eyes playfully over at his best friend before following her upstairs,
"So which bedroom would you like, Angel Girl? Would you like the master bedroom with the jacuzzi?"

Monica peered inside the master bedroom and looked at the fireplace and the deck that overlooked the ocean she so loved, but then shook her head,
"No, you have it, Andrew."

His brow furrowed in concern as he set down the bags in the hallway. He knew how much she loved the ocean and the view from the room was spectacular and maybe something that would help soothe her aching heart right now,
"Are you sure? It's yours if you want it."

"I'm sure," she replied softly, not willing to deny him anything good at the moment. They had just come off a horrendous assignment and on top that, he had to deal with her mistakes and worst off all, her broken promise to him. Realizing she was beginning to feel unbearably sad once more, she managed a smile at him,
"You deserve it," Picking up the two suitcases that were hers, she added softly,
"I'm going to unpack and head for bed."

"If you're absolutely sure, sweetie..." Andrew whispered tiredly as he searched her eyes, but he saw the same stubborness in them...the stubborness that told him that she wanted him to have the master bedroom.

"I'm absolutely sure, Andy," She replied with a small smile, but before she headed into the room across from his, the Irish angel leaned up and kissed his cheek lovingly,
"Enjoy it, and I'll see you in the morning, okay?"

"All right," Andrew finally gave in as he kissed the tip of her nose, his green eyes shining with love for her,
"I'll have blueberry pancakes ready for you in the morning. Get some sleep."

"Good night, Andrew," The younger angel smiled at him over her shoulder before disappearing behind the bedroom door.

"Good night, Angel Girl," He replied back softly before sighing tiredly and grabbing his bags, closing his own door behind him.

"I thought you were going to sleep all day," Andrew remarked with a wink when Monica finally came downstairs late the next morning,
"Kevin is already at the pool, but I waited for you. I promised you pancakes."

It was on the tip of her tongue to make a remark about him keeping his promises, but she bit it back, wishing she knew why this was so hard. For some reason, every sweet gesture, that she would normally consider normal, was only making her feel worse,
"You didn't have to do that. You could have gone ahead with Kevin."

"I know I didn't have to," Andrew replied as he flipped the pancakes in the pan,
"I wanted to."

"Well, they smell wonderful," Monica smiled somewhat tiredly as she took a seat at the table where the utensils were already set up at,
"Are you heading down to the pool after we eat?" She asked as she took in the shorts and t-shirt her best friend sported.

"Yup, and Kevin wants to give you some swimming lessons if you're game," He placed the pancakes on a flower plate in front of the Irish angel and then poured her a glass of orange juice. As he took a seat next to her, he dug into his own pancakes and scrambled eggs,
"Wait'll you see him, Mon; he's wearing his Scooby Doo trunks."

Nearly snorting juice out of her nose in laughter, Monica laughed as she shook her head,
"Scooby Doo now? Last time we went swimming, it was Mickey Mouse." Wiping at the orange juice spill on her front, she took a bite of the warm pancakes in front of her.

The meal continued in silence for a few moments, as Andrew watched her out of the corner of his eye. Though he had slept better last night, sleep had still been awhile coming and he had awoken early this morning, once again playing the last few days at the Sullivan's house over and over again in his mind, specifically the conversations with Monica once she had returned. Her occasional hesitation and uncertainty with him troubled him greatly, as well as the look he would sometimes see in her eyes. Then again, he was also still upset about this whole thing. It amazed him that though everything could look fine between them on the surface, he knew that they were not. He could almost physically feel his loss of trust in her and it bothered him more than he wanted to admit. Actually, it downright hurt. They had come so far in the past several years and to take any steps backwards felt terrible. What he wasn't sure of, was what to do about it. Did they talk about it, or keep pretending everything was fine when deep inside, they both knew it wasn't?

"That was wonderful, Andrew, thank you."

Her voice jolted him back to reality as he smiled over at her,
"You're quite welcome. So, what do you say? Are you up for lessons?"

Monica appeared thoughtful for a moment,
"Maybe. I haven't been in the water since the night Wendy fell in the pool," She remarked with a slight smile,
"Why don't you go ahead down and I'll clean up and come down shortly?"

"Don't forget your bathing suit," He replied with a small smile as he grabbed his towel off of the counter and slung it over his shoulder,
"Or Kevin will dunk you in the pool in your pajamas."

"Oh no he wouldn't," The Irish angel retorted back, although the older angel could tell by the look in her eyes that she was just playing. Wiping the napkin over her mouth, she then placed it on the plate and picked it up to bring to the sink,
"Go on down; I'll be out in a few minutes."

Bending down to kiss her forehead, Andrew's eyes turned serious then as he spoke softly to her,
"Today is going to be a good day, Angel Girl. I'll make sure of it, all right?"

Her eyes filling with brief sadness, Monica reached for her dearest friend's hand and gave it a tight squeeze,
"We'll see."

As Andrew gave her one last tender smile, the Irish angel watched as he headed towards the back door and walked out it, closing it tightly behind him. After he disappeared, Monica then set to work on cleaning up the kitchen, all the while hoping that Andrew was right, and that today would indeed be a good day.

CHAPTER2

Hey, Wonder Boy, that isn't exactly warm!" Andrew yelped as he walked into the poolroom and Kevin greeted him with a huge splash of water aimed in his direction.

"It's better once you get wet," The younger angel replied with an impish grin, delighted with the fact that since it was technically the off-season, there was no one else at the pool but the two of them at the moment,
"And now you are."

Giving him a mock glare, Andrew sat down on the edge of the pool and submerged his legs in the water that felt slightly chilly to him,
"You did wait till a half hour after you ate to get in, right?" He asked, with a wink.

Kevin laughed as he treaded water near his supervisor and friend,
"I'm an angel…that rule doesn't really count. Maybe later I'll try eating and swimming at the same time."

"Hopefully not in front of anyone else..." Andrew mumbled under his breath as he rolled his green eyes to the ceiling,
"We don't want all those human beings to get grossed out now, do we?"

"Why would they be grossed out?" The youngest angel asked innocently, splashing his supervisor again and was rewarded with another glare,
"C'mon, Simba! Get in the pool, or I may push you in..."

"Oh no you won't," Andrew shook his head hard as he brought his foot back and splashed his charge in the face,
"I ain't coming in till I'm ready, Wonder Boy."

"Where's Cupcake?" Kevin changed the subject as he floated on his back.

"Still up in our room; she wanted to clean up the dishes before she comes down," The older angel replied, his eyes flickering with concern once again for his best friend.

"Did you tell her about the free swimming lessons?" He asked with a smile, though he didn't miss the look in his friend's eyes.

"I did as a matter of fact and I got a 'maybe' out of her. She hasn't attempted water since Wendy nearly drowned and took Mon' with her," Andrew replied, splashing his feet lightly in the water, trying to get used to the temperature,
"I think it scared her off for a few years, but hopefully she'll agree today."

Kevin was quiet for a moment before he spoke up once more,
"You know, it's none of my business at all and you can tell me that if you want to, but what is going on with you two? I mean, if I didn't know you guys so well, I would think everything is fine, but beings I do know you both so well, I can tell that it really isn't. There's just kind of this strange undercurrent going on between you both…"

Andrew rested his chin in his hand as he contemplated his friend's question for a few minutes,
"No, I have no right to tell you stay out of it...after all, you've been involved in this just as much as Mon and I have, you know?" He fell silent for a moment as he lowered his green eyes to the water,
"After Monica walked off the assignment...after she broke that promise to me, I knew that things would not be the same between us, you know?" He saw his charge nod his head sadly before he continued,
"Monica broke the promise to me that breaks trust, Kev; and I told her 2 days ago that my trust in her was indeed broken, and that it would take some time for it to return. She would have to prove herself..." The angel's eyes grew sad as he spoke the words he didn't want to repeat,
"She's still my best friend, Kevin; she always will be, that hasn't change. But...I can feel it in her that she's almost hesitant to approach me, as if she has to do everything right around me while on this vacation. And although I still love her just as much as I always have, there's something truely missing in our relationship, and that's my trust in her." Andrew drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly as he concluded,
"I just hope that we can talk through some of this while on this vacation, if she'll let me. I don't want her to be afraid to approach me, and I can tell that she's very much afraid..."

"Yeah, I've kind of noticed that too," Kevin sighed, continuing to tread water as he took in everything Andrew had said,
"I can tell the affect it is having on you as well. You guys are so close and when something is not right, it really shows in both of you, whether you're trying to hide it or not."

"I don't think we're trying to hide it, Kevin…the way I'm acting with her is the way I always have and the way I want to. Just because of the trust thing, it doesn't mean the way I treat her is any different, but she's trying so hard to make sure I'm happy. I guess because she feels guilty, I don't know. But what makes me happy is seeing her happy and I think she is just pretending to be for my sake," He sighed sadly, then managed a smile in Kevin's direction,
"Actually, I'm glad you know now. I might need a sounding board from time to time."

"Well, you have that and you don't even have to ask, Simba," Kevin replied honestly,
"I know it might take awhile, but I'll be glad when you two are back to normal. It's hard, even for me to watch something that always…amazed me and made me smile, suddenly not be right."

"You think things'll be back to normal?" Andrew found himself startled as he didn't expect that question to escape him; but he had to admit to himself that that question was also in the back of his mind.

"Do I think it will? Of course I think it will; in fact, I know it will," Kevin smiled at his older friend and playfully splashed his legs one more time,
"Now let's get swimming! If Cupcake doesn't show up soon and you still aren't in the pool, I'm gonna have to drag you both in with me!"

"Let's not and say we did," The sound of Monica's voice came from right behind them and both angels turned to see the Irish angel walking down the rest of the steps and towards the pool. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail and she was wearing a navy one-piece; a fluffy blue towel was wrapped around her waist and her sandles made flip-flop noises as she walked,
"You are not going to be pushing me in the pool today, Kev; you're going to let me come in on my own terms."

"Yes, ma'am," Kevin grinned, putting his hand to his head in a salute that made her lips twitch in a grin,
"But if you don't get in soon, I can't very well have you ready to swim on the Olympic team now, can I?"

Andrew watched as she rolled her eyes and kicked off her shoes before she took a seat near the shallow end of the pool, opposite to where they were, and hesitantly put her feet into the water,
"Wonder Boy here says its warmer once you get in," He remarked to her,
"But I don't know whether to believe him or not…"

"Well, there is only one way to find out then, huh?" Kevin quipped and before Andrew knew what was happening, Kevin had grabbed hold of his legs and yanked him off the side of the pool and into the water with a splash. As he surfaced for air, sputtering and glaring at him, Kevin only grinned,
"See? It's better now right?"

"Okay, Kev, that's it!" Andrew yelled and before Kevin could reply, he had grabbed hold of his charge's head and started dunking him under the now slightly warm water,
"I think it's time to play, 'Dunk Wonder Boy'!"

Shaking his friend's hands off, the youngest angel came sputtering back up and out of the water and splashed his friend in the face,
"Take that, Simba!" Turning around to look over at the Irish angel, her face now nearly red from giggling so hard at the scene, Kevin called to her,
"C'mon, Cupcake! Who's side are you on? Mine or Andrew's?"

"If I was in the pool, it would most likely be Andrew's," She replied with a wink at both of them,
"I think you already knew that, Kev..."

"I think it's time you were in, Angel Girl," Andrew remarked, pausing from dunking Kevin to approach her, as he watched her shake her head slightly.

Unsure at first of what to do, Kevin approached the Irish angel and held out his hand,
"C'mon Cupcake. I'll be good. Angel's honor."

Seeing sincerity in his eyes, she untied the towel from her waist and accepted his hand, thankfully missing the look of almost hurt that flickered briefly in Andrew's eyes, as she allowed Kevin to lead her into the water with a patience and gentleness that they rarely saw in him.

"See, no big deal," Kevin grinned as he led her in a little deeper, being careful to stay where she could still touch the bottom of the pool,
"And I won't even dunk you, I promise."

Deciding to stay away from his two friends and charges for the time being, Andrew moved back to the edge of the pool and pulled himself out of it, his eyes still watching Monica and Kevin. The feeling of hurt slowly starting to creep back into his tender heart, the angel kept silent as he heard his youngest charge gently teasing their Irish friend as he carefully moved her onto her back to help her float.

"This is one of most favorite things to do while swimming," He quipped as he kept a gentle grip on her so that she wouldn't go under the water,
"It's really pretty easy once you get the hang of it." After several minutes, the angel carefully lowered his co-worker back to her feet and gently grasped her hands to lead her to the deeper end of the pool,
"Once you reach this end, just make sure you keep dog-paddling with your feet. It helps you not to go under." As he watched his friend do as he instructed, a smile spread across his young face,
"There you go! You're getting it!"

Several more minutes passed before the youngest caseworker led Monica back over to the shallow end of the pool and by then he noticed for the first time that Andrew was no longer in it, but sitting on the edge again,
"Come back in, Simba! You can't tell me you're tired already."

Andrew managed a smile,
"I was just watching for awhile, Kev, that's all," He replied, before looking over at Monica, who had moved back to sit on the step,
"You did real well, sweetie."

"Thanks," She replied softly, this time not missing the look in his eyes as she felt as if she had done something wrong, which was exactly what she had been trying to avoid. Almost wanting to excuse herself and retreat to her room, she figured that would only make him feel worse as she struggled for a solution,
"C'mon you two, show me who has the best cannonball."

"Hey, yeah," Kevin agreed, looking hopefully at Andrew,
"We haven't even tried out the diving board yet!"

Not feeling really in the mood for cannonball contests, Andrew didn't miss the hopeful look shining in Kevin's eyes and the pleading look in Monica's; so with a quiet sigh, the angel rose to his feet just as Kevin was climbing out of the pool on the other side,
"All right then..."

Seeing that his supervisor and friend appeared to be a little down in the dumps at the moment, the youngest angel jogged up beside of him and elbowed him gently in the ribs,
"We'll talk later, Simba," He whispered to him so that only Andrew could hear, his brown eyes serious,
"You look like you don't want to do this at all."

"You're right, I don't," Andrew replied in the same hushed tone as they reached the diving board,
"But I'm willing to do whatever it takes to see her smile, and if me looking like a dork on the diving board does that, then so be it."

Unable to suppress a smile, Kevin motioned to Andrew,
"By all means, you first Mr. Dork." He replied, not missing the annoyed look his supervisor sent his way.

Monica did her best to appear enthusiastic as she cheered for both of them as they cannonballed off the diving board, though she felt silly for even suggesting it, but though she felt uncertain as to what she had done to cause the look of sadness on her friend's face, she only wanted to find a way to make it disappear. She declared it a tie between the two of them and smiled as they playfully splashed each other while bickering over whose was better, but she couldn't shake the feeling that Andrew was forcing himself to look as if he was in a better mood.

Rising to her feet and feeling like she needed to escape whatever had just happened, she called out to them both,
"How about I go start on lunch while you two play? Should be ready in about an hour."

"Mr. Dork and I will be just fine, Cupcake!" Kevin called back, splashing Andrew one last time and shooting a wink at the Irish angel. Noticing that Monica wanted to get away as quickly as possible, the youngest caseworker watched as she shot them a quick smile and wave before grabbing her sandles and heading up the stairs and back towards their cabin.

After she had disappeared from sight, Andrew swam back over to the edge of the pool and pulled himself back up, wringing the water out of his t-shirt as he kept his eyes turned away from Kevin. His face turning serious once more, the younger angel swam over to the edge as well and propped his elbows next to his friend,
"Okay, Simba, spit it out." He ordered, forcing his friend to look at him.

"It's not your fault, Kev..." Andrew shook his head somewhat sadly as he finally looked down at Kevin,
"I guess I was just feeling a bit of jealousy for a moment there...she wouldn't let me help her into the pool, but she allowed you." He shrugged his shoulders as his handsome face grew red with embarrassement over the confession,
"I guess I'm making a big deal out of nothing; I just couldn't stop feeling a bit sad for a moment there..."

"Hey, you had a right to those feelings, Andrew," Kevin responded gently as he reached over and gave Andrew's hand a fond pat,
"With all that's going on with you two, it's perfectly understandable. And I would suggest, younger charge to supervisor, that after lunch you have another talk with her instead of acting like everything's all right, okay?"

"You trying to act like the supervisor this time, Kev?" Andrew grinned weakly down at him.

"For the time being yes," He replied with a teasing wink,
"But for now, I think it's time we get back in the pool and break that tie. Mr. Dork vs. Wonder Boy." Laughing as Andrew splashed water over his head again as he jumped back in the pool, Kevin felt relieved that he was able to lighten his friend's mood, even if it was for only an hour.

CHAPTER 3

"I've got the dishes this time, Simba," Kevin offered after they had eaten lunch, as he shot a knowing look at his friend and then glancing to the deck outside where Monica sat. She had stated she was still full from breakfast, though she had sat with them for part of the meal, before heading out to the deck,
"Go and talk to her and then we can finish the discussion on which 'All you can eat' restaurant we're going to tonight."

Andrew chuckled softly with a shake of his head at his youngest charge, before he hesitantly headed over to the sliding glass doors. She had changed into jeans and a heavy off-white sweater and she now sat in one of the lounge chairs overlooking the ocean, her knees drawn up to her chin and her arms wrapped around them. Where he loved that beautiful spot up in the mountains near the cabin, her preference had always been the ocean as far as God's creation went, which Andrew almost thought to be ironic given her discomfort with water.

Knowing he couldn't put this off much longer, he slid open the door and stepped out onto the deck, closing the door behind him,
"Hey sweetie," He said softly, moving to lean up against the railing in order to face her. Even at his words, he saw her eyes cloud over briefly before clearing,
"I think we need to talk, Angel Girl," He had expected an argument from her, so he was surprised when she nodded her head sadly and began to speak without him even having to push her to open up.

