“My home is not a place, it is people.”
―Lois McMaster Bujold

Hi all,

Boy... not sure where to start.  I've been working on this for months so how it all started is rather blurry.  I know it began with just some random mental images that I decided I wanted to weave together.  I can't say what those were with out spoiling the story but they were pretty vibrant.  That they became a story about homelessness probly isn't surprising given, when I completed the TBAA episode bracket I used as an easter egg some time ago, "Children of the Night" came up as my favorite TBAA episode.  I felt there was more to be explored, though, as much as I love that episode.  Andrew's life among the homeless was barely touched upon.  Here I attempted to bring that in more.

Due to the length of this story (I stopped counting after 100 pages), I am dividing it in half.  This also solves the problem of trying to cram in newsletter-creation time during the Thanksgiving holiday.  I'm basically done for 3 weeks!  Part 2, the conclusion, will be sent on Nov. 25th.  I'm currently proofing it but it IS complete so don't worry about being left with out an ending.

I would like to forewarn anyone starting this that allusions are made to the previous story, "Be Thou My Vision".  I would strongly recommend reading that first if you've not already.  Allusions are also made to various past newsletter and Author's Cut stories but I don't think those are as integral as they're mostly explained in this story.  But if you feel like you're missing something, please let me know and I'll recap.

I hope I caught all the typos but suspect I did not.  If you notice anything, please let me know.  Most of my proofing was done either late at night or early in the morning so... questionable.   ;-)  Finally, thanks to Nicole for pre-reading and offering feedback on this!  If you'd like to become a proofreader, please contact me.  I'll even give ya a goofy title if ya want.

Here's hoping I did these characters justice.

God bless,

In the House of the Lord

November 18th      ~      November 21st      ~      November 22nd
     ~      November 23rd

 November 18th

Andrew smiled as he looked out the window of the Cafe.  A light snow was blowing and everything glistened.  It was the perfect morning to be sitting in front of a fire and sipping a mug of hot chocolate while waiting for friends.  The angel thanked the Father that he'd been given the time to do exactly that.

The door bell jingled and Andrew turned to see Yva and Rose approaching. 

"Beautiful morning, isn't it?" he greeted, standing and hugging them both.

Rose shivered.  "Cold!  But, sure, beautiful."  She smiled at Andrew.

"At least it puts me in a Christmasy mood.  That'll help when I go to the factory to help Papa with the Christmas orders," Yva added.

"It's hard to believe it's only a little over a month away, isn't it?"  Andrew smiled at the idea and secretly hoped that he'd be in Dyeland for all of the festivities.

"Definitely.  Umm, do you know yet if you'll be here?" Rose asked.  She let her mind wander back to the previous Christmas.  Despite its wonders, there had been several sad moments when Andrew's absence was felt keenly by each of his friends.

Andrew gently patted her shoulder.  "You know, I was just thinking that myself and I don't know.  I hope I am, though."

"But now you're leaving?"

"Yes, Yva.  I'm not sure for how long but I do know that I won't be taking my cell phone with me and email is probably going to be out of the question.  So I wanted to spend some time with all of you this morning."  He gestured for them to take a seat then slid back into the booth.

Rose beamed at her friend then looked around curiously.  "Where's JenniAnn?  She's almost always the first one here for one of these."

"She stopped by before I left the house.  Vincent called a meeting Below.  He said she didn't have to come and that he'd fill her in later but she thought she should be there," Andrew explained.

"That's too bad but I'm glad she got a chance to see you before she left.  I really didn't want to have to drag out the Andrew Scarecrow to console her."  Yva laughed at the idea but then thought more about what Andrew had said.  "So why won't you have your phone or laptop?  Are you spending time with the Amish again?"

"Amish Boy!" Rose chirped.

Andrew chuckled and shook his head.  "No.  Well, actually I shouldn't say that.  I don't know.  I just know the Father told me this would be a technology-free assignment so...  Hey, Lady Beth."  He smiled as the newcomer took her seat at their table.  "I'm glad you could make it."

"Of course I'd want to stop by and wish you well.  So where are you off to?"

"I was just telling Yva and Rose that I'm not sure but I won't be reachable by the usual means.  Don't worry, though.  I'm sure if something happened the Father would get word to me.  He has the best messaging system."  Andrew bestowed a reassuring smile on each of his friends.

"It'll be hard not to have you around or be hearing from you."  Rose frowned.  "But we'll just have to manage."  She sighed dramatically and began to hum "Ain't No Sunshine." 

Andrew blushed, laughing as he did.  "I hate to break it to you, Rose, but there ain't much sunshine even when I'm here lately."

Yva shook her head as she began to laugh, as well.  "Do you have to be so literal, Andrewkins?  We really will miss you but I'm sure whatever you're going to do will be very meaningful to someone who really needs to hear that God loves them."

"I hope so."  Andrew reached across the table to squeeze her hand then looked to all three of the women.  "So are we going to get some breakfast or just tease each other unmercifully?"

The table unanimously agreed to breakfast... with some teasing thrown in.


Nearly every adult member of the Tunnel community was packed into Father's chamber making it cramped and noisy.  The patriarch was seated in the center of the room with Vincent standing to his right side.  Catherine was beside him and to her other side stood a uniformed police officer. 

From her vantage point on one of the spiral staircases, JenniAnn couldn't make out what any of them were saying.  Nor could she determine whether she'd ever seen the cop before.  She concluded that he had to be a Helper or relation to someone there.  Even at that, his presence was unusual.  She was just about to ask her friend, Owen, if he knew what was going on when Father raised his hand and silenced the group.

"Everyone, could we please have your attention," Father called.  "There is something very important we need to discuss.  But, first, I'd like everyone to listen to Detective Matthew Bratton."

The officer stepped forward and smiled at the assembly.  "Good morning.  To those of you who don't know me, I'm the grandson of Luke Bratton who was a Helper here.  I had the privilege of celebrating Winterfest with some of you about, oh, two decades ago when I was nine.  I regret that it's been so long in between visits and I wish my return was under happier circumstances."  He grimaced and glanced to Vincent who nodded for him to continue.

The Tunnel-dwellers grew even more hushed. 

"There's, umm, been a rash of attacks on the homeless recently... some of them fatal," Bratton continued.  "At first they seemed random, isolated events but we're becoming increasingly concerned that what we're seeing is the work of a single person or group specifically targeting the homeless population.  We haven't yet released these details to the press but when the reports came across my desk, I thought of all of you.  I know that sometimes you travel Above and with your... umm... style of dress..."

Vincent noted the officer struggling, fearful of offending them, and stepped forward.  "It is no secret that we have, at times, been mistaken for being homeless.  Some of us have even relied upon that assumption to move through the world Above without attracting attention or curiosity.  Father and I wish to thank Matthew for thinking to alert us."

Bratton smiled at Vincent with gratitude then took a seat near Father. 

"Until more has been learned about this threat,the Council has decided that no one will go Above, alone, during the nighttime hours when it is our understanding these attacks have taken place.  In addition, any group going Above at night will be required to tell a sentry where they are headed before leaving and state their estimated time of return."  Vincent looked to Bratton who nodded in agreement with the plan.  Vincent continued.  "If you wish to travel Above during the daylight hours, we would request that you choose your more... standard clothing.  If you do not have any, Catherine has graciously offered to obtain some for you so please speak to her."

As Father began to list off further safety precautions and solicit suggestions, JenniAnn felt someone lightly shake her shoulder.  She turned around and saw it was Owen.  Some of the color had drained from his face.

JenniAnn reached back to squeeze his hand, knowing he must be remembering his own days on the streets as a teenager.  "Yes?"

"Terrible.  Scary stuff.  Has Andrew mentioned any of this?"

She shook her head.  "No.  Nor the others.  I'm glad they aren't assigned to this...  How terrible..."  JenniAnn shuddered then gave her full attention back to Father.  She tried to focus but Owen's question and the entire scenario unnerved her.  Anyone who spent any time at all in the Tunnels had heard more than their fair share of harrowing tales of abuse and cruelty... if not experienced them directly as Owen had.  When one also happened to have befriended a handful of angels of death, being sheltered from violence was no longer possible.  Nonetheless, to think of someone deliberately striking out at those already struggling so greatly was heartrending.  JenniAnn tried to focus on the discussion, all the while hoping the meeting would break up in time for her to get to the Cafe and see Andrew once more before he left.  


Yva settled back against the booth's cushions after finishing the last of her cinnamon roll.  She glanced across the table and noticed that Andrew was staring out the window, an enigmatic expression on his face.  "What are you thinking, Andrew?  You suddenly look... I don't know, actually.  Are you okay?"

Rose and Lady Beth immediately gave the angel of death their full attention.

Andrew pulled his gaze away from the window and smiled at his friends.  "I'm feeling great, thanks.  I don't know what it was.  I found myself thinking about all the times I've sat here, surrounded by friends.  And about how much I feel like I belong here."

"You do belong here," Lady Beth assured.

"Thanks.  I know.  Does it ever happen to you that, for a brief moment, it's like you step back from your life?  And you realize all over again how blessed you are?  And you're just astounded.  I felt that."

Rose nodded.  "I've felt that and I'm really glad you felt it here, Andrew."

"And I hope you know the being blessed goes both ways," Yva added.  "When those moments happen to me, you're definitely one of the people I think of."

"Definitely," Rose echoed as Lady Beth nodded.

Andrew smiled with immense fondness at each of them.  "Thanks, but..."  He pulled out his pocket watch and looked at it.  "Now I have to get going.  Thanks for meeting me."  He slid out of the booth and the other three followed.  He hugged Lady Beth first.  "You take care of yourself.  And don't let Henry talk you into cooking every meal for him.  He can reciprocate once in a while!  You taught him, after all!" 

Lady Beth laughed at Andrew's mock-sternness.  "Believe me, I'll tell him!  And you take care of yourself."

"I will.  I know if I don't I'll have several lectures to look forward to," he jested before turning to Rose.  "Give your aunt my best.  And give Theo a hug from me.  And... here." 

Rose stared at the keys Andrew dropped in her palm.  She noted the silver Irish symbol on the key chain.  "These are your van keys."

"I know.  The van stays, too.  I thought maybe while I was gone someone could take you out to practice winter driving.  Use the van if you want.  I trust you."

Rose hugged the angel.  "Thanks!  Wow!"

"Sure.  Have fun and be safe."

"Definitely!"  The young woman was again staring in awe at the keys.

Andrew chuckled then turned to give Yva a hug.  "Say 'hi' to Willy and have fun.  I'm sure he's got some wonderful new creations.  I hope you, Sir Sven, and Nigel keep warm.  The bunnies and Miss Ellie, too."

"We will.  We'll be thinking of you and waiting anxiously for your return.  Who knows, maybe Papa and I will even have a box of samples of the new holiday line waiting for you when you get back!"

"As if I needed another reason to come hurrying back here once I'm done.  And... I hope with all my heart that I'll be able to wish you a happy birthday on your birthday.  But if I can't... you know I'll be thinking about you."  Andrew hugged Yva again then beamed at each of them.  "Tell everyone else I said good bye."  He paused.  "Better yet, just tell them I'll see them later." 

"Good call and will do," Lady Beth assured.

With one more hug for each of them, Andrew left the Cafe.  The three women slid back into the booth and peered out the window, watching as their friend faded into a swirl of light snow.

"I'm so proud of him and what he does but the whole 'good bye/ see you later' thing still leaves me a little drained each time," Rose confessed.

"I think that's perfectly normal.  God understands.  So do they.  I mean as long as we're not missing them so much that we opt for running after them and forcing them to drag us from assignment to assignment, I think it's okay."  Yva smiled at Rose with a mischievous twinkle in her eye, hoping it would make her friend feel better.

"True.  That might be fun to try sometime, though."  Rose smirked at the idea of Andrew trying to do a revelation scene with one of them clinging to him, refusing to let go. 

"'I'm an angel sent by God to tell you that God loves you... and that my friend here isn't playing with a full deck.'"  Lady Beth laughed at the image, too.  "Sure, try that sometime, Rose."

"Augh...  I missed him, didn't I?"

The three turned to see JenniAnn standing in the door way.

"I'm afraid so.  You saw him this morning though, didn't you?"

A dreamy look crossed the late arrival's face. 

"That would be a yes, then," Yva guessed at the answer to her own question.

JenniAnn blushed.  "We had coffee while the dogs did their thing." 

"So you at least got to say goo..."  Yva caught herself.  "See you later?"

"Yep," JenniAnn nodded and took a seat.  "I guess I just wanted to see him again cause...  Did he mention that I was at a meeting Below?" 

"He did.  What's going on?  That's pretty unusual, isn't it?" Rose questioned.

"Definitely.  Vincent said he was going to come here later to spread the word but just so you're prepared: the Tunnels are kinda on lock down.  Well, a minor form of it."  JenniAnn frowned and then began to fill her friends in on what Detective Bratton had told them and of the resulting security precautions.  "And I guess I just wanted to see Andrew cause when I hear stuff like that... I dunno.  I just feel a bit better after I've talked with one of the AODs.  It reminds me that, no matter what, someone loving and lovable was with those people and that they didn't... didn't suffer alone."

"Adam might be back by now.  Maybe you could go talk to him?  Henry's away for a few days but can you contact Eli?"

JenniAnn smiled appreciatively at Yva and shrugged.  "Maybe.  Good ideas.  So how did Andrew seem before he left?  Does he know where he's headed?  He didn't really when I saw him."

"He didn't know but he said it would be a technology-free one.  No phone, computer.  And... he left me his van keys."  Rose jangled the key chain then frowned.  "I was really excited but now it's making me sad to think of being behind the wheel... I want Andrew to be there."

"We could hide surprises in the van," JenniAnn suggested.  "It'd be fun to do that instead of, ahem, accessorizing his house as usual.  I feel like doing something goofy.  Take our minds off everything."

"One of these days you're going to scare him away from leaving anything here," Lady Beth teased.

"He's a big boy.  He can handle it," Yva protested with a laugh as she rose from the table.  "Do you think there's a way to get Silly String to shoot out of the glove compartment?"

"I think the back seat definitely needs a disco ball," Rose added with a grin.

"Why stop there?  Let's do tie-dyed seat covers!"  With a giggle, JenniAnn followed Yva towards the door.  Rose and Lady Beth took the last gulps of their drinks then hurried after them.  The four felt their melancholy over Andrew's absence melt away as they spent the rest of the morning giving the Jolly Green an extreme, thankfully temporary, makeover.


November 21st


In the nearly four days since Andrew had departed Dyeland, the ladies had thrown themselves into various activities.  Yva spent much of her time working with Willy at the factory.  Adam had graciously volunteered to continue Rose's driving lessons.  Lady Beth found herself giving yet more cooking tutorials to Henry.

Still bothered by the news that Detective Bratton had shared on the morning of Andrew's departure and leftover anxiety from an unfortunate run-in with a psychic, JenniAnn had focused all her nervous energy into working at Catherine's newly opened shelter for homeless women and children.  Catherine had dubbed it the Phoenix Inn, hoping the idea of rebirth, new life, and hope would be extended to every woman and child who passed through. 

