Note: Well... I did NOT expect this to be a two-parter but then I
didn't expect all the company I got this weekend. So,
regrettably, this story is unfinished though I really and truly do have
every intention of finishing it this week. I just wish I'd
thought to send this first half on our actual anniversary! Oh
well! This lil story turned out to be quite a project, though,
and the bits I've written surprisingly emotional. So I'm sure
it'll eventually makes its way to the Author's Cut.
when I began writing thisI asked those on the JABB YG with a Dyeland
counterpart to submit a brief memory of Andrew their character might
have. I then spun stories outta those memory bits they gave me
and then spun them together into a larger frame story (or at least I've
started to). So I'd like to thank Yvette for submitting memories
for Yva and Nigel. I'd also like to thank Liz and Nicole for
submitting memories for Lady Beth and Rose, respectively. (Edit:
Thanks also to Liz for submitting Henry's memory.) Their
parts will come later in the week as will Adam's memory (also supplied
by Yvette.) Just check back here!
I'd just like to state that this Author's Note is the first bit of a
JABB newsletter ever written in my new home. Yay!
hope you enjoy and I promise I will finish this if I have to pull an
all-nighter sometime this week! Or call in sick to work.
Okay, just kidding about that last part!
19th, 2007-- Willowveil Castle, Dyeland
hours guests would begin filing into Willowveil Castle for a
party to celebrate JABB's 9th anniversary. Unfortunately, with
Lady JenniAnn staying with her cousins in New York for the summer; the
ballroom had fallen into disarray. All week people had been
working to bring it back up to par and these remaining hours were
filled with last minute touches. As JenniAnn continued to set out
photographs of Dyeland and its people, she surveyed the room.
Vincent was repairing a broken chair, Lady Beth was arranging the
refreshment tables, Adam was setting up the sound system, Nigel was
setting out candles and lanterns to give the room a festive glow, Yva
was ensuring all the necessary sheet music was available for the
sing-along and dance later, and Rose was setting out party favors at
table. JenniAnn smiled to see so many people helping.
However, she couldn't help but grieve one absence in particular.
She had long been impressed with Andrew's ability to be on hand for all
major Dyeland occasions despite his far flung assignments. Yet
some part of her knew it would not always be the case and, in fact, it
seemed unlikely he'd be able to attend this year's party. Here
they would be celebrating nine years of their group and the person who
had brought them together would be away. Possibly homeless.
Possibly in a warzone. Possibly sad. Possibly...
out. Deep breaths. Andrew is okay," JenniAnn
muttered under her breath. "Happy thoughts... happy
thoughts..." She stared down at the photograph in her
hands. Andrew with his little black car. She nearly burst
out laughing at the memory it evoked.
"Just trust me on this.
We're almost there," Andrew assured
JenniAnn who still had her eyes closed tightly at his request as they
rode in his car.
spose if you can't trust an angel who can
ya trust?" she responded with a smile. "I really hope your eyes
aren't also closed."
"They're not. My eyes are looking right at
the road. Well, I guess it's not much of a road..."
"Not much of a road???"
"More of a field
You can open your eyes, by the
JenniAnn opened them
immediately and surveyed the area. "Oh no...
if you even think you're going to try that disappearing in a field act
again... I will tackle you. Or... or... I'll call
Tess!!! Or some sort of angelic services number and accuse you of
abandonment and... and... emotional dissonance!!!"
Andrew stared at her
shook his head. "Emotional dissonance?"
"Yes," the woman
nodding and folding her arms across her
"Okay... Well, as
happens I have no intention of disappearing
in this field. I'm going to..." Andrew paused for dramatic
effect, "teach you how to drive!"
Then it was JenniAnn's
simply stare at him and shake her
head. After a few moments she spoke. "Thank but no
thanks. Why do I need to drive, anyhow? If I'm in Dyeland I
ride my horse or walk. If I'm staying Below then I just
walk. Gah, imagine telling Father I want to joyride through the
Tunnels. Imagine the exhaust smell..." JenniAnn wrinkled
her nose and shook her head again. "Besides, I'm terrible.
I did try... once."
"You know what they
at first you don't succeed...' What
about when you're on Earth and not in the Tunnels?"
a point. It had gotten more and
more annoying to have to arrange rides during her sojourns to her
"It's just... part of my next assignment is as a
driver's ed instructor and I thought it might be good to practice first
with someone I know."
"Ah, so now the truth
out. I'm your guinea pig," JenniAnn
teased. "Do I get a carrot afterwards?"
when you put it that way..."