"I didn't think this would be so hard," Monica remarked, her eyes still on the ocean waves as they crashed up against the shore,
"It just all feels wrong."

Tears stung his eyes as he nodded his head, wanting to keep things honest between them,
"Parts of this are hard, Mon', but a lot of things haven't really changed and I don't understand why you keep pulling away from me. It's like you're afraid to come to me with anything right now and you don't have to be, sweetheart, nor am I expecting you to be perfect."

"I don't feel right asking for anything from you right now, Andrew," She admitted in a whisper,
"I've taken plenty from you lately, and I feel so badly to even want a hug from you. You've already given me your forgiveness, and that should be enough; I don't have any right to ask for anymore than that," Her eyes still focused on the ocean as if it alone were getting her through this conversation, she continued,
"I feel terrible…I'm a terrible friend and an even worse charge to you, and you're being so nice to me…it just makes me feel awful and I don't know why. If I even so much as hear the word 'promise' I want to cry, because it just reminds me of what a lousy thing I did to you. I know I can't undo it, or ignore it so it will go away, but on the same token, I don't really know how to handle it right now. I'm trying; believe me, I'm trying really hard, but to know that I've driven this wedge between us in our friendship and to know it's hurting you too…it feels like it's killing me, Andrew."

Looking down at his feet for a few tense moments, Andrew lifted his head and tried to meet her sad brown eyes,
"Monica, you know better then anyone else that you can always come to me for a hug; you're not taking anything away from me, sweetie..."

"It feels that way, though; and I feel like I just don't deserve to have you act so nice," She whispered in misery,
"I...I think I would rather have you treat me the way you did during the assignment with Coach Slade."

The tears now escaping his eyes at that comment, Andrew moved from the railing and took a seat in the spare lounge chair next to her. He waited until she reluctantly faced him to reply,
"Monica, I said I would never treat you like that again; that was a horrible time, and I meant every word. I refuse to treat you like that again, Angel Girl..."

"But I deserve it, Andrew," The Irish angel whispered as she looked down at her hands, wanting more then anything to be held by him, but knowing she shouldn't ask that from him right now,
"That's what I believe right now..." Finally, she looked up and bit her lip to keep a sob from escaping as she saw the deep sadness in her best friend's green eyes.

"Listen to me, okay? I am treating you the way I have always treated you because you are my friend; my best friend. That part of this whole equation has not changed. You are not a terrible friend and you are not a terrible charge. Yes, you made some terrible mistakes, but that is what they were, mistakes," He told her softly, wishing he knew of a way to break through the horrible guilt she was feeling.

"Mistakes are something you don't mean to do, Andrew," Monica whispered, lowering her eyes,
"I was fully aware of what I was doing when I did those things."

Knowing he was getting nowhere fast, he continued as he prayed for guidance,
"Maybe so, but you didn't do them to be deceitful, but because you were being driven by other things, no matter how right or how wrong they were. But with you feeling like you can't come to me, like you can't so much as touch me, Monica, I lose out too. Because I love the way you seek me out when you are hurting, or the way you fall asleep in my arms and I miss those things right now, Angel Girl. Yes, we've lost something for the time being, but lets not lose anymore than we have to."

The Irish angel lowered her head in shame once more and she forced back tears as she felt her best friend reach out and touch her hand with a feather-like touch,
"I will always love you, sweet girl; you do not have to worry about any of that changing, all right?"

Monica's lower lip trembled slightly as she lifted her head and finally nodded it. Both angels were silent for a few minutes before her best friend broke it and released her hand from his,
"C'mere, Angel Girl."

The younger angel hesitated for a brief moment, but her best friend's words from just a few minutes ago came back to her and the next thing she knew, Monica found herself wrapped up in her friend's strong arms. Leaning her head wearily against his shoulder, she closed her dark eyes and although her arms shook, she wrapped them as tightly as she could around her friend in return,
"Andy..."

"I know, baby, I know," He whispered to her, holding her as tightly as he dared, as he felt her draw in shuddering breathes to hold back tears,
"I know this is hard. I've been where you are, remember? And you've been where I am and neither is a very nice place to be. You had to learn to trust me again, that I would never leave you and you have, right?" Feeling her nod her head weakly against him, he continued,
"So eventually, I will trust you again. It will take time, but we have time, sweetheart, okay?"

"It just hurts so much that I did this, Andrew…I think it hurts more than any kind of pain I've felt before. Everything you've ever done for me and I-."

"Enough," He replied softly as his fingers worked into her shoulder length hair,
"Stop trying to build your walls, Monica, because I'm not letting you this time. Lets just enjoy this week, okay? When we go back to work things are going to be different for now, but we'll get through it. So, for now, lets just enjoy this time, okay?"

Although she felt tempted to object and continue beating herself up, Monica forced out deep breathes and eventually she replied weakly,
"Yes, sir..."

"That's my girl," Andrew smiled slightly, but he never released his hold on her as his fingers continued running through her brilliant auburn hair,
"Now, what do you say about going back inside and try and convince Kevin that we're not going to the restaurant Jonah and the Whale tonight?"

Unable to hold back a laugh, Monica wiped at the tears brimming in her eyes and looked into her best friend's face,
"He wants to go get seafood tonight? I'd rather not..."

Rolling his green eyes to the sky, Andrew nodded his head,
"That's why I'm trying to convince him to go to Old Country Buffet instead." He breathed a sigh of relief as he heard his best friend's laughter and with a wink in her direction, the older angel reached for her hand and helped her to her feet,
"C'mon, let's go back inside. Kev is not going to win this argument."

Kevin looked up as his two friends came back inside, a smile of relief on his face that things seemed to be at least better between the two of them. Though he could still see evidence of sadness in their eyes, there was also some relief visible as well,
"Guess what? There's a carnival in town tonight! We can go eat all we can eat and then go ride some stuff."

"Hold it, hold it," Monica interjected, holding up her hand to stop Kevin before he could go any further,
"I have no qualms about all you can eat or a carnival, but not in the same sentence and definitely not on the same night."

"Aww, Cupcake, you're such a girl," Kevin replied, though his eyes were shining with happiness with the fact that she was voicing her opinion,
"C'mon, Simba?"
"I'm afraid I'm with the 'girl' on this one, Kev," Andrew replied, still holding Monica close to him,
"But if you call me one, you're going to wind up with your halo in a place that isn't all that angelic…"

"Hmm, I wonder where that place would be, Mr. Dork," Kevin quipped back, winking at his supervisor. He was rewarded with a mock glare his way as Andrew released his hold on Monica and started to make his way threateningly to his charge.

"Okay, Wonder Boy, you are asking for it now..." He grumbled under his breath and in a flash, Kevin had turned around and bolted towards the door of the kitchen; but Andrew was too quick for the youngest angel as he grabbed Kevin under the arms and started tickling him until Kevin's faced turned red.

"Mercy! Mercy!" He screamed in laughter as he watched Monica standing off to the side, covering her mouth to keep from laughing,
"Cupcake, help me out, will ya?"

"No way, Kevin," Monica replied as she moved to sit down cross-legged on the couch to watch the battle with a grin.

Yelping again as he tried to get away from Andrew, he retorted, all the while trying to breath between laughter,
"Hey, I gave you a swimming lesson today….and didn't even dunk you…tomorrow you won't be so lucky if you don't help me!"

Laughing, she shook her head,
"Sorry, Kev, but no can do for two reasons. One is that I am way too much of a girl to be able to help you," She gave him a pointed look as she tossed his words back to him,
"And number two is that if I'm not the one being tickled, I make it a point to stay out of it, so it stays that way."

"I take it back, Cupcake! I promise!" Kevin yelped once again as he felt his feet being lifted off of the floor and being tossed over Andrew's shoulder. Curling his hands into fists, the youngest angel pounded his supervisor on the back as he started walking towards the front door, all the while shooting glares at the laughing Irish angel,
"This isn't funny, Simba! Put me down!"

"Sorry, kid, but no can do," Andrew tossed back as he winced slightly at the feel of Kevin's fists on his back,
"You're making it worse then it has to be, Wonder Boy-"

"Don't dunk me, please don't dunk me..." The caseworker pleaded as Andrew made his way down the stairs to the pool.

"Oh c'mon, Kevvy, don't be such a girl," Andrew rolled his green eyes and grinned as he saw that right now, the pool area was now packed with swimmers,
"Mon and I know that you want to have a swim fully clothed."

"No! You wouldn't dare!" Kevin yelped, still struggling to get away.

"No?" Andrew replied with another grin. Looking down at two swimmers in the pool in front of him, who were laughing at the antics of the two angels, he asked politely,
"Would you excuse me for a moment?" Then as they laughingly got out of the way, Andrew dumped his youngest charge into the pool. As Kevin came up, soaked and sputtering, his supervisor threw playfully over his shoulder as he headed back towards the stairs,
"Don't ever dare me, Wonder Boy."

"Watch your back, Andrew!" Kevin retorted, climbing out of the pool and with annoyance, shaking the water from his hair,
"I don't get mad, I get even and I will!"

"Oh I'm so scared," Andrew laughed as he watched Monica jog down the stairs just in time to see Kevin climbing, drenched from head to toe, from the pool,
"You won't get even with me, Kev."

Now wringing the water out of his shirt, Kevin stuck his tongue out at his supervisor and friend and mumbled under his breath,
"You just watch, Simba. You just watch..." He then shot a mock glare over at the Irish angel, who was doubled over with laughter.

"Oh Kevin, you look like a drowned rat..." She laughed and was unable to stop the tears from falling down her face at the sight of her co-worker.
"You know, Cupcake, if I wasn't such a nice guy, then I'd drag you down with me!" He retorted back,
"But I'm not gonna do that; instead, today we ARE going to that carnival after we eat. That's part of my pay back, Simba-"

"Kevin, no-" Andrew started to object through his laughter as he clutched his stomach.

"Oh yes," Kevin nodded as he accepted a towel from one of the swimmers by the pool,
"As a matter of fact, I'm gonna be the one driving to make sure we get there; then you better watch your back, Andrew, because I'll be after you." With that, the youngest angel turned around and walked back towards the stairs, leaving behind his two laughing co-workers.

CHAPTER 4

"Tilt-A-Whirl is first!" Kevin announced happily as he walked just in front of his two friends at the carnival that night after dinner. They had all dressed warmly as the November night air was rather chilly and all their cheeks were pink from the cold,
"We can all ride that together as we'll all fit!"

Andrew groaned softly though he was glad he hadn't eaten much at dinner as he had a feeling Kevin would be dragging them on all sorts of rides,
"Nothing like something that goes around in circles within a circle to settle your stomach, huh, Kev?"

"Exactly," He retorted with a grin, counting out enough tickets for all of them,
"And no one is chickening out of anything tonight! That's my payback for being unjustly tossed in the pool."

"Hey, I didn't do anything!" Monica retorted, rubbing her gloved hands together before clasping onto Andrew's,
"Simba did that one; I was just watching-"

"And you didn't help me, Cupcake; you were being too much of a girl," Kevin replied as he handed each of his friends a ticket before leading the way to the ride,
"So you were in it just as much as Mr. Dork was..."

Frowning at the nickname, Monica leaned into her best friend and whispered behind Kevin's back,
"Mr. Dork?" She asked in confusion.

"Don't ask, Angel Girl," The oldest angel groaned as he rolled his eyes after Kevin,
"That's Kev's fault..."

"And no insulting tonight either," The youngest caseworker interrupted as he shot a Look at his two friends over his shoulder,
"It's gonna be a insulting Kevin free night; I'll make sure of it."

"I guess that is fair," Monica sighed, winking at Kevin as she followed him into their car with Andrew right behind them.

Andrew pulled back the safety bar as they all grabbed hold as the ride started,
"But no funny stuff, Kev. Deal?"

As the ride started moving, Monica looked slightly apprehensive, but then even once it sped up, it wasn't so bad,
"Nothing wrong with this, Kevin," She remarked, actually letting go of the rail.

"Not yet, Cupcake, but I know how to work it," Kevin retorted as the car began to spin and he threw his weight against the Irish angel, causing her to throw both of the weights against Andrew, which in turn caused the car to begin spinning at alarming speeds.

The next few minutes seemed like hours for both Andrew and Monica, and finally once it was over, the older of the three climbed out first and felt like he was going to fall over from the diziness,
"Kev, I think that was enough for now-"

"Oh no, it's just getting started!" Kevin quipped, ignoring the groans from both of his friends. Grabbing his supervisor's arm, he practically dragged them both over to his next favorite ride over on the other side of the park,
"I like the Kamikazi! What do you say about that one next?"

"Wonder Boy, am I in that much trouble that you want me to throw up on you again?" Andrew retorted, his stomach already churning from the Tilt-A-Whirl,
"You know how sensitive my stomach can be..."

"Then you shoulda thought twice before throwing me fully clothed into that pull this afternoon," The youngest angel remarked, grinning mischievously at them as they finally reached the ride and got in line,
"Remember, this is all punishment."

"Kevin, please," Monica begged, not sure she was ready for anything similar to what they had just gotten off of,
"Can we please come back to this one and do something a little slower first?"

Kevin appeared thoughtful for a moment before answering,
"Yes, we can, but since you asked, Cupcake, it will cost you."

"How so?" Andrew asked, feeling a little relieved himself that the Kamikaze could wait.

"We have to ride that instead." Kevin replied, pointing.

"Oh Kevin, no," The little Irish angel pleaded, seeing the haunted house ride he was pointing to and she so hated those,
"I hate that kind of stuff."

"Okay, then, Kamikaze it is," Kevin replied, preparing to get back in line.

"No, Kevin, wait," Andrew interrupted, knowing that there was no way his stomach could handle this ride right now. Turning to Monica, he caught her hands up in his own,
"We agreed to this torture and I will have you the whole time, I prom-" He stopped himself, remembering what she had said earlier,
"You know I will."

Feeling a sense of utmost relief that her best friend had chosen not to say the word that would indeed make her feel rotten all over again, Monica attempted a shaky smile as she squeezed Andrew's hands hard,
"I know you will, Andy. Just don't let go of my hand, okay...?" She gulped as she looked towards the entrance to the haunted house.

"You know I won't," He replied gently as they made their way over to the short line. Wrapping a loving arm around her shoulders, the blonde angel pulled her close while with the other hand, he grasped her gloved right hand in his free one,
"Better now?"

Looking up into his caring green eyes, Monica wrapped an arm tightly around his waist as she nodded her head,
"Much." Leaning as close to him as she could get as they finally reached the front of the line, the little Irish angel gulped as she whispered into the night air,
"Here goes nothing, I guess..."

Kevin grinned and let out a mischievous laugh as he winked at his two friends,
"Yup, here goes nothing!" The three angels handed their tickets to the man at the front entrance and with a final wide grin Andrew and Monica's way, Kevin was the first to enter the dark room.

It wasn't long before they boarded a small coffin-shaped car with Kevin in the front and the other two angels sharing a seat in the back, as the car rode with a rickety clang along the tracks.

Andrew had to sigh in dismay at the images of graveyards and goulies as he was a former Angel of Death and had always hated seeing death presented in this scary and what he considered unimaginative way. Ghosts popped out at them from around corners and from the ceiling, along with bodies that were trying to escape from tombs and he would be glad when the ride was over and he knew Monica would be twice as glad.

She had only watched for a moment, giving a small, frightened cry when the first ghost jumped out at them and from that point on, she had pressed her face against Andrew, refusing to look anymore, though the sounds of moans and rattling chains still caused her to shudder as she held tightly to him.

Kevin on the other hand, seemed to be having a grand time as he shrieked with laughter in front of them, seemingly oblivious to Andrew's annoyance and Monica's discomfort with the ride and death being presented this way and by the time they exited the ride, he was laughing hysterically,
"That was awesome! We need to ride that one again!"

"You're more then welcome to, Kev, but I'll pass," Andrew replied, the annoyance evident in his voice as he continued to hold tightly to Monica's trembling form,
"We'll both pass..."

For the first time noticing the whiteness on Monica's face and the irriation on Andrew's, Kevin sucked in a deep breath and spoke up again,
"Oh c'mon, it wasn't that bad, was it?"

"When you become an Angel of Death, Kevin, then you'll know why I didn't like that," The older angel nodded over his shoulder at the haunted house before turning serious green eyes over to his youngest charge.

A tense silence fell over the trio as Kevin contemplated over what his supervisor was saying, and with a deep sigh, he finally replied to both of his friends,
"All right then, Cupcake, you get to choose the next ride. Is that cool with you?"

Exchanging a glance with Andrew and seeing some of the deep annoyance leave his handsome face, Monica smiled slightly, but continued to hold tightly to her best friend's hand,
"I think I can live with that...in fact, I want to go on that one next!" Pointing across from them, the little Irish angel giggled as she heard a groan escape from Kevin,
"Hey, you dragged me into the haunted house, so I get to drag you on the Ferris Wheel! C'mon!" Her hand still holding onto Andrew's, the trio made their way towards the long line.

Kevin rolled his eyes playfully as he watched the ride from the line,
"This is such a girl ride!" He lamented with a sigh.

"Tough, Wonder Boy," Andrew replied with a smile, as he watched the ride stop and start again as those currently riding got off and new riders got into the car,
"I'll bet the view of the ocean is great from up there."

The threesome boarded, sharing one car and true to Andrew's words, the view was magnificent and not even Kevin could complain as he even giggled each time the Ferris wheel began its downward descent.