While there was only one guest at the Phoenix, there was much to be done.   While attempting a multi-course Saturday brunch, Catherine had noted that the pantry was still lacking.  JenniAnn and Angie, the wife of Catherine's former boss, readily agreed to help stock it.  Hours later, they returned with their arms overflowing with bags and boxes of food.

JenniAnn struggled with her packages as she unlocked the door. 
"Maybe you should just ring the doorbell," an equally bag-laden Angie suggested.
"No... almost got it.  Besides, Jacob could be napping so if it's not truly necessary..."  Upon hearing a clicking noise, she grinned and kicked in the door.  "There!"
Angie stepped into the kitchen and plopped her bags on the table then helped JenniAnn in.  They began to put the items into the cupboards and refrigerator, chatting as they did.
"At least we should be all stocked up for the week!" Angie declared, eying the numerous bags before glancing at her watch.  "Wow.  I didn't realize it was already after 7:00.  Joe will be home any time.  He's been gone so often..."
"Seriously?!  It's that late?  Wow, I didn't realize, either.  But, yeah, you really gotta go then.  I can get everything put away easily.  Thanks for helping, Angie.  Give Joe my best."  JenniAnn hugged the older woman.
"Of course and you're welcome.  I'm just going to say good night to Catherine then head out."
JenniAnn nodded, smiling as Angie left the room in search of Catherine.  Secretly, she relished the chance to organize the pantry herself.  She was debating whether to sort the items by placement on the food pyramid or actual likelihood of being used frequently when she heard scuffling at the door.  Alarmed, she peeked out.  Though it was difficult to see in the darkness she could make out Cira, Catherine's first and only charge, on the stoop.  And there was someone slumped against her.
"We've only set one freaking rule thus far: no strangers without checking with Catherine!  And she's already broke it!" JenniAnn muttered.  Nonetheless, it was obvious there was some sort of distress going on so she opened the door.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Cira blurted out, face flushed.  "I know we're not supposed to bring people straight here.  And not boys at all... but if you'd seen..."  She blew some stray hair out of her face then looked up.  "JenniAnn, he's hurt and he needs help."
The unknown figure flinched. 
JenniAnn stared at the mess of dirty clothes and rumpled hair.  She opened her mouth to say something but was cut off when the figure lunged at her.
"You and Joe and I really need to meet up some night, go out to dinner.  I owe you that much after all the help you've both given us here."  Catherine smiled warmly at Angie and hugged her after setting her sleeping son down.
The woman shrugged.  "Any time!  This is a worthwhile cause, Cathy.  Joe was sorry to see you go but he can't deny that what you'll be doing here... what you're already doing...  It's amazing, Cathy.  And necessary... especially in light of recent events."
Catherine frowned and shook her head in disgust.  "That's all too true, I'm afraid.  But I've wanted to give back for a long time.  Growing up here, for so many years, I turned a blind eye to..."  She was interrupted by pounding footsteps on the stairs.  Seconds later, Cira tore into the room.
"He has her!  He just bolted at her!" she screamed.
"Cira, what... who???" Catherine demanded.
"I thought he needed help and JenniAnn answered the door and oh God..." Cira crumpled to the floor. 
Catherine gasped.  "Where?  Cira, where are they?  Where did they go?"
Catherine's eyes tore around the room.  Some wooden planks Andrew had been working with lay in a pile.  She picked one up and turned to Angie.  "Stay with Cira and Jacob.  Call the police if I don't come back in five minutes or if you hear... anything.  And don't open the door!  Lock it!"
Angie nodded and then sat by Cira, trying to console the girl.
Catherine ran out of the room, relieved to hear the door lock behind her, and climbed down the stairs.  She raised the plank over her shoulder like a baseball bat.  She peeked into the kitchen, hoping to plan her attack with a better idea of where the man was... if he was still there at all.  From her angle all she could see was one of JenniAnn's legs strewn across the floor.  She seemed to be trying to catch her breath.  Enraged, Catherine swiftly rounded the corner.
Catherine stared in dismay at the scene in front of her.  Stunned, she lowered the plank.
JenniAnn was sitting on the floor, her back to the cupboards.  Andrew was beside her.  The reason for her cousin's distress soon became clear to Catherine.  Andrew's right hand was resting on JenniAnn's lap and a blood-spotted towel was wrapped around it.
"H-has it stopped?" she asked, pulling away the makeshift wrapping and staring at the cut in horror. 
"Laja, I'll be fine.  It wasn't even that deep of a..."

"It-it's your good hand!"  She bowed her head as tears threatened to spill over.

"Hey there... now don't...  It will heal, I promise."  Andrew raised his left hand and moved to stroke her hair but stopped, noticing the dirt and dried blood caked to his skin.
Undeterred, JenniAnn rested her head on his shoulder and began to sob.
Feeling very much an intruder, Catherine silently exited the room.  She didn't think they'd seen her.  Andrew had seemed slightly dazed and as for her cousin... she'd been oblivious to all but him.  Catherine crept back up the stairs to assure Angie and Cira that all was well.  Once she had a chance to speak to JenniAnn, she'd go to Vincent and assure him also.  Well she knew he'd have felt her fear through their bond.  Though relief would be flowing to him, too, his wife knew he wouldn't be at peace until he had some answers. 

After waiting a few moments more, Catherine returned to the kitchen, lightly knocking on the wall to alert the angel and woman to her presence.
"Hi Catherine," Andrew greeted.
Catherine winced, noticing for the first time how haggard and disheveled the angel looked.  He had the beginnings of a beard and his hair hung limply around his face, lacking its usual luster.  She drew in a deep breath in an attempt to steady her voice.  "A-andrew," she responded.  "Are you... do you need help?"
Andrew shook his head and smiled.  "Already have it, thanks."
JenniAnn looked up.  "Could you please get me the First Aid kit?"
"Sure."  Catherine fetched the box from the counter then watched as her cousin began to properly clean and dress Andrew's cut.  He looked over his nurse's head and caught Catherine's gaze.

"I, umm, am on assignment.  Things got a little out of control," he explained.

"So I see.  What happened?" 

Andrew sighed and ran his uninjured hand through his hair.  "A knife fight broke out and I tried to intervene.  It... sort of worked?  I mean no one got stabbed so..."

"Whoever you saved better darn well appreciate it!" JenniAnn cried, finishing off the bandage.

The angel frowned.  "They ran off."

JenniAnn shook her head.  "I... I thought with stuff like that you couldn't get hurt.  Like catching bullets and walking into buildings right before a bomb goes off.  You're invincible!"

"Usually.  But I have to live with these people for a while.  Wouldn't you get a little suspicious of someone if you knew you'd cut them but they didn't bleed?  Laja, it doesn't even hurt now.  Really.  I'm fine."  Andrew smiled to encourage her.

"I'm glad to hear that you're not in pain, Andrew.  But I do have to ask..."  Catherine began.

"Go on."

"Cira, the girl staying here, came running to me.  She said you 'bolted at' JenniAnn.  To be honest, I think she thought..." the older woman's voice drifted off as her cousin looked up in surprise. 

Andrew's face flushed.  "I'm sorry!  I wasn't thinking straight.  I heard Cira say 'JenniAnn' and I realized where I was and... I guess I was worn out and knowing a friend was there, I just... collapsed."

"It's okay," JenniAnn assured.  "Cira knows I'm fine now, right?"  She felt a little ashamed for having completely forgotten about the girl in her fussing over Andrew.  When Catherine nodded, she faced Andrew again.  "You seemed disoriented.  Are you sure nothing else happened?  W-would you tell me if it had?"

The angel gave her the most encouraging smile he could muster.  "A little sleep deprived maybe.  It made me a little dizzy.  That's all."

"Can you stay longer?  Are you hungry?"

"I really need to get back, Laja."  The angel of death stood up then reached down to pull his friend up, as well.  He regretted it immediately when he realized he barely possessed the strength to do what he usually could so effortlessly.  He prayed JenniAnn hadn't noticed but the unease and deepening concern on her face told otherwise.

"I'm going to pack some food for you," she insisted.  "Andrew, I know it's important that you live this life among your assignments.  But what good are you going to do if you completely lose your strength?  This," she reached for his bandaged hand, "proves it's possible.  And... and I'm going to have to tell our friends about this.  This isn't a secret I... or Catherine for that matter... can rightly keep."  Her face darkened but she quickly forced a smile.  "And what do you think they'll make of me if they hear I sent you off with nothing?!"

Andrew smiled sheepishly.  He knew Lady Beth especially would not take kindly to that.  "Point taken.  Okay."

"Is there anything else we can get you, Andrew?"

The angel shook his head.  "No, Catherine.  Actually, you're already doing more than I can say.  Word is getting out about this place.  With a little more time I might have a couple women convinced they should come here and maybe I'll be able to convince some of the men to head to shelters, too.  People like you make this job easier." 

"People like you make life a little easier to bear."  Catherine hugged him.  When she pulled away she noticed JenniAnn was already removing items from the refrigerator and looked on the point of tears once more.  She knew she wasn't the one able to stop them from falling.  "I'm going to leave the two of you alone now.  But if there's anything, and I mean anything, any of us can do you let us know right away.  Got it?"

"Yes, ma'am." 

Catherine returned the angel's warm smile and then looked to her cousin.  "I'm going upstairs.  Come see me."

Her cousin nodded, intent on the bread she was slicing.

Once Catherine had exited the room, Andrew directed all his attention to JenniAnn.  She threw several granola bars into a bag.  Next, he watched as she made him sandwiches, knowing exactly which ingredients he preferred.  Lastly, she returned to the refrigerator and pulled out two cans of ginger ale.  She was just about to place them in the bag when one slipped from her hand and clunked to the floor, rolling several feet away.  Andrew noticed that her hands were shaking.

"Augh!  I can't even flipping do this right!" JenniAnn cried, going after the stray can.  "I'll switch that one out so it doesn't explode."


"Do you want chips?"

"Laja, please..."

"Or what about fruit?"

"What's in the bag is plen..."

"I should really put some water in there."  She returned to the refrigerator, the door almost completely hiding her from Andrew's view.

Andrew walked around the island that separated them and stood behind her, lightly brushing her shoulder.  "I'll be fine.  You know I will.  I've been homeless for assignments before."

"I know.  B-but... Th-there's some freaking maniac... or multiples... out there."

"I know."

"And your hand is bleeding."

"Was.  You fixed it up just fine."

"Not the point."

"I know," Andrew admitted.  "You're shaking.  Laja, don't be scared."

JenniAnn grabbed another ginger ale and some bottled water and set them on the counter.  At last she turned around to face the angel of death and a moment later embraced him.  "It's not that I want to be scared!  I know it goes against everything you tell people.  But I can't help it!" she cried. 

Andrew repressed his initial instinct to push her away, concerned about what he may be carrying on his tattered clothes.  However, he knew she'd only be hurt by such a reaction.  He returned her hug and felt her shuddering.  "Pray with me?"

"Of course."  She pulled away enough to hold his hands, taking his right hand gently.

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?" Andrew recited.  He prayed the entire 27th Psalm, JenniAnn's voice occasionally drifting in though more often she remained in prayerful silence.

"Be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord," they finished together.  "Amen."

Andrew released his friend's hands.  "Laja, I really need to go now."

She nodded, hugging him once more.  "I love you."

"I love you, too.  Please tell the others I send my love and that I'll see them soon.  Will you do that?"


"Good, thank you.  Seeing you did me a lot of good."  Andrew smiled at her, stepping away.  "If you get scared, remember the Father is there, listening to and loving you."

"I will.  Here."  She handed him the bag.  "Take care of yourself and know... know we are so proud of you and we all love you and..."

"I do know and I'm so grateful."  He sighed.  "Laja, I think it would be best if you go upstairs now and don't... don't see me leave."

"B-but can't I just walk with you a little ways?  Just through the yard.  No one will..."

Andrew shook his head.  The idea of leaving her standing alone in the cold night air, not entirely convinced she wouldn't follow him, wasn't a particularly appealing one.  Relieved, he caught sight of Vincent peeking from behind the basement door, trying to determine whether it was safe to reveal himself or not.  Andrew motioned for him.

"Psyche," Vincent called, holding his hand out towards her.

"Please, go to Vincent.  For me," Andrew requested. 

"I-if anyone says anything hurtful or disrespectful to you... think of us.  Think of our home," she pleaded.  "Think of Home."

"I won't be able to stop myself from it, that I promise you," the angel assured.

JenniAnn drew in a deep breath then moved to stand at Vincent's side, facing away from the door.  She flinched when she heard it open, bringing a rush of cold air into the room that quickly died down as the door closed.  She seemed unsteady so Vincent steered her towards a chair then jotted a note for Catherine before leading his godchild into the Tunnels.


Andrew walked quickly as he left the Phoenix and made his way to the alley where he'd spent the past three nights.  By the time he reached it, he'd regained his composure although he was still troubled.  His last glimpse of JenniAnn had revealed a very shaken, heartbroken person.  He knew it was only a matter of time before the rest of their friends had heard about their unplanned encounter and his current status.  Even if it weren't for the angel's unceasing regard for the truth, he still couldn't have asked her to keep quiet. 

Emotionally and physically exhausted, Andrew leaned against the wall of an old warehouse and slid to the ground.  He closed his eyes and prayed that his friends not become too distraught or, worse yet, decide to track him down.  Once finished, he opened the bag JenniAnn had packed.  In spite of his mood, he smiled as he withdrew one of the sandwiches.  Closing his eyes, he could imagine for a moment that he was at one of the many Dyeland picnics... albeit an unseasonably cold one.

The angel's eyes shot open when he heard hurried foot steps and someone panting. 

"Maggie?" he called, peering across the alleyway to a dumpster near which someone was crouched. 


The angel of death watched as the woman stepped into the moonlight.  With a nervous smile, she sat beside him.  He studied her troubled face.  He hadn't asked but guessed Maggie to be 22 or 23 at the most.  Despite the dust and tangles, her hair shone a brilliant red as it tumbled past her shoulder blades.  Andrew found it easy to imagine her sitting around the table at the Cafe, laughing at Adam's latest joke or joining in on Rose's fruitless attempt to uncover his age.

"What are you thinking, Andrew?"

Andrew shook himself out of his reverie.  "What?"

"For a moment there you seemed to go somewhere else.  You looked... wistful.  Where were you?"

"A world away.  In a cafe," he confessed, knowing Maggie would never guess how literal he was being.

"Sounds nice."

"What about you?  Did something happen?"

Maggie shrugged.  "Just some jerk... you know how it is.  In case recent events haven't made it abundantly obvious to you, they think they can do whatever they like with us.  We're dispensable."  She clucked her tongue and hung her head.

Andrew put an arm around her shoulders.  "Maggie, if you've been hurt or..."

"No.  I got away...  This time."

