Epilogue

Andrew and Monica spent one more day at the city hospital and, after a new check-up on their vital functions, their doctor elected to release them so that they could continue the treatment at home. Their human forms still demanded care and resting for a few days more but now at least the angels would be able to stay closer to their dearest friends as well as remain together enjoying some moments of peace after their ordeal in the desert.

With contentment, Tess drove them up to the cabin in the mountains, the permanent shelter granted by their loving Father whenever they were allowed to spend some free time on Earth. Adam and Rafael also followed the trio and the afternoon that followed was a cheerful one, with Tess "spoiling" her babies up to the point of preparing Monica a double mocha latte with extra topping. Monica and Andrew exchanged an amused glance and the Irish angel gladly accepted the treat, looking at her friend and supervisor with tenderness and much gratitude.

The night fell gently upon Earth, and it did not bear any resemblance to those cold ones spent in the desert, filled with anguish and solitude. Now they had a safe haven to protect them from the weather and felt wrapped up in an aura of much love and affection coming from their loving Father himself.

But despite this warm and peaceful atmosphere, one of the angels in human form that temporarily inhabited the cabin could not sleep. Wearing a robe over her flannel pyjamas, Monica remained sitting in front of the fireplace in the living room and her doe-like eyes watched the dancing flames as her mind seemed set on some place else other than the wee house. She spent some long minutes in that contemplation until a familiar voice took her out of this reverie.

"Angel?"

Initially, Andrew did not know why he had woken up in the middle of the night. The medicines that still ran in his human organism, added to the exhaustion caused by the days in the desert, caused him to feel drowsy and asleep at times. But now he was fully alert and even though there was nothing to fear, one could see the slight worry in his eyes as he looked at Monica.

"Hullo, Andrew." She replied softly, her attention now completely focused on him. "Is there anything you want?" She wanted to know, as Andrew made his way up to her.

"Me? Oh, no, no. I'm fine, angel." He took a seat next to her and continued to look at her with curiosity and slight concern. "But it's late and you're still awake... Is there something wrong?"

A serene smile graced her face as she shook her head. "I just felt like taking some quiet time with myself and the Father. Actually I was here thinking about all the things I would like to tell Him and everything I'd like to thank Him for... It's a sort of 'pre-prayer ritual' before He actually starts to listen to my prayers."

A little more relieved – and once again finding her wording quite adorable, Andrew returned her slight smile and nodded. "I understand. But... isn't there anything else I can do?"

Holding her affectionate smile, the Irish angel covered his hand with hers and gave it a light squeeze. "You've been through so much. And your human form still needs recovering, you should not worry about me. I'm just fine, you see."

The blond angel looked at their intertwined hands with resignation. "It seems... you're still my guardian angel. The 'stronger angel' as the Father said."

"That does not make up for all the times you've been my angel. All the times you held me in your arms when I was afraid or confused."

Andrew let go of her hand and gently cupped her face with his both hands, taking a few seconds to admire the meekness of her Gaelic features. "That is a chore I will never decline."

With a grateful smile, she tilted her head. "I will never ask you to..."

Their faces inched closer and Monica's eyes finally closed as Andrew brushed his lips against hers. It was a soulful kiss, filled with affection and tenderness, as if the words "I love you" could be conveyed through that single gesture. Andrew's touch was delicate and tender and Monica felt her human heart beating faster with emotion at the same time her spirit was filled with a sensation of great peace. When Andrew pulled away, he still took a moment to gaze at her, taking to his heart every detail of her beautiful face. "I'll leave you to your prayers, angel." He said, gently stroking her cheek. "But if there's anything you want, please let me know, okay?"

Returning his sweet smile, Monica nodded and covered his hand with hers. "Understood."

Andrew brushed a loving kiss on her forehead and finally rose to his feet, heading to his room afterwards. Monica followed his steps until he disappeared in the corridor and she still could hear him closing his bedroom door.

It took Monica a few minutes more before she rose to her feet and walked up to the front porch. The noise of a cricket once in a while, combined with the hustling of a gentle breeze against the tree tops, were the only sounds that reached her ears and they still transmitted that familiar sensation of peace she was used to whenever she was in that secluded part of the Earth.

Gazing up at the starry sky, the Irish angel started to speak again, her voice slightly trembling with emotion and a little hesitation.

"The truth is, Father, that as much as I try, I still cannot find the right words to tell You everything that is in my heart... I feel so enormously grateful for Your protection while we were out there in the desert. I felt my spirit and my heart filled with Your love and the reassurance that You'd always be by my side. And yet I still do not fully understand what led Andrew and I to go through all that... And please, forgive me for questioning this, Father, but I'd really like to learn the meaning of it..."