"Is it tickling your funny spot there, Kev?" Monica asked teasingly as she poked him in the ribs with a finger.

"Hey now, no teasing me tonight, remember?" He retorted, though his brown eyes told her he was teasing, but before he could say anymore, the sound of a loud "POP" caused the three angels to look down as the ride came to a dead halt, their car nearly all the way at the top of the ride.

Andrew looked down and felt his forehead bead with nervous sweat as he saw smoke and the occasional lick of a flame coming from the main generator of the ride and already the people lower on the ride than they happened to be were screaming and finding ways to climb out of their cars and climb down the steel structure.

"Oh Father, not again...please, not again..." He silently prayed to himself, not even realizing he was saying it outloud until he felt Monica squeeze his hand in a near death grip. Glancing over at his best friend and Kevin, the older angel tightened his hold on her hand as his heart pounded nervously. Looking down once again, he saw and heard lots of commotion going on and most of the passengers who were near the bottom had already gotten off. Glancing over at his two charges as he smelt some of the smoke coming nearer to them, he uttered weakly,
"We're gong to have to climb down or else it won't be pretty..."

"Andrew, how...?" Kevin started as his face grew sheet white over this situation.

"We just have to go as carefully as possible, but we have to do it quick," Andrew's heart continued to pound loudly in his chest as he reached aross Monica and grasped his youngest charge's hand tightly in his own,
"I'll go first, then you, and then Monica. It'll be okay, and I'll be down there to help you both once you make it down." Seeing his two friends nod their heads nervously, Andrew ever slowly rose to his shaking feet and lifted one leg over the bar of their car. Glancing down and seeing that the workers were helping more passengers off of the ride, Andrew glanced back up at Monica and Kevin just in time to hear his best friend plead to him.

"Be careful, Andy..." Tears made their way down her pale cheeks as she grasped his hand tightly for one last squeeze.

Nodding his head nervously, Andrew squeezed it back and replied in a shaky whisper,
"I'll be okay; you two just be very careful when you come down." Managing a smile for both of them, the angel started climbing down as carefully as possible, all the while never loosening his grip on the steel bars he clung to. Several minutes passed, but it seemed like a few torturous hours, before he finally felt himself being helped off of the last few steps and his feet hit solid ground again.

Barely even hearing the screams of humans around him, Andrew just nodded his head as a worker asked if he was all right and he turned his head up to where his remaining friends were, yelling loudly to them,
"Okay, you two. One at a time!"

His heart seeming to stop for a few minutes as he watched Kevin slowly step around Monica and start to make his way over the safety bar,
"Slowly...slowly..." He whispered to himself, his green eyes filled with deep concern as he watched his best friend also rise to her feet and start to make her way down after Kevin.

Just when he thought things were going to be all right as he watched his two charges and friends making their way down the Ferris Wheel, the inevitable happened and Andrew felt his heart plumet to his feet as he watched as Kevin missed a step and lost his balance. Screams sounded from all around him, including his own, as everyone watched the youngest angel start to fall from where he was.

His handsome face growing sheet white, Andrew's eyes watched as his youngest charge suddenly grabbed a hold of a thin wire hanging off to the side and clung onto it like a lifeline. Tears now making their way down his face, the angel screamed,
"Kevin!"

CHAPTER 5

Andrew watched through horrified eyes as Kevin dangled from the cable he had somehow miraculously managed to grab hold of and though he couldn't see the look on his youngest charge's face, he knew Kevin had to be terrified,
"Hang on, Kev!" He shouted shakily, watching as the flames continued to come out of the generator, even as carnival workers were scrambling about trying to find fire extinguishers until the fire department arrived and his heart raced as he tried to figure out what to do.

Looking down from where she was, Monica realized what had happened as she saw Kevin gripping onto the cable just below her and as her terrified eyes followed the cable she was further horrified to see the flames just beginning to reach it at the far end,
"Father, help," She whispered as she moved down a little farther on the steel structure as quickly as she could without losing her footing. Wrapping her fingers as tightly as she could around the steel she was holding onto, she reached her other hand down to Kevin, seeing the utter and complete terror on his face,

"Take my hand, Kev…" She uttered, her voice shaking.

Holding onto the cable with all his strength, Kevin's fear-filled eyes met with hers,
"Monica…there is no way you can support us both…" He choked out, sure that the petite little angel could never hold his weight as well as her own.

Monica looked back over to the flames and knew the cable would soon melt and send Kevin hurtling to the ground,
"Listen to me…take my hand, then on 3, I'll pull you up and you grab hold of the first thing you can, all right?" She lowered herself down to an almost squatting position and extended her hand to him.

"Monica, you can't….I'll pull us both down…" Kevin uttered through clenched teeth as he fought to keep hold of the cable.

Monica forced back tears and despite the fact that she felt sick, she forced herself to smile as she rolled her eyes, clearly able to see Kevin's terror that was almost paralyzing him,
"You know, Wonder Boy, I'm really not in the mood for an argument and you should take advantage of the fact that I'm being nice, especially after that haunted house ride," She winked at him, relief flowing through her as a small grin played on his pale face.

"Cupcake, you are so stubborn…" He uttered, though still afraid, her joking with him seemed to make him focus more on what he could do as opposed to how high off the ground he was,
"Okay, lets do this thing…"

Andrew watched from the ground, unable to hear what was being said but his heart nearly stopped as he saw Monica extend her hand to Kevin,
"Angel Girl, what are you doing?" He whispered aloud to himself, fear unlike any other filling him at the very real possibility that in a moment, he could be watching both of his charges falling to the hard ground below.

Lifting up a silent prayer as tears fell like rain down his handsome face, Andrew held his breath as he watched Monica finally grab onto Kevin's hand, but his youngest charge didn't release his hold on the wire. Unable to watch anything happen to either of them, the older angel started towards he ride,
"I'm going up there-"

But before he could go any further, he felt strong hands grabbing him by the arms and holding him back,
"No, son, you've got to stay back!" The carnival worker looked up at the two angels dangling up above and a small smile spread slowly across his face,
"I think your friend's got him!"

His heart slowly starting to beat normally again, Andrew looked up through blurred vision as, with all of her strength that came from both herself and the Father, Monica pulled Kevin up along with her and his youngest charge was finally able to grab onto a part of the steel structure with trembling hands. Breathing a huge sigh of relief, Andrew slumped foward on his knees and lifted up prayers of thanks to God for keeping his friends safe; he closed his eyes and was so foccused on talking to the Father that he didn't even hear the cheers coming from the crowd around him.

"I've got it, Cupcake," Kevin uttered, trying to calm his racing heart, as he finally found his grip and footing on the Ferris wheel once again.

Monica nodded her head, unable to speak as she was shaking so badly. Taking a moment to rest her head against the steel beam, she watched fearfully as Kevin began to work his way down, and she was thankful he didn't notice the fact that the cable he had been holding onto had now melted at the far end to leave it dangling.

"I've got you, Kev," Andrew uttered as his youngest charge finally got within his grasp and as soon as Kevin's feet were safely on the ground, the older angel wasted no time in hugging him tightly,
"You scared the living daylights out of me, Kevin," He choked out.

"Yeah, well, I think I scared myself, Simba," He replied shakily, pulling away to give his supervisor a weak smile.

Andrew breathed another sigh of relief as he wrapped a strong arm around his youngest charge's shoulders again as he turned his green eyes up to his best friend, who was slowly making her way down as well. After what seemed like a lifetime, she was finally within his reach and the oldest angel reached gentle hands out to grab onto her. As her feet landed on solid ground once again, Andrew immediately reached for her and drew her close to him as well, pressing his lips against the top of her head,
"Angel Girl, you're a hero..."

Her face turning beet red, Monica tightly held onto her best friend and Kevin and drew in shaky breaths,
"I wouldn't say that...the Father helped me."

"Didn't know you were so strong there, Cupcake," Kevin added with a shaky laugh as he held onto his two friends for dear life,
"I didn't think you'd be able to handle my weight to tell you the truth."

"Guess she proved you wrong there," Andrew let out a heavy sigh as he refused to let either of his charges go just yet,
"And I hope you don't mind, Wonder Boy, but I think we've had enough excitement for one night...what do you say we head on back to the motel?"

"I think I'm in agreement," Kevin replied, in no hurry to ride anything else, as he was still shaky and he could tell Monica was as well. Leaning over, he kissed her cheek,
"Thank you, Cupcake."

Blushing and feeling self conscious, she shook her head,
"It was no big deal, Kevin. You'd have done the same for me," She replied softly, not wanting all this attention as she felt something in her heart begin to ache that she couldn't explain.

"Yeah, I would have, but you brought me back to reality up there," He chuckled softly as he saw Andrew's puzzled expression,
"She actually told me I was lucky she was being nice after the Haunted House ride, Simba! Can you believe that?"

Raising an eyebrow at both of his friends, Andrew couldn't hold back a laugh as he shook his blonde head,
"That's my Angel Girl for ya." Reaching a hand out, he tousled the Irish angel's auburn locks and let out a chuckle as she rolled her eyes to the sky,
"Okay, let's get going..."

"Can I at least grab some cotton candy before we go, though?" Kevin piped up as they started walking away from the large group,
"I'm hungry."

"I think Wonder Boy'll be perfectly fine," Monica spoke up softly, although her voice still shook a bit,
"If his appetite is back, then we know for sure he's okay."

Kevin stuck his tongue out at his Irish friend, but a moment later the three friends were laughing once again and Andrew finally replied,
"All right; cotton candy before we go. Anything you want, Angel Girl?" He wrapped a loving arm around her shoulders and drew her as close to him as possible.

Tilting her head to the side as she contemplated, she finally nodded,
"A hot dog will do good. But then I wanta head back to the cabin..."

"Then that's what we'll do," Giving her a squeeze, the oldest angel wrapped his other arm around Kevin as the three angels walked as far away from the Ferris Wheel as they could get and towards the concession stands.

Kevin looked up, startled as at nearly 2:00 in the morning, he saw Monica coming down the stairs from her room,
"You couldn't sleep either, huh?" He asked her with a smile.

"I thought I was tired, but I must be too keyed up to sleep," She replied with a smile back at him, feeling herself relax a little,
"You look like you're ready to go swimming?" She remarked, noticing he had donned his Scooby Doo trunks and a t-shirt.

"The pool is open all night and no one is down there," He grinned, polishing off the last bite of a piece of pie,
"Want to join me?"

"Yeah," She replied, almost surprised to hear herself say the words, but she needed for something to be easy for a little while, when nothing else felt that way,
"I would. Just let me change."

As she headed towards her room, she passed the Master bedroom and noticed that the door was partway open. Poking her head inside, she smiled slightly as she saw the moonlight streaming in through her best friend's room and down onto his sleeping figure. Even from a distance, the Irish angel could tell how peaceful he looked and tiptoeing over to the bed, Monica leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead,
"We'll be back later, my friend." She whispered to him as she gently pulled the covers up around him and smoothed back his blonde hair,
"Sleep well." With one final look at Andrew, she turned around and headed back to the door, closing it softly behind her.

As she made her way back into her own room, she quickly changed into her turquoise one-piece and slipped a t-shirt on over it. After the angel had quickly braided her hair, she then slipped on her sandles and made her way back downstairs where Kevin was waiting. In his hands, he was now eating a piece of chocolate cake from the refrigerator and it wasn't until Monica cleared her throat that he looked up,
"I'm still hungry; so sue me," He mumbled through a mouthful of chocolate and shrugged his shoulders.

"I don't remember ever seeing you when you weren't hungry, Kev," She replied with a wink as she grabbed her towel, and whipped it at him with a "Crack".

Yelping, Kevin gave her a pretend glare before he swallowed the last bite of his cake,
"Watch it there, Cupcake. C'mon, lets go before you and your towel wake up Andrew. At least one of us is able to sleep."

Arriving down at the pool, Kevin tossed his towel down on a chair and then took hers from her and did the same,
"C'mon, I'll teach you how to tread water. It's easy and doesn't require much thinking at 2:00 in the morning," He grinned as he grabbed her hand and led her into the water, pleased when she didn't resist at all. He kept her near the side of the pool, in case she felt the urge to grab hold as he demonstrated how to tread water and then helped her until she felt comfortable enough to do it on her own.

As he instructed her, the conversation and banter between them was light hearted and easy and that came as a great relief to her. Though her talk with Andrew today had helped her, it still didn't erase her guilt, though she was making a greater effort with him in order for things to feel more or less the same. But the bottom line was, for her, she didn't feel like anything would ever be the same again.

"There you go, Cupcake, you're getting it! See? I knew you could do it?" Kevin's voice brought her out of her thoughts and she managed another smile for his sake.

"So, did you and Andrew break that tie over best cannonball yet?" The slightly older angel changed the subject several minutes later as Monica moved over to the edge of the pool and took a seat on the edge, looking down at Kevin,
"You two were sure going at it when I left to go make lunch..."

"Nope, we didn't," Kevin shook his head as he laughed at the memory of earlier that afternoon,
"But that's okay; we can have another tie-breaker tomorrow...or maybe I should say this morning, as it is after 2:00am." He winked at the Irish angel and watched as her lips twitched as she attempted another smile down at him. His brow furrowed then as he saw the deep concern and sadness making its way across her face once more,
"Cupcake, are you okay? You're not still freaked out over what happened tonight, are ya?" He moved out of the pool and took a seat next to her, his brown eyes foccused on her face.

"No, not freaked out and I'm glad you are okay, Kev," She remarked softly. Seeing his intent look, she sighed softly,
"I guess you know what is going on, right?"

"More or less," He told her, his eyes never leaving hers.

"Well, tonight, when you two were making such a big fuss about what happened what I wanted to say was that there was nothing I wouldn't do for you both," She explained softly before she looked away,
"But I realize now that isn't true as I couldn't keep a promise to my best friend and that should have been easy for me to do."

"Monica," He told her gently, feeling sad that this whole issue even had to exist,
"One day things will be fine between you two again. You have to believe that."

She was quiet for a moment as she felt the familiar sting of tears in her eyes,
"That's just it, Kevin. He said it may take a few years and…I'm not sure I can last that long with things like this. I mean, he has every right to feel as he does and I know he loves me and I love him, but if this is going to take a couple of years…I'm just not sure if I can make it that long. I don't know what to do to gain back his trust; there isn't any magical thing that will make it come back, but to wait years for it to maybe happen? I'm not sure I have that in me, Kevin, not when it hurts the way it does."

"Monica, I'm sure that it was just an estimated amount of time when he said years," Kevin tried to reassure her, although he was starting to feel deeply worried about this whole situation again,
"He doesn't know when it will happen, none of us do. Look at it this way, it could even happen on this trip. We don't know that; only the Father does."

"But what if it doesn't?" She choked out in reply, lifting a hand to wipe at the tears in her brown eyes again,
"Things will not be the same when we go back to work, and I don't think it ever will be. He trusts you completely, Kev, but he's said so himself that he doesn't trust me, and that makes me feel not worthy to even be one of his charges..."

"Hey, hey, Cupcake, calm down," Kevin soothed as best he could as he reached a hand out to rub her back gently,
"Yeah, things have changed these last few months. But I'll tell you again. We do not know when the whole trust issue will be resolved. Okay, Monica? Andrew still loves you with all of his heart, and you still love him; and he still loves crazy ol' me even though I'll never figure it out..." He winked at her to try and lighten the mood and was relieved to at least hear an attempted laugh escape her,
"Monica, all you need to do is just concentrate on doing your best, and your best will be all right with Andrew. You know him better then anyone other then the Father, so you need to trust him as well."

"I do trust him, Kev..."

"Then believe what he tells you," Kevin gently interrupted, but was greeted by silence from his Irish friend. He watched through concerned eyes as she lowered her head to her hands and tried to take as deep of breaths as possible; but she never replied.

Unknown to the two angels, however, Andrew let out a heavy sigh as he headed back upstairs from the pool area and back to their cabin, not wanting his two charges to know that he had overheard just about all of their conversation about the whole trust issue between him and Monica. As he headed quickly back to their room, the blonde angel lifted a hand and wiped at the moisture that had started to escape his green eyes, Kevin and Monica's words ringing in his head as he walked. He had woken up to find both of his friends gone, and wanting to see if they were possibly down at the pool as he didn't doubt they probably couldn't get any sleep, Andrew had come down there just in time to hear them talking about earlier that evening.

And now...now he couldn't stop thinking about that question that had been in his head for days. When would he ever be able to trust his best friend again, and how soon would it be? Because it was not only breaking her heart, but his as well.

CHAPTER 6

Andrew was up early later that morning, having been unable to fall back into a peaceful sleep after all he had heard between his two charges earlier. He had already taken a long walk on the beach as he had watched the sunrise over the ocean, but it had done little to clear his thoughts or soothe his soul. Now, though it was early, he climbed the steps, having had the urge to check on his best friend, as she had been foremost in his thoughts the last several hours.

Quietly opening her door, he sighed softly, noting the way she was tightly curled up under the blankets, something he had come to know she
did in her sleep when she was hurting, as if trying to defend herself against pain. Moving closer, he carefully moved a lock of brilliant auburn hair from her tear-stained face, as she let out a soft whimper at his touch. He had heard her crying herself to sleep in the early hours of the morning and he had longed to go to her, but even more than that, had wished she would come to him, but she had not.

Andrew would give anything right now to be able to tell her that this was all over; that his trust in her had been restored, but he knew that wasn't the case. He knew that had this situation maybe happened ten or twenty years ago, it may not be hurting them both quite as badly, but over the last several years, their friendship had deepened and had seemingly moved to another level of understanding for them both where real problems between them were a thing of the past. So to suddenly face any loss at what they had spent years building was devastating. On top of that, he was deeply troubled by some of the things she had said to Kevin down at the pool.