"Oh now, I'm just
teasing. You have a point. I have to
learn sooner or later. Might as well be sooner and might as well
be with a super-cute teacher." She laughed as Andrew's blush
deepened. "Okay enough teasing, let's get started. Switch
So they both got out of
car, JenniAnn sighing in her typical way as
Andrew held the driver's side door open for her, and Andrew handed
JenniAnn the keys.
"Great. Now let's
the thing that goes 'vroom, vroom'
started," JenniAnn said.
Andrew's eyes grew
"You don't know what..."
"An engine. Yes,
what an engine is. Relax.
Just teasing again. Okay, so now what?"
"Okay, turn the
Now, gently ease your foot onto the
accelerator until it reaches a speed you're comfortable with. If
goes too fast, hit the break," Andrew directed.
JenniAnn nodded and,
slightly, lowered her foot.
"Eyes open completely."
"Right... See, I
you I'm bad at this. May be we should
"Try and try again,"
"Wait. One last
thing. If you thinking you're going to
crash into that tree way over there," Andrew pointed, "try to crash on
the passenger side."
JenniAnn looked at him
"Well, I'm immortal so..."
She lightly shoved him
laughed. "Gee, thanks for the vote of
confidence." Sobering, she took a deep breath and put her foot on
Five minutes later Andrew was
back in the driver's seat, staring
straight ahead. "I... I think I saw my whole life flash before
me. I... saw Mayans. And pterodactyls."
JenniAnn was trying to
her windblown hair. "I tried to warn
ya... Ew. Gah, it's just all over the place," she
complained as she messed with her hair. Wait.
Pterodactyls? Ooh... Ooh!!! I need Google!!! I
could figure out at least how many millions of years old you are with
Andrew turned to her,
shaking somewhat, but laughing. "You
just took us for a five minute drive at 120 miles per hour and your
first reaction is to try and determine how old I am based on fossil
girl's got priorities, you know," she
Andrew tried to answer
couldn't stop laughing.
"Thank you for trying
me. I'm sure your assignment will
go well. Perhaps I was just distracted. I can't imagine
what would have caused that... or who."
With her words,
turned red not just from laughter but
from another of his many blushes. Only after he'd calmed down did
he drive them back to Dyeland City... at a moderate speed.
smile and shake of her head, JenniAnn finished setting up the
photographs and then went to join Vincent. As she neared, he was
putting away his tools and indicated for her to take a seat.
so. I would hardly invite you to sit down if I thought
it wasn't," he teased.
giggled, sat down, bounced up and down a bit, and then beamed
at him. "That's great! Thank you so much, Vincent!"
She stood up and hugged him. "You can fix anything!"
everything but some things," Vincent clarified and then looked
keenly at her. "Care to share the meaning behind the mischevious
smile you had when you walked over here?"
remembering a funny incident with Andrew. It's sad
not having him here right now and to think he may not be here
tonight. Still... it's good we have him in our hearts."
the man agreed.
go help Lady Beth. There's a lot to be done with the
refreshment table. Thank you again, Vincent."
watched her go and then refocused on putting away his
tools. As he did he found himself recalling one of his own
memories of the absent angel of death.
Vincent had at last convinced
Catherine to accept her best friend's
offer of a girls' trip to San Francisco. He was happy that she
was spending time with old friends but it was lonely with out
her. Still unable to sleep at 2 in the morning; he rose, dressed,
and went Above. Keeping to the shadows, he strode through alley
ways and back streets. He listened to the sounds of the city at
night. The sirens, the faint music from dance clubs, an
occasional strain of more pleasant music from a near by home, and more
met his ears. Feeling some peace knowing this was still the same
sky his Catherine slept beneath, though nearly 3,000 miles away, he
continued on his walk. After he had been walking for nearly half
an hour, Vincent sensed something was wrong. Then he heard
it. The gun shot. And then a whimper. He ran toward
the faint noise. A girl dressed in mere rags. Her punctured
arms exposed. She was gasping. In his concern, Vincent
forgot himself and approached. Only when he was near enough for
the girl to see him did he remember that he might frighten her.
But it was too late. She had seen him. She didn't
Vincent knelt down
her. "Let me take you to a hospital,"
he said in the calmest tone he could manage.
"Too late," the girl
whispered. "You... you look like..."
Vincent moved to draw
hood to hide his leonine features.
"Aslan," she finished,
struggling to draw a breath.
Vincent let his hood
then. Something in him broke at
that word and tears began to stream down his face. She was barely
more than a child. A child who wanted a magical lion. A
lion who could heal.
The girl gasped
Vincent moved to pick
up. Perhaps he could make it to a
hospital. Perhaps there was still hope.
