"I found home.
You're my home.
Stay with me."

―Belle in Beauty and the Beast
lyrics by Tim Rice

Hi all,

Well, this is it!  The end of the longest story I've ever written.  All in all, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out... although I wish I hadn't done that half-awake Spell Check two days ago!  If you notice anything completely awry, it's probly due to that so please tell me.

I'm kinda sad to have this end.  Beyond the obvious (I <3 Andrew), this one was important to me cause I feel like it's, thus far, the best blend of the worlds of BatB, TBAA, ML, and our own Dyeland that I've done.  Envisioning this, parts looked like a BatB episode to me and other parts a ML episode.  It felt good to have those shows back for a lil bit.

Big thanks to Nicole for, once again, proofreading this and discussing the awesomeness of Andrew with me.  And to God for pushing together all the pieces of real life that inspired some of the elements of this story.  And, while I'm at it, thanks to real life angels and people who make the selfless choices Andrew and others do in this story.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

God bless,

PS- In case you hadn't already figured this out, the dates switch over at midnight.  So while the story starts shortly after midnight on Nov. 24th, some might still consider it the night of the 23rd. 

In the House of the Lord

November 24th      ~      November 25th      ~      November 26th

November 27th
     ~      December 3rd      ~      December 6th


November 24th


At first Catherine didn't recognize it.  She'd been so sure it wouldn't be needed... at least not yet.  Not when she had so few guests beyond the Dyelanders.  But with a start she recognized the noise: the security alarm!  Someone had either entered or left the house! 

Vincent bolted awake.  "Catherine!"  He leapt out of bed and went to the door.

"No!  You stay.  Keep watch over Jacob.  I'll go see... you'll know if I need help."  She kissed him swiftly then ran through the office and up the stairs.  The back door was still locked and bolted.  No windows were ajar.  She moved into the hallway.  It was then she heard movement upstairs.  Turning into the staircase, she nearly collided with Rose. 

"What's going on?" the young woman asked. 

"It's the security alarm!" Catherine shouted, making her way to the panel hidden in the living room closet.  The noise immediately stopped.  Moving back, she noticed the front door.  It was locked.  But the sliding bolt at the top was undone.  Someone had left and locked the door behind them.  "Psyche..." she murmured.  She'd known her cousin missed Andrew desperately.  She also knew she was unaware of the security system, she'd only been told about the separate one protecting the room Vincent shared.

Rose and Catherine leapt up the stairs and tore into JenniAnn's room.

The blonde woman had abandoned the rocking chair where she'd fallen asleep and was trying to console Shelby.  The little girl was whimpering and still had her ears covered.  The two agitated dogs clamored to hide under the covers.

Catherine sighed with relief.  "The alarm went off.  I thought maybe you'd gone looking for And..."  A queasy feeling came over Catherine then.  There was still another person who might have been more than willing to leave the shelter to search for him.  Someone who felt left alone, mourning one friend and terrified for two others.

Cira tore into the room, sobbing.  "Maggie's gone!  When I heard the alarm I thought maybe she'd just tripped it somehow getting up to go to the bathroom or something.  But I can't find her!"


Everyone turned to see Josephine standing in the hall, holding a piece of paper out to her host.

"I found it on the floor of my room.  She must have slid it under the door."

Rose shook her head, staring at the note.  "I-I must have ran past it..."

Catherine took the missive from Josephine and began to read.  As she did Rose moved into the hallway and phoned the police.  "Dear Josephine, please thank everyone for their time, care, compassion, and love.  What's being done at the Phoenix is a true inspiration and means so much.  I hope to return soon.  With Andrew.  Or at least after having spoken to him.  I need to.  But if that doesn't happen, if I don't find him and need more time... good bye for now.  You really do remind me of my grandmother and, though she couldn't be with me, I'm thankful that you could.  Peace, Maggie."

"We should have told her...  Told her more about him!" JenniAnn cried. 

Cira looked at her curiously. 

"Maggie's going to bring us Andrew!" Shelby chirped, oblivious to the seriousness of the escape.

Josephine squeezed JenniAnn's hand.  "Sweetheart, you know it wasn't your place to do that."

"I shouldn't have gone to bed.  I should have kept watch..." Catherine lamented.  "I'm going out to look for her!"

Before anyone could argue, she left the room and hurried into her overcoat.  "The rest of you stay here," she called.  "Call Adam, Mick, whomever you can think of.  Psyche, will you and Shelby please go check on Jacob?"

A second later Catherine was out the door and soon the car was pulling into the street.

"Yes, I realize she's an adult but she's definitely endangered... because she's homeless.  She ran away from our shelter.  No... but you don't understand!" Rose cried into the phone.

Cira took it from her.  "Listen to me.  You know what's going on out there.  We're telling you that a young woman left the shelter unaccompanied and unprotected.  Do something!  No, she wasn't being 'willful' or 'ungrateful'!  She left to find a missing friend!" 

As the emergency call became more constructive, Rose and Josephine called Adam and Mick.