"You're not dispensable.  Whatever they might think.  You're one of God's children.  He loves you.  And I happen to think you're pretty special myself." 

Unused to receiving compliments, Maggie didn't reply.  She caught sight of the bag near Andrew and redirected the conversation.  "What's that?"

Andrew placed the bag between them.  "Take what you want.  You really should eat something."

Eagerly, Maggie dug into the bag and pulled out a sandwich and bottle of water.  "Thanks.  Where'd you get it?" 

"A nice lady gave it to me."

The woman raised an eye brow.  "Just gave it to you?"

Andrew nodded. 

"I'd be shocked but you... you I can imagine women just giving things to."  Maggie looked with fondness and ill-concealed appreciation at Andrew.  Though he'd looked ragged and careworn from the moment she'd met him the previous Wednesday, there was something about him that captivated and enchanted her. 

The angel blushed.  "I think she would have given it to anyone she saw who needed it.  Actually... she works at a new shelter for women and children.  The Phoenix Inn, I mentioned it before.  They have space and I was thinking..."

"I'm not going to a shelter, Andrew!" Maggie snapped.  She saw a hurt look cross Andrew's face and immediately regretted her anger.  "I'm sorry.  But I just... I just can't.  And I'm especially not going somewhere without you.  I know we just met four days ago but you're my only real friend out here... at least you're the only one I feel comfortable with.  There's just something about you."

Andrew smiled.  "You're my friend, too.  But I don't want concern for me keeping you from..."

"It's not that.  Please, can we talk about something else?  Like maybe... you." 

He chuckled as she looked up at him with intense, pleading curiosity.  "What would you like to know?"

"For starters... have you ever been married?"


"Ever wanted to be?"


Maggie's face fell. 

"It's not that I don't want close, loving relationships with people," Andrew began to explain.

"Oh God.  You're like some free love hippie, aren't you?"

"No!  No, no, no..."  Andrew's felt the color again rising in his cheeks but chuckled in spite of it.  "I just prefer to have friends."

"I get that.  Romance can be..."  Maggie's voice drifted off.  Once again she changed the subject.  "So how'd you end up out here?  Where did all your friends go?"

"Life sometimes takes turns we don't expect," was his simple reply.

"So it does."

"How about you?"

"What about me?"

"What ever you'd like to tell me.  I'm interested in you, too, you know."

Maggie sighed.  "I was married.  Technically still am, I guess."

Andrew tried to mask his surprise at this revelation.

"Craig and I married right out of high school.  My friends said it was a bad idea... turned out they were right.  He hit me one too many times and so one night when he was passed out on the couch... I left.  Eventually I ran out of money and, hence, you find me currently residing in beautiful downtown NYC."

"You couldn't have stayed with friends?"

"Lost them.  Craig didn't like me spending time with them and after I turned them down so many times I guess they just gave up on me.  Can't say I blame them."  Maggie yawned.  "Thanks for dinner.  It was great."

"You're welcome.  More?"

Maggie shook her head and helped Andrew stash what remained.  As she did, she yawned again.

"Why don't you get some sleep?  I'll keep watch."

"I've agreed to that for the past three nights but you never wake me up for my shift.  You need to sleep, too, Andrew."

"I'll manage.  If Ryan or Crystal show up I'm sure they'll take a shift."

"If Ry shows up, I'm going to give that man a talking to.  Running off after you saved him!  How is your hand?  I'm sorry I forgot to ask before."  Maggie reached for Andrew's right hand, her eye brows raising as she took in the professional-looking bandaging job.  "Did you go to a clinic or something?"

"No.  That lady I mentioned..."

The young woman opened her mouth to tease her new friend about his mystery woman.  However, before she said a word she noticed that Andrew's face had clouded over and he looked upset.

"I really think you should sleep.  I'll take first shift," she pressed.

Andrew smiled appreciatively at her.  "Thanks.  But, really, it's okay.  I don't think I can sleep right now so you might as well.  Maybe I'll feel more like it when the others show up."

Biting her lip, Maggie peered at him .  "Alright," she finally agreed.  "But if they don't, wake me up so you can rest."

"Will do.  Sleep well, Maggie."

"Thanks.  Andrew?"


"For your sake, I wish you weren't here but for mine... I'm glad you are."

Andrew smiled at her and squeezed her hand.  "Me too.  Good night."

"Good night."

Maggie pulled a worn sleeping bag from its hiding place then nestled against the wall of the building.

Andrew kept watch, praying that the night wouldn't bring another attack.


Rose, Yva, Lady Beth, Adam, Catherine, and Vincent all sat silently in JenniAnn's chamber as she finished recounting what had occurred at the Phoenix.  Fawn and Lulu were curled together on her bed, the latter occasionally drawing sympathetic looks from the humans and angel.

"I'm staying here.  Dividing my time between the Tunnels and the Phoenix.  I just... I guess I feel better being... being under the same sky at least.  Until this is over."  JenniAnn blushed, realizing how sappy that sounded.

"I'd like to stay here, too, if that's okay.  Maybe bring Aunt Josephine along?"  Rose looked to Vincent.

"Of course, Rose.  You are both more than welcome.  All of you are."

"Thank you, Vincent."  Lady Beth hugged him.  "I'd really love to be here, too."

"And if it would be easier for anyone, you can also stay at the Phoenix.  The rooms might not be completely furnished yet but I definitely have enough beds," Catherine offered.

"That might be the best idea, that way we could help you, too," JenniAnn added. 

Rose nodded, blushing.  "And some of Andrew's things are there... somehow that's comforting even if it is just a bunch of tools and stuff."

Torn, Yva shook her head.  "I wish I could but with Papa needing help and Sir Sven... I don't think I can." 

"Andrew wouldn't want us disrupting our lives.  We all know that," JenniAnn assured. 

"And it's not as if it takes much time at all to get here if something did come up.  We'd tell you, Yva.  And anyone else who stays in Dyeland."  Catherine smiled as Vincent patted his sister's hand.

"Adam, you're awfully quiet."  Lady Beth looked to him curiously.

The angel of death looked up from the candle he'd been staring at.  "I'll be here.  I'm actually on assignment.  I found out about it earlier today.  I'm a detective with the NYPD and I'll be working with the district attorney's office, hopefully helping to uncover who is behind these attacks."  He glanced up at Catherine.  "I'm meeting with Joe tomorrow.  I was going to tell everyone but hadn't had the chance yet.  And I didn't know Andrew was out there."

"Do you know how long your assignment is going to last?" Lady Beth asked, hoping his answer would reveal the length of Andrew's.

Adam shook his head, a sad smile on his face.  "No.  Believe me, I wish I did."

"Wh-what's the longest you've ever known an assignment like this to last?" Rose questioned.

Adam bowed his head, his gray locks falling over his face and hiding it.  "Not counting deep cover assignments?"

JenniAnn shivered at the idea and sensed she wasn't the only one horrified by the thought.  "Not counting them."

"A month or two."  He looked up and glanced around the room.  "But usually it's more like a week.  Maybe two.  If the Father intended on keeping Andrew out there until after Christmas, I think He would have given him some warning so Andrew could prepare all of you."

"I feel like God must think we're impossible to please," Yva muttered.

Catherine looked at her with alarm.  "What do you mean?"

"I suppose I mean that we want Andrew, Adam, Henry, and now Eli, and the others to be with people at their most harrowing moments.  We need to know that no one's alone when they die."  She looked to Adam.  "At the same time, it's desperately hard not to want to keep all of you near by.  Safe.  And then we become upset when that's impossible."

Adam stood up and gave Yva a hug.  "The Father understands more than you can know.  He feels that, too.  He doesn't want Andrew out there any more than any of us do.  But He also doesn't want His other children struggling alone there.  And you know something else?  If the Father had told Andrew that he could be where he is right now, helping people out or he could spend the week sitting outside a Parisian cafe, kicking back crepe after crepe... none of this would be any different.  Andrew would still be up there right now."

"Because he loves us," JenniAnn murmured.

Adam beamed at her.  "Exactly."  He glanced at his pocket watch.  "My shift starts soon.  I need to get going.  But I'll check in as soon as I can.  Take care of yourselves and, like Andrew said, try not to worry." 

After a round of hugs, the group watched Adam depart.  They remained silent for several moments, reviewing all that had been revealed.

Yva spoke first.  "I know I can't be here the whole time but I really would like to take some shifts at the shelter, Cathy.  I feel like helping others there might make this a little easier to bear."

"We'd love your help, Yva.  Right now we only have one guest but Andrew said we might be getting more.  He is a persuasive guy." 

JenniAnn stood up and began to pace the room.  She soon became aware of the six sets of eyes watching her and halted.  "I'm sorry but I just need to do something.  Keep myself busy.  So who all is staying?  I'll go make some of the beds up."

"I'll help," Rose offered.

"Did Adam mean he'd be staying here here or just New York here?" Lady Beth asked. 

"We'll make a chamber up for him.  Just in case.  How about you?"

Lady Beth nodded in response to JenniAnn.  "I think I'll divide my time so, sure, that would be great.  Right now I think I want to do some cooking.  Do you think William would mind some help?"

"Not at all.  I think he'd quite enjoy it," Vincent assured.  "Likely he's begun work on the bread for tomorrow."

"Do you think we could all meet tomorrow for dinner?  I just think it'd be nice," Rose suggested.  "Especially with it being Yva's birthday.  Andrew would still want us to celebrate, of course.  I mean unless you already had plans."

"Thanks, Rose.  That's sweet.  I'd love to do that.  I'll mention it to everyone else when I get back to Dyeland.  Where?  The Cafe?"

Vincent noticed Rose and JenniAnn tense at Yva's suggestion.

"No, not the Cafe," Yva corrected.  She recalled how noticeable absences were at the Cafe and she wasn't eager herself to sit there on her birthday with unbidden comparisons between the contented, comfortable Andrew she'd last seen there and the bleeding, weakened one JenniAnn had described floating through her mind.  "Here?"

"Yes.  I think that would be best," Vincent agreed.  "It would be an honor to celebrate your birthday here, Yva."

"You eat around 6:30, right?" Lady Beth checked.

"We do," the man responded.  "I'll tell William to expect a larger crowd.  Though it is not particularly festive, it would be a fine time to reiterate safety precautions, as well.  I'll speak to Father of it immediately.  Be well, dear friends."  He and Catherine embraced each of the women before departing.

The four women said their good byes then Rose and JenniAnn went off to prepare chambers, Lady Beth to aid William, and Yva to return to Dyeland.  Whether they stay or remained, each was thinking about their friend Above and wondering how he was spending the night.


November 22nd


Maggie woke up to Andrew gently shaking her.

"The sun's coming up, we better get moving."

"Ryan and Crystal?" the woman sleepily asked.

"They never showed up."

"Then you never slept!  Andrew!  You said you'd wake me up!"

The angel shrugged.  "I planned to.  But I just never felt like I could have gone to sleep."

Maggie stood, rolled the sleeping bag up, stashed it, and then directed her full attention to Andrew.  "What's wrong?" she asked, setting a hand on his shoulder.

"I'm fine.  It's just... today's a friend's birthday and I'm sorry I won't be there to celebrate with her."

"The lady that gave you that?"  Maggie waved to the bag Andrew was holding.

"No, another friend."

"I bet they miss you.  Andrew, why don't you go back home... wherever that is?"

Andrew considered how he could answer Maggie without lying or betraying too much of who he was.  He was still fumbling for an answer when Maggie gasped and clenched his arm.  He looked to where she was pointing then ran towards the approaching figure, catching them just before they fell to the ground. 

Maggie knelt beside them as Andrew sat on the ground, holding the injured person.  "Oh... oh..."  She tried to brush some blood-matted hair away from the man's face but he flinched and pulled away.  "A-andrew...  I- I think it's Ryan.  Oh God, what did they do?  Ryan?"

The figure stopped moving.

Andrew gently set his hand on the man's neck.  As he did, he felt a beaded necklace like one he knew Ryan to wear.  "I think it is Ryan and his pulse is slowing.  We need to get him help.  Follow me."  Lifting the injured man, Andrew ran as fast as he could with Maggie trailing him.  They both kept an eye out for police officers or emergency personnel but, seeing none in the still dim light, Andrew kept on his path.  Soon he was at the back door of the Phoenix. 

The angel turned to Maggie.  "Knock.  I know the people in there." 

Maggie pounded on the door, trying to catch her breath.  She noticed how ashen Andrew looked and prayed someone would open the door soon so he could set Ryan down.  A split second later the door flew open and Catherine ushered them inside.

"Call 911, Psyche!" she shouted, waving to the nearest couch from which Rose had leapt up.  "Here, set him down here." 

Once Andrew had set Ryan down, he thudded to the floor beside the couch.

"Andrew!" Rose cried, kneeling beside him and steadying him.

Maggie watched, trying to make sense of everything that was unfolding before her. 

"Yes, right.  The new homeless shelter.  Across from Adrian's Coffeehouse.  Please, please hurry!" JenniAnn pleaded into the phone.  "I... I don't know.  Is he breathing?"

Catherine was hovering over Ryan.  "Barely.  Tell them I'm afraid to start CPR.  I think his ribs are damaged." 

JenniAnn relayed the information into the phone.  She sighed with relief at the sound of sirens.

Only moments later, the room was swamped with EMTs.  They loaded Ryan into the ambulance, taking Maggie along with them to supply what little information she could about him.

"Wh-what happened?" Cira asked, still dazed with sleepiness as she came down the stairs.  She noticed Andrew crouched on the floor then.  "You."

"Hi," Andrew greeted, unsure what else to say.

"Cira, there was another attack last night.  A very, very serious one.  Andrew here was good enough to bring the young man here so we could get help to him.  Just like you did for Andrew," Catherine explained. 

"Will he... the man... make it?" Cira questioned.  "And what is his name?  Do you know?"  She looked to Andrew.

"His name is Ryan and we don't know.  His injuries were very severe.  They must... they must have beaten him repeatedly... so forcefully..."  Andrew blinked then hung his head.

Catherine took Cira by the hand.  "Let's give Andrew some time.  Come on, I'll fix you breakfast."

Blinking back tears, Cira nodded.  She set her free hand on Andrew's head before following Catherine.  "I'll pray for your friend, mister."

"Thank you, Cira.  And thank you for bringing me here yesterday.  I'm sorry I frightened you."

"Don't be."  Cira mustered a bright smile before exiting the room with Catherine.

Realizing she was still clutching the phone, JenniAnn finally set it down then plopped beside Andrew and Rose. 

"Andrew, what can we do... for you?" Rose asked. 

"I need to get back out there.  Ryan was with someone when I last saw him.  A woman.  Crystal.  I need to find out where she is... if they... if they..."  He lowered his head and began rubbing his temples. 

Rose and JenniAnn exchanged a quick look of concern.

"Andrew, did you know Adam was on this case?" JenniAnn asked.

Andrew looked up in alarm.  "He's out there, too?" 