Her remarks about not knowing if she could last as long as years for his trust in her to be restored did not sit easily with him along with her remark about not feeling worthy to be his charge. He was the last person who wanted things to take that long, but he just didn't know and the thought of her possibly asking for a transfer or something along that nature broke his heart. To lose her would be to lose a part of himself and he knew she wasn't thinking that way because he meant so little to her, but more because he meant so much to her and the hurt over this loss being something she didn't know how long she could bear to feel. He felt the loss every bit as much, but he knew from experience that the ways they looked at it were different; he was the one who had been hurt by the betrayal and she the one who felt the guilt over her actions.

Then of course, there had been the Ferris wheel incident last night, where she had risked her own safety to help Kevin, and Andrew knew had it been him in trouble, she would have done the same without hesitation, after all, she had done the same on numerous occasions. Thoughts of Titanic and the school shooting flashed in his mind as he found tears flowing down his cheeks. When his very existence felt threatened, there was no other angel he wanted on his side more, but yet when it came down to a promise, everything had changed. His thoughts in turmoil once more, he leaned down and pressed a gentle kiss to her temple as through blurred vision, he watched a tear escape from under her closed eye, perhaps knowing on some level he was there, and he felt his heart break a little more as he quietly left the room and headed back downstairs.

As the angel made his way into the kitchen, his senses smelt breakfast and a tiny smile crossed his handsome face as he figured Kevin must be awake. Poking his head into the large greatroom, Andrew watched as his youngest charge flipped pancakes on the stove while he microwaved scrambled eggs,
"Somebody's up early."

Lifting his head at the sound of his supervisor's voice, Kevin grinned,
"I could say the same for you, Simba."

Coming into the kitchen, Andrew took a seat at the table and rested his cheek in his hand,
"How long have you been up?"

"For an hour at the most," The youngest angel replied as he placed two pancakes on a plate and made his way over to his friend, setting the pancakes down in front of him,
"I couldn't sleep last night, so Monica and I headed down to the pool for a late...or rather early, swim. When we came back, I still couldn't sleep, so finally I just decided to go ahead and cook some breakfast for you two. Hope you're hungry!"

Nodding his head, the older angel managed a crooked smile for his youngest charge as he grabbed a knife and fork and dug into his breakfast,
"I am, actually..."

"You still look like you could have gotten more sleep as well, Andrew," Kevin's brow creased in concern as he made his way over to the microwave to retrieve the scrambled eggs,
"Still thinking about what happened last night or something?"

"You could say that," Andrew remarked softly, toying with his fork for a moment before taking another bite.

Raising an eyebrow, Kevin put the bowl of scrambled eggs on the table and took a seat across from Andrew,
"I could, huh?" He asked, his eyes showing concern as he buttered his own pancakes,
"Why don't you cut to the chase, Simba and tell me what is really going on?"

Laying down his fork, Andrew looked over at his youngest charge and slowly nodded his head. There were times when this free spirited angel amazed him with his intuitiveness and this was one of those times,
"This stays between you and I, Kevin. I don't want Monica to know as it would hurt her and she is upset enough already," Seeing Kevin nod his head solemnly, the older angel continued,
"I heard you two talking down by the pool this morning. I didn't mean to eavesdrop; I was looking for you two and when I found you, I didn't want to interrupt the conversation. I didn't want her to clam up as she was talking about what was on her heart, so I just left," He sighed softly,
"I heard her crying herself to sleep after that and it was horrible. I don't even know if I'm doing the right thing anymore."

Kevin's brown eyes widened in shock as he dropped his utensils to the table and he stared over at his friend,
"Oh my...Andrew, I'm so sorry you overheard that-"

"No, Kev...it's not your fault," Andrew interrupted as he lowered his green eyes to the tabletop, fiddling with his fork again,
"Maybe I shouldn't have stayed around to listen in the first place; but I felt rooted to the spot and I couldn't leave, you know? And now...if it's even possible, I feel worse then I did before."

"Are you sure you shouldn't tell Monica this?" Kevin questioned, worry thick in his voice, but before he could continue, he watched Andrew hold his hand up and silence him.

"No. I'm not telling her; you see how much she's hurting over all of this, and I refuse to add to it. I-I just think it's better if I keep my mouth shut and try and let all of this resolve on it's own," Andrew lowered his emerald eyes to the table and forced himself to take another bite of his breakfast, although he didn't really taste it

Kevin was quiet for a few moments, his mind going over his conversation with the Irish angel last night,
"You know, Simba, I really think that more than anything, she's scared and though you didn't mean for it to be, I think that 'years' word scared the living daylights out of her. I mean, I'm pretty certain she knew that there would be a trust issue between you two when she walked out the door that day and then even when you confirmed it, I think she thought you two could handle it, as you've handled much worse in the past. But when you said it could take years…"

"But Kevin, I don't know how long it will take or what it will take," Andrew uttered miserably,
"I wish that I knew what she could do to make this right, because if I knew, I'd tell her in a heartbeat. I hate this…it hurts me too…that she did what she did in the first place and the fact that she is hurting so much now. I don't even know what is real and what is pretend with her anymore!"

"What she feels for you is real, Andrew," Kevin replied firmly, temporarily forgetting food as he laid down his fork,
"Other than her love for the Father, it's the realest thing she knows and she knows something within your relationship has changed, the same way you know that and while you're not tearing each other apart, you're each tearing yourselves apart about this. The problem is none of us know what the answers are and I'll admit, Andrew…I'm getting kind of worried about this."

"I just don't know what to do," Andrew whispered miserably in reply with a shrug of his shoulders,
"There has to be something she can do to make me trust her again...I really don't know what to do think anymore, Kev; I don't..."

Rising from his chair, the younger angel made his way over to his supervisor and laid a hand on his shoulder gently, waiting until Andrew met his eyes,
"Then just pray, Andrew. That's all we can do at times like this...just pray."

"Whale watching?" Monica's eyes widened as she looked at her best friend as he drove down the road later that afternoon,
"We're going whale watching? I've never done that before, although we have watched dolphins..."

Feeling a sense of relief that his friend's mood was lighter today and that she seemed anxious to the day ahead, Andrew grinned back at her before glancing at Kevin in the rearview mirror,
"Since you found it in the brochers on the way here, Kev, I thought it'd be a neat thing to do with our day."

"We could possibly see some dolphins as well," Kevin quipped cheerfully,
"As well as Grey whales as they migrate through here this time of year. Will you be okay with the boat though?"

She nodded her head excitedly,
"Ever since the cruise to Florida I haven't felt afraid of them at all."

Kevin grinned from the backseat,
"When Andrew and I called to book our seats while you were still dead to the world, they said the ocean was pretty choppy today. It's going to be like riding a roller coaster for three hours! I can't wait!"

Raising an eyebrow, Monica turned around in the backseat and stared at the youngest angel,
"A roller coaster? Three hours?" She repeated, shooting another look over at her best friend in the driver's seat.

"He's just trying to make you nervous, Angel Girl," Andrew replied with a shake of his head, giving Kevin a pointed look in the rearview mirror
"I think you'll be eating your words later on if you end up seasick today, Wonder Boy..."

"That's never gonna happen," The angel replied with a shake of his head as he leaned back comfortably in the back seat, resting his hands behind his head,
"Kevin? Seasick? I don't think so."

"I guess we'll see then, won't we?" The supervisor grinned as he shot a wink over at Monica and it felt like music to his ears as he heard her giggling in return.

As they arrived at the docks and picked up their tickets, Andrew's eyes were shining as he watched Monica race ahead to board the boat, her own dark eyes dancing with excitement and he silently thanked the Father for this reprieve from the sadness that had been consuming them both individually.

The captain explained over a speaker that it would take them approximately an hour to get far enough out to sea to where they would hopefully spot some marine life. They would then spend another hour out on the ocean, trying to site whales and dolphins, before they would head back to shore.

As the boat started slowly out of the harbor, he shook his head as he watched Kevin dart inside to the cabin where the grill was to order himself something to eat,
"Watch it, Kev," He advised with a wink as he stuck his head inside the cabin, all the while watching as Monica headed to the front of the boat to lean on the railing, her auburn hair whipping in the cold November breeze,
"They're saying the sea is rough today and eating too much might not be a good idea…"

Turning around and grinning widely, Kevin patted his stomach reassuringly,
"I have a stomach of steel, Simba. No roller coaster nor boat ride can possibly upset it. It was created to eat!"

"Well, don't say I didn't warn you, Wonder Boy," Andrew shook his head as he watched his charge order a plateful of junk food,
"'Cause if you get sick, you'll be paying the price."

"I hear you loud and clear," The youngest angel nodded his head as he stuffed a piece of pie in his mouth and chewed loudly. Sighing softly, Andrew made his way out of the cabin and over to his best friend, who was still leaning over the railing.

"I never thought I'd actually see the day where you were actually looking forward to boarding a boat, Mon", He spoke as he leaned over next to her, his blonde hair whipping through the wind and his hands folded in front of him on the railing,
"It's definitely a blessing..."

"Florida really helped me," She replied with a smile, gazing out over the ocean,
"Nothing terrible happened on that boat ride, so they can't all be bad, right?"

"Naaah," Andrew replied with a grin in her direction,
"They seem to have gotten better over the years, for both of us, I think. But I'm glad you aren't afraid of them anymore, especially with the way you love the ocean."

Monica looked over at him as he gazed out upon the horizon, her heart aching with love for him. Slowly moving to take his hand into her own, she waiting until he had looked back to her,
"Thank you," She told him softly,
"For today and for being who you are."

His eyes widening somewhat at her words, Andrew looked down at their conjoined hands and he reached his left one out to lay it on top of hers,
"I love you; that's why I did it. I want you and Kev to have a great time...if Kevin can have a good time if winds up seasick from all the junk food he's planning on eating..."

The two angels chuckled as they stole a glance over at their youngest co-worker, who was chowing down on a piece of pie and Andrew gave his best friend's hand a gentle squeeze,
"Want to take a walk around the boat for a bit while Kev chows down?" As the Irish angel nodded her head eagerly, Andrew released her hand and reached his arm out to wrap it around her shoulders,
"I'd like to spend a little bit of quality time with you, if you don't mind."

"No, of course I don't mind," Monica shook her auburn head as she smiled a small smile at her best friend as they started walking,
"'Cause I would like that, too."

CHAPTER 7

"You can't say I didn't warn you, Kevin," Andrew's laughter rang out along the deserted beach that night as the three angels sat around a bonfire just down from their cabin,
"That steel stomach of yours turned on you at last. You were positively green!"

Kevin glared at him, his stomach finally having settled down since they had gotten off the boat. The waves had been very choppy and the youngest angel had found himself feeling more than a little under the weather before the first whale had even been spotted. By the end of the tour, all he had wanted to do was curl up and moan somewhere, which he had done in the backseat the whole ride back to the hotel and though his friends had been sympathetic at the time, they were making up for it now.

"Don't you have a sweater that color, Andrew?" Monica asked innocently,
"I used to call it your emerald green sweater, but I think I may change it to your Kevin green sweater."

Andrew couldn't hold back his laughter despite the fact that Kevin was not amused. Other than his youngest charge's bout with seasickness, the whole day had been a blessing for the supervisor, especially after such a rough morning and though he had no idea how long the reprieve might last, he was enjoying every minute of it at the moment.

"You two had better watch it," Kevin warned in a mock threat as he pointed a finger at each of his friends,
"You may have forgotten that we're on a beach, so I can dunk either one of you at any time."

"No you wouldn't," Andrew shook his head with a wink at his friend and charge,
"Not in this weather or this time of night."

Sighing in exasperation, Kevin leaned his chin in the palm of his hand as he looked at the crackling flames in front of him,
"Unfortunately, I think you're right; I'm too nice for that, Simba." He shot a wink over at his older friend and chuckled as Andrew rolled his eyes with a groan.

"Oh yes, as nice as a wolf, Wonder Boy," Monica mumbled under her breath, warming her hands in the fire but not before seeing the mock glare Kevin shot his way.

"Watch it, Cupcake or there will be no swimming lesson for you tomorrow morning," Kevin threatened playfully.

"Well, I hope you two decide to have it a little later in the morning as Kev told me the one this morning was at 2:30," Andrew teased gently.

"Oh heavens, yes," Monica replied with a sleepy yawn,
"I'm running out of energy quickly, but today was wonderful though. When that huge whale was right beside the boat, it was just so incredible thinking that God created them so long ago and how large and powerful they are…it made me feel very small and insignificant in the big scheme of things. It was just breathtaking."

"I know what you mean, Angel Girl," Andrew replied, looking over at her through tired eyes and seeing her own sleepiness,
"Sorry you missed it, Kev," He added, chuckling as his youngest charge stuck his tongue out at him.

"Well, hey, the food was worth it, though," He retorted back, folding his arms across his chest,
"After all, I am the food angel in this group." He shot a wink at each of his friends and laughed as both of them rolled their eyes.

"Well that's for sure, Kevin," Andrew snorted as he reached for a bottle of ginger ale and took a drink out of it before setting it back on the cooler they brought down with them,
"And we wouldn't have you any other way, even thought you are stubborn as heck."

Sticking his tongue out at his supervisor again, the youngest angel leaned back up against a second cooler and looked up at the starry sky, deciding to change the subject,
"It's a beautiful night outside, don't you think?"

Nudging his best friend in the ribs, Andrew whispered over to Monica and winked at her,
"I think he's trying to change the subject, don't you think, Angel Girl?"

"Yes, as the local forecast has never been his forte," She giggled, but was interrupted by a yawn.

Smiling, Andrew looked over at Kevin and noticed that he too was looking tired after a long day with not much sleep the previous night for any of them,
"Let's pack up here, you two and head up to bed. I think we all could stand a good night's sleep."

"Amen to that," Kevin replied, as he threw sand on the fire to put it out as Andrew and Monica put things back in the cooler and each lifted a side of it. They then returned to the cabin quietly and bid each other good night, before retiring to their rooms.

After changing into pajamas and running a brush through her wind blown hair, the Irish angel sat down on the edge of her bed, her thoughts from the previous night returning, even as she fought against them.
Today had been too good for tonight to be filled with sadness all over again and as she laid down, she felt the great sorrow flowing through her once more, causing sleep to evade her, despite how exhausted she was.

After nearly half an hour, she got up and walked out into the hall, hesitating only briefly to knock on Andrew's door when she saw from under the door that his light was still on. Hearing his concerned call to come in, she opened the door quietly and slipped inside, closing it behind her.

"Sweetie, are you okay?" Andrew watched worriedly as she walked into his room and sat down on the other side of his bed.

Monica nodded her head as she looked up at him almost shyly,
"Today was so wonderful, Andrew and I'm not ready to let it go yet and when I'm by myself…" Her voice trailed off, fairly certain she didn't need to explain,
"Would it be okay if I stayed here with you, because I don't much feel like feeling sad tonight?"

"You know the answer to that, Angel Girl," He replied gently as he scooted over on the large bed to make room for her and patted the seat next to him, inviting her over,
"You're more then welcome anytime."

Smiling in reply, Monica lowered her head for a brief moment before hurrying over to the large bed her best friend was in and took a seat next to him. Almost immediately feeling his arms wrap around her slim shoulders, the Irish angel leaned into him and rested her head on his shoulder,
"I hope I'm not bothering you, Andrew..."

"You are never a 'bother', sweetie," The older angel interrupted as he ran his fingers through her brilliant hair and he felt her hold on him tighten,
"I think you know that by now."

"I just want to stay with you tonight; you're just so nice and warm, you know?" She smiled tiredly up at her best friend from where her head lay on his chest.

"Are you cold?" He asked her softly, reaching for her hand and finding it slightly chilly,
"Hang on a second," Getting up, he went over to the gas-burning fireplace and turned it on, immediately feeling the warmth start to fill the room. Returning to her, he once again wrapped his arm around her shoulders and drew her close,
"Better?"

She nodded her head as she watched the flames flicker for a moment,
"Can I tell you something?" She asked him softly.

"You know you can tell me anything, little one," Andrew replied, feeling so grateful for this moment, for all the moments that had made up this day.

"I just wanted you to know that I meant what I said earlier, on the boat, when I thanked you for being you," Monica replied quietly, her eyes still on the fire,
"Especially after the last few months when things have been so hard, I think I forget to tell you sometimes; I think I forget to tell you way too often actually, how much you and your friendship means to me. You're so good, and so patient, so understanding, no matter what happens and I think I finally, for the first time, realize that you aren't going anywhere; that you're always going to be here, and in those really dark moments, when I can't remember the last thing I've done right, I know that somewhere along the line I must have done something right to have been blessed with having you in my existence. You're just such a gift to me, Andrew, every single day, no matter how bad the day might be, all I ever have to do is look into your eyes for it to be better," Reaching over, she laced her fingers through his,
"That's all I wanted to say. I just wanted you to know."

At his friend's words, Andrew felt tears fill his compassionate green eyes and he wasn't sure of what to say in reply at first. So instead, he just gave her a tight squeeze and kissed the top of her head before he found the right words to say,
"I can't tell you how much it means to me to hear you say that, sweetheart."

Looking up into his teary eyes, the Irish angel squeezed his hand tightly as she whispered,
"You believe me, right...?"

Nodding his head, Andrew released her hand and wrapped his other arm tightly around her to hold her close to him,
"Yes, I do. And sweetie, I want you to know, that although there's still some work to do, we are on the right track of this whole trust thing being restored. We're getting there, Angel Girl; you really showed it yesterday at the carnival..."