It took her a few seconds to hear God's loving message and when it did come, it was not the way she expected, leaving the little angel quite surprised. All of a sudden, her human form was involved in a splendid glow and the effects of her physical exhaustion quickly started to disappear, giving place to a beautiful image of an angel with sparkling doe-like eyes and a full and reddish long hair, which framed her rosy cheeks and lips; a true vision of a God's messenger.

A trembling smile graced her features and tears soon fell from her eyes as Monica realised she had regained her angelic form. "Oh, Father... Thank You so much... It seems like I've been away for so long and now I can hear Your words right here in my heart..." She said, her voice filled with emotion.

But much to her surprise, another voice was also heard – this one also too familiar to her, and yet, still too hard to listen to.

"I did not have any memory of how it was..."

Kathleen was standing in the porch as well, just a few steps from her former friend and co-worker, and one could notice the rather melancholic and astonished look in her eyes as she witnessed Monica's transition from human to angel.

Monica's surprise at seeing her ex-friend and once co-worker was perhaps greater than having her angelic status restored.

"Kathleen..."

"Did you get your answer?" The fallen angel wanted to know, giving a step towards Monica.

"My answer?"

"I heard your... prayers. But it's far too clear I could not hear the answer." There was not irony or sarcasm in her words; it was just a simple and genuine statement.

"You'd be able to if your heart was open." The Irish angel replied. The tone of her voice was soothing and she remained surprisingly calm before someone who would normally represent danger.

Kathleen managed a small, yet bittersweet smile. "I don't believe I have a 'heart' anymore, Monica."

Frowning at those words, Monica shook her head in disagreement, but also looking at her interlocutor with compassion. "Oh, you do, Kathleen. It may have lost some of the abilities it was intended to have but you were created by a loving Father who granted you virtues such as courage, determination and the ability to connect with people and convey His message. And most importantly, you were granted with a great capacity to love."

"Not as much as yours, judging by what I saw in the desert."

"What you witnessed there was just an extension of the love that God planted in my heart. It grew so much that I became capable of expanding it up to the point of loving someone else in the most complete way a God's creature can love another."

"I guess I understand." Kathleen replied, keeping the neutral tone of voice. "You speak with great conviction. Aren't you never in doubt?"

"What you call 'conviction' I call faith, Kathleen. And of course I have moments of doubt. Despite the fact that I'm an angel, I'm not perfect. No one is except for our Father." Monica gave a step towards her former friend and, for a moment, the Irish angel just gazed at her, as the message that had just been whispered in her heart made her finally understand the reason for her journey in the desert. "He knows you, Kathleen. He saw your tears...witnessed your suffering and your shame... And above all, He rejoiced at the fact that you were still capable of a noble gesture."

Watching as the fallen angel looked at her with a questioning expression, Monica placed a hand over her shoulder. "You called for help when Andrew and I most needed it. Your compassion saved us and it is a concrete proof that you do have a generous heart."

A lonely tear made its way down Kathleen's face. "It does not make up for all the things I've done through all these years..." She said. "But when I saw you two out there, shielding each other and holding on to nothing but on your... 'faith' and on the love you felt for each other I... felt like I had just found out how much I left behind."

Equally moved, Monica smiled and reached for her friend's hand. "That is why I'm standing right here in front of you."

"I don't understand..."

"Your heart may not be able to listen yet but there in the desert you had a living proof that it is still able to feel God's love. He wants me to tell you that He loves you, Kathleen. He cried with deep sorrow when you chose to walk in the darkness. But He also shed tears of joy at what you did for two of His children."

"So do you think there's a way back for me?"

"Of course there is! For you are His daughter too!"

"And this path... He's willing to walk with you, Kathleen."

A third voice was heard then and Monica and Kathleen turned around to see Sam and Ruth standing by the porch steps.

Monica felt an inch of anxiety at seeing her superiors and all the questionings about what she and Andrew felt for each other came back to her mind. But the little angel trusted the Father would guide them on that matter on the right time and she tried to focus on Kathleen and on the miracle that was just happening at the moment.

"This is the toughest decision I've ever made..." The fallen angel spoke, uncertainty written on her face.

"He knows that... we know that." Ruth spoke, offering a friendly smile and trying not to show how moved she was at the coming back of one of her caseworkers. "But we're here to help you. You won't have to do this all alone."

Monica squeezed Kathleen's hand very gently, driving her attention back to her. "Kathleen... Back in the desert, when all hope seemed to have vanished for Andrew and me, I too had to make the toughest decision of my entire existence."

"I could not understand at first why you chose to remain there if it meant your perishing..."

"I chose God and here I stand to tell you that He never failed me."