"No.  I mean not exactly.  He's working with the D.A.'s office.  With Joe.  Why don't you let us call him?  We'll tell him about Crystal.  He can tell whomever he needs to and they can look for her... while you rest."  Rose peered hopefully at him, desperate for the angel to accept her suggestion.

"Yeah.  Call Adam.  That's great.  Maybe he can get someone at the hospital.  Ryan could tell them where she... if Ryan wakes up.  He looked really bad, didn't he?  How could anyone..."  He swayed forward and rested his head on his knees.

"I don't know, Andrew.  I can't imagine having that much hate in my heart... that cruelty...  And I wish... I wish you didn't have to see it," Rose murmured, gently patting his back. 

Andrew sat up again.  "I need to go out there.  If she sees the police she'll just run.  She trusts me.  I should go."

The two women watched nervously as Andrew got to his feet and approached the door.

"Don't worry, I'll be fine.  I'll come back if..."

"Andrew!" his friends shouted in unison as he began to teeter and they jumped to their feet.  Rose led him to a chair while JenniAnn quickly turned each of the four locks on the door and stood defiantly in front of it.

"What are you doing?" Andrew looked at her with raised eyebrows after shooting Rose an appreciative smile.

"I, uh, I think I'm kidnapping you."

Andrew chuckled, distracted from his malaise.  "Kidnapping me, Laja?"

"Or false imprisonment.  I don't really know.  I don't really care.  I'll ask Catherine later.  But here's the deal: you are going to stay here, you are going to rest, I am going to call Adam, Adam will see to it that the authorities keep an eye out for Crystal and wait with Ryan, and *then* after you've rested and ate... I'll let you go."  JenniAnn blushed then as her gumption began to waver.  "Is that... is that okay?"

"I say it is.  And I'm aiding and abetting," Rose added.

The angel reached for their hands.  "Laja, Rose, while I'm touched that you're willing to commit a felony for me..."  He shook his head and grinned for a fleeting moment.  "I really do need to go.  Part of this assignment is to live the life of a homeless man, to build their trust in me so I can help them.  And most homeless people don't have..."  He squeezed their hands.  "This.""

"Andrew, do you honestly think if any other homeless man would have run in here... carrying a wounded man all the way here despite his own pain and exhaustion that I would have just kicked him to the curb?  Do you think Rose would?  Catherine?" JenniAnn demanded, tears filling her eyes.  "If you want me to treat you like any other homeless man then I am!  Sure, maybe I wouldn't be this emotional about any other homeless man.  Maybe my mind wouldn't be filling with nearly ten years worth of memories right now as I pleaded with him to stay just for an hour or two... but I wouldn't let him just go!  You know me better than that!"

"Oh..." Rose murmured.  "Andrew, it's okay.  We're not angry with you!" she insisted, noticing that tears had begun to streak down Andrew's face as JenniAnn spoke.

"I'm sorry!  I'm sorry!  I didn't mean to upset you!  Oh, Andrew, don't cry!"  JenniAnn knelt beside his chair.  "I shouldn't have went off, I..."

Shaking his head, Andrew drew in a deep breath to calm himself.  "It's not what you said... well, it is.  But not how you're thinking.  These past four days I've met people who led amazing lives.  Former teachers, clergy, counselors, mothers, fathers... people who made tremendous differences, bettering the lives of others.  A-and one guy, a Gulf War vet... he had burn marks on his arms.  Someone found him sleeping on a park bench and that... that's how they expressed their disgust.  He fought for their country, watched his buddies get slaughtered, and that... *that* is his reward???"

"Andrew..."  Rose hugged him.  It was not lost on either her or JenniAnn that Andrew himself had spent time in Saudi Arabia during the war.

He paused for just a moment then continued.  "And the things some people say and do...  They don't show any regard for these people I've been living among.  They don't see us as having a history, meaningful lives.  Laja, when you started defending yourself... rightly... that was the only time during this assignment, other than last night when I was here, that anyone other than Maggie has spoken to me with any concept of my having ever belonged anywhere... of my having people who cared about me, 'ten years of memories,' an impact."

"Andrew, you will always have us caring about you.  And we're always going to be impressed by your amazing history and downright sappy about the impact you've had not just on us but so many people through countless years!" Rose assured. 

JenniAnn nodded.  "And you do belong, Andrew.  With us.  But if right now you feel you need to go... then go." 

Moved, Andrew drank in the love shining in his friends' eyes.  He noticed anxiety in them, too.  He had no doubt that they would let him leave the house as JenniAnn had promised but he also considered the advice he'd been giving his assignments: there is strength in asking for and accepting help.  He shook his head.  "I think I would like to stay.  I can't for long but it would be good to rest." 

The relief JenniAnn and Rose felt was instantly writ across their faces. 

Andrew carefully stood up, glad that he felt steady on his feet once more. 

"So what do you want to do fir..."  JenniAnn's question was cut off by a strange sound from one of the bedrooms up the stairs.  "What is... uh oh!"  She trotted up the stairs and opened the first door she came to.  "I'm sorry!  I didn't realize that had got clo...  Sheesh!"  She flew back as two bundles of fur pushed past her legs. 

Andrew squatted on the ground, waiting.  A second later he had both Fawn and Lulu vying for space on his lap.  Eventually, in their puppy-level excitement, they pushed their friend to the ground and covered him with kisses and brushes from cold noses.

Blinking back tears, JenniAnn and Rose allowed them this for a few moments before the former called her own dog back to her.  Lulu remained nestled against Andrew's chest.
"There's my girl," Andrew cooed.  "I missed you so, so much."  He buried his face in the scruff of her neck.

The two women and Fawn exited the room to give Lulu some alone time with her boy.


Andrew snuggled into the sheets, resisting the notion of getting up.  Finally, he opened one eye and noticed the beige flannel sheets.  He was surprised to find they weren't his own green and blue ones.   After another moment, everything came flooding back.  He wasn't in Dyeland, only resting temporarily at the Phoenix.  Soon he would leave, facing another tearful good bye, and then what?  Was Ryan still alive?  Crystal?  Would Maggie stay there, stay safe?

Lulu was still asleep and Andrew rested his forehead against her soft fur as he prayed.  "Father... please give me strength.  And please give my friends strength, too.  I see what this is doing to them.  Sometimes I find myself wishing..."  His voice cracked and he shook his head.  "I'm sorry.  Please give me the words to help Maggie.  Help me to find Crystal... keep her safe.  And for Ryan... help him to know You're with him."  His forehead creased as he struggled for the next words.  "And whomever is behind these attacks... help... help them.  Help them to find Your love and the compassion it bestows.  Please, Father.  Amen."

Andrew pulled Lulu into a hug and in doing so felt something else.  Another lump of fur that didn't feel at all like Fawn...  He sat up and reached for the strange object only to discover it wasn't strange at all.  It was the teddy bear Yva had made him several years back!  He pondered how it could have got there as he stood up, stretching and testing his legs.

He remembered JenniAnn running Below to fetch him pajamas and clothes while Rose fixed him something to eat.  In the meantime, Catherine had left to take Cira to the doctor.  After that he'd taken a shower and shaved.  Those tasks had been interrupted numerous times by Owen, the "official shower time emergency buddy" JenniAnn had brought with her, knocking to ensure he was okay.  Amused, Andrew recalled all the different ways in which the Tunnel dweller had asked after him: "Andrew, please say something.  Psyche requires assurance that you haven't split your skull open on the tile," "If you'd prefer your friends not have coronaries, say something!," and "If you're still breathing give a shout, else I'll burst in there of that have no doubt."

Between the warm surroundings, lighthearted way in which Owen spoke, and the cozily familiar sounds of feminine giggles the remarks elicited, Andrew had felt something like his old self.   Or at least a version of his old self who put on pajamas at 10:00 in the morning as he had before leaving the bathroom.  At that point he'd entered the bedroom he now lay in.  JenniAnn and Rose had resurfaced briefly to hug him and make sure he was comfortable.  The former had rebandaged his hand.  Then he'd drifted to sleep.  At no point did he remember anyone leaving the teddy bear.

Andrew turned when he heard the bedroom door creeping open.  He smiled when he saw Yva peer inside.

"You're up.  How did you sleep, Andrew?"

The angel sighed with contentment.  "Very, very well.  Thank you.  And happy birthday!"  He frowned.  "You didn't leave a celebration to be here, did you?"

Yva took a seat in the chair pulled up to the bed, shaking her head as she did. 

Andrew realized he didn't remember it being positioned so when he'd gone to sleep. 

"No.  We're having a dinner tonight.  JenniAnn and Rose knew that one of the best birthday presents I could get today would be the chance to see you, Andrewkins."  She smiled at him but it couldn't mask her concern.  "You look..."  She paused, not knowing what she could possibly say.  Gaunt?  Worn out?  Alarmingly fragile?  They were all true but not one seemed prone to cause him anything but sadness.  "You look like you need a hug," Yva finally finished.  "And I'd really like one for my birthday."

As soon as she was standing, Andrew embraced his friend.  "I'm really glad you're here.  I'm sorry I won't be there tonight but I really did want to wish you happy birthday in person, Yva."

Pulling back, she peered into his face.  "Thank you.  Andrew, I wish there was something I could do for you.  Is there anything?"

Andrew glanced back the bed.  He stroked Lulu's head then reached for the bear.  "Did you bring this?"

The bear's creator nodded.  "When Rose came to get me we ran by your place first because I wanted you to have it now, even if just for a little bit."

Brushing at a tear, the angel hugged Yva again.  "Thank you.  That means a lot.  I love this little guy because I can see all the love that went into him.  But... how did you get him in here?  I don't remember seeing him when I went to sleep."

Yva bowed her head.  "I just had to see you as soon as I got here.  JenniAnn was weepy and Rose only slightly less so.  Even Owen looked grave and I was concerned.  So we took turns sitting here and praying for you.  When it was my turn, I brought the bear in.  I guess we thought that if angels can sit at humans' bedsides when they're going through things... why wouldn't the reverse be alright?"

Moved to tears once more, Andrew traced the bear's face.  "Thank you.  It's more than alright," he assured.  He promised himself later he would tell them each how much those bedside prayers meant to him.  However, at that moment, Andrew couldn't express what their devotion and recognition of him meant without breaking down.  And that was something they most certainly didn't need to see only a short while before he departed again.


As Andrew and Yva visited; JenniAnn, Rose, and Owen sat in the living room waiting for Adam.  JenniAnn was mending some clothes for Andrew while Rose handed her odd bits of fabric.

"And the purple ribbon?  What is it from?" Owen asked.  All his earlier bravado had fallen away as he'd sat down to this new task with the girls.

"It's from one of my dresses," JenniAnn explained.  She looked down at the bit of ribbon she was sewing into the inside of a coat pocket, for a moment drifting away to the night she had last worn the dress.  Missouri, the dance club, "The Scientist."

Rose pointed to a bit of red sewn over the torn knee of a pair of jeans.  "That was from one of my Halloween costumes.  My first Halloween party in Dyeland.  This from the blanket JenniAnn had Lulu wrapped in when she gave her to Andrew."

Owen smiled at them both.  "You're doing a really great job."

"Thanks.  And thank you for the idea."  JenniAnn set down the needle long enough to squeeze her friend's hand.

"You're welcome.  I can remember what it was like.  You begin to feel like no one realizes you exist... or that you have feelings, that you love and want to be loved."

Rose nodded.  "Andrew said something a lot like that."

Owen shook his head, his own memories of life on the streets surfacing with a clarity that had waned over the years.  "If people only knew...  He's buried their dead, encouraged their dying, lifted them up, loved them... and now... now they probably..."  He drifted off, noting that the women were looking at him in alarm.  "He'll be fine.  He'll stick his hand in his pocket and remember the crazy, little would-be felon that just can't seem to get enough of him."

JenniAnn's face flushed hot pink but she smiled.

"And when he notices that the cold air isn't coming through that worn out hole in his jeans' left knee, he'll think of the baby of the family: Rose.  Who may at that moment be sitting with her history books, trying to figure out exactly when he was born.  What you're doing won't make him less hungry, less tired, or less distraught over man's inhumanity to man."  Owen blinked back a tear.  "But you'll be giving him something more important: the memory of man's and woman's capacity to love without limits."

"Amen," a voice finished.

"Adam!" Rose cried, springing up to hug him.

"Otherwise known as Detective Addams.  Adam Addams.  What can I say?  I wasn't feeling particularly creative."  He grinned. 

JenniAnn giggled.  "At least your given name isn't Gomez.  Or Fester."

"The Father forbid!"  Adam approached her, gazing intently at the lump of clothes in her lap and the basket Rose had set down upon greeting him.  He reached for a piece of nylon.  "This is from one of our football jerseys."

"One that tore and had to be replaced.  Owen suggested we sew in lil bits of memories.  So when Andrew leaves... we can't go with him but he'll have all these little reminders of us and how much we love him," she explained.

The angel of death squeezed her shoulder.  "That's a wonderful idea."  He blinked then looked to the ceiling.  Smiling, he reached into his pocket.  "Do you think you could sew this somewhere?"  He handed JenniAnn a small patch of material identical to what had been used to create their AOD Band jackets.

Accepting it with reverence, JenniAnn nodded.  "Of course.  So have you heard... how is the man Andrew brought in?  Ryan?"

There was a creak on the staircase and the group turned to see Andrew and Yva coming towards them with Lulu at their feet.  Owen ushered them towards the couch.  Once they'd sat down, Fawn and Lulu commenced their struggle for room on the angel's lap.  Laughing, Andrew eventually got them both situated and scratched their ears.  Then he looked at his longtime friend.  "Hey, Adam.  How are you?"

Adam smiled though he wasn't sure it was entirely believable.  Despite being warned by Rose over the phone, he wasn't fully prepared for Andrew's transformation.  He shuddered to think what the bags under his eyes must have looked like before his nap.  "I'm doing well, buddy.  But how are you?"

Andrew shrugged.  "Right now I'm really great.  For a kidnapping victim."  He beamed at JenniAnn and Rose.

"What?" Yva gasped.

JenniAnn and Rose laughed but kept mum.

Andrew chuckled.  "I was just joking.  Earlier JenniAnn informed me that I was being either kidnapped or falsely imprisoned."

"As a representative... temporarily... of the NYPD and ally of the D.A.'s office... I'm going to choose to ignore that."  Adam winked at JenniAnn and Rose before redirecting his attention to Andrew.  "Now... how are you really?"

The younger angel of death sucked in a deep breath before letting it out slowly.  "Right now I'm nervous and concerned.  I heard what JenniAnn asked.  Could you... could you answer?"

Yva put her arm around Andrew's shoulder as they waited for Adam to speak.

"Ryan is in a coma.  He hasn't regained consciousness so we don't have any information about the girl you and Maggie mentioned: Crystal.  I'm sorry."  Adam looked sympathetically at his friend who only nodded.  "But, Andrew, please know that Joe and the police are doing everything they can.  There's increased police presence at night, they're offering rewards for tips, the shelters have been handing out information and been trying to get more people inside.  You have no idea who is behind this?  Have you personally seen any of the attacks in progress?"