At the mere mention of that night, Monica closed her eyes and rested her head against his chest as she wrapped her arms around his waist tightly,
"I'm not sure I want to talk about that..."

"We don't have to, Angel Girl," Andrew shook his head as he gently interrupted,
"I just want you to know that I'm proud of you for helping Kevin like that, and that we're getting there, baby. That's all I needed to say."

She closed her eyes for a moment, feeling a tear slip onto her cheek,
"I want that more than anything, Andrew; more than I've ever wanted anything my whole existence and I cross my heart promise you that once that happens, I will never do anything to lose it again."

"I think I already know that," He replied softly, lightly brushing his fingers through her hair,
"And I have all the faith in the world in you about this."

Monica was quiet for a moment, before she spoke up softly once more,
"Last night, when Kevin and I were down at the pool…I told him that I didn't think I could wait as long as years for you to trust me again. I knew how much one single day hurt and to imagine years of that was more than I thought I could bear," She swallowed hard as she continued to bear her heart to him,
"I was actually thinking about if it came to that, transferring elsewhere. But I want you to know that I've changed my mind on that, because after today, I was reminded that you and your trust are worth fighting for, Andrew. I think I always knew it, but I was just scared."

Feeling another sense of relief that his best friend had decided to come to him and tell him about the conversation between her and Kevin early that morning, Andrew grinned down at her,
"I'm glad to hear that, little girl, because I wouldn't want any other charges. Only you and Kev."

"So I guess we're stuck with one another, huh?" Monica giggled through the tears that slipped from her brown eyes,
"There's no way we can get rid of one another?"

Chuckling, Andrew shook his head of blonde hair and kissed the crown of her head again as she snuggled closer to him,
"Never ever. We'll be stuck together for the rest of eternity, Angel Girl."

"Good." Monica let out a yawn and silence filled the master bedroom once again. And before Andrew knew it, he felt the nice even breathing of his best friend and he knew instantly that she was sound asleep. His hand running through her hair one last time, the older angel nestled down under the covers before he whispered to his sleeping friend.

"I love you, Angel Girl."

CHAPTER 8

Late the following evening, the three angels walked up and down the streets of the tourist town, exploring the many specialties shops and in Kevin's case, the many food and snack shops.

"Kevin, don't you ever get full?" Monica asked him as she watched him happily devouring a funnel cake with custard on top of it.

The youngest angel appeared thoughtful for a moment, licking a bit of custard off his finger,
"Hmmm….I think that would be a no, Cupcake."

"Angel Girl, I don't think the words 'couldn't eat another bite' are even in his vocabulary," Andrew advised with a chuckle.

"If they were, they have definitely been banned," Kevin grinned before popping the last bite into his mouth.

"That's pretty obvious, Wonder Boy," Andrew joked as he shook his head, switching the bag he carried to his other hand as he reached for Monica's hand with the other and holding it tightly in his own,
"But Angel Girl, I think we shouldn't be surprised about the appetite of this angel anymore..."

"Simba's right, you shouldn't," Kevin retorted as he used his finger to get the rest of the custard off of the plate and popping it into his mouth happily. As he gulped it down, the youngest angel caught another food store out of the corner of his eye and his brown eyes lit up,
"A candy store! Simba, I'll be back; could you hold onto this for me while I go in there real quick?" Before his supervisor could reply, he shoved his bag of goodies into Andrew's hand and hurried off into the small store.

"That boy," Andrew shook his head in wonder as he rolled eyes to the sky. Taking a peak inside of the bag, the angel couldn't help laughing at all the chocolate covered snacks inside,
"Have you figured out why he hasn't exploded yet, Mon?"

Shrugging her shoulders, Monica giggled as she replied,
"Ya got me," Before she continued, though, she spotted a shop up ahead and her own eyes lit up,
"I'm gonna go in there for a few minutes, okay? I shouldn't be too long..."

"No problem," He replied with a chuckle as he watched his best friend dash into the store up ahead,
"I'll just wait out here for you two."

Watching as his dearest friend headed into the shop, he then walked over and leaned up against the wall to await her and Kevin's return. His mind wandered back to the conversation he and Monica had last night as a smile spread across his face. After last night, he finally knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that they would eventually be just fine and it warmed his heart as he played over the conversation in his head. He knew that the discussion had worked wonders for her as well as she had been completely light hearted today, with laughter coming easily to her and the supervising angel felt better than he had felt in weeks.

"Just shut up and fork over your wallet, buddy."

The voice caused Andrew to look over as he drew in a sharp breath at seeing three men, now more or less surrounding him as he had been so caught up in his thoughts, he had never seen them approach. Looking around frantically, he realized that the street seemed deserted as the shops were only minutes away from closing and he didn't miss the fact that one of the men was pointing a gun at him,
"Just calm down, man, okay?" Andrew tried to hold his voice steady, praying that Monica and Kevin stayed inside the stores long enough for this to be over.

"Empty your pockets now, or I'll show you what calm ain't!" One of the other men snapped angrily,
"Just do as you're told and nobody gets hurt, got it?"

His face turning white, Andrew set the bag he was carrying down on the ground, even as his green eyes continued looking into the gun that was on him. With trembling hands, he reached into his pocket and started pull out his wallet when he felt one of them men shove him,
"Hurry up, you stupid idiot!" He snapped at the angel and Andrew immediately tensed up as he soon recognized that voice from anywhere. How in the world could he have forgotten it?

Trying to make it seem like he didn't recognize the voice as he lowered his head, Andrew fished around in his pockets once again for all the money he had and handed the wallet to the man who had just spoken to him.
"Take anything you want, okay?" His voice trembled as he spoke.

Snatching the wallet from the angel, the man with the gun tore open the wallet and withdrew several dollar bills. Not satisfied in the least, he looked up and glared angrily at Andrew,
"You have got to have more then this, buddy! Now fork it over!" He threw the dollar bills down on the ground and aimed the gun at Andrew's head threateningly.

"That's all I have, I swear," Andrew pleaded desperately, turning his eyes briefly to the stores his friends had gone into and was relieved that they were still nowhere to be seen. He wouldn't be able to bear it if they came out now and saw what was happening.

Before he knew what had happened, one of the men threw him up against the wall and searched through his coat pockets, but didn't come up with anything, but he hesitated when he noticed something shiny coming from around Andrew's neck,
"This could be worth something," He growled as with a tug, Andrew felt the chain break on the locket Monica had given him so many years ago.

Almost feeling angry and trying to control it, Andrew choked out,
"It's of more sentimental value to me than worth money to you…"

"Shut up!" He snapped, thrusting the necklace into his pocket,
"I'll decide what is worth it and what isn't."

As Monica came out of the shop, her eyes darted around for her best friend and she froze as she noticed him surrounded by three men and she was sure she saw a flash of metal as a gun was aimed at his head. Panic filling her, she bolted to the candy store where Kevin still was and slipped in the door, her terror stricken eyes searching for him,
"Kevin?!"

Hearing the familiar sound of the frantic Irish voice, Kevin appeared from around a corner, his hands filled with chocolates, but he immediately set them back on the counter as he saw the terror in his friend's eyes,
"Monica, what's wrong-"

Running to him, the little Irish angel grabbed his arm and interrupted,
"Some thugs have got Andrew at gunpoint; you have got to go and get help!"

"What?!" The youngest caseworker cried as his own eyes widened in shock. Ignoring the candy on the counter, Kevin demanded,
"Where?"

"Just go and get help," She ordered, her voice trembling,
"Find a worker around here and have them call 911 immediately! I'm going to go and help Andrew...but hurry, though!" Without waiting for a reply, the small Irish angel darted out of the store and back out onto the sidewalk.

Standing still for a moment to try to assess what was happening, she made a quick decision to try to distract them, if only for a moment. If this was indeed only a simple mugging, she was hoping it would scare the muggers away to know someone else was there. Her heart pounding in her ears, she cried out as loudly as her Irish voice would allow,
"Andrew!"

Andrew's eyes widened at the sound of her voice, but he quickly noticed that she had startled the attackers as well as they quickly looked over at her and the angel wasted no time in giving the man closest to him a hard shove as he bolted away from them, hoping that now they would simply leave.

"You're gonna regret that one!" One of the men yelled, taking aim at the retreating angel.

Though she could hear the sound of sirens in the near distance, Monica's terrified eyes watched as Andrew retreated, heading towards the main road, probably hoping to direct the police. Looking back, a scream escaped her lips as she saw one of the men taking aim at her best friend and in that split second, she recognized him.

Coach Slade.

Before she even had time to think, Monica bolted out into the street, just as she heard the gunfire and the sirens coming closer. She was hit in the side with a flash of white-hot pain as with a cry, she collapsed to the ground.

At the sound of the gunshot, Andrew let out a scream as well and also hit his knees in the street. As he tried to catch his breath, the blonde angel finally looked over his shoulder and let out a startled cry at he saw his best friend lying, bleeding, on the hard ground. Her auburn hair was fanned out and the blood was seeping through her clothing. Rising quickly to his feet, Andrew dashed as fast as he could to Monica and fell next to her, immediately taking her head into his arms and stroking back her hair,
"Angel Girl? Angel Girl, can you hear me...? Please, baby, answer me..."

Forcing herself to take deep breaths, Monica opened her eyes as she heard the soothing sound of her best friend's voice and she reached a weak hand out to grasp onto his own,
"You're not...hurt...are you...?"

"No, sweetie; no, I'm not...and you're going to be just fine, Angel Girl. You're going to be just fine," He continued stroking back her hair as a sob escaped him and he leaned his forehead against hers, kissing it repeatedly,
"Oh sweetie, I'm so sorry...I'm so sorry..."

"You…have nothing…to be sorry for," She managed to say, trying her best to be brave for him, despite the horrible pain she was feeling,
"I'm…okay…" She uttered, even as she closed her eyes and bit back a cry as pain flowed through her like one of the ocean waves.

"No, you're not okay," Andrew sobbed, looking up and finally seeing police cars arriving,
"We need an ambulance!" He cried out brokenly, before looking back to his best friend as he gently stroked her face,
"Stay with me, baby girl. Oh Monica, why would you do this?"

Forcing herself to open her eyes, she looked up at him as tears raced down her pale face,
"I…couldn't let them…hurt you…" She whispered, doing her best to take deep breaths, and to stay awake for him. Managing a weak smile through the pain, she added softly,
"You know that…fire I was feeling…so guilty about? Maybe…this makes up for that….a little…"

Unable to speak as his tears continued to flow, Andrew rested his head against his best friend's and gently held her in his arms, not even noticing that Kevin had come running to them until he yelled,
"Andrew! Monica!"

Before the youngest angel could make his way to his friends, Kevin felt a paramedic who had just arrived on the scene grab his arm and hold him back,
"You've got to stay back, son, all right?"

"But...but they're my friends-" The angel stuttered, tears filling his brown eyes as he watched Andrew kneeling down in front of a bleeding Monica, his face buried in her hair.

"Son, I said stay back," The paramedic said more firmly this time,
"You'll be able to see them once we get them to the hospital. Were you the one that called?"

"Y-yes, I was," Kevin nodded as his eyes remained on his two closest friends,
"Are they all right...?"

"We'll see; that's why we need you to stay back, okay?" His voice held no room for arguments and with a wave to his partners; the man headed in the direction of the two human angels and knelt down next to them.

"Help her, please," Andrew uttered, his voice little more than a whisper, as he realized the paramedics were there, though his eyes never left Monica's face, as they immediately put an oxygen mask on her and worked to stabilize her enough to move her.

"We will, son," The same paramedic who had spoken to Kevin replied, as he looked at Andrew,
"Were you the one that was being assaulted?" Seeing him nod his head, obviously too distraught to say much at the moment, he continued,
"Are you okay? Are you hurt?"

"No," Andrew uttered wiping blindly at his tear filled eyes,
"Just Monica…oh God, please help her," He sobbed brokenly, lowering his head once more, but he lifted it a moment later as he felt a feather-like touch to his hand and through blurred vision, he saw Monica grasp his hand with weak fingers as if to reassure him. Catching her hand in his own, he brought it to his lips and laid tiny kisses on her palm,
"I love you so much, baby…just so much…hang on for me…" Looking up at the paramedics, he uttered weakly,
"I want to go with her, please?"

"Of course and we'll want to check you over as well, son, just to make sure you are indeed all right," Feeling confident that they had the little angel stable, he called to the rest of his team,
"Okay boys, lets move her."

As they lifted Monica onto a stretcher, Andrew spotted Kevin through blurred vision and quickly approached him, pressing the car keys into his hand,
"Follow us, Kev, okay?"

Wiping at his eyes as he accepted the car keys from his older friend, Kevin gave him a tight hug before he finally released him and replied, emotion thick in his voice,
"Of course...I'll meet you guys there..."

Nodding his head, Andrew hurried back over to the waiting ambulance just as they were loading his Irish friend in,
"She's going to be okay...right?" He asked, his voice thick with tears.

"We'll see, son; we'll see," A second paramedic replied as he helped Andrew climb into the ambulance after his best friend and took a seat next to her. Closing the heavy doors after them, the human hurried over to the driver's side and shouted,
"All right, boys, let's go!"

The sirens blaring in his eyes, Kevin watched through blurred vision as the ambulance drove away and the only cars remaining were a few police cars. Lifting a trembling hand to wipe at his eyes, the youngest angel glanced down at the car keys in his hand before hurrying over to where Andrew's car was parked, determined to get to the hospital as soon as possible.

CHAPTER 9

The ride to the hospital was the longest Andrew had ever known as he had numbly watched the paramedics working on his friend as well as checking his own vital signs, though he barely noticed. All he could think about was the little Irish angel who he loved with everything in him, as he held tightly to her hand even after she lost her battle to remain conscious.

He offered up prayer after prayer, even as his mind went back over every detail of every heart breaking conversation they had over the past several days and if he was glad for nothing else, he was glad for the conversation they had last night, as he found little comfort in any of their other discussions of late. He kept hearing her words about this making up for the fire a little and his heart broke again and again at the idea that something like this had to happen in order for her to feel better about what had happened to him. Just the idea of it caused him to break down all over again as he brought her hand to his face and held it against his tear streaked cheek.

"We're nearly there, Andrew," The paramedic he had been talking to earlier told him as he knelt down beside of him and rested a comforting hand on his shoulder,
"Monica will be taken into surgery immediately as they are waiting for her. They'll check you over as well and my guess is release you. They'll do all they can for her, son, and hopefully in a few hours, you can put your fears for her to rest. I'm sure the police will have some questions for you but from what we just heard, it sounds like they caught the guys."

Andrew nodded his head blindly, as he watched them hook up an IV to his best friend,
"She hates those things…" He uttered, not even fully aware of what he was saying anymore.

"I promise you, she isn't even feeling it right now," He reassured, giving Andrew's shoulder a squeeze before standing back up as they were nearly there.

"A promise…" Andrew whispered miserably, lowering his head as he held Monica's chilly hand in both of his, rubbing her smaller fingers with his own,
"Please be okay, baby girl," He whispered tearfully,
"I don't want to be without you…I can't be without you…"

Completely unaware of anything else going on around him, Andrew kept his head lowered to his best friend's hand until he suddenly felt the ambulance come to a stop and loud voices rang in his ears,
"Okay, let's get her in there!"

"C'mon, son, let's get you two in there," The same paramedic urged gently as he helped the angel to his wobbly feet as the other workers set to work on wheeling Monica out of the ambulance. As Andrew hopped out as well, he shot one final look over at his dearest friend and grasped her hand one final time.

"Fight, sweetie...fight for me, okay?" He uttered weakly as he squeezed her hand as tightly as he could before the doctors rushed foward and wheeled her away and into the OR,
"Oh God, fight Monica..." He continued whispering to himself as the Operating Room doors closed and he was left standing in the middle of the room. It wasn't until he felt another hand on his shoulder did he look up and into the faces of the paramedic and a nurse standing right behind him.

"Go on with this nurse, Andrew; and once they release you, you can wait on any news for your friend until the police are ready to ask you some questions," He spoke as he gently ushered the angel to the female nurse, sympathy in her own eyes.

Andrew sat quietly as the nurse checked over all his vitals, not even having the energy to tell her he was fine.

"Well, your blood pressure is slightly elevated, but that is probably due to your concern about your friend," The nurse told him with a gentle smile,
"Other than that, I'd say you are fine," Seeing another nurse motion to her, she excused herself for a moment and then returned,
"There is a young man in the waiting area who is pretty distraught asking for you. Come on, I'll show you the way."

Andrew nodded his head and after she had him sign discharge papers, he followed her out of the ER and to the waiting area where he saw Kevin pacing a path in the carpet. Feeling as if his legs weren't going to support him, he sank down into a chair, before uttering hoarsely,
"Kevin."

The younger angel's head shot up at the sound of his name as he hurried over to Andrew and sat down in the chair next to him, resting a hand on his supervisor's shoulder,
"Andrew, what the heck happened?" He uttered tearfully, noticing how pale his friend looked,
"Cupcake told me what was happening and asked me to find help and the next thing I knew…is she okay?"

"I don't know yet, Kevin," He replied weakly, lifting a trembling hand to wipe at the never-ending tears on his pale face,
"She...she saved my life. They were planning on shooting me, b-but she put herself in harm's way instead and she got shot..." He looked through blurred vision over at his youngest charge and forced himself to continue,
"Monica and I recognized one of them, Kev..."

"Who?" The Caseworker asked quietly, his heart thumping loudly in his chest.

"Coach Slade," Andrew replied in a voice so thick with emotion that Kevin was concerned his friend might break down any minute,
"Coach Slade was the one with the gun...and he was the one who shot Mon..."