Kathleen managed a small, tearful smile and returned Monica's hand squeeze. "I cannot deny what I see right now..." She said, and then she walked down the porch steps to stand next to Ruth. But before they left, she still looked at Monica one last time. "I'll be forever thankful."

Monica's tearful smile in reply let everybody know how incredibly happy her former friend was. Ruth placed a hand over Kathleen's shoulder but before they departed, the older angel looked at Monica with respect. "I guess I will probably spend the rest of my eternity asking for your forgiveness, Monica." She said, leaving the little angel quite confused.

"My forgiveness?"

"I'll leave Sam to talk to you as I have an assignment to fulfil." The angel would escort Kathleen back Home. "But I want you to know that I'm not only sorry but also embarrassed at the way I treated you and Andrew. You two taught me a lesson about what true love is; a lesson about what trusting God really is. I had forgotten it."

"In my heart there's no place for anger, Ruth. If you are apologising, then I sincerely accept it." Monica spoke, causing Ruth and Sam to exchange a glance filled with guilt and shame.

"Thank you." Saying that, Ruth faded away, taking the Kathleen with her. On the porch, at least for a moment, Monica and Sam stood facing each other.

"Ruth is not the one to ask for your forgiveness, Monica. Looking back, I don't even recognise myself for the way I treated you."

"Sam..." Monica gently interrupted him. "When will Andrew regain his angelic form?"

The angel of angels was once again taken by surprise at her selflessness. There were certainly so many questions about her future going on her mind, and yet she was worried about her soulmate, the one she protected and took care of with all her love and devotion.

But it was not Sam the one to answer to her, as on the following moment, Andrew's voice reached her ears.

"That you don't have to worry about anymore, angel."

With fresh tears already forming in the corner of her eyes, Monica turned around to see the blond angel standing right behind her with a smile. The glow that involved his form had the same intensity of hers, as if they were vibrating in the synchrony; two souls deeply connected.

"Andrew!" She was quick to wrap her arms around his neck, in a tight embrace that he returned with the same affection. Tess, who had appeared together with him, also in her angelic form, watched her two dearest friends with her eyes filled with emotion.

"And I'm always amazed at how gorgeous you look when you are in your angelic form..." he spoke, gently stroking her hair as a way to soothe her spirit, as he could feel the surge of intense emotions coming from her heart.

"I... could not bear to see you suffering like that..." She finally managed to spoke, yet not making any movement to break her embrace.

"It's over now, baby." Andrew kissed the side of her head. "Please, don't cry."

"Angel boy is right, baby. It's over now, and it's the Father Himself who is stating that. On the contrary, you wouldn't have regained your angelic status." Tess was quick to speak, eyeing Sam in a slightly accusing way.

"You're perfectly right, Tess. He is and have always been in command in here." Sam's voice held much sorrow and regret.

Sensing that the angel's next words would be of great importance for him and Monica, Andrew gently pulled away from her and wiped her tears with gentle fingers. Then, noticing that his sweet-mannered friend hand finally started to calm down, he kissed her forehead and both turned their attention back at Sam – right after Tess had given her "angel girl" a tight hand squeeze and elicited a tearful smile from her.

"Monica, Andrew, I owe you an apology. There's nothing I can say that will make me feel less embarrassed about the way I treated you and what you feel for each other. What was meant to be seen as a gift I saw as a problem just because it had never occurred before, with any other angel."

Monica and Andrew looked at each other. They were aware that what brought them together was rare but the confirmation that it had never happened before was indeed surprising.

"A gift, Sam?" The Irish angel managed to say, her voice still trembling with emotion.

"A gift and a miracle. Your story touched so many hearts... it made me and Ruth realise we do not own the absolute truth and that we should know better than to judge others before asking for God's guidance and even more placing ourselves on others' shoes." He explained. "And as if it wasn't enough, your love also touched Kathleen's spirit and opened it up for a new beginning. The Father is so happy at having a long time daughter back in His arms..."

"We could never imagine our journey would lead to her coming back Home..." Andrew spoke, knowing how much it had affected Monica.

"God works in mysterious ways..." Tess added. "And sometimes He also moves through the pain and the suffering, turning them into something beautiful, just like he did with yours and Kathleen's path."

"Tess is right. And this is the second reason why I'm here, besides asking for your forgiveness. To tell you that your love has also touched the Father's heart."

Fresh tears formed in Monica's eyes and before she knew it, they were already falling freely over her cheeks. She felt Andrew's gentle hands over hear shoulders and turned to look at him, finding in the green of his eyes all the love, comfort and tenderness she would forever rely on.

"When we found out about our feelings, we wondered what exactly they were. But we never doubted they were right." She said, turning to look at Sam again.

"They are right, Monica. And the Father blessed them long ago."