JenniAnn left the room, balancing Shelby on her hip, and ran to where Vincent waited with Jacob.  "Catherine left.  Maggie ran off and she went looking for her."

"That was my worry.  I'll go look for her, as well."

"But what if..."  JenniAnn eyed her godfather, taking in his clothing.  She'd always regarded them as regal but to others...

Vincent embraced her.  "I'll be back by sunlight."  He glanced at the alarm clock.  "It's barely after 4:00.  I will have over two hours.  I must use them.  I'll have a message sent to you if Catherine doesn't relay it for me."  He kissed her, Jacob's, and Shelby's foreheads and left by way of the Tunnels.

JenniAnn stood, frozen and feeling helpless.

"Papa's going to help Mama," Jacob assured, hugging her. 

"And find Andrew!" Shelby added.

"I-I hope so but we're not sure of that, Shelby.  Andrew may still have work to do."  JenniAnn hated to see the little girl's face fall.  She made a lame attempt at distraction.  "Let's go upstairs and get some breakfast started."

When JenniAnn and the children reemerged from the basement, she discovered that two officers and Mick had already arrived.  The latter approached once JenniAnn had the kids settled down with waffles.

"Vincent?" Mick asked.

"Out looking, too."

Mick squeezed her shoulder.  "He knows how to take care of himself and we can use every pair of eyes we can get."

JenniAnn opened her mouth to speak.

Rose, too, heard Mick's remark and drew closer.  "Maybe we..."

The P.I. shook his head.  "But not yours.  Stay here.  Maggie will need you girls when we bring her back," he assured with his most confident smile.

Rose and JenniAnn pretended not to see the worry lurking in his eyes.


Andrew saw the dove clamoring at the window near his cot.  He sat up and looked around.  No one was keeping watch.  He walked into a small room, barely more than a closet, that had been turned into a chapel.

"Father, what is it?  What do you want me to..."  The answer came before he had finished asking for it.  "No...  A-another one?"  He stared down at his hands, immaculate as they emerged from the white sleeves of his suit.

Next thing he knew, he was back "home."  A chill crept through him as he stood in the alley.  He wondered if Crystal had, at last, returned.  If that was the case then his current form meant only one thing... he was taking her Home.  Andrew felt pulled to the dumpster.  It was the same one Maggie had hid behind only days before.  Bracing himself, he looked for Crystal or some other person who had fallen victim to the killers.  It was then he glimpsed a lock of red hair.

"No..." he moaned, falling to his knees.  He pulled Maggie to him, gently rocking her.  "Ma-maggie...  It's Andrew," he whispered.

She tried to speak but the gash to her throat made it impossible.

"I-I know...," Andrew assured her.  "I missed you, too.  Maggie, I'm an angel sent by God.  I was sent here to tell you and Ryan and Crystal how much He loves you.  How special..." 

She stroked his cheek.

Andrew let the tears pooling in his eyes fall.  "You are so special to God.  And you've become so special to me.  All three of you did and I wish... I wish I could have protected you and Ryan.  I'm so, so sorry I couldn't.  So sorry this has happened to you...  And G-God is, too.  But now... now you will never feel any pain again and you'll be able to feel His love so fully... more fully than my words or any can ever, ever express.  Maggie, it's time to go Home.  To a Home that will always, always be there for you... my friend."

Maggie's hand fell from his face.  She turned her head, rested it against the angel's chest, and drew her last breath. 


The sobs drew Vincent into the alley.  The sun was beginning to peek out and he'd nearly gone Below but something had spurred him on.  Now he knew what it was.  Spotting the figure beside the dumpster, Vincent sprinted to him.  He immediately saw that Andrew was cradling someone.  Based on Catherine's description, he knew the girl to be Maggie. 

"Andrew, I am so very sorry," he whispered, kneeling beside the angel and setting a hand on his shoulder.

"Sh-she's safe now," the angel murmured.

"Yes, you brought her to safety."

Andrew shook his head.  "God did... because I failed to by other means."

"No, Andrew!"

"Maggie survived so much...  An abusive marriage, an attempted rape at a shelter... that's why she refused to go to any un-until the Phoenix.  Why did I push her, Vincent?  Maybe if I'd kept her with me...  She came here looking for me!  She's dead because of me!" the distraught angel cried.

"It's not for us to know, Andrew.  Perhaps if you had kept her close, this may still have befallen her.  And you did not cause her death!  People who chose to do evil did.  Andrew, return to the Phoenix with me.  The ladies need to see you and I think you need to see them."

Adamant, Andrew shook his head.  "No."  Pleading, he looked into Vincent's eyes.  "Tell them I love them.  Tell them I'll see them as soon as I can.  But right now I need to find Crystal.  Hopefully I won't fail her, too."  He reverently laid Maggie down then stood.

"Andrew, listen to me.  You have not fail..."

"Tell Catherine where she is.  Please.  I-I don't want her left out here."

Before Vincent could argue or plead further, Andrew ran down the alley.  Vincent looked up at the lightening sky and knew his only option was to wait Below and tell Catherine where the body was when she returned.


Joe stared at the girl's body. 