The color drained from Kevin's face at hearing that bit of information,
"Slade? He did this?"

"I don't know what he was doing here, Kevin," Andrew uttered, resting his head in his hand as his other hand instinctively went for the locket he had worn around his neck for decades. Fresh tears filled his eyes at remembering they had taken it from him and he had no idea if he would ever see it again,
"She's got to be all right, Kevin, because I don't know…"

"Simba, listen to me," Kevin replied, despite the fact that his own voice was shaking with fear,
"In case you haven't noticed, our Cupcake has developed a little bit of a fighting streak lately, and you know she is going to fight this with everything in her. After all we've been through the past few months, she won't let this stand in the way; you know how freakishly stubborn she is…"

Biting his lip to keep it from quivering, Andrew closed his green eyes as he weakly nodded his head at his youngest charge's comment,
"She is..."

"The Father knows what Monica needs right now, Andrew, and if it's His will, she will come through this with flying colors; of that, I have no doubt in my mind," Kevin continued, giving his friend's shoulder a squeeze,
"Just keep praying for her and also that they did catch Slade."

"The paramedics said they think they did..." Andrew uttered miserably, not lifting his head just yet.

"Then there is a good thing that has come out of all of this, Simba; I don't think I have to tell you that...that man will never hurt those track girls or attempt to kill anyone ever again once he's convicted," The youngest angel concluded softly,
"Monica is going to get through this, Andrew, okay?"

The tears still coming, Andrew forced himself to nod his head as he choked out,
"Thanks, Kev..."

Nodding his head, knowing that Andrew must have a hundred things going through his mind right now and that nothing he could really say was going to help until he knew Monica was out of danger, Kevin sat back in his chair shakily and offered up silent prayers to the Father.

Neither angel spoke until a police officer approached them,
"Are you Andrew?" He asked, his voice kind as he saw the blond haired man look up at him through tear-filled eyes and nod his head,
"I'm officer Bradley and I'd like to ask you a few questions about what happened if you are up to it?"

"Did you catch them?" Andrew uttered softly, wiping at his eyes,
"Did you catch the guys who shot my best friend?"

"Yes, we did, son," He replied gently,
"But I need to know exactly what happened."

Officer Bradley took notes as Andrew shakily went over the events of the evening, asking questions on anything he needed clarification on until he was satisfied that he had everything he needed,
"Thank you, Andrew, and oh, before I forget. I believe these belong to you," He handed the angel a plastic bag that contained his wallet as well as a locket. Standing to leave, he managed an encouraging smile for the young man,
"I'll say a prayer for your friend."

"Thank you, officer," Andrew replied as he attempted a shaky smile. As the officer gave the angel's shoulder a gentle squeeze before leaving the waiting room, Andrew looked down at the plastic bag in his hands. He closed his tear-filled eyes and whispered in a shaky voice to his best friend, hoping with all of his heart that she could hear him,
"I love you so, so much, Angel Girl..."

Hearing the words his supervisor and friend was saying to their Irish friend, Kevin gave a shaky sigh before reaching out and wrapping an arm around Andrew's slumped shoulders all the while praying silently to the Father for Monica.

The hours passed with agonizing slowness, but still Andrew refused to leave the waiting room until he heard some word on his best friend. Every now and then, the angel looked up at the clock and noticed that it kept getting later and later and although his stomach growled with hunger, he didn't think he'd be able to hold anything down right now. Even after Kevin had suggested to go down to the cafeteria and grab them a cup of coffee and some food, Andrew just shook his head and refused.

Now, for what seemed like the millionth time, he glanced up at the clock and noticed that it was just after midnight, and he didn't think he'd be able to keep his eyes open much longer if he didn't hear from the doctors soon. With a heavy sigh, the blonde angel glanced up in time to see Kevin approaching him once again, two hot cups of coffee in his hands and a serious look on his face,
"I'm not taking no for an answer this time, Simba. You have got to at least get something to drink in you." He handed his supervisor one of the steaming cups and waited until he reluctantly accepted it.

Starring down at the brown liquid that was his best friend's beverage of choice, Andrew felt the tears welling up in his eyes once more as he drew in a shaky breath, a memory of the day she had gone through 7 pots of coffee lingering in his mind as a sad smile played on his lips.

"Are you two here with Monica?"

The sound of those words nearly caused Andrew to spill the cup of coffee as he hurriedly set it down on the table and looked up at the doctor,
"Yes. How is she? Is she okay?"

The doctor pulled up a chair to sit down across from them, seeing the deep concern and worry in their eyes as they waited for him to speak,
"She came out of surgery just a little while ago. We had a rough start, mostly due to the amount of blood she lost, but as far as unconscious patient's go, she seemed determined to hang on thankfully. We removed the bullet and the internal damage was miraculously minimal. We repaired what there was and closed the wound. My medical opinion is that she is going to be just fine."

Kevin let out a whoop of joy upon hearing those words as Andrew felt tears streaming down his face as he struggled to form words,
"Can we see her?" He uttered finally, his voice choked.

"She is being moved to a room now, so yes, you can see her in just a little while. She may not wake up tonight; it may not be until tomorrow, and she'll be in pain and probably groggy, but we want to keep her tonight for observation. Considering how well she seemed to be doing when we took her to Recovery, I don't think I have any problem releasing her tomorrow providing you keep her down and quiet for the next week. I can give you a prescription for medicine for pain control and an anti-biotic to keep infection from occurring," He smiled, seeing the visible relief in Andrew's eyes,
"So, providing she does well overnight and you promise me to take good care of her, I see no reason why she can't recover at home."

"We'll always take care of little Cupcake," Kevin replied as a smile spread across his face, his brown eyes shining with joy now,
"You can trust both of us."

Looking over at Andrew and seeing the deep seriousness in his green eyes as he agreed, the doctor patted the older angel's knee reassuringly before he rose to his feet,
"Okay then, it looks like we've got an agreement. I'll be back with you two in a few minutes and let you know where your friend's room is. It'll be just a few moments." With a final smile, the doctor turned back around and headed through a set of double doors.

After the doctor disappeared, Kevin turned around and saw the utmost relief evident on his older friend's face,
"I told you she'd make it, Simba! I knew she'd fight!"

"Thank you, Father..." Andrew whispered, rubbing at his tear-stailed eyes with the palms of his hands,
"Oh Father, thank you..."

CHAPTER 10

Monica felt her heart fall to the pit of her stomach as he said those words as anytime they had been said lately, it had not been good and on top of that, the pain medication had her feeling more emotional than usual today,
"Andrew…I know you didn't tell me to interfere last night, but…we weren't on assignment and I had to do something….I thought if I just yelled it would scare them away…I didn't mean to put anyone in danger…"

His eyes widened as he heard her words and saw her eyes brimming with tears and he wanted to cry himself as he took her face into his hands,
"Oh, baby, no. You've got the wrong idea about this, sweetie…"

Her tear-filled eyes searched his,
"You're not mad at me?"

"Mad at you? Monica, you jumped out in front of a gun for me. Why on earth do you think I'd be mad at you, honey?" He asked as he blinked back the tears in his own eyes.

As he asked that question, Monica opened her mouth to reply but found that no sound came out. Shrugging her shoulders instead, she lowered her brown eyes for a few moments before she attempted to talk again,
"Because...because I interfered...and you almost got shot because I went into that store..."

Finally giving up and allowing the tears to fall, Andrew shook his head hard as he reached for his best friend and gathered her close to him and held her as tightly as he dared, considering she was still in a good amount of pain from the surgery,
"Oh sweetheart, you have got that all wrong...baby, none of that is true, and I think deep down you know it. You know that Slade has been caught because of it, and he will never harm anyone again; and you saved my life, Angel Girl. I don't see any of those things as a reason to be 'mad at you'." He ran his fingers through her auburn hair as he rested his chin on the top of her head.

Choking back a sob, as she felt more relieved then ever, Monica rested her cheek against his shoulder as she wrapped her own arms around him as tightly as she could,
"I-I just wasn't sure...but I did mean what I said yesterday."

"About?" Andrew whispered softly as he continued holding her gently.

"About how I feel at least a little bit better about...about the fire now..." She choked out as she rested her forehead against his shoulder and allowed her tears to fall onto his jacket,
"That's the truth..."

Andrew closed his eyes painfully, not knowing how to get her past this part of it,
"The fire was not your fault, sweetheart; it was never your fault. Had you not gone to Keyser you never would have put two and two together about Rachel, baby. What will it take for you to see that?"

"Rachel was already dead…she had been for twenty years, Andrew…it couldn't have been worth all the pain you were in for three weeks," She sobbed softly, each sob causing her pain but unable to stop them.

"I'm sure that to her parents it was, Monica, and if I have to find a way to prove it to you, I will," He whispered gently.
"I don't want to go and see them, Andrew…" She whimpered, suddenly feeling afraid,
"An angel couldn't help their daughter and I don't want-."

"I would never lead you into something like that," He replied firmly, though he had a feeling that would not be the case with Rachel's parents and he intended to find out. Pulling away, he took her tear-streaked face into his hands,
"But listen to me about this, if you won't listen about anything else, my sweet, stubborn Angel Girl," A tearful smile played on his lips as he continued,
"Last night, I was so proud of you. Though my intention would never have been for you to get hurt, to know that after everything that has been going on between us lately, that you would do something like that…Monica, I don't even know how to begin to thank you. I love you so much, more I think than you can even fathom and I never want to stop telling you that, ever."

"You're proud of me?" Monica whispered, feeling a slight blush rise to her face that her best friend was actually telling her this,
"I didn't think..."

"Yes, I am, Angel Girl," Andrew nodded his head as his eyes never left her face,
"More then proud as a matter of fact. And I will never ever stop loving you, so you don't have to worry your pretty little head about that, sweetie." He gave a wink in her direction and smiled as he heard her giggle before he turned serious once more,
"But Mon, if you think that I'm going to forget what you did for me yesterday any time soon, I'm sorry to say that I won't." He blinked back hot tears as he spoke, his hand caressing his best friend's cheek,
"I'll remember it for the rest of my existence..."

Her lower lip trembled as she whispered to him,
"I may not be able to keep a promise to you, Andy, but I will always do everything I can to keep you safe."

Andrew looked into her teary brown eyes for a moment, even as his own tears fell from his eyes,
"You know what? I think there was something important here that I was overlooking and deep down inside, I think I always knew it. In all the ways, Monica, that really and truly count, you have always been there and I have always been able to trust you," His thumbs swiped at the tears on her face as he drew in a trembling breath,
"And I don't know why I didn't see that before. Yes, I needed you last week, but you were hurt and afraid and I knew that and most importantly, Angel Girl, you came back…you came back…"

Feeling her spirit lifting for the first time in so long at those very words, Monica looked deep into her dearest friend's tear-filled eyes and whispered shakily,
"I take it that's a good thing..."

"It's a wonderful thing, and right now, it's my turn to apologize to you," Andrew continued, reaching for her hands once more and holding them tightly,
"Sweetie, I am very, very sorry for what I told you last week about the trust issue-"

"You have no reason to apologize, Andy," The Irish angel weakly interrupted, unable to believe that he thought he needed to say he was sorry.

"Yes. Yes, I do, baby," He objected, sighing softly,
"I saw how much those words had hurt you, and they hurt me as well. But I should've realized that you didn't mean for it to happen, and I should've just trusted that you would come around eventually and that you would come back. And you did, and I should have been happy about that, like I am right now. So I need to know if you will accept my apology?"

Choking on a sob, the little angel, though still weak, flung her arms around her best friend and hugged him as tightly as she could,
"I love you..." She whispered into his chest,
"And although you have nothing to a-apologize for...of course I forgive you; of course I do..."

Hugging her as tightly as he dared as his tears fell into her hair, he whispered back to her,
"I love you so much, little girl, just so much and I was so afraid last night I might lose you and not get the chance to tell you that again. Other than the Father, you are my world," His heart racing, he pulled back once more, needing to look into her eyes,
"My whole world, do you know that? Because I need for you to know and I will explain it all to you if need be, because I never, ever want there to be a question in your mind about it. I never want you to question if I am still your friend or if you can hug me, ever. The answer sweetheart, is always yes! It will always be yes! And while we're at it, you have always been and will always be worthy of this friendship. I know that there have been times you have doubted that, but no more, Angel Girl, okay? There are times when I'm not sure I'm worthy of having one of the most forgiving souls I've ever met in my corner, but you are always there and I am always going to be there for you," The tears racing down his face, he drew in a deep breath,
"Is there anything else we need to clear the air about, little one?"

Her shoulders trembling with tears, she shook her head as she moved back into his arms,
"Thank you…thank you…you're such a blessing to me, Andy….and I just love you so much…don't let me go yet, please…"

"You've got your wish, sweetheart, because I don't want to let you go just yet," Andrew whispered into her hair as his tears continued to fall down his handsome face. As the two angels and continued clinging tightly to one another, the sound of the door opening caused both of their heads to jerk up and Kevin yelled from downstairs.

"Dinner's ready!"

Chuckling as he wiped at his green eyes to smear away the tears, Andrew shook his head as he stole another glance at his best friend,
"Well, it looks like Kevin wants to eat. What else is new though, huh?"

"That's true," Monica replied as she looked over at the door just in time to see Kevin making his way through, arms filled with all sorts of food, including a pizza box.

"Dinner is served, my friends," He grinned in their direction and pulled up an extra chair to sit on and then yanked an end table over to set it in between him and his friends,
"Hope you all like pepperoni. I've also got some chicken, some veggies and some soda pop..."

"Woah, Kevin got veggies?" Andrew winked at Monica and smiled as she giggled,
"That's a first!"

"Very funny," Kevin mumbled as he grabbed a slice of pizza and stuffed a huge bite in his mouth. As the threesome dug into the food the youngest angel had bought, Andrew shot one last glance at his best friend and felt his heart soar as he saw her smile brightly back.

"Kevin," Andrew greeted his youngest charge in the kitchen the next morning,
"I need you to do me a favor. Can you keep an eye on Monica for a few hours? She's still sound asleep right now…"

"You know I will, Simba," Kevin replied, popping the rest of a piece of toast in his mouth,
"But where are you headed off to?"

"There's something I need to do; something that I'm hoping will put Monica's guilt to rest about the fire. After what she did for me the other night, if I can just do this for her…" He managed a weak smile as he grabbed his jacket.

"What are you going to do?" Kevin asked, leaning up against the counter, his brown eyes filled with curiosity.

"I'm going to see Rachel's parents and explain to them about an angel being with their daughter when she went Home and also how they were able to finally put their daughter to rest," Andrew explained, shrugging into his jacket,
"And if all goes well, I'll be taking Monica to see them once she is feeling better."

"Wow," Kevin's eyes grew wider as he took a sip of his orange juice,
"Well, good luck then, Simba! Or should I say, break a leg?"

"I'd rather not, thank you," Andrew replied jokingly with a wink as his young charge rolled his eyes at him and gave him a playful shove.

"Okay, Mr. Smarty Angel," Kevin teased back,
"I'll keep an eye on Cupcake while you go see Rachel's folks. Don't be too long though!"

"Yes, supervisor," The blonde angel retorted with a laugh , grabbing his car keys before heading towards the front door,
"I'll be back." As Kevin nodded his head and went back to finishing up his breakfast, Andrew closed and locked the front door behind him and headed towards his car, all the while lifting up a silent prayer to the Father that things would go well and that there would be no complications.

CHAPTER 12

Soon after, Andrew rang the doorbell at the Mason's house, and waited nervously for an answer. He knew nothing about these people and he had never even met Rachel, so he was hoping for a little Divine intervention when the time came to explain that he was an angel and that an angel had been with Rachel when she had left this world.

When the door opened, a woman in her fifties appeared before him with gray hair and gentle blue eyes, a curious expression on her face when she saw him standing there. Andrew cleared his throat and managed a nervous smile,
"Hello. My name is Andrew, Mrs. Mason and I was hoping to be able to talk to you about Rachel."

Her expression of curiosity softened upon hearing mention of her daughter,
"Did you know Rachel?" She asked, her eyes still showing some bewilderment.

"No, I didn't, but a very good friend of mine did and I think it might be helpful for you to know a few things and in turn, I'm hoping that you'll be able to help my friend," He explained gently.

Something about this man, told Sara Mason that she could trust him, so she moved aside to allow him to enter,
"My husband, John, is in the living room, so we can join him there," Seeing Andrew nod his head gratefully, she led him into the house and introduced him to her husband as she concluded,
"Andrew says he knows some things about Rachel, John."

John nodded his head after shaking the angel's hand,
"I'm just so relieved that the man responsible for Rachel's death has finally been caught. Did you know that, Andrew?"

"Yes, sir, I did know. In fact, I was telling your wife about a friend of mine who knew your daughter briefly. My friend was the reason George Keyser was finally caught," Andrew explained as at Sara's beckoning, he took a seat in a chair near them.

"So what happened?" John was the first to speak after the angel sat down and Sara took a seat on the couch next to her husband.

"My friend's name is Monica, Mr. and Mrs. Mason," Andrew began, his green eyes looking back and forth between the two humans,
"She was there the night that Rachel died..." He stopped then as he saw Sara's dark eyes widen in shock and she spoke up.

"She was there? How could that be? The police said that nobody else was there with our daughter," The woman began, confusion etched all over her face as she looked over at John and then back at Andrew.

"There's a reason for that, actually," The angel started to explain, his eyes full of compassion as he met each of the couple's eyes briefly. Drawing in a deep breath, he suddenly felt a soft glow surround him and he continued in a gentle voice,
"I'm an angel, Mr. and Mrs. Mason, and my friend...Monica...was sent to Rachel 20 years ago to comfort her during that terrible time."