Weakly, the girl raised
hand and touched his face. She smiled
weakly and then was gone.
Vincent stopped and
wept. He was still hunched over when he felt
light fall upon him.
"Her name is Phoebe and
at peace now, Vincent. She told me
ever since she started living on the streets she had been afraid of
dying alone. But she didn't. You were with her and your
gentleness brought Phoebe comfort in her final moments," Andrew
Vincent looked up at
flashing eyes. "Her final
moments? She couldn't have been eighteen, Andrew! What age
is that for final moments?" Vincent at once felt remorse for
snapping at the angel and his tone grew more gentle. "I used to
read Narnia to the
children. Children barely younger than Phoebe. And I cannot
help but think... Who read it to her? Where are they now?
Do they pray for her safe return?" His sobs began again.
Andrew rested a hand on
man's shoulder. "God is with them and
He is and will always be with Phoebe."
believe it but in the face of such... such
inhumanity. Killing a young girl for what? For a drug
debt?" he cried. Once again he looked at Andrew but this time
with eyes that showed only overwhelming pain. "How do you not
falter? How do you not go insane? You must see such
brutality so often."
Tears came to Andrew's
eyes. "It's never easy, Vincent.
God created humans to love each other and when they do not... when they
kill... The Father Himself grieves that. But I also know
what joy they experience once they're Home and that helps. Death
is never the end, Vincent."
"I... I wish I could
see. Feel that peace you do."
Andrew crouched down to
level with Vincent who remained
kneeling. "Just look up, Vincent."
Vincent raised his eyes
sky which seemed suddenly to be a large
movie screen. But Vincent knew in his heart this was real.
He saw a field of radiant green grass dotted with flowers of indigo and
fuschia and chartreuse and colors Vincent could not name. There
in the field sat Phoebe with an old woman beside her. The girl's
face was lit with a serenity and a happiness that equaled none Vincent
had ever witnessed. She hugged the woman beside her and they
began to make chains of the flowers. They tied them into crowns
and necklaces and then began to dance, laughing as they did.
There was no trace of pain, no grief. Only love. It imbued
them and surrounded them. Love was every where. God was
The tears that came as
vision faded were ones of happiness, as
if Vincent had brought some of Phoebe's joy back with him.
"Remember that always,
Vincent. God wanted to thank you for
caring for and about those of His children that are cast aside or who
wander away from those who love them," Andrew explained, beaming as he
did. "He wanted you to see His Home. He wanted you to know
that He is there. He is always there and when you can't save
those children in this life, He will keep them safe in the next.
Moved beyond words,
could not speak. Silently, he thanked
God and the one who had brought him the very message he needed.
crying! Are you okay, Vincent?"
jolted at the sound of Yva's voice. "Yes, I am.
Only remembering something very important. Do not worry."
He smiled at her to prove he truly was well.
him closely, eventually deciding he spoke the truth and
there was no reason for worry.
find the music you wished to?" Vincent asked.
nodded. "Yes, I did. I can't wait for tonight. I
just wish Andrew..." She frowned and left the rest of the
know. But there is always hope, isn't there?"
course!" The woman smiled and then pointed to the box she
carried on her hip. "I found a box of photos I think JenniAnn
forgot about. I'm just going to set it over by the entryway in
case she decides to add more. Then I'm headed to the kitchen for
some tea. Care to join me?"
enjoy that very much," Vincent accepted warmly.
Yva smiled and once Vincent had turned back to his
tools, she headed to the memoribilia table. She set the box down
then surveyed the items JenniAnn had already placed out. Her eye
fell on one photograph in particular. It was of she and Andrew
and had been taken during the small party that had occurred when she
and Andrew were trying to put together Dyeland's Christmas list.
It had seemed ironic that the task of delineating the highlights of the
year had fallen to them when their friendship had taken a heartbreaking
turn in the last couple months of 2006. Yet they had managed it.
Yva stared at the carefully
written list. Despite the
awkwardness, she and Andrew had completed it and now she was trying to
hide it from any inquisitive eyes that might try to see it before its
official unveiling at the Christmas party. And so here she was in
Willowveil's library about to stick it in the XYZ volume of an old
"Are you hunting for
or zebra?" a voice questionned.
Yva jumped but then
when she realized it was Andrew.
"Sorry, I didn't realize anyone was in here. I thought since
JenniAnn was staying Below tonight the place would be empty."
"And so a perfect place
hide the list. In the least used
volume of the least used encyclopedia. Brilliant." Andrew
walked closer, smiling. "I'm only here because I told JenniAnn
I'd check in on the place while she was away. I was just walking
through and that couch suddenly looked very comfortable." He was
quiet for a moment. "And it looked like a good place to think."