Andrew shook his head.  "I've only seen the after effects.  Those practices the authorities have put in motion are all really great.  But these people... they're like shadows.  And anyone who sees them is either left dead or too wounded or distraught to say anything!" Andrew cried.  He held his head in his hands for a moment.  When he looked up, the others were all looking at him with deep concern but equally deep uncertainty.  There wasn't a thing any of them could say to bring him comfort on those points and they knew it.  "Where's Maggie?" he asked, hoping to dispel the feelings of helplessness he could see so clearly.

"She's still at the hospital.  It turns out that Cira's clinic is at St. Vincent's where they brought Ryan.  Catherine will be bringing both girls back with her.  She's hoping that she'll make a good impression on Maggie so she'll stay here," Adam explained.

Andrew sighed.  "I hope she can.  I've tried to convince Maggie but she refuses to go to a shelter.  Maybe Catherine will get through to her."

"I'll pray she does."  JenniAnn, who had continued stitching the whole time, smiled at Andrew and handed him the bundle of clothes.  "I threw the other things in the wash.  I can keep them here if you'd like.  Maybe Maggie will be here and you could come visit and change before... before going back out there."

Andrew smiled gratefully at her as he accepted the items.  "Thank you.  But you know Maggie wouldn't be the only one I'd be visiting."

JenniAnn nodded silently as he hugged her.

"I'm going to go change and once Maggie returns, I'll need to leave."

The group nodded gravely and watched him go back up the stairs with Lulu trailing him.

"Adam..." Yva murmured.

He took the seat Andrew had previously occupied and held her hand.  "I know this is very, very difficult.  But, remember, the Father is always with him even when we can't be.  And remember last Christmas?  I think that proved that, somehow, we're always with each other, too."  He bestowed encouraging smiles on the four and even Fawn.

"Maybe if Maggie stays, he'll check in once a day or something.  We can make sure he's eating and sleeping," Rose hypothesized.

"There you go.  See, there's a good chance that things will get better now," Adam encouraged. 

The group again turned to the staircase when they heard the first bedroom door creak open.  Andrew was running his fingers over the patch, supplied by Adam, sewn onto his left sleeve.  "The things you all think of..." he smiled at them.  "Thank you."

"You deserve it all, buddy," Adam responded. 

Before anything more could be said, the group heard the garage door open.  They waited expectantly, wondering if Maggie had made a decision and if there was any more news regarding Ryan. 

"Maggie's smiling," Yva announced, looking out the window.

"Then Ryan's condition either didn't change or has gotten better.  And maybe... maybe she's staying here."  Hopeful, Andrew went to open the door and let the women in.  Maggie immediately hugged him.

"Ryan's in really bad shape but he's still alive, Andrew.  He might pull through!  Thanks to you!" she exclaimed.

Andrew smiled.  "I'm glad to hear it."

Maggie became shy as she faced the others in the room.  "Hi," she squeaked out. 

Noticing her unease, Cira stood beside her.  "Maggie, that's JenniAnn, Catherine's cousin, and her friends: Owen and Yva and Rose," she introduced.  "While we were waiting, Maggie and I realized we'd met before.   We'd both spent some time at the old shelter on 29th before it closed down.  Right?"

Andrew noticed Maggie flinch slightly so he rested his hand on her shoulder.  Calming, the young woman smiled.  "Yes.  It was good to have a familiar face with me while I waited to hear about Ryan.  Thanks, Cira.  And Catherine."  She smiled shyly at the shelter owner then her gaze traveled to Adam and she looked questioningly at him.  "Why are you here?  I talked to you at the hospital."

"And you were very helpful, Maggie, but I wanted to ask Andrew a few questions, too.  Now I need to get back to the station and compare notes.  Thank you for your time, Andrew, Maggie, ladies, and gentleman."  Adam nodded cordially at all of them, not yet wanting Maggie to know how closely tied he was to everyone lest she begin asking questions and leave the ladies scrambling for acceptable answers.  "I'll pray for your friend," he added, looking from her to Andrew.

"Thank you, sir," Maggie responded, shaking Adam's proffered hand. 

"Give me a call if anything else comes up," he told the room, meaningfully.

"Maggie, have you decided what you'd like to do?" Catherine asked after showing Adam out.  She bestowed a friendly smile on the young woman. 

"We'd love to have you," JenniAnn added.

"I do feel safe here.  It's really a sweet place and you all seem so kind b-but what about Andrew?  He said this was only for women and children and I... I can't..."  Tears filled Maggie's eyes.

"I don't mind him staying and since Maggie and I would be the only guests..." Cira trailed off, looking hopefully at Catherine.

"Andrew?" she checked.

The angel bowed his head.  He could feel his friends staring at him, praying he'd agree.  "Thank you, Catherine.  But I can't.  I need to try to find Crystal.  But don't think the offer doesn't mean a lot to me."  He smiled gratefully at her, trying not to look too closely at the others.  He was afraid he'd lose his determination if he took in too much of their disappointment.  But he couldn't have Maggie keeping tabs on him, potentially noticing if he mysteriously disappeared at odd hours.  Nor did he want JenniAnn or Rose to grow anxious waiting up for him.

"Then I'll go with you!  Crystal's my friend, too!" Maggie cried.

Andrew took her hands in his.  "Then pray I find her and think how happy she'll be when I bring her here and she has a friend waiting."

"But how will you sleep?  Andrew, if you fall asleep and one of *them* finds you..."  Maggie clung to him. 

Owen could feel JenniAnn tense up beside him and Yva's and Rose's concern was equally apparent across the room.  He stood up and approached Maggie, smiling warmly at her.  "Hi, my name is Owen.  I used to be homeless, here in the city.  There's a really great men's shelter not too far from here.  I used to stay there sometimes.  What if I show Andrew where it is and he promises to stay there every night and get some sleep?  Andrew, would you agree to that?"

The angel nodded.  "Yeah.  I would, thank you."

Maggie peered up at her friend.  "Every night?"

"Every night.  Maggie, I would feel so much better knowing you were here.  I've known Catherine and her helpers for quite a while and I know they'll take good care of you."

"I-I'm afraid I won't see you again," she whispered.

"You'll see me again.  Maggie, I promise you that."  Andrew hugged her then looked down at her.  "What do you think?"

Having teared up a bit, JenniAnn cleared her throat.  "Maggie, I know you're concerned about Andrew.  So am I.  He means something to every one of us in this room.  I know it's very, very hard to let him go but I promise you... he will come back.  And in the meantime... if you'd like to join me and maybe some others in a cathartic worryfest... that can be arranged."

In spite of her concern, Maggie couldn't help but laugh.  She couldn't quite make sense of what the situation was with Andrew and the group but she felt that if Andrew trusted them, so could she.  "Thank you, JenniAnn.  I..." she cast another look at Andrew who nodded, "I'd like to stay."

Andrew sighed and bowed his head, offering a silent prayer of thanks.

"Wonderful!  Now how about we all have some lunch?  Get to know one another a little better?  Andrew, will you stay for that?" Catherine requested.

"I'd love to.  Thank you, Catherine.  Thank you, everyone." 

Soon the Phoenix was abuzz with meal preparation and chatter as Maggie was brought into the fold and Andrew braced himself for stepping away from it yet again.


After lunch, each of the Dyelanders were able to manage some alone time with Andrew to give him a proper "see you later."  Once he had left, as JenniAnn had promised, they'd engaged in a fair amount of cathartic voicing of worries while Owen supplied some semblance of a reality check.  Yva left not long afterwards to prepare for her birthday dinner.  While Catherine felt she needed to stay with Maggie as she acclimated to her new home, she encouraged Rose and JenniAnn to go.

Before dinner started Below, Vincent made a quick and child-friendly update on the safety precautions he, Detective Bratton, Father, and the Council had devised.  Though Vincent had tried his best to calm people, the agitated mood was obvious.  Thankfully, everyone began to settle down as the meal was served and Yva's favorite songs were played.  As the Dyelanders shared dinner with the Tunnel-dwellers, many of the latter stopped by to wish Yva a happy birthday.  After enjoying cake together, some left to settle back into tasks or get children to bed.  It was then Yva's gifts were produced and opened with much appreciation and amusement.

Having already amassed several treasures, Yva looked curiously at JenniAnn as she sat a final gift in front of her.

"But you already gave me that great set of picture frames!  I especially loved the chocolate themed one."

"Very creative, JenniAnn," Willy agreed.

JenniAnn smiled at the chocolatier.  "Thanks.  I'll have to make you one sometime."

"I'm sure Papa would love that but as for me, those frames were definitely enough!" the birthday girl protested, looking back at the new box.

Nigel peered at the box.  He recalled seeing it some days ago when he'd paid Andrew a visit.  "Love, I don't believe the gift is another from JenniAnn."

JenniAnn continued to smile though it quivered for a moment.  "Nigel's right.  This one isn't from me.  Andrew asked me to take it... in case he wasn't back by this time."

"Andrew," Yva murmured.  She reverently set her hand on the package. 

Sir Sven took his wife's hand as they both stared at the gift for a moment before she moved to unwrap it.  She silently read the card, not sure she could manage a public recitation at the moment.

"Hey there, Yva!  Happy birthday!  I really wish I could be there to celebrate with you but you know I am in spirit.  Friends can never be too far away, can they?  We've come through a lot together and I'm so grateful you've stuck by me... even when I've been grouchy or anti-social." 

Yva laughed as she looked at the drawn face with arched eye brows and a grimace.  "Such a goof ball," she muttered with a laugh before continuing to read.

"But you know how to make me smile.  Thank you for being my friend."  He'd drawn a second, brighter face beside it.  "I hope you enjoy this.  Love, Andrew...kins."

Inhaling slowly and deeply, Yva calmed herself and opened the box.  Inside was an antique desk top writer's chest.  Opening each drawer, Yva noted that Andrew had stocked it well.  There were small tablets for jotting notes, a variety of pens and pencils, paper clips, stickers, and even some decorative rubber stamps.  She was intensely grateful that she'd been able to see and hug Andrew earlier but wished she could express her gratitude for the thoughtful gift.

"Are you alright?" Sir Sven asked after a few moments went by in silence.

Yva nodded.  "I really am, thank you.  I was only wishing I could thank Andrew right now but I know what I can do.  Right now I'm going to send him some good thoughts and prayers."

"I think that's a wonderful idea, Yva," Father agreed. 

The party readily agreed to Yva's plan.  Some joining hands, some looking above, and others bowing their heads; they thought of and prayed for their friend.


Immediately after leaving Yva's party, Adam went Above and made his way to Joe Maxwell's home.  It was long past the usual work day but the district attorney was determined to spend every waking moment he could pouring over the case files, investigating the scenes, and interviewing witnesses.  Such tasks were usually left to underlings or police officers but Joe insisted on being involved in every aspect of the case.  In Adam and Detective Bratton he found dedicated allies. 

Though Angie admired her husband's dedication and service to his city, she had become distressed by the prospect of spending a fourth night alone in their home.  It was at her suggestion that Joe and the two police officers met there.  As they sipped from mugs of coffee, the three men pored over photographs and files.

Joe was staring at a particularly brutal image when he pounded his fist on the table.  "What kind of sick bas..."  He bit his lip when he caught Angie's warning look as she passed through the hallway with a load of laundry.  Whatever he might say in the office, cussing was strictly forbidden in their home.  "Sorry," he called.  He paused until he was convinced she was out of ear shot.  "Forensics thinks they beat this guy with a board covered in nails.  What possesses a human being to do that to another human being?"  He set another photo on the table.  "Set on fire and left with second degree burns covering 40% of his body."  Another.  "Beaten repeatedly with a baseball bat, left with two broken legs."  A fourth.  "And this morning's...  Pelted by rocks... one of them large enough to cause traumatic brain injury leaving the victim in a coma."  Joe sighed and rested his head in his hands.  "Maybe Cathy has the right idea... maybe I need to get myself a different line of work.  Heck, maybe I'll retire."

Adam reached across the table and set a hand on the man's shoulder.  "I visited Catherine's shelter today, Joe.  She's still a part of this.  It doesn't seem like she could step away completely and I doubt you could, either."

"Chandler's actively helping people.  What am I doing?  It's been over a week and we haven't found a single God d..."  Joe looked over his shoulder.  He couldn't see his wife but was stopped by the promise he'd made.  "We haven't found a single piece of evidence.  Not a thing.  The little bit of DNA evidence we have hasn't been matched to anyone in the system."

"That's why we've got to keep looking, Joe," Matthew encouraged.  "We'll find something.  These kids are going to screw up at some point."

"You're assuming the pathologist is on track with the young punks theory.  What if this is a serial killer?" 

The officer frowned, deflated, but rallied.  "They screw up, too.  And, as much as I hate to be counting on their continued abuse, our best bet may be waiting for their next attack.  With the increased patrols maybe we'll catch someone in action."

"The important thing is not getting discouraged.  There are innocent people still out there and they need you, Joe.  You think it means nothing that the district attorney himself is personally investigating this?"  Adam pointed to the evening's paper, detailing Joe's efforts under the headline "D.A. Takes Personal Interest in Homeless' Plight, Vows to Catch Killers."  "Because it does, Joe.  Trust me."

Joe smiled.  "Thanks, Adam.  I need all the encouragement I can get.  So did either of you mention the possibility of undercover officers to your chief?  Maybe I should call him myself.  I hate to put any of you in the line of danger like that but...  Sometimes getting some of our own in there is the only way."

Adam was staring into the depths of his coffee cup.  "Yes, it is," he agreed, wondering what Andrew was doing at that moment.


With desperate hope, Andrew returned to the alleyway that had been "home" to Maggie, Crystal, Ryan, and himself.  He poked around, looking for any place Crystal might hide.  He checked on the sleeping bag, personal mementos, and the stash of granola bars Maggie had hidden the previous night.  All were untouched.  If Crystal had come looking for them, she'd left no sign.

Sitting where he'd spent the previous night, Andrew thought back on the last few days he had spent with the trio and what he'd learned of them.  Ryan had lived the longest on the streets.  Though he seldom spoke at length, Maggie had divulged that he was around thirty and had been homeless since losing his job in 2001.  He hadn't been on the streets long when he'd developed a drug habit.  It had been a dealer that Andrew had rescued him from the night before.  Despite his problems, it was Ryan who had helped Crystal and later Maggie survive on the streets.

Crystal was in her early twenties and devoted to Ryan.  Having battled mental illness for much of her life, the young woman had suffered a major blow at thirteen when she and her parents were in a car accident.  Andrew had worked the case and remembered it.  Crystal was knocked unconscious but the two adults had died on impact.  He'd taken them Home, praying that someone would find the girl before he had to return for her.  He'd been relieved when someone did happen by and called for help, saving Crystal.  Soon after she'd been put into foster care and moved from home to home, some good and some deplorable.  At seventeen she'd run away.  Andrew feared for her.  She was already so vulnerable and without Ryan... 