Andrew had expected shock to register on the couple's face, but instead, he watched as a smile crossed Sara's face.

"An angel," She stated softly, exchanging a look with her husband and seeing tears in his eyes,
"Rachel loved angels; her bedroom is full of them. I take it Monica is an angel too."

Surprised and relieved all at the same time, Andrew nodded his head,
"Yes, she is and she was sent to be with your daughter in those final moments of her life here, before she was taken Home, to God. Your daughter wasn't alone, she had a very special angel with her."

"Rachel would have known that," John replied softly,
"She had great faith, our daughter, and she was never afraid to die; she said she knew God would send an angel to be with her when her time came."

Andrew smiled, reminded once again of the Father's amazing grace as he continued,
"George Keyser managed to harm others before he was finally caught," He began and went on to explain about Angel and about how Monica had confronted him, causing the man to not be arrested sooner. He then explained about his best friend remembering Keyser's face, the kidnapping and finally the fire and the man's arrest,
"You see, sometimes even angels question why things happened the way they did and they…well, we…tend to take mistakes or what we feel are mistakes very hard. Had Monica not confronted that man that day, she never would have remembered he was the one responsible for killing Rachel and you would have never had peace about Rachel. Monica is just having trouble believing that what she believes was a mistake, could bring you both so much peace."

"Oh it wasn't a mistake," Sara shook her head as teas streamed from her eyes,
"God doesn't make mistakes, does He?"

"No, He doesn't, Mrs. Mason, although there have been many times when we wonder if He has; but we've always learned in the end that His plan is always perfect and nothing happens without a reason," Andrew explained, his eyes darting from one human to the next,
"But Monica's not so sure of that right now, and she doesn't think she can face you...but I know that if she does, she can also find peace in all of this." He let out a heavy sigh before continuing,
"It has been a long, stressful last few months, and I think that having her meet you, all of us can have that last bit of peace that the Father wants us to have."

"You could bring her by tomorrow afternoon, Andrew," John offered, lifting a hand to wipe at his dark eyes before exchanging a look with his wife, who also nodded her head in agreement
"We would love to meet her."

A broad smile spread across the handsome angel's face and he nodded his head,
"That would be great, Mr. Mason. Thank you so much, both of you."

"Hey Simba, that was quick!" Kevin looked up as his friend came back in the door.

"Hmm, and you are still right where I left you…eating," Andrew winked at his charge as he watched him munching on a bag of chips.

Chuckling, Kevin rolled his eyes playfully,
"So, how did it go?"

"It could not have gone better, Kev'," Andrew grinned, hanging up his jacket,
"And hopefully tomorrow Monica will be feeling up to paying them a visit with me, but I'm not going to tell her about it until we get there. I don't want her stressing about it. How is my girl, anyway?"

"Still sound asleep," Kevin replied with a soft smile,
"I think yesterday took it out of her, either that or she is taking that 'down and quiet' thing very seriously," He added with a wink.

"Well, that's a good thing then," Andrew replied with a soft smile as he headed over to where Kevin sat at the table and reached into the bag of potato chips.

"Get your paws outta my chips!" Kevin retorted as he playfully slapped his supervisor's hand as he grabbed a handful.

"Not until you apologize, Wonder Boy," The older angel stuffed the chips into his mouth and narrowed his eyes at his younger charge,
"You don't want another dunk in the pool now, do you?"

His eyes widened in horror and instead of answering the question, Kevin handed the bag of chips to his friend and replied,
"Have all you want then...I'm a nice guy."

Andrew rolled his green eyes to the ceiling as Kevin laughed and after grabbing another handful of the chips, the older angel shrugged out of his leather jacket and hung it on the back of the chair,
"I'm going to go and check on our Angel Girl. Just don't eat the entire kitchen, all right, Wonder Boy?"

"Who me?" Kevin asked innocently with a mischievous grin as Andrew rolled his eyes and headed up the stairs.

Quietly opening the door to his bedroom, he smiled softly as he saw his dearest friend sleeping soundly, barely having moved since he had gotten up this morning. He figured this was probably the best night's sleep she had gotten since this whole nightmare had begun two months ago, but as he sat down on the edge of the bed, he couldn't resist running the backs of his fingers along her cheek as she lay curled up on her side that had not been affected by the surgery. She didn't look as pale as she had yesterday and he smiled again as he watched her begin to stir.

Opening her brown eyes slightly, she looked up at him and smiled sleepily,
"Hi."

"Good afternoon, sleepy head," He told her gently, his fingers moving to run through her hair,
"How are you feeling?"

She pondered the question for a moment before answering,
"Still sore, but better than yesterday," Monica replied softly, closing her eyes again for a moment, enjoying the feeling of his hand in her hair,
"It's really afternoon?"

"It's 1:00 to be exact, Angel Girl," Andrew gave her a crooked smile, which caused his best friend to start giggling, despite the slight pain she still felt in her side. As he continued to stroke her hair soothingly, the older angel asked gently,
"Would you like for me to bring you up some breakfast?"

"Now that I think about it, I am a wee bit hungry, Andrew," Monica yawned as she smiled somewhat tiredly in his direction,
"Thank you..."

"Any time, sweetheart," He answered, returning her smile with one of his one,
"What would you like? Eggs and toast, pancakes, waffles, you name it."

"Can I have some waffles?" The little angel asked, her dark eyes brightening at the breakfast offers,
"And a cup of coffee?"

"Breakfast wouldn't be breakfast without my Angel Girl's coffee," Andrew teased with a wink her way,
"Let's just not go through 7 pots, okay?"

She shook her head with a smile,
"No, just a cup….or four." Hearing his chuckle, she moved to try and sit up, grateful when Andrew moved to help her as she winced in pain.

"You okay?" He asked her gently, fluffing one of her pillows to put behind her back before he sat back down for a moment and laced his fingers with hers.

"Yes, thank you. You'd better be careful, Andrew. I could get used to this pampering if you don't watch it," She grinned playfully at him.

"Angel Girl, we both know you would not last a week cooped up in bed like this," He laughed, with a shake of his head,
"Though spoiling you is something I do enjoy, you would only be able to handle it for so long."

"I know," Monica smiled, before her expression turned more serious,
"Have you thought about the Sullivan's at all, Andy?"

His own expression turning serious, Andrew sighed softly and nodded his head,
"Every day, actually. I'm wondering how Angel's doing, and if Cindy and Brady are making any progress in working out their marriage; and I'm also wondering how everyone's dealing with the loss of Paddy," A look of sadness crossed his face at the mention of the teenage boy,
"I know it must be so hard for them, but I just keep praying every day that they'll make it through this all right."

"Me too," The little Irish angel replied back with a weary sigh as she squeezed her best friend's hand,
"Me too...I also wonder how Cindy's pregnancy is doing?"

Nodding his head, Andrew smiled slightly,
"I heard from the Father this morning that her pregnancy is going really well, although the morning sickness hasn't been a walk in the park." He lifted his green eyes to the ceiling as he heard a familiar Voice speak to his heart and a slow smile spread across his handsome face once again,
"The Father is telling me that...that Cindy is pregnant with twins again...a boy and a girl."

Monica smiled at this news,
"I so hope this pregnancy goes well for her," She appeared thoughtful for a moment,
"When I was in that shop the other night, I had seen something I wanted to send to Angel and was coming out to get your opinion, when…." Her voice trailed off a moment as she felt him squeeze her hand once more reassuringly,
"Anyway, I was hoping that before we leave, we could stop for it. I just want her to know I'm thinking about her and that I'm sorry."

Smiling, Andrew reached over and kissed her forehead lovingly,
"Then that's what we'll do, sweetheart. That's what we'll do."

CHAPTER 13

"Are you sure you're up to going out this morning, Angel Girl?" Andrew asked his best friend gently as he helped her sit up on the bed the next morning. Although he knew that he had told the Mason's that they would be arriving that day, he also was worried that his best friend would be in too much pain to even go downstairs; but being the stubborn Irish angel she was, she seemed determined to get out of bed.

Wincing a bit at the pain in her side, but putting on a brave front for her best friend, Monica gave his hand a tight squeeze while offering him an encouraging smile,
"I'd like to get out of this hotel for some time, Andy. Don't worry about me." Clutching his hand until her knuckles turned almost white, she clenched her teeth together as her friend helped her to rise to her feet,
"Okay, I can do this...I know I can do this..."

Smiling brightly at her eagerness and feeling more convinced now that she was indeed going to be just fine, Andrew gently wrapped an arm around her waist to support her while he continued to hold her hold tightly with his other one,
"Yes, you're right, you can do this, Angel Girl. I have total faith in you."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence," She replied with a weak smile,
"So is Kevin going with us on this little journey?"

"No, this one is just for the two of us, sweetie," He replied softly, his eyes holding a flicker of concern,
"I'm going to leave you to get dressed and just give a holler and I'll help you downstairs. Do not and I repeat, do not attempt it alone, understand?"

"I won't," Monica promised, smiling at his protectiveness,
"Though it may take me an hour to change…"

"You take your time," Andrew replied, giving her a gentle squeeze. Before he turned to go, he turned to her and laid his hands on either side of her head,
"I want you to trust me today, okay?"

"You know I trust you every day, Andy," She replied softly, though her eyes flickered with apprehension about what he had planned.

"I just want to make sure, because...because what I have planned today, Angel Girl, isn't what you'll expect," He explained softly, his hands never leaving her head and his eyes never leaving her confused brown ones,
"So no matter what it looks like, I want to know that you completely trust me."

In reply, the little Irish angel wrapped her arms around her friend's waist and hugged him tightly,
"You know I do; if I trust you with my life, then I can surely trust you with this."

A few tears stung Andrew's green eyes at her words and he closed them as he hugged her back gently until she finally released her hold on him,
"All right then," Nodding his head, he kissed her forehead before turning around and heading towards the door,
"I'll be in the other room when you're ready, sweetheart." Giving her an encouraging smile, the older blonde angel closed the door softly behind him.

True to Monica's word, it took over an hour for her to finally get dressed and ready to go and once she and Andrew were settled in the front seat of his car, heading towards the highway, the Irish angel couldn't but wonder where exactly they were going. Yes, she trusted her best friend completely with this, but that didn't change the fact that she was feeling a bit nervous.

"How are you doing over there?" Andrew asked softly after he had been driving for some time. Casting a side-glance at her, he noticed the discomfort on her pretty face,
"Are you feeling okay?"

Monica nodded her head, though she was starting to wish she had taken one of the pain pills before they had left, but she had known it would make her drowsy, so she had decided to wait until they got back. Shifting slightly in her seat, she winced and then sighed as she focused her attention back out the window as Andrew got off the exit. Her eyes continued to take in the scenery, wondering why things looked a bit familiar to her in the small town. It was only when they passed the park, did realization hit her and she suddenly knew exactly where he was taking her.

Andrew knew the moment she had recognized the park as he held his breath for her reaction. He had hoped that maybe she wouldn't be paying attention to where they were or wouldn't remember, but as her heard her sharp intake of air, he knew that was not the case,
"Angel Girl…"

"Oh, Andrew, no," She uttered as she turned to face him, frightened tears welling up in her dark eyes.

Glancing over at her again, Andrew gently interrupted as he reached for her trembling hand,
"Baby, you said you trusted me...I'm going to need for you to trust me with this."

"We're going to...Rachel's parents house...?" She whispered, her voice filled with fear as she clutched Andrew's hand as tightly as she could under the circumstances,
"Andrew please...no..."

Finding a deserted area on the side of the road, the older angel pulled his car over and put it in park, but leaving the engine running. Turning around to face his distraught best friend straight in the eye, his
heart broke again at the deep fear and tears shining in her brown eyes. Gently pulling his hand away from hers so that he could wipe at the wetness on her cheeks, Andrew then laid that hand on her shoulder and waited until she looked at him again,
"Sweetheart, yes, we are going to Rachel's house where her parents live. Their names are Sara and John Mason, and I went over there yesterday while you were still asleep." Seeing that Monica was now shaking and looked like she wanted to crawl under a rock and disappear for all eternity, Andrew's green eyes filled with love,
"Angel Girl, you have absolutely nothing to worry about regarding them. I told them everything, and they know that we're angels..."

"They know that an angel was there and couldn't save their daughter?" The little Irish angel choked out, her vision blurring up so she could barely see her best friend's handsome face,
"T-They know about me...?"

"Yes," He replied softly, his voice just above a gentle whisper,
"They know everything, about you, about what happened to Rachel and about George Keyser."

"Andrew…" She whimpered softly, shaking her head,
"Please don't make me do this…"

"Monica," He replied, gently tucking a stray wisp of hair behind her ear,
"I told you the other day I would never lead you into something bad. I would not be taking you to see them if I didn't know it was absolutely okay; I would not do that to you, ever. You need this Angel Girl, more than you know, and it is going to be fine."

Monica looked away for a moment, her lower lip quivering to hold back sobs. Finally looking back to him, she uttered tearfully,
"Promise?"

Andrew smiled softly as he looked deeply into her eyes,
"Better than that, little girl. I cross my heart promise."

Taking in deep, shaky breaths, the Irish angel forced herself to remain calm as she heard her best friend say those few little words and finally with a nod of her head, Monica nodded her head,
"All right..."

"That's my girl," Andrew reached towards her and gently pulled her into his arms, his hand rubbing her back lovingly,
"That's my girl." Several minutes passed before the older angel finally pulled gently away and smiled at her, his green eyes sparkling,
"Are you ready to do this now, sweetie?"

"As ready as I'll ever be..." Monica sighed heavily as she reached for his hand and held onto it tightly as Andrew turned the key in the ignition and started the car up again, heading back out onto the main road.

Andrew helped Monica out of the car 15 minutes later, noticing the look of pain that crossed her face as he did so,
"You're hurting," He stated gently,
"I'm sorry, we shouldn't have done this so soon, sweetie…"

"I'm okay, Andrew," She replied, grateful to have him to lean on, both because she wasn't feeling the greatest and because she was afraid,
"I just want to get this over with."

Andrew knocked on the door once they reached and he smiled as Sara opened it, all the while keeping his arm around his best friend for support.

"Andrew," Sara smiled warmly as she moved to let them in the door,
"It's good to see you again…and this must be Monica?"

Monica lowered her head as she huddled as close to Andrew as she could get, but managed to give her head a slight nod. She finally lifted her head as she heard her best friend replying to Sara,
"Yes, this is Monica. Angel Girl, this is Sara Mason, and over there in the living room..." He lifted his free hand and gestured towards the man sitting in the recliner,
"That's John Mason."

At the sound of the angel's voice, John snapped his head up and a smile spread across his face as he saw Andrew and an Irish angel standing next to him, who looked to be in alot of pain at the moment,
"Hello again, Andrew. It's really nice to meet you, Monica..." He rose to his feet and made his way over to the two angels, holding his hand out to the Irish angel to shake, which she accepted.

"Why don't you two have a seat in the living room so we can talk?" Sara offered warmly as she gently ushered the two angels into the other room and pointed to the couch, which Andrew helped his Irish friend sit down carefully ink. A smile spread across her elderly face as she watched Monica almost immediately snuggle close to Andrew as soon as they were seated and the blonde angel didn't hesitate in wrapping his arm gently around her in return.

"Andrew told us you were there with Rachel in her final moments, Monica," John began softly, unable to help but notice the pensive look on her face.

"I'm sorry I wasn't able to do more," Monica replied softly and honestly as she forced herself to meet John's eyes,
"Unfortunately, I wasn't sent there to save her, though I wish that had been the case…"

"You're being there was enough, Monica," Sara replied with a gentle smile,
"And it meant more to Rachel than I think you realize."

"I'm not even sure she knew I was there, Mrs. Mason," The Irish angel replied sadly.
Standing up, Sara extended her hand to Monica,
"I want to show you something."

Nodding her head shakily, and feeling Andrew help her to her feet as she bit back a cry of pain and fought to focus on what was happening here and now, she took Sara's hand and with Andrew close behind, she followed the woman down the hall to a closed door.

"This was Rachel's bedroom, Monica," Sara replied, a sad smile on her face as she opened the door.
Monica's eyes widened as the door opened and everywhere she looked in the bedroom, there were angels. There were posters and figurines and teddy bears with wings and she was so busy taking it all in, it took her a moment to realize Sara was speaking once more.

"Rachel loved angels and she always knew one would be with her in her final moments and it brings my heart great joy to know that," Exchanging a glance with Andrew, she then looked back at Monica,
"You brought Rachel peace in those last moments, just as you have brought us peace by finally being able to lay her to rest after 20 years."

"I...I honestly didn't really think I did that much, Mrs. Mason..." The Irish angel stuttered as she continued looking around the room and with Andrew still next to her, Monica made her way over to a picture frame on top of Rachel's dresser and picked it up. The photo showed a picture of Rachel not long before she had been killed and just looking at her face brought a few tears to the angel's brown eyes as memories swarmed through her mind.

"Oh Monica, but you did..." Sara choked out as she sniffed back tears. Making her way over to the two angels, she laid her hand on the photo Monica held as if seeming to touch her daughter's face,
"I'm sure that she knew you couldn't stop it from happening; but just being there was enough, I know it was. I knew my daughter as well as she knew herself, Monica, and you have really brought this entire family peace since Keyser was caught."

Setting the picture frame back down on the dresser and turning to face the woman, Monica's vision blurred up as she attempted to make out Sara's face through her tears,
"You have no idea how much it means to me to hear you say something like that, Mrs. Mason..."

"Just like I don't think you'll have any idea how much of a help you have been, honey," Sara whispered as she reached for the Irish angel's hands and squeezed them gently,
"But believe me. All I have said is the truth."

