Author's 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.

Anyhow, 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!

Finally, 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!

I 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!

Happy anniversary again!

God bless,

July 19th, 2007-- Willowveil Castle, Dyeland

In only 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 each 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...

"Cut it 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.


May 2006

"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.

"Whatever you say...  I 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."

Andrew chuckled.  "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 really.  You can open your eyes, by the way." 

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 then shook his head.  "Emotional dissonance?"

"Yes," the woman answered, nodding and folding her arms across her chest. 

"Okay...  Well, as it 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 turn to 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 say, 'if at first you don't succeed...'  What about when you're on Earth and not in the Tunnels?"

JenniAnn sighed.  He had a point.  It had gotten more and more annoying to have to arrange rides during her sojourns to her hometown. 

Andrew began again.  "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 comes out.  I'm your guinea pig," JenniAnn teased.  "Do I get a carrot afterwards?"

Andrew blushed.  "I guess 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 seats."

So they both got out of the 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 get the thing that goes 'vroom, vroom' started," JenniAnn said.

Andrew's eyes grew wide.  "You don't know what..."

"An engine.  Yes, I know what an engine is.  Relax.  Just teasing again.  Okay, so now what?"  

"Okay, turn the key.  Now, gently ease your foot onto the accelerator until it reaches a speed you're comfortable with.  If it goes too fast, hit the break," Andrew directed. 

JenniAnn nodded and, wincing slightly, lowered her foot.

"Eyes open completely."

"Right...  See, I told you I'm bad at this.  May be we should switch back."

"Try and try again," Andrew reminded.


"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 quizzically.  "Huh?"

Andrew grinned wickedly.  "Well, I'm immortal so..."

She lightly shoved him but laughed.  "Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence."  Sobering, she took a deep breath and put her foot on the accelerator...

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 tame 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 that info!"

Andrew turned to her, still 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 record?"

JenniAnn shrugged.  "A girl's got priorities, you know," she deadpanned.

Andrew tried to answer but couldn't stop laughing.

"Thank you for trying to teach 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, Andrew's face 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.


With a 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. 

"Fixed?" she asked.

"I believe so.  I would hardly invite you to sit down if I thought it wasn't," he teased.

JenniAnn 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!"

"Not 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?"

"Oh... just 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."

"It is," the man agreed. 

"I better go help Lady Beth.  There's a lot to be done with the refreshment table.  Thank you again, Vincent."

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.


October 2004

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 flinch. 

Vincent knelt down beside 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 up his hood to hide his leonine features.

"Aslan," she finished, after struggling to draw a breath. 

Vincent let his hood fall back 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 again. 

Vincent moved to pick her up.  Perhaps he could make it to a hospital.  Perhaps there was still hope.

Weakly, the girl raised her 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 she's 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 consoled.

Vincent looked up at him with 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 the man's shoulder.  "God is with them and He is and will always be with Phoebe."

Vincent nodded.  "I 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 own 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 be level with Vincent who remained kneeling.  "Just look up, Vincent." 

Vincent raised his eyes to the 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 every where.

The tears that came as the 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.  Always."

Moved beyond words, Vincent could not speak.  Silently, he thanked God and the one who had brought him the very message he needed. 


"You're crying!  Are you okay, Vincent?"

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.

Yva watched him closely, eventually deciding he spoke the truth and there was no reason for worry.

"Did you find the music you wished to?" Vincent asked.

Yva nodded.  "Yes, I did.  I can't wait for tonight.  I just wish Andrew..."  She frowned and left the rest of the sentence unsaid.

"I know.  But there is always hope, isn't there?"

"Of 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?"

"I would enjoy that very much," Vincent accepted warmly.

"Great!"  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.


December 2006

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 encyclopedia.

"Are you hunting for xylophone or zebra?" a voice questionned.

Yva jumped but then calmed 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 to 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 head.  "About anything in particular?"

Andrew shoved his hands in his pockets and looked at the floor.  "Last month.  The way I behaved."

"It's in the past.  We're 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 happy about that but... I feel like there's something more I need to say."

Yva motioned to the couch he'd come from.  "Then we might as well sit down."

Andrew took a seat after she 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 to 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.

Andrew shrugged.  "I 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 upset?"

"I usually went somewhere 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 thank you for being there for me you sweet angel."

Then, inexplicably, the old 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 asked, surprised.

Andrew only grinned.  "Care to dance, Yva?"

Laughing, she nodded and began 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.


Yva sighed 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. 

"Love, are you unwell?  You looked piqued a moment ago," Nigel asked as he approached having finished managing the lighting in the ballroom.

"Oh yes, 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.

"Yes, of course.  I can remember feeling quite relieved.  That was a most disagreeable time but we all found our ways through it together."

"Thank God 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?"

"I would 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."

"Great!  We'll see you then, dear Nigel."

With that 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.


December 2006

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 standing 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," he greeted when he was only a few yards from the tree.

"Hello Nigel.  It's a little cold to be out walking, isn't it?  I mean not that you're not welcome to," Andrew added awkwardly.

"No, you are right.  The 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 more 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 the icy ground.  "Last month was painful for many of us."

"Because of me.  I know 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 angel.

"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 friends."

"I've tried but I still can't help but wish it had never happened, Nigel."  Andrew shook his head and leaned against the tree's trunk. 

"Of that I am sure but it did, 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 the latter."

Andrew chuckled.  "You're 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 friends."

Nigel beamed.  "Then let 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 than I."

"That sounds great.  How 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 happening again.


Nigel 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! 

Part Two