Andrew pulled the Irish angel in his arms in a warm embrace, relief flooding his spirit at that piece of news. "Thank you, Sam." He said, trying to see past the older angel's actions. "As Monica said before, our love stops us from holding on to angst. If your apologies to us are genuine, then we accept them. And I trust that so will God."

"Please, don't thank me. I'm the one who should be grateful to you both." Sam looked at the three angels and nodded. "I should leave now. And I do hope that what you two share brings you much joy along your existence."

He disappeared a few seconds later.

"I'm leaving as well," Tess spoke, feeling undeniable satisfaction at witnessing Same and Ruth apologising with her two dearest friends. "Except that I won't be gone for as long as Sam and Ruth! I'll meet you two again in two days for a new assignment."

"I take it it means our working together then?" The blond angel wanted to know, voicing Monica's thoughts. Tess gave a step forward and took their hands. "There'll always be our working together, angel boy. Maybe in some assignments one of us will have to fly solo, but in the end, I'll never be able to stay away from my babies and He knows that!"

With a broad, still crying smile, Monica finally held her dear friend and supervisor tightly. "Thank you for what you did for us, Tess. You, Rafael and Adam were walking with us all the time out there in the desert... Of that, we'll never forget."

Andrew kissed the supervisor's cheek. "We'll be eternally grateful."

"Oh, babies...And how could I not help you if I love you both so much?" Tess replied, and making some extra effort not to cry, she pulled away to look at them once again. "Take care of each other and of your love, babies. It's the most precious gift the Father could have given you other than existence itself."

"We promise we will honour it every single day, Tess." Andrew replied, wrapping his arm around Monica's shoulder.

"For the rest of our existence." The Irish angel added, throwing him an affectionate gaze. Once Tess was gone, everything became quiet again. Except that now, the silence of the night brought a pleasant sensation of peace.

"I came here to offer my prayers of thanks and open my heart to the Father and ask for some guidance and now all I ended up with was many more other blessings to thank for." Monica spoke, her sparkling brown eyes meeting his green ones.

"I guess this is what happens when we put our trust on Him!" He smiled at her and watched as she nodded in agreement. Then, his smile faded a little, but the look on his eyes remained a tender one. "I'll spend the rest of my eternity thanking God for sending me this one beautiful and loving angel..." Andrew cupped her chin up so he could brush a tiny kiss against her lips. "And it still won't be enough."

"What will happen to us now, Andrew?" The way she spoke and the expression on her face held some apprehension.

"What do you mean, angel?"

"There'll be assignments in which we'll go separate ways..."

"There'll always be a reunion, sweetie. Plus, I'll always take some time between assignments to see you... even if everything I can do is to tell you how much I love you."

"Your words are so precious to me, Andrew. And I'll carry them within my heart everywhere I'm sent."

He stroked her cheek and spent a few seconds gazing at her. "Would you do something for me, angel?" Andrew finally spoke again.

"You know the answer to that."

He took her hand and guided her to inside the cabin, to the same spot in the living room where she was sitting when they last spoke.

"In our human forms, please." The blond angel gently indicated, he and Monica slowly losing the glow that surrounded their forms. Watching her questioning look, he was quick to explain. "Being in human form can cause us to be exposed to some risks and exterior conditions, it's true." Andrew took her delicate hand in both of his. "But it also allows us to feel the comfort brought by a warm fireplace or experience what it's like to fall asleep lulled by the sound of the summer breeze coming from outside."

"I've always enjoyed to experience all those tiny details and they become even more special when you are with me!"

Smiling, Andrew picked a quilt that had been left over the couch and covered both of them with it. Then, he pulled a quite cheerful Monica to his arms and kissed the top of her head as she wrapped her arms around his waist.

"May I add to that list the taste of a double mocha latte early in the morning?" She asked, causing him to chuckle.

"Yes, you may, angel. And be sure this is what you'll smell first thing tomorrow morning!"

With a spark of extra joy, she pulled away to look at him. "I love you with all my heart, you know?"

Returning her smile, Andrew lay a gentle hand over her face, gazing at her again for a few instants, never tired of her Gaelic beauty. "And I, you. My sweet guardian angel. Forever."

Andrew did not waste any more second before crossing the small distance between them and pressing his lips against her rosy ones. The kiss that followed was sweet and tender, bringing their human hearts to beat stronger and faster, and at the same time with deep contentment – something that would certainly be added to their small human pleasures list. And, most importantly, a concrete proof of the deep connection the two angels would share for the rest of their eternity.

The end.

X

Kim and I want to thank you all for reading and for your kind feedback!

We're already working on a new story and very soon we'll be sharing it with you!

Love,

Kim & Deyse