Swallowing hard, Monica nodded her head, trying to take in all that she was saying,
"Thank you," She whispered, before looking over at her best friend,
"You've been trying to tell me this all along…"

"But you needed to hear it for yourself, sweetie," He replied gently,
"The Father worked everything out for the good, Angel Girl. By going to Keyser you were able to help this family to finally heal."

"Yes, you did," John replied warmly,
"We've spent years wondering and unable to feel like we could go on with our lives until we had closure on Rachel. We'll always miss her, but we know she is in a better place now."

"She is," Monica replied with a small smile, as she leaned heavily into Andrew, the pain in her side nagging her terribly,
"Thank you for sharing your feelings," she looked around Rachel's room once more,
"And you daughter with me."

"It's our pleasure, Monica," Sara gave one last smile before a look of concern crossed her face as she noticed the way the little angel was leaning heavily against Andrew, and the look of pain on her face was unmistakable,
"Are you all right?"

Wrapping an arm gently around her waist to try and support her, Andrew kissed the top of her his friend's head before answering for Monica,
"It's been a rough few days for my Angel Girl..."

"Andrew, it's really starting to hurt..." The Irish angel whispered as she leaned her head against his shoulder, all the while forcing back tears. As she clung to him like a lifeline, she glanced wearily over at the two humans in front of them and watched as they exchanged glances. Before Andrew could say anything else, John broke in.

"Why don't you two stay here for a few hours before you head back to your hotel? We can fix you two some lunch and you, Monica, should have a seat for a little while. I can see how much pain you're in..." Sara offered gently, coming closer to the two angels.

Exchanging a look with Andrew, Monica was relieved when he nodded his head in agreement,
"That would be great, Mrs. Mason..."

"Honey, you and Monica can call me Sara. No need to be so formal," Sara waved her hand in air and chuckled.

"She's right, and you can call me John," John concluded as he winked at the twosome. Coming around to Andrew's other side, the human gestured with his head to the door and grinned,
"Why don't you tell me about the angel life, Andrew?" A laugh escaped the blonde angel's mouth as he glanced over at his best friend and seeing that Sara had grasped her hand and was engaging her in conversation, Andrew turned towards John and nodded his head.

As the angel and human made their way towards the door, Andrew looked back over his shoulder and caught his best friend's eye briefly. Seeing a smile form on her mouth, Andrew smiled back and mouthed the simple words,
"I love you."

Tears of happiness forming in her eyes again, Monica mouthed the words back,
"I love you, too."

CHAPTER 14

"We're going to the Sullivan's?" Kevin asked curiously, two days later as he looked up from the backseat of the car. They had packed this morning and had checked out of the hotel, though the youngest angel knew they still had two days left on their vacation and Andrew had only just now chosen to tell them where they were going.

The oldest angel nodded his head with a smile. He felt as if things were finally, after so long, looking up. His trust in his best friend had been restored, if it had ever left to begin with, and though she hadn't said anything about the fire or the Mason's since they had visited them, Andrew could see a peace in Monica's eyes that hadn't been there in some time. She was still experiencing some discomfort in her human form from the shooting, but was getting better each day and he was definitely seeing some of her perkiness returning. So it had seemed to him that the only logical thing to do, to hopefully put their minds at rest completely, was to do and see how their earthly family was faring,
"That's right, Wonder Boy. I think it will do us all good to check on them and make sure that things are still turning around for them."

Monica nodded her head in agreement as she wondered what Angel had thought of her gift and letter that she and Andrew had bought and sent out that same day they had been to see the Mason's. The angel necklace had caught her eye immediately and after buying it and heading back the hotel, she had taken the time to write out a letter to the teenager was well, trying her best to explain why she had left that day, how sorry she was and promising to always be there whenever she could if Angel needed her.

"I just hope we aren't met with new disasters," Kevin remarked warily, not wanting himself nor his two friends to undergo that pressure again any time soon.

"I have a feeling it will be fine, Kev," Andrew smiled reassuringly at his youngest charge,
"Everything else has been falling into place and I have no reason to believe that the Father would make this any different."

As they fell into silence once more, Monica stole a look over at her best friend, her heart filling with love for him all over again. He had taken such good care of her the last few days and had been so protective, making sure she was resting and comfortable, not to mention having finally put her heart at ease about the fire. Though she would always hate the memories of the three weeks Andrew had spent in such pain, seeing Rachel's parents and listening to the things that they had said had slowly eased the blame from her soul. The Mason's had peace now, and so did she.

Inching closer to him, she wrapped both of her arms around his and rested her head against his shoulder as she squeezed his arm gently, hoping that he knew all the things that were in her heart.

Glancing over at her, although being careful to keep his eyes on the road as well, Andrew removed one hand from the steering wheel and laid it on top of hers, squeezing it lovingly. As he came to a red light, the angel stepped on the brake and with all the love in his heart, he moved his head to kiss the top of Monica's. Feeling her squeeze his arm once again and lean her head against his shoulder, Andrew turned his eyes back to road and started to car up again as the light turned green.

The next few minutes passed slowly and before either angel knew it, they had pulled up in front of the familiar Sullivan household. Unbuckling his seat belt, Kevin was the first to speak up,
"Well, I guess this is it."

"Yes, it is," Andrew unbuckled his own seatbelt and smiled over his shoulder at his youngest charge,
"You two ready?"

"For the first time in a while, I can truely say 'yes'," The Irish angel replied, a smile in her voice as she got out of the car and made her way over to her best friend, wrapping an arm around him as he did the same,
"It's been a while..."

"Yeah, it has," Andrew nodded his head as he gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze and with his free hand, he lifted it and rang the doorbell of the house. Several moments passed before the three angels heard footsteps on the other side of the door and Brady was the one that appeared in the doorway shortly after.

The human's face lit up in a smile at seeing the three angels standing there and he wasted no time in ushering them inside,
"Hey, it's good to see you three again!" He commented, giving Andrew a quick hug, kissing Monica's cheek and tousling Kevin's hair,
"You look like you've had a nice relaxing week."

Exchanging a knowing glance with his best friend, Andrew smiled,
"More or less, Brady, but we'll explain that later. We wanted to see how you all were doing."

Leading them all into the living room so they could sit down, Brady smiled,
"We're slowly getting there, though it is taking some time. I made a lot of mistakes, but Cindy and I are definitely better. Wendy is coming around as well and Angel is starting to relax more, though she is apprehensive about being pregnant. Oh, and she got your gift yesterday, little angel, and I think she'd really like to talk to you."

Relief filled the Irish angel's face as she looked over at Andrew who was sitting next to her on the couch, his arm still around her shoulders,
"I'd really like that too, Brady."

Brady smiled, having the feeling that all was now well between the two angels now. He could clearly see contentment on Monica's face and peace in Andrew's eyes as well as a seemingly fierce protection of his best friend right now,
"I take it you two have everything worked out now?"

Exchanging another look with his best friend, Andrew gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze as he replied, his green eyes still on Monica,
"More then worked out, Brady." Seeing Monica's brown eyes twinkling as she smiled back at him, Andrew felt her lean into his shoulder and he tightened his arm around her.

Before Brady could reply, the two angels looked up as they heard the sound of footsteps on the staircase and Wendy called down,
"Who's here, daddy?" As she made her way down into the living room to ask something else, her next words died on her lips and a scream of delight errupted from her as she raced over to Andrew and threw her arms around his neck,
"You're back! You're back!"

Laughing at the welcome he was getting from his human friend, Andrew wrapped the arm that wasn't around Monica around Wendy in return and rubbed her back gently,
"Well, it's nice to see you too, sweetie." Feeling her still clinging to him, but moving one arm to wrap it around Monica as well, the teenager continued her excited chatter.

"We didn't think we'd see you again for a long time! I'm so happy you're here!"

Still chuckling, Andrew gently pulled away and invited her to take a seat next to him, which she did immediately,
"We were just telling your dad that we're just stopping by to see how you all are doing lately; he says that things are going pretty well."

Looking over at her dad, Wendy nodded her head,
"Yeah, we're doing a lot better. Mom has been pretty sick but we've been helping her as much as we can and she's been home schooling Angel, which has been a big relief to her. It doesn't help with her coming out of her shell, but maybe one day…"

"Is she upstairs, Wen?" Monica asked softly and seeing Wendy nod her head, the Irish angel reached up and kissed Andrew's check softly,
"I'll be back."

"Okay, sweetie," He replied gently, his green eyes filled with reassurance as he had a feeling that this last issue between she and Angel would be fine.

Wendy giggled as Monica headed upstairs and nudged Andrew in the ribs,
"You two are so cute."

Kevin rolled his eyes playfully as he stood up and looked at Brady,
"Brady, I'm kinda…"

"You know where the fridge is, Kevin," He laughed, knowing exactly what the angel with the huge appetite was going to say.

Letting out a cheer, Kevin all but pranced towards the kitchen,
"You know where I'll be if you need me, Simba!"

"Come in!" Angelica called from the other side of her bedroom door after she heard a knock. Her blue eyes were still foccused on her Literature book even as the door opened and a few seconds later, she lifted her head and her eyes widened at seeing Monica standing in the doorway,
"Monica...you guys are back?"

Noticing first that there was no anger in the teenager's voice, or in her eyes, the Irish angel smiled pleasantly as she stepped into the room and took a seat in the desk chair next to the bed where Angel was seated,
"Yes, sweetie; Andrew, Kevin and I stopped by on our way back from the Oregon Coast to check and see how you all are doing. How are you doing, Angel?"

Setting her Literature book down next to her, the teenager leaned back against her pillows and offered the angel a smile,
"Surprisingly better, to tell you the truth. A bit tired and all, but I figure that's normal for a pregnancy; mom's been feeling rather rotten as well."

"That's what your dad said," Monica replied with a gentle smile. Scooting her chair closer to the young girl so that their eyes were meeting, the angel's face turned serious as she searched Angelica's blue eyes,
"I wanted to know, though, sweetie...did you receive my letter?"

A slight blush rose to the girl's cheeks as she nodded her head and she lifted a hand to finger the necklace that was around her neck that she had received from the Irish angel
"Yeah, I did...and I got the angel necklace as well..."

Monica was quiet for a moment before she spoke up once more,
"I meant what I said in the letter, Angel. It was wrong of me to not go to Paddy's funeral because I was so angry with your dad. It was just that I love him so much, just like I do all of you, and in anger, I decided to give him what he wanted, which was us not being around, or more specifically in this case, me not being around. I never took into consideration that his vote wasn't the only one that counted and that was wrong. I just-." She stopped as Angel reached out and took her hand.

"Monica, it's forgiven. We were all dealing with things in our own way and it isn't up to me to say who was right and who was wrong. Yes, I had wanted you there, but after everything you guys had gone through for us, to suddenly have daddy trying to kick you out of our lives had to hurt," Angel said softly,
"Other than Wendy, Monica, you and Andrew are my best friends," She chuckled a little sadly,
"Actually, my only friends, and I don't want to lose that with you."

Tears shimmering in her eyes, Monica pulled the teenager into her arms and hugged her tightly,
"Thank you, little shadow. You're one of my dearest friends too and I'm glad that you and I are all right now."

Nodding her head, Angel hugged her friend tightly back before pulling away gently and smiling up at her,
"Yes, we're definitely okay." Her smile then faded somewhat as a thought came into her mind and she tilted her head in concern,
"How about you and Andrew? Are you two..."

Squeezing the teenager's hand, the little Irish angel nodded her head as her eyes shimmered with happy tears,
"We're more then 'okay' now, sweetheart. Thank you for forgiving me, Angel; thank you so much...you have no idea how much it means to me..."

"I think I do, Monica," Angelica gently interrupted as she hugged the angel one last time before starting to rise to her feet,
"C'mon, let's go back downstairs before dad and Andrew start thinking someone came and ate us up here..." Offering her hand to Monica, she helped her to her feet and the two slowly made their way downstairs hand in hand.

Andrew smiled widely as he saw his best friend coming downstairs with Angel's hand clasped in her own and there was no mistaking the peace on Monica's face now. Rising to his feet, he greeted Angel with a warm hug,
"Hello sweetheart. Is everything okay?"

Angel smiled as she hugged the angel back tightly,
"Yeah, Andrew, everything is very much okay. I've got my family back, angels and all."

Grinning as Angel released him and went over to sit on the arm of her father's chair and watching Brady wrap his arm around her, he then looked at Monica and caught her up in a tight hug, kissing the side of her head,
"I told you we'd all get through this, Angel Girl," He whispered mischievously, feeling her return his embrace tightly.

"And you were right, my friend," She whispered back to him, her dark eyes shining,
"But then again, you usually are."

EPILOGUE

Two days later, on the final day of their vacation, Monica dug her bare feet into the warm sand and straightened the sunglasses on her nose as she watched her best friend and Kevin run, laughing, out of the ocean. Since they still had a few extra days to relax, the Father had given them permission to spend it at the beach house and now, here they were and the Irish angel couldn't think of a better way to spend this sunny day.

"That is the coldest water on the face of this planet!" Andrew's laughter brought Monica's head up and she couldn't help laughing as well at the look on her best friend's face. With a shake of her head, the younger angel handed him a fluffy towel, which he immediately wrapped around himself as he shivered from the cold water.

"What did I tell you about going in the ocean? It's near freezing, even on a warm day like this," Monica giggled as Kevin trotted up next to them and plopped down on his own towel.

"Don't be such a wimp, you two," He playfully chided his two friends with a roll of his eyes,
"It felt good to me!"

"It would..." Andrew mumbled under his breath as he took a seat next to Monica and ran the towel through his drenched blonde hair,
"For an angel like yourself, nothing surprises you."

"I'll take that as a compliment," The youngest angel winked as he propped himself up on his elbows and grabbed his half-eaten turkey sandwich that was sitting on a plate next to him and took a huge bite out of it,
"There's no other angel like me in the entire angelic realm, so you can call me one of a kind!"

"Yes, Kevin," Monica quipped with a gleam in her eyes,
"When the Father created you, He broke the mold. It was either do that, or increase the world's food resources."

"Hey now," Kevin replied, with a pretend huff, ignoring Andrew's chuckle,
"Ever since you've been feeling better, you have done nothing but pick on me."

"I thought you said I was 'feisty'?" Monica grinned widely as Kevin's eyes narrowed.
"And I thought you were asleep when I said that, Cupcake." He looked over at Andrew helplessly,
"She's starting to develop those human female habits, Simba. You know, like knowing stuff she isn't supposed to know."

"Sometimes," Andrew remarked, appearing thoughtful,
"And then there are times when she doesn't remember things she should know," He lowered his voice and nudged his best friend gently,
"Like how much I love her and that she is stuck with me for the rest of eternity."

Nudging him back, she replied quietly,
"After the last week, all doubts have been forever erased from my mind." She giggled as she glanced over and could tell Kevin was paying no attention to them as he communed with his sandwich.

"And they better be erased for good, little girl," Andrew shot a wink her way as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek,
"Or I'll just poof them away from your mind..."

Giggling, Monica glanced over her shoulder at Kevin and let out another laugh as she saw him roll his brown eyes to the sky.

"Heaven help them," He mumbled to himself, stuffing the rest of his sandwich into his mouth,
"I don't know how much more this poor angel can take!"

"Kev...I really think the Father did break the mold when He made you," Andrew rolled his green eyes at his youngest charge as he released his hold on his best friend,
"You're something else, you know that?"

Giving his head a quick nod, the angel then rose to his feet and started to pull Andrew to his as well,
"C'mon, let's go back in the ocean-"

"Kevin, you just ate! And that water is too cold," The supervisor started to object as he tried to pull his arm away from Kevin's grasp.

"Oh come on, you big dork," Kevin grinned mischievously,
"Cupcake, you coming in?"

"I'll pass," Monica giggled, shaking her head as Andrew finally relented and allowed Kevin to pull him to his feet,
"I think a few more swimming lessons are in order first as all I can do is back float, doggie paddle and tread water, and I don't feel ready to do any of them where waves are involved."

"Kevin, that water is really a little on the cold side," Andrew tried once more to reason with his charge,
"Why don't you take the boogie board and go play and we'll watch."

Rolling his eyes to the sky once more, he pretended to look hurt,
"But it's not as much fun playing alone."

"You don't have any problems eating alone," Andrew grinned,
"In fact, you do that very well."

"But that's not the same, Simba!" Kevin pleaded back, turning his lower lip downward into a pout,
"Please? For me? Your favorite charge?"

"Hey now, I'm his favorite, Wonder Boy!" Monica finally jumped to her feet and grasped onto her best friend's other arm,
"And he knows it too." Looking up at Andrew, the Irish angel winked his way even as he rolled his eyes in mock exasperation.

"Well, right now he's coming into the ocean with me; I refuse to swim alone, Mr. Dork!" Kevin retorted back, refusing to let go of his supervisor's arm as he started to pull him in the direction of the ice cold water.

"Hold on, hold on, this isn't some tug of war, Wonder Boy!" Andrew tried to object as he felt his youngest charge continue dragging him in the direction he didn't want to go. Groaning softly, the angel was about to try again when he felt his best friend jump on his back and hold onto him tightly.

"If he won't let you go, then I've decided to come with you," Monica whispered into his ear as she wrapped her arms around his neck from behind,
"Just don't let me go, okay...?"

"Not in a million years, Angel Girl," He replied over his shoulder with a wink,
"Not in the water or anyplace else for that matter."

Resting her cheek against his hair as she watched Kevin speed off to the water, she whispered lovingly to him,
"Then that's all I need to know, Andy…ever."

The End

Stay tuned next for Letting go of Yesterday...coming soon to a board near you!