Yva tilted her
"About anything in particular?"
Andrew shoved his hands
pockets and looked at the floor.
"Last month. The way I behaved."
"It's in the
speaking now. We wrote the list
together. It's okay," Yva assured. She didn't want Andrew
continuing to feel guilty but she also wasn't particularly keen on
discussing that particular space of time.
"I know and I'm really
about that but... I feel like there's
something more I need to say."
Yva motioned to the
come from. "Then we might as well
Andrew took a seat
did and then sighed. "I just want
you to know that the reason I wasn't more open about the sadness and
confusion I was feeling... it's not that I didn't trust you. And
I only told Lady Beth and JenniAnn because... well, the night I came
back from the assignment that had upset me so much, they came to my
door and I didn't realize how obvious it was I'd been crying.
They did. Right away. I had to tell them something and the
truth came out. But I hadn't wanted any of you to
know. It was never, ever just about hiding it from you."
"Why didn't you want us
know?" Yva asked calmly although she was
growing concerned that Andrew had every intention of continuing to shut
them all out whenever trouble arose for him.
guess when I worked with Monica I sometimes
felt like it was important to keep a brave face for her. It
seemed to calm her when she got upset."
"And when you got
"I usually went
else. I don't know why! I wish I
did. It just became a routine and when I made friends with all of
you... I wanted to be that calming presence for all of you just like I
had been with Monica. And I wanted it especially once I was no
longer seeing Monica as much. It feels good to be the encouraging
one, the one everyone can count on." When Andrew finished, he
glanced at Yva quickly. He hoped to gage her reaction but still
unsure of it, he looked back down at his hands.
Yva was quiet for a few
moments. Finally she answered, her voice
soft and consoling. "Andrew, we never wanted a superhero.
We just wanted a friend and friends not only give comfort but accept it
when they need it. You've prayed with us and for us. You've
held our hands as we cried. But may be sometimes we need to be
the ones praying for you and holding your hand. Not because we
happened upon you in a dark moment or because you couldn't think of a
good excuse for a tear-stained face but because you're our
friend! We love you!"
Andrew exhaled slowly,
suddenly feeling more calm than he had in many
days. He struggled to come up with an answer that would express
how much Yva's words had touched him. "Thank you, Yva.
You're right and I only wish I had realized all of that before
everything happened. But I promise you that from now on I'll
strive to never forget what you've said here tonight. Thank you
for being my friend." Then he hugged her and smiled.
"You're welcome and
for being there for me you sweet angel."
Then, inexplicably, the
record player JenniAnn kept in the library
only because she loved its retro look turned on. After a few
scratchy noises, the first chords of "Lean On Me" by Bill Withers
filled the library.
"Did you do that?" Yva
"Care to dance, Yva?"
Laughing, she nodded
to dance with him, knowing that Andrew
meant every word he said and would never again deliberately hide away
his feelings from her or the others in Dyeland.
through her smile and set the photo down. If Andrew
wasn't able to be there to celebrate the anniversary, at least she
could think back on such fond memories of him.
you unwell? You looked piqued a moment ago," Nigel
asked as he approached having finished managing the lighting in the
Nigel, I'm feeling great. I was just remembering
something that happened with Andrew. It was after we had our
fight and things began to improve. It was very special to
me. The night we danced in the library. I told you, didn't
I?" Yva checked with her guardian angel.
course. I can remember feeling quite relieved.
That was a most disagreeable time but we all found our ways through it
for that and I'm so relieved you were at my side through it
all, Nigel." Yva took a moment to hug the angel. "Vincent
and I were just going to have some tea in the kitchen. Would you
like to enjoy us?"
love to but if you could excuse me for just a moment Lady
JenniAnn wishes for a few lanterns to be placed outside to greet the
guests. I shall return and join you and our brother momentarily."
We'll see you then, dear Nigel."
the two parted and Nigel headed out to the porch. He
set out the lanterns Lady JenniAnn had left there. Having done so
he looked across the yard and his eyes locked on the willow tree in
front of Andrew's house. In Nigel's mind the green grass and
wildflowers gave way to a light dusting of snow.
Nigel had just left Willowveil
after a planning session for Vincent's
birthday the following month. The angel had been eager to learn
as much of his new friend as possible before the happy day.