"Father, please, help me find her," the angel begged.  "I don't know why else you've brought me here.  Why I'm still here.  Ryan... Ryan is beyond what I can do as a caseworker now.  And Maggie is safe.  I thank you for that.  But Crystal still needs me.  I know it.  She needs an angel, Father.  And I want to be that angel.  So if you can use me to help her... here I am.  Your will be done.  Amen." 

Andrew waited. 

No answer came.

Mindful of his promise to Maggie, and knowing that his other friends were counting on his keeping it, Andrew headed to the shelter Owen had told him about.  He was still several blocks away when he heard a sound behind him.  Metal on brick.  He ducked beside a pile of crates and peered over them.  Two men were approaching, one brandishing what looked to be a bat.  Occasionally he tapped it against the wall of a building.  Andrew's heart began to race.  He was reasonably sure no one else was in the alley but he worried about anyone who might be farther than he'd gotten.  He considered running ahead to warn whomever might be there.  But that would no doubt draw attention to himself and he didn't know what might happen then.  The knife fight had taught him one thing: his human form offered no protections beyond what any human's did.  As the two figures drew closer, the angel decided it was worth the risk.  He darted out and began running down the alley, frantically looking for any lurking people who would be unaware of the danger so close behind him.  He could hear the two men running after him.  The cold air burned his lungs and his legs threatened to give out on him but he ran on.

Suddenly, Andrew was engulfed in a bright light.  He looked to his hands.  He was still dressed in the clothes JenniAnn had given him.  Dirt was still visible in the lines of his palm.  The bandage was still in place.  He wasn't in angelic form.

The light moved.  Andrew turned and sighed with relief.  The man on the right wasn't holding a bat at all but rather a metal flashlight and he was wearing a uniform.  The man beside him was in the shadows but seemed to be working with the officer.

"Could you please stop right there, sir?  We're sorry we caused you alarm but we didn't see you.  We won't hurt you," the police officer called.  "My name is Officer Tyron Billings.  I'd like to escort you to a shelter.  This is no place to be, especially alone.  Will you let me do that, sir?"

Andrew nodded and stepped towards the two men.  "Thank you, officers."

Billing smiled.  "Officer.  This one's running his own show."  He waved towards the man Andrew had assumed to be his partner.

"Good evening, sir," the man greeted.

Andrew looked up in surprise.  He knew the voice.

"Let's get you out of the cold," he continued.  "You look like you could use some rest."

"Th-thank you," Andrew stuttered, wondering what was going on as Mick stepped out of the shadows and smiled at him.  The shock stole the rest of the angel's energy and he began to rock on his heels.

Mick reached out for his arm.  "Whoa there!  You okay?"  He turned to the policeman.  "Tyron, I think we need to give this guy a ride."

"Sure thing."

Mick kept a steady grip on Andrew as they walked to the police cruiser a few yards away.

Once they were all inside and Billings began to drive, Mick brought his hand to his temple.  "Rotten time for caffeine withdrawal," he muttered. 

"I'd offer to get you some coffee but I'm not sure a good old cup of New York City joe will measure up to whatever frou-frou stuff you drink there in L.A.," the cop teased.

"Believe me, I'd drink anything right about now if it had caffeine."

"There's a diner not far from here.  I'll run in.  Buddy, you want anything?"

Andrew caught the officer's gaze in the mirror.  "No, thank you, Officer Billings."

"Can you sit tight while I get some coffee for the newbie?  He's not on the job for an hour and he's already high maintenance."

Andrew smiled at Billing's good natured teasing of Mick.  "Yeah, sure."

"Great.  We'll get you to the shelter after that."  Billings turned into a parking spot in front of a greasy spoon and stepped out. 

Mick immediately turned around and looked intently at Andrew.  "We don't have much time so I need to get through this quickly.  I called Willowveil yesterday.  No answer.  I tried your cell phone.  Same thing.  I even tried Dyeland's emergency number.  No answer there.  You all had me panicked.  Beth, Josef, and Logan, too.  Finally, I got Rose to pick up this evening.  She told me about everything that's happened.  I'd read about the attacks in the Times but I had no idea you..."  The vampire shook his head.  "I knew I had to come.  I had a connection with the NYPD from a kidnapping case I worked a few years back.  I called him, told him a concerned citizen had agreed to pay for my services if the department would allow me to help in the investigation.  They agreed.  I'm staying here until we get this solved," he vowed.

Andrew opened his mouth to protest but Mick cut him off.

"Listen, I contented myself with simply waiting by the phone and offering counsel during your assignment in Missouri.  I'm not sitting this one out.  You told me I had a place in Dyeland.  That despite of who and what I am... I belonged.  Let me show it, Andrew."

Andrew blinked back tears.  "Isn't it dangerous for you?"

"I have other connections here, too.  I can take care of myself.  Which is maybe more than I can say for you.  Andrew, you look like hell."  Mick buried his face in his hand and pounded the car door with the other.  "I'm sorry.  That came out much more bluntly than I intended."

Andrew burst out laughing.  "It's okay.  Maybe you don't have a future as a self-esteem guru but it felt good to laugh."  He sobered then as he saw Billings exiting the diner.  "Thank you for coming, Mick.  It means a lot."

"It means a lot to be here.  Andrew... take care of yourself.  Those girls need you to.  And I don't want anything happening to you before I can reclaim my pool champion title from you."  Mick grinned but his eyes didn't follow suit.

"Don't worry, Mick.  I'll be just fine.  Trust me.  Trust God," the angel assured.

Mick nodded then turned back around before his newly acquired partner entered the car. 

"For you," he handed Mick a cup which the vampire feigned drinking with relief.  "For me," he set a second cup in the holder before reaching back to Andrew.  "And, here, I know you said you didn't want anything but the shelter has probably stopped serving food by this time and you look like you could use something.  Eat up." 

"Thanks.  Thank you very much."  Andrew beamed at the officer as he handed him a sandwich.

"No problem."  Sliding into the seat, Billings turned the car on and headed towards the shelter.  "So you seen anything out there, uh, could I get your name?"


"Thank you.  You seen anything, Andrew?  Anything that might help us?"

"I've seen what they've done... but I haven't seen them."

Billings sighed.  "Yeah, I think we're all in the same boat with that.  Just know... know we're trying our best.  Okay?  We'll get them."

Andrew could sense that the officer was saying it as much to assure himself as Andrew.  "I'll pray you do.  And I'm grateful for the effort.  F-for knowing we matter."

"Everyone's a child of God.  You believe that?"

"I do, sir," Andrew acknowledged, feeling wistful.

Mick nodded. 

"Now if us kids could just stop killing each other," the officer muttered.  Soon he pulled up in front of a nondescript brick building.  "This is the shelter.  You take care of yourself, Andrew.  Let us know if you see or hear anything.  Got it?"

"Yes."  Andrew stepped out of the squad car, paused, then turned back.  "Officer Billings?"


"Your Father in Heaven is very proud of the man you've become, don't let anyone tell you otherwise."  Andrew smiled at the man before going up the steps and ringing the doorbell.

The police officer stared as the door opened and Andrew disappeared behind it.

"You alright there?" Mick asked.

"Yeah... yeah, man.  Just fine.  It's just...  Somehow that guy knew exactly what I needed to hear.  And when he said it... something about his face... you're going to think I'm crazy."

"Try me."

"He looked... beatific.  Like he was glowing.  You read the Bible much, Mick?"

Mick shook his head.  "Not as much as I did when I was a boy."

"'Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels,'" he quoted.  "Now you definitely think I'm crazy."

"No," Mick denied.  "Not at all.  I've seen a lot of hate and hurt in my days and it'd be nice to know that there were beings of love and compassion out there.  I believe, Tyron."

The two stared for a moment at the shelter before Tyron veered back into the street.

"Billings, St. John.  Location?" a voice called over the radio.

"Here.  We're just driving away from the New Life Shelter for Men."

"There's been another attack.  Standby for further direction."

Mick sighed. 

"Roger that," Billings responded with a grimace as they waited.


Mick hovered over the body at the bottom of the staircase.  Through eighty seven years, World War II, and countless murder investigations; he sometimes still gaped in horror at the things people could do to one another.  When Billings and the other detectives were focused on looking for evidence, Mick leaned nearer.  He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, memorized the scent of this man's blood and hoping for any hint left by his murderers.  Maybe he'd be able to track them.  Mick knew this had been the work of more than one person... if such a word were even applicable.  He struggled to believe anyone with a concept and regard for personhood could do something this malicious. 

The vampire turned, hearing before anyone else the car that would soon pull into the junkyard.   He ran up the stairs and watched as three men stepped out.   He nodded in recognition when he saw Adam was one of them.  Rose had mentioned he, too, was on the case. 

Adam nodded back then looked just past Mick to where Henry stood.

"What is it this time?"  

Mick turned towards the man he recognized as the district attorney.  "Male, looks to be around sixty years old."  He waved for Joe to follow him back down the stone steps.  Adam, Bratton, and Billings followed.

Joe looked at the fallen figure in alarm.  He fell to his knees, pulled out a flashlight, whipped out some gloves, and examined the man's face.  The others, perched on the stairs, looked at each other.  None of them were sure what to make of the D.A.'s reaction.  Joe shook his head.  Mick could swear he heard him whisper "It's not him" but thought it best not to comment.

"Talk to me," Joe called, getting to his feet.

"Obviously he was pushed down the stairs.  My guess is he sustained an injury to his neck.  It's possible he didn't feel much pain as they kicked him," Mick related. 

Adam looked to Henry again, noting that his fellow angel of death was nodding in agreement with Mick's hypothesis.  It was, at least, some relief.

"Who are you?" Joe asked, really taking a look at the stranger for the first time.

"Mick St. John.  Private investigator based out of L.A.  A concerned citizen has hired me to help investigate this series of crimes."

"Who's that?"

"They'd prefer to keep their involvement anonymous."

"Why should we trust you?" Joe demanded.

Adam set a hand on the man's shoulder.  "Joe, he came all the way from Los Angeles.  I'm sure his motives are pure.  I believe it.  Call it a cop's instinct."

Joe sized Mick up and nodded.  "Alright.  I'm sorry.  I'm just running low on sleep and getting discouraged.  You worked many homicides before?"

"More than you could imagine."  Mick looked back down at the dead man.

"Doesn't get any easier, does it?"

Mick met Joe's eyes and saw a determination and frustration that mirrored what he felt so often.  "No."

"But remember, we saved one tonight, Mick," Tyron assured. 

"You came across another attack?" Bratton asked.

"No.  But we got a man into a shelter.  His name was Andrew.  Score one for us.  We have to take what victory we can get, right?"

The others nodded.  As they climbed back up the steps so the medical examiner could get to the body, Adam gripped Mick's elbow.

"Our Andrew?"

Mick nodded.

Adam stared up at the stars, praying in thanksgiving to the Father.  He cast one last look at the bottom of the stairs.  He offered up another prayer, thanking God that the man had come to the end of his pain and aloneness.  He knew that whatever had happened, Henry had shown him to a Home that would forever be his.


November 23rd


Not surprisingly, JenniAnn found herself the first person in the Phoenix to wake up.  Or at least she guessed as much from the silence of the large house.  She knew Rose and her Aunt Josephine, who had spent the night after the latter had received her first tour of the Phoenix, were across the hall and no sound came from there.  Cira's and Maggie's room was besides hers and seemed still.  And to the other side was the room Andrew had used...  She tried not to think of its emptiness.  JenniAnn lay in bed a few moments, snuggling Fawn and Lulu.  She fought back tears as she remembered the morning before with Lulu and Andrew playing on the floor. 

"I miss him, too," she murmured to the basset hound, kissing her head then Fawn's. 

Once she'd crawled out of bed, she knew she couldn't wait any longer for her coffee and figured it a good idea to have some ready when Catherine and Aunt Josephine, typically the next earliest risers, awoke.  Tip-toeing with a dog tucked beneath each arm so as to create as little noise as possible in the old house, she made her way to the kitchen.  She let the dogs out but it was storming and they quickly did their business and hurried back in.  Flicking on the TV, she began to prepare the coffee.

"According to the NYPD, another homeless murder victim was found last night in a junkyard.  No word yet on his identity.  In a related story, we've learned that the homeless man admitted to the hospital yesterday has died.  He was brought in with severe head trauma as the result of a brutal stoning.  Police are asking, again, that anyone with any information..."

Stunned, JenniAnn ran to the basement door, down the stairs, and into Catherine's office.  She flung open another door that led into the bedroom.  Thanks to an alarm system set up by Mouse, Catherine was awake and waiting when her cousin burst through the door.

Taking one look at the younger woman, Catherine called for her husband.  "Vincent, please come out.  It's Psyche."

Vincent emerged from the hidden doorway in Catherine's closet which led to the Tunnels. 

"H-he's dead.  It was just on the news.  Ryan's dead!" JenniAnn cried.

As Vincent pulled her into an embrace as she cried, Catherine hurriedly grabbed some clothes.  "I... I'll tell Maggie when she wakes up.  I knew it was bad but I kept praying..." 

"Me, too.  I wonder if Andrew knows.  Oh..."  JenniAnn buried her face in Vincent's sweater as she remembered how devastated Andrew had looked when he'd brought Ryan to them.  Her mind filled with the image of his face darkening when the EMTs rattled off the list of his injuries to each other as they prepped Ryan to be moved.

Vincent stroked his godchild's hair.  "If he does then he also knows that Ryan is surrounded by love and peace now.  That he always will be."

"Psyche, I know this is very, very hard.  But I need you to be strong.  I don't mean not to cry because this is definitely something to cry about," Catherine explained, brushing at her own eyes.  "But Andrew trusted us with Maggie.  And in a little while Maggie's going to need to rely on all the friends she can get."

Pulling away from her godfather, JenniAnn nodded.

Catherine directed her attention to Vincent.  "Please take Jacob and go Below.  I'll come there later."

Vincent nodded in assent to his wife's direction.

JenniAnn moved towards the door to give them some privacy as they bid each other good bye.  Once on her own, she prayed to God for guidance when it came to speaking to Maggie.


Andrew had received the call from the Father around 4:00 that morning.  Despite the protests of the caretakers, he'd left the shelter.  Turning around the corner of the block, he'd disappeared and then found himself at Ryan's bedside.  Machines were screeching and doctors and nurses were doing everything they could as two police officers looked on. 

The angel of death reached for the young man's hand.  "Ryan, it's Andrew.  There's something I need to tell you.  I'm an angel sent by God.  He wants you to know He loves you.  And right now it is His will that you come live with Him, in that love, for all eternity.  Ryan, I'm going to take you there."

Ryan stood at Andrew's side, looking at the frenzy of those working to restore life to his body.  "I knew there was something about you.  Never would have guessed this."  He smiled at the angel. 

"Ryan, what happened?  Do you know where Crystal is?" Andrew asked.

"They...  I heard them coming.  I was high and drunk..." Ryan stared at the floor.

Andrew set a hand on the spirit's shoulder.  "Ryan, this isn't the time for self-condemnation.  God knows every thing you've ever done and that doesn't change the fact that He loves you and He forgives you."

"It's so hard to believe.  I've screwed up so much..."

"And you also helped people who desperately needed help.  You encouraged and advised those who would have died without your guidance.  Now you have the chance to save one more person.  Please, tell me whatever you can about Crystal."

"I was embarrassed about running away... leaving you after you helped me.  I didn't want to go back that night.  So we headed to Central Park.  We were under one of the bridges when I heard them.  Then a rock flew right past Crystal's head.  I wasn't thinking straight.  I thought I could fight them.  I told Crystal to run and at first she wouldn't.  But they were coming closer and another rock... it hit her.  She agreed to go then.  She told me to meet her where the angel sings.  I had no idea what she was talking about.  One of her delusions, I guess.  But I agreed so she'd leave.  She ran north but that's all I know.  After that..."  Ryan brought his hand to his head.

The din of the emergency staff began to die down. 

Andrew and Ryan watched as the doctors and nurses stepped back.

"Official time of death, 4:11 AM.  November 23rd.  Three days before Thanksgiving."  The attending physician yanked her gloves off then left the room, anguished. 

Andrew watched as Ryan followed her out of the room.  "Thank you," he whispered into her ear.  He turned back to Andrew then and followed him into the light.


Rose, JenniAnn, and Cira sat in the hallway as Catherine spoke to Maggie.  They winced when they heard the young woman moan and begin to sob.  Catherine sang a lullaby to her and, for a few minutes, it seemed Maggie was calming. 

In the living room, Josephine was bowed over her Bible.  The night before Maggie had confided in her how much she reminded her of her grandmother and, at that, Josephine had determined to stay for as long as Maggie did.  Upon being awoken to the sad news of Ryan, she remained very glad she could be there for the young woman.

Suddenly, Maggie's and Cira's bedroom door burst open and Maggie ran out into hallway, down the stairs, and towards the door.

"Maggie!  No, please don't go!" Catherine cried, running after her.  The three other women also bolted down the stairs.  They were surprised to find Josephine was blocking the door.

"Sweetheart, I know you're in pain but what do you think going out there is going to do?" the old woman asked, her tone gentle.

Maggie was fuming.  "They took Ryan.  They killed Ryan.  And like hell I'm going to wait here until they get Crystal, too!  Or... or Andrew." 
Josephine sat a hand on each of the girl's shoulders.  "Maggie, you going out there, especially now," she waved to the dark sky and pelting rain, "is the last thing that boy needs.  Andrew is doing what he needs to do and I know it brings him comfort to know you're here, safe with us."

"He might even still be at the shelter, Maggie," Rose encouraged.  "I spoke to Adam earlier and he said one of his fellow officers mentioned giving him a ride there."

This news calmed Maggie some.  However, she was left shaking with grief.

"Come sit down, child."  Josephine took her arm and led her to the couch. 

"Maggie, I'm so sorry for your loss," JenniAnn offered.

Cira nodded.  "Is there anything we can do?"

Maggie shook her head.  "I... I just want this to be over."

Catherine hugged her.  "We all do.  So much."  She begun to hum her lullaby again as her latest charge rested her head on her shoulder and began to weep.


Catherine was hanging curtains in one of the rooms that had not yet been used when she heard someone enter.  Turning to see Maggie, she stepped off the ladder.  "Hi there."

Maggie gave only a hint of a smile.  "Hi.  Catherine, do you think you could..."

"Maggie, what is it you need?  I'll do whatever I can for you."

"Do you think you could take me to that shelter Owen told Andrew about?  I just... I really need to see him and..."  Her lower lip began to quiver.

Catherine glanced out the window.  Rain was pounding down and she wasn't eager to be driving, knowing how inclement weather didn't always inspire the caution it should in other drivers.  "I tell you what, I'm going to call someone who works there.  And if Andrew's there then, yes, I will definitely take you to see him, okay?"

Grateful, Maggie nodded.

With no phone yet in the unfinished room, Catherine made her way to the kitchen.  She smiled at the rest of the group: Aunt Josephine, Cira, Yva, JenniAnn, Rose, and Lady Beth.  They had what looked to be an assembly line going with tray after tray of cookies laid out.  Josephine stepped back long enough to embrace Maggie, holding her as Catherine made the call.

"Hi there, Zeke!" Catherine greeted.  "Yeah, miserable weather.  I bet your place is pretty busy... I hope it is.  Yeah?  Well, good.  Listen, I'm actually calling about someone I think might be there."

The assembled women listened nervously as Catherine continued her call.

"His name's Andrew.  Blonde.  Green eyes.  About..."

"Six foot three," Rose informed.  "And his hair is more dishwater blonde than blonde-blonde."

Maggie smiled in spite of her unease.  Clearly she wasn't the only one who was struck by Andrew.

"Six foot three," Catherine repeated.  "And that's dishwater blonde."  She covered the phone.  "I can hear him asking around."

Josephine's hug tightened as Maggie tensed. 

Catherine's face fell.  "Well, do you think you could give me a call if you see him?  It's kind of urgent.  Thank you, Zeke."  She hung up, pausing a moment before turning to Maggie. 

The women all bowed their heads for a moment, in prayer and concern.

"They haven't seen him since very early this morning.  But I'm sure he's fine.  We all knew that he meant to spend most of the daytime looking for Crystal.  I'm confident Zeke will give me a call back tonight and then, Maggie, I promise you I'll take you to him.  Okay?"

Maggie forced a smile.  "Yeah.  That sounds good.  Thanks for trying, Catherine."  She breathed in deeply, calming herself.  "So, umm, do you think I could help?" she asked Josephine.

"Of course, dear!  How do you feel about stirring?"

Maggie's smile grew as she accepted a bowl from the old woman and set to work.  For a while she just listened as the others talked about plans for the upcoming holiday dinner, the first at the Phoenix.

"Will Andrew... I mean is Andrew invited?" Maggie asked.

"Of course!" Catherine responded.

Maggie smiled.  "How long have all of you known him?"

"I was wondering that myself.  I mean when I brought him here after he was hurt, I assumed he was a complete stranger but obviously he knows you pretty well!"  Cira smiled at JenniAnn. 

JenniAnn looked to her cousin, panicked.

Catherine smiled breezily at Cira and Maggie.  "Yes, JenniAnn's known Andrew for some time.  You met him at a park, right?"

"Uh huh," she agreed, supposing the Fields of Gold could be considered a park...

"Yva, did you meet him then, too?"

"No, shortly there after."  Yva hoped Maggie didn't pry further.

"Right.  And then Beth, Rose, and Josephine met him a few years later, isn't that right?"

"Right," Lady Beth responded, glad that Catherine was handling the explanations.

"Now sometimes he helps us here.  In fact, he helped build this table," Catherine continued.

"A-and then you just let him go back out there?" Maggie demanded.

The easygoing manner Catherine had possessed as she glossed over Andrew's history disappeared.

"I- I... I'm sorry.  That was very rude after everything..."

Rose set a hand on Maggie's shoulder.  "No, it's okay.  We wanted very much for Andrew to stay but..."

"I know.  I shouldn't have accused.  I've met plenty of those cases.  They get so accustomed to life on the streets that they... they just can't integrate back into a normal life.  I've been worried for a while that I might eventually be one of them but...  I don't know.  When I met Andrew, something started building inside of me.  Hope.  Now I just want so badly to help him get home... wherever that is for him." 
Josephine cradled Maggie as she began to cry.  "That's what we're all working towards, my dear.  And I know it'll happen.  Focus on that hope he gave you," she advised.  "Okay?"

"Okay," the young woman promised, smiling through her tears.


Andrew peered out from under the box he'd ducked under when the rain had started.  He hadn't been able to go back to the shelter once he'd left the hospital.  The idea of it made him feel claustrophobic.  A 6 by 3 foot cot wasn't large enough to contain the emotions roiling through him: anger, disgust, compassion, frustration, grief, desperate hope, and love. 

As he'd ran away from the hospital after taking Ryan Home, he'd passed a TV display.  He knew Ryan's death had made the news.  That made it all but guaranteed that Maggie knew.  He prayed that she would not isolate herself in her grief.  He took comfort in knowing Catherine and Cira were with her and he was sure others of his friends would be, too.  At that moment, she was his ray of hope.  Whatever else, he'd gotten her off the streets and to safety.

His thoughts turned to Crystal then.  Ryan had said she'd gone to where the angel sings.  Andrew considered what that might mean.  Perhaps a church.  Or a monument.  Even a theatre.  But New York City was filled with all three.  The angel was at a loss on where to begin.

Andrew began to pray, beseeching the Father again for guidance and hoping he'd receive an answer.  As he prayed, his weariness increased and soon he was asleep.


That night, Adam sat waiting in a nearly empty hole-in-the-wall cafe near Central Park.  He glanced at his pocket watch, noting it was nearly 8:00.  Like clockwork, the doorbell jingled and a man stepped inside.  With a smile, Adam waved Mick over to the table he was sitting at.

"I'm sorry.  I wasn't thinking.  I should have suggested somewhere else to meet," the angel apologized, realizing that the mug of coffee he was sipping wouldn't be much comfort to the vampire.

Mick shrugged.  "I do like the smell still."

"Sleep well?"

"Not really.  And not just because my hotel accommodations aren't exactly... tailored to my unique needs.  I have a whole new respect for you guys.  This... it's a lot to deal with."

Adam nodded.  "It is.  I never got a chance to thank you for coming.  I know you're not actually getting paid.  I don't think Rose has that kind of money."

"It's not bad that I lied about that, is it?  It's not even really a lie.  I am getting paid.  Just not in money.  Believe me, the gratitude on the ladies' faces when I saw them was enough."

"No, it's not bad.  There's a difference between lying and not revealing what it would be upsetting to people to reveal.  Where are the girls?"

"I'm told Yva's back home, celebrating her birthday with Sir Sven.  Earlier JenniAnn went Below for a while to talk to the children.  They'd heard whispering about Andrew and needed some answers.  Lady Beth's at the Phoenix baking up a storm with Josephine.  Willy delivered what appeared to be a bus load of cooking supplies and they've been going to town with them all day.  As we speak, Rose and JenniAnn are trying to keep Maggie occupied."

"That poor girl..."

"Rose said she wanted to go after Andrew but they persuaded her not to.  Thankfully they got her in on their baking craze."

"Thank God."  Adam glanced to the ceiling.  "So what did you want to talk about that Joe and the others couldn't hear?"

Mick looked around.  The sole waitress seemed to be in the kitchen and the only other customer was on the other side of the room.  "What exactly is your role here?  Can you say?"

Adam looked out the window.  "I can tell you I'm assigned to Joe.  How I'm assigned to him... I don't know.  I know I'm supposed to be with him during this case but in what capacity, the Father hasn't told me.  Why?"

"It's something I thought I heard him say this morning.  When we found the most recent victim."

The angel of death looked curiously at the private investigator.  "What?"

"It sounded like he muttered 'It's not him.'  He sounded... upset about what had happened but somehow relieved, too.  Is it normal for him to get so personally involved in cases?"

"Catherine's always said that Joe's passionate about his work but, no, this isn't normal.  I'd been wondering myself if he didn't have some personal stake in this.  I tried to talk to him about it, so did Matthew.  He just said to focus on the case and not to worry about him."  At those words, Adam's cell phone began to ring.  "That's him now." 

Mick listened as Adam conversed with the D.A.  It seemed Joe was handing out the night's directions.

"Yes.  Actually, St. John's right here.  Sure.  We'll get right on that."  Adam hung up then looked to Mick.  "You ready to do some patrolling again?"

Mick nodded.  "As ready as I'll ever be.  Where we headed?"

"We're going to start by canvassing shelters.  Maybe someone will have seen something and be willing to speak up.  Then we'll hit the streets."  Adam set some money on the table and stood. 

"Sounds like a plan."  Mick followed Adam to the door and to his waiting unmarked squad car.

Once in the driver's seat, the angel of death turned to his passenger.  "Mick?"


"Thanks.  For coming, I mean.  I know the girls thanked you but I wanted you to know it means a lot to me, too.  Andrew's been a friend for a very, very, very long time and it tears me up to see him like he is now.  And having you here... it gives me hope we'll get to the bottom of this soon and then he can come home."  Adam smiled at Mick but there was no disguising his melancholy.

"Adam, you were all there for Josef when I was afraid I'd lose my best friend... maybe forever.  I couldn't turn my back on all of you now.  And I can't turn my back on these people now that I know about this and know that I can help.  So let's go do that now."

Nodding, Adam drove off towards the nearest shelter.


It was nearing 9:00 and Rose and JenniAnn were in the latter's room at the Phoenix.  The day had been draining.  A follow-up call to Zeke revealed that Andrew was still unaccounted for.  Though they assured Maggie that it wasn't unlike him to stay out long past sunset, the words were easier said than believed.  Exhausted with grief and worry, Maggie had gone to bed shortly thereafter.  Her absence left the two Dyelanders to their own thoughts and conflicted feelings... and to their home DVD collection.  They sat and rewatched footage from the past months.

"Witness as the elusive AOD explores his native territory, sporting the traditional garb of his people... jeans and a flannel shirt..."

"Sounds like someone's been watching National Geographic again."  Andrew smiled at the camera. 

"Hark!  He speaks!"

"And maybe reading some Shakespeare."

The camera's view went askew for a moment and, when it was righted, revealed Lady Beth and Rose.

"Witness as the mischievous Dyelanders attempt to make a documentary about yours truly raking."  The camera spun around.  "Let's watch as the rare Lady of Willowveil does her annual 'Snake Check Dance.'" 

"Andrew, are you sure it's cool enough that the snakes have gone into hiding?  I think maybe...  Ahhhhh!!!" 

The camera swiveled again and next revealed Andrew running towards JenniAnn.  As she stood frozen, he reached down towards her feet.  She shrieked as he lifted something up.

"I believe in many parts of the world they call this a stick, Laja."  He grinned at the camera then hugged her.  "Poor Laja."

"Andrewkins!  Don't get rid of that.  That's a perfect marshmallow roasting stick!"  Yva walked into the frame. 

The video ended there and Rose clicked on a different icon.  Now the group was assembled around a fire.  Willy was doling out s'mores. 

"This is an absolutely perfect night," Yva opined with a dreamy sigh.

"Almost perfect.  We need a campfire song,"  Rose interjected.

Adam grinned.  "'This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friends...'"

"No!" Lady Beth protested, playfully swatting at Adam.  "Are you trying to drive us insane?"

"Hey, that's a great idea!  But I know a better song for that."  Adam cleared his throat.  "Oh...  'I'm Henry the VIII, I am.  Henry the VIII, I am, I am.'"

Andrew chuckled.  "You better be glad Tess isn't here."

"If Tess was here, I'd go with 'Turkey in the Straw.'"  Adam countered.  "But obviously no one shares my musical tastes tonight so you go for it, buddy."