Afterwards, Lady JenniAnn and Yva had went directly to the Tunnels to
spend some time with Vincent but something had told Nigel to remain in
Dyeland. He regarded such inklings as messages from the Father
and so obeyed them. However, he was beginning to doubt himself as
he walked across the cold, hard ground. He realized suddenly that
despite the cold he was not the lone person on the lawn that
evening. A figure was moving beneath the willow tree that stood
in front of Andrew's house. It took a moment for Nigel to realize
it was the angel of death himself. Nigel frowned. It had
not been so long ago that Andrew had his Yva gravely distressed.
Andrew's reticence had even had Nigel second-guessing his decision to
come to Dyeland. As it was, Nigel was still unsure of his
with the other angel. He considered turning away from his planned
course and bypassing Andrew. But then, he thought, it was
avoidance that had started the whole problem. He continued on.
"Good evening, Andrew,"
greeted when he was only a few yards from
little cold to be out walking, isn't
it? I mean not that you're not welcome to," Andrew added
"No, you are
air is quite frigid nonetheless a walk
sounded like a fine idea." Nigel forced a smile, feeling more
than a little awkward himself. "This looks as if it must be a
lovely tree in the springtime. Even now as it stands bare it has
a majesty to it."
Andrew nodded, feeling
comfortable with this subject. "It's
my favorite tree in all of Dyeland. Some nights I sit underneath
it and look up at the stars poking through the branches. It
reminds me..." He paused, no longer feeling at ease, and laughed
in a way that wasn't entirely pleasant. "It reminds me of a time
I wasn't quite as foolish as I am now," he finished. "It was
underneath this tree
that I told many of my friends here of a pain that I'd carried for
centuries. You see, I'd had an assignment during the witch trials
and my assignment... she fell victim to them and one of my best
friends, Eben, fell after that. This past June I finally came to
terms with all of it by telling some of the Dyelanders about it.
They helped me. And yet last month..."
Nigel looked down at
ground. "Last month was painful for
many of us."
"Because of me. I
that. Nigel, please know I've tried
to make up for that. I never can entirely but I have apologized
to Yva and tried to do right by her. I'm so sorry I made your
first weeks here so difficult. I know sometimes I was angry with
you but I want you to know how glad I am that you were there. You
were there for my friend, Yva, when I couldn't be, Nigel. I don't
know if the two of us can ever be friends. I've certainly made a
mess of that. But even if we can't I just wanted you to know I am
grateful to you and I have a lot of respect for you." Andrew ran
his hand through his hair and then glanced cautiously at his fellow
"Mate, you have had my
forgiveness for some time now and I have every
hope of our being very good friends, indeed!" Nigel responded, his tone
at last light and airy. "I cannot pretend that last month brought
me excessive joy but it did seem to bring Yva and I closer and that is
always a blessing. Well I know how you have endeavoured to make
known your regret and your desire to never again hide away from your
"I've tried but I still
help but wish it had never happened,
Nigel." Andrew shook his head and leaned against the tree's
"Of that I am sure but
Andrew. Now your choice is to
either let your regret overcome you or to use those memories to remind
you to never let it happen again. I would hope you would choose
a very good guardian angel, Nigel
Your guidance is very sound. You're right, of course. And I
will. And, thank you for your forgiveness. I hope we can be
us not waste time. It may be cold
but neither of us shall die of it, that is for sure. I would love
to have a tour of this place given by one who has been here much longer
about we stop by the Cafe, you can get
some tea and I'll get some coffee and we'll go."
Nigel readily agreed
and so it
was that Andrew gave him a tour that
only one who enjoyed a great friendship with the Dyelanders
could. In a way that was both proud and grateful, Andrew showed
him all the places where the Dyelanders had celebrated their victories
and mourned their disappointments. In the Fields of Gold he spoke
in a subdued tone as he told of bidding good bye to Lady JenniAnn prior
to her three month long absence. With a laugh he spoke of
cheering for Adam's touchdowns as they played football in Willowveil's
yard. In the ballroom he spoke of listening to Yva sing at so
many of the past festivities. In his own kitchen he blushed as he
spoke of his many cooking blunders as Lady Beth patiently tried to
teach him to cook. At Harmonic Hollow Andrew told Nigel of long
horserides with Countess Jennifer. Place after place and memory
after memory, Nigel saw how much Andrew truly cared for his friends
there. He knew at once that Andrew had never intended to hurt any
of them and that he would do all he could to keep it from ever
had begun to smile as he gazed at the majestic willow tree. After
a few more moments of reflection, Nigel ensured that Willowveil's
pathway would be properly lit. Satisfied that was the case, he
turned back to join Yva and Vincent. He'd walked no more than
three or four yards when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Alarmed,
Nigel turned around and saw...
The be continued! Will
Andrew make it the party??? We shall see!