The camera panned to Andrew, his brow crinkled in thought.  He smiled and began to sing, low and sweetly.  "Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya. 
Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya."

Gradually everyone joined in.

Rose and JenniAnn watched the video and their friend, perfectly at peace and surrounded by those who loved him.  A sob escaped JenniAnn and she was about to stand up and begin dashing around the room when a hand reached past them both and closed the laptop.

They turned to see Owen regarding them with concern.  Once he realized they were looking at him, the young man brightened.  "On behalf of another, if I may say it, handsome, long haired man who hasn't the slightest inclination to romance you but cares very much about you both, can we please stop acting like this is Le Morte de Andrew?  Maybe go have some fun?"  He knelt behind their desk chairs, setting a hand on each of their shoulders.  "He really does care very much about you both and he wouldn't want you torturing yourselves like this."

Brushing at a tear, Rose smiled sheepishly.  "You're right.  What do you want to do, Owen?"

"There's this great new little bakery one of the Helpers told me about.  I was thinking maybe we could get some dessert?  My treat?"

JenniAnn shrugged.  "I just haven't felt much like eating."

Owen looked with concern at his friend, knowing she was prone to cease eating when she became upset and at least once it had morphed into an all-out eating disorder.  He already knew she'd skipped dinner. "Psyche," he whispered, "Andrew
would want you to eat.  I happen to know that he fought long and hard for that healthy body of yours."

After bowing her head in remembrance of what Andrew had gone through to save her from herself, JenniAnn nodded.  "Maybe a brownie or something like that wouldn't be so bad."

"I second that," Rose agreed.

"Great.  And it just so happens that the rain has stopped leaving a reasonably pleasant evening and Catherine has agreed to let me borrow the car.  So, ladies..."  Owen bowed and motioned for them to exit into the hallway.  Before leaving they checked with the other women who were all busy with their own tasks or hobbies.  Catherine assured them she would call if Maggie awoke and so the two women left with Owen.


Rose sunk back into the booth, licking her lips after finishing her slice of pie.  "Excellent idea, Owen.  Thanks."

"I knew it would be.  You two needed a break.  It's great that you've been doing what you can for Andrew and helping Catherine but if you focus only on that... I'd be very concerned for you both."

"I know you're right but it's so hard...  I hate reading the news any more because of all these things and then when someone I care about it is part of the story...  And knowing he could get hurt..."

Owen squeezed JenniAnn's hand.  "I know.  I know.  But you have to remember that there's a lot of good out there, too.  It's terrible that this is happening but think of all the unselfishness and compassion it's brought out.  Mick's here.  What's in it for him?  Nothing, really, except helping people.  Catherine says Joe's thrown himself into this case.  We all know it's not just political capital to him.  And that's to say nothing of the..."  Owen looked to where the baker was behind the counter.  He was bopping along to his iPod.  "The angels."

A sudden flash of lightning illuminated the bakery windows. 

Owen frowned.  "I thought it was done for the night."

"I hope Andrew's gotten to the shelter.  I hope they all have..."  Rose bit her lip and looked out the window, studying the sky.

"Do you think he knows?" JenniAnn asked.  "About Ryan, I mean?"

"Don't you think he was probably there?" Owen answered.

"I hope so.  I think Andrew would want to be.  Do you think... once he finds this girl, Crystal, that'll be it?" Rose questioned.

JenniAnn flinched as thunder roared.  "I pray so with all my heart."  She stared out the window.

"I wish we could just be safe in his basement.  With him," Rose murmured.

"I was thinking the same thing."

Owen looked from one to the other.  He knew there would be no more escape for the night.  Their minds and hearts were fixed on their friend and he couldn't blame them.  "Let's get you both back to the Phoenix," he suggested.  He settled the bill and they headed towards the small parking lot where Catherine's car waited. 

Just as they were about to settle into the car, the sky lit up again. 

Rose gasped.  "I thought I saw something!  Someone in trouble across the street!

"What do you mean?" Owen asked, trying to see across the street.  The bulb at the nearby light appeared to be dying and offered little illumination.  However, he could make out voices... taunting voices.

JenniAnn began to rummage through her bag, quickly producing a flashlight.

"No wonder that bag's so heavy!" Rose exclaimed as her friend handed it to her.  She flipped it on then pointed it across the street.  The beam landed on a cluster of boys, they appeared to be gathered around something.  Movement on the ground quickly revealed it was not a something but a someone.

Owen tore across the street with the two women at his heels.

"What are you doing?" the young man demanded.

One of the boys turned around and snorted.  "Out camping, ladies?"

Owen disregarded the snide comment and pushed past him.  "Are these boys bothering you, sir?" he asked.

The man raised his arm and hid his face.  As he did, the two women caught a glimpse of closely shorn gray hair.  He wasn't Andrew.

"Oh!  Sir!  That's a little proper for the scum of the earth, isn't it?  McDonald's is hiring.  Why doesn't he just go get himself a job like the rest of us?" a second boy sneered.

"Hey!" JenniAnn and Rose cried in unison, stepping towards the group.

Owen held his hand out behind him, gesturing for them to stay put, then stood back up.  Though he was slighter of frame than the boys, he towered over them.  He grabbed the leather sleeve of one of the boy's coats.  "You buy this?  Or did daddy?"

The boy pulled away, declining to answer.

"Thought so.  Maybe you should make an appearance at McDonald's.  They'd at least teach you a little something about decency with their customer service training.  Get out of here."

They stood, defiant.

"What?  You boys not remember the way back to mommy's and daddy's?" Owen taunted.  He turned to the ladies.  "Girls, why don't you call the NYPD?  Tell em we got three lost little boys.  I think they might enjoy speaking to them, anyway."  He turned back to the boys, smiling.  "Lately, they do so love to meet with those who terrorize the homeless."

"Man, let's get out of here.  My dad will flip if I get arrested," one boy muttered to the others.

In silent agreement, the three boys ran off.

"Should I call the police?  Do you think they were the killers?" JenniAnn asked.

"No.  Just some idiot kids.  I know their kind."  Owen shook his head as he watched them run.  "And, unfortunately, being weaselly little jerks isn't a crime."  He stooped back down and Rose and JenniAnn joined him.

"Sir, why don't you let us take you to a shelter?" Rose suggested.

"Leave me alone," the man hissed.

Owen looked up at the night sky.  "It looks like it might start raining again.  Mister, I've spent some time on the street and I know a warm cot's a lot more comfortable on a cold, rainy night than a box and last night's sports section."

The man let out a wheezy laugh.  "Yeah."  He moved to scratch his arm.

JenniAnn and Rose gasped and Owen looked on sadly as he revealed a series of burn marks.

"Please, let us take you to a shelter," JenniAnn begged.

"You wouldn't want to deny a lady her request, would you?" Owen pressed.

"I suppose not," the man agreed, accepting their help to get to his feet.  They guided him across the street and into Catherine's car.  After assuring he was comfortable, Owen began to drive off.

Seated beside the man, Rose took it upon herself to make introductions.  "I just realized we didn't introduce ourselves.  I'm Rose, that's JenniAnn, and that's Owen.  Can I ask your name?"


"Hi Jerry," JenniAnn greeted, smiling at the man.

The man looked at her, curious.  "You crying, miss?"

She wiped at her eyes.  "Sorry.  I didn't think it was that obvious.  I, umm..."

"A friend of ours is somewhere... out here.  On the streets.  We're not sure where," Rose explained.  "And he knew the man that died this morning and we're worried about him."

"I saw the report.  Poor kid."  Jerry hung his head then looked to Rose.  "What's your friend look like?"

"Thirtyish.  Dishwater blonde.  Green eyes.  His name's Andrew."

Jerry jolted.  "I saw him."

"Wh-where?  Was he okay?  Please, tell us," JenniAnn begged.

"Something not right about that guy...  Y-you be careful with that one," Jerry insisted. 

Rose studied Jerry's face.  He looked... not frightened.  Stunned, maybe.  "What do you mean, sir?"

"I-I've seen him before...  Those Iraqi bullets flying every which way... he just walked on through."

Jerry clammed up for the remainder of the drive, leaving the trio to wonder and worry over his meaning.


Andrew woke up to blinding light that quickly faded.  It took him a moment to recognize it was lightning.  The sun had set since he'd fallen asleep and the temperature had fallen a number of degrees.  He sat up and pulled his knees to his chest for warmth.  He hoped the rain wouldn't start up again, too.  Though he'd walked the streets of New York so many times, during the day he'd found himself quickly disoriented and the rain hadn't helped.  He cursed himself for not persevering and making his way back to where he, Ryan, Crystal, and Maggie had camped out.  Other than the unknown and potentially fictional location of the singing angel, that was his best guess on where he'd find the missing woman.

For a moment, Andrew considered heading towards the Phoenix and checking in on Maggie.  He pulled out his pocket watch and strained to read the hands.  Walking towards a street light, he was able to make out that it was after midnight.  He hoped she'd be asleep.  Even if she weren't he knew she should be.  He was positive word of Ryan's death would have reached her and she would need as much peace as she could find.  His appearance so late would also alarm whichever of his friends were at the Phoenix.  Even without a mirror he knew he had to be unsightly after sleeping through the storm.  The past week hadn't been easy for them and if they had managed to get some rest, he wasn't about to do anything to disturb it.

Mindful of the promise he'd made, Andrew headed towards the shelter.  He hoped someone would let him in despite the late hour.  To cheer himself, he imagined how the day might have played out at the Phoenix.  Yes, it would have begun with sadness.  But he knew his friends wouldn't leave Maggie alone in her grief.  They'd listen to her and pray with her.  Maybe get her focused on something.  Maybe all the pre-holiday baking he knew they'd be busy with.  Lady Beth would be managing it all, Yva would be ensuring that only Willy's chocolate found its way into the recipes, Rose would be taking hints from her aunt, and JenniAnn would be carefully and precisely arranging sprinkles in the most attractive arrangement.  Catherine would beam at the community she had created.  Cira and Maggie would feel comfortable and at home.  And as she felt more at ease, Maggie would open up and the questions would begin.  He smiled as he thought of how they might answer the inevitable questions about how they knew him.  He'd crashed a party they were throwing?  It was true and vague enough.  Or maybe a flippant-seeming yet true "It was like he just dropped out of the sky one day..."?

Andrew paused and looked up at the sky.  "Please, let it be so," he prayed before continuing along his way.


JenniAnn had just finished changing into her pajamas after returning from the bakery when someone knocked on her door.  She didn't even have time to call for them to enter before the door flew open and two little arms wrapped around her legs.  The child was shrouded in a blanket, preventing JenniAnn from determining which little one it was.

"I'm sorry, Psyche," Mary apologized, stepping into the bedroom.  "But our Shelby woke up from a nightmare.  She was inconsolable.  She... she wants to see Andrew and when I told her that wasn't possible she asked for you so I thought it best to bring her here."

"Of course.  It's okay, Mary.  I'll handle this."  JenniAnn scooped the little girl up as Mary exited.  "You had a nightmare, kiddo?"

Shelby nodded and swiped the back of her hand across her face. 

JenniAnn reached for a tissue and began to wipe the girl's tears and runny nose.  "Do you want to tell me about it?"

"It will make you sad."

JenniAnn began to feel queasy but smiled to encourage and calm the child.  "But if it will make you feel better to tell me then that's okay."

Shelby rested her head on her teacher's shoulder for some moments, thinking.  At last she straightened up and nodded.  "I... I dreamed Andrew was out there."  She beckoned to the window.  "And it was very dark and cold.  A-and he was trying to get back to us.  B-but... he couldn't."

Feeling shaky, JenniAnn plopped into the rocking chair near the window and settled Shelby on her lap.  "Why couldn't he?"

"They wouldn't let him." 

JenniAnn was rendered mute as Shelby drew her blanket more tightly around herself and more tears spilled down her cheeks.  At last, the woman's voice returned to her.  "They who?"

Shelby shrugged.  "I dunno.  But I don't like em.  I think Andrew should come back now, Psyche."  A sob escaped.  "Make him come baaaack!" 

"Oh Shelby, I wish I could.  Because I want Andrew back here with us, too."  JenniAnn tried to console the girl by gently stroking her back but she continued to heave with sobs.  "Sweetheart, what he's doing is so important.  There are people out there who really need a friend right now.  And Andrew's one of the best friends they could find, right?"  She forced her bravest smile.

Nodding, Shelby snuggled closer. 

"And you know what else?  God is with Andrew.  And God loves him even more than we do.  He won't leave him.  Ever," JenniAnn continued, as much for herself as Shelby.  "Andrew is not alone.  I promise you that."

Shelby nodded but continued to cry for several minutes.  JenniAnn thought she'd drifted into a fitful sleep until the little voice rose again.  "Psyche, can you sing the sheep song?"

"The sheep song?"

"Andrew sang it at the hotel after the Faire when I couldn't get to sleep."

JenniAnn remembered with a wistful smile.  "I don't have as nice a voice as Andrew but sure."  She began to sing.  She struggled to maintain composure as she reached the second verse.  "'Tender shepherd, tender shepherd watches over all his sheep.  One say your prayers and two close your eyes and three safe and happily fall asleep.'"

Once Shelby settled into a deep sleep, JenniAnn tucked her into the bed then returned to the rocking chair and stared out the window.  Another scene from that night flooded her mind.   Myrna peering at her with something that JenniAnn had come to realize was genuine concern and fear.  The woman's voice wafted back to her.

"Every so often... I see something real.  Something that will happen... He looked unwell.  Unkept.  Hurt.  He called for his father but..." 

"But what?" JenniAnn pondered aloud before beginning to pray for Andrew who was somewhere out there... potentially only yards away and yet somehow more distant than she'd ever felt him to be before.

End of Part I


The following were referenced or quoted in this story:
"Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers
Psalm 27- New American Standard Bible
"The Scientist" by Coldplay
The Addams Family
Hebrews 13:2
- New American Standard Bible
"The Song that Never Ends" by Norman Martin
"I'm Henry the VIII, I Am" by Fred Murray and R. P. Weston
"Turkey in the Straw" by Unknown
"Kumbaya" (origins disputed)
Le Morte de Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory
"Tender Shepherd" by Moose Charlap and Carolyn Leigh from  Peter Pan

Beyond the songs actually mentioned, I had some that I was listening to for inspiration.  Those are:
"Starlight" by The Wailin' Jennys (good song for Andrew's POV, I thought)
"Heart and Shoulder" by Heather Nova (Dyelanders' POV)
"Collide" by Howie Day (particularly during the kitchen scene when we get our first glimpse of Andrew during his assignment and also during a scene from Part II)
"The Ghost Of Tom Joad" by Bruce Springsteen (the overall mood)

The National Coalition for the Homeless provides a free report documenting attacks on the homeless.  Please visit their site for ways you can help those in need.  They also have a YouTube channel.


JABB 287

(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from "Touched by an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions. They are not being used to seek profit.)