Adam watched him as he ran a few yards off and began wildly kicking some crates. 

"If I find them... I'm gonna kill 'em, Adam.  I want to kill them.  With my own two hands."

The angel shook his head.  "No, you don't.  Joe, you've dedicated your life to this city, this country and its laws.  You won't break them."

Joe rested his forehead against the cool stone of a nearby wall.  "You're right.  But we have to find them, Adam."

Mick watched the scene with sadness then turned back to Maggie's crumpled form.  He could sense that Andrew had been there.  He tried not to imagine how that scene had unfolded.  He also tried to dismiss any thoughts of what the angel of death was thinking and feeling at that moment.  He knew it couldn't be good.  In the two years since Mick had formally met Andrew, he'd recognized three chief things about the angel.  The first was that when Andrew grew attached to someone, he felt the attachment deeply and eternally.  When that person suffered, so did he.  The second was that Andrew felt a responsibility to his charges that far outlasted any assignment.  That much was obvious in the case of Josef's Sarah and, in speaking with the Dyelanders, Mick had gathered that she was far from the only example.  The third, blessedly, was that Andrew never lost sight of the goodness and devotion of God.  Though he railed against cruelty and mourned those who fell victim to it, Andrew never forgot that an eternity of love awaited his assignments.  Mick guessed it was this optimism that kept Andrew among the ranks of the angels of death.  Yet, Andrew's compassion sometimes kept him from enjoying the eternal peace to which he brought his assignments.  Mick knew that God, all-loving, would have taken His grieving servant Home after losing a friend.  But Andrew had free will, as well.  And Mick knew it had led him back to the streets, searching for his sole surviving assignment.

Sighing, Mick pulled himself out of his musings and focused on the task at hand as Adam continued to encourage Joe.  Inhaling deeply, Mick jolted.  Maggie's scent was the most obvious.  Andrew's was at the periphery of his senses.  But there was another... Mick crept towards where it grew stronger.  His gaze fell on a bit of metal.  It was half of a pair of scissors.  Clearly beyond usefulness, he figured it had been thrown away.  Perhaps Maggie had found it.  Maybe she'd used it in an attempt to fight back.  Maybe it was one of the killers' blood that he smelled.  Leaning down and inhaling again, he committed it to memory then stood up.

"Hey, get over here!" he called to the forensics team as they pulled into the alley.  "I think I may have found something!"

Joe and Adam rushed over and watched as the halved scissors were placed in a bag.

Joe shook his head.  "But even if their DNA is on there... likely it's not in the system.  The other sample we found wasn't."

"Pray, Joe," Adam advised. 


Catherine had relocated everyone to Vincent's mother's former home where they shared a sullen lunch.  Afterwards, she returned to the Phoenix alone, packed up the things she had given to Maggie, and switched Cira's belongings to another room.  She didn't want the latter to spend the remainder of her time in the same room she'd shared with her tragic roommate.  Rose and Josephine kept Cira company at the second house. 

JenniAnn had offered to take Shelby to Mary and Jacob to his father as Catherine worked.  Upon entering Vincent's chamber, she was immediately swept up into a hug.

"Psyche, I am so sorry.  I know you and the other ladies had befriended Maggie."

She bowed her head sadly and nodded.  "Yes, but now she's with a better Friend than any of us could ever be."

"This is true but it doesn't mean you and the others cannot grieve for her."

"I know.  Here."  She cuddled Jacob for a moment more then handed him to Vincent.  "V-vincent?"


"When you saw Andrew... h-how did he seem?"

Vincent embraced his son then set him down.  Once Jacob has toddled off to his toy box, Vincent reached for his godchild's hand.  "Psyche, I fear he has taken Maggie's passing very harshly.  He would not consent to return to the Phoenix.  While he sent his love to each of you, right now he feels he must devote all his energy to finding Crystal.  And we must allow him that."

Attempting to control the feelings raging inside of her, JenniAnn breathed deeply.  "Thank you.  I'll come back later.  I just need to rest.  In my chamber."

Vincent watched mutely as she left.  Her calmness made him fear for her and he was not convinced that whatever dangerous thoughts were flitting through her mind weren't shared by her friends.


Andrew hurriedly walked the city streets, paying no attention to either the disgusted or compassionate looks that his presence brought about.  His eyes darted around, disregarding human faces.  He was looking for something else.  An angel's face.  The singing angel.  Stained glass or stone, he had to find it.  He had to find her.  He kept up his search for hours, never stopping.  At one point a woman approached him, offering him food and water but he refused.  There was something vaguely familiar about her but his mind didn't make a connection.  It simply didn't seem important.  He continued his search, oblivious as the woman and a man trailed after him.


"Message for Psyche!"

JenniAnn rolled over to face the entryway when she heard Mouse's voice.  "For me?" she asked with surprise.  It wasn't often she got notes Below.  For a moment her heart soared before she glimpsed the decidedly feminine script.  It couldn't be Andrew.  She held her hand out.  "Thank you, Mouse."

He looked expectantly at her but quickly gathered that she had no intention of letting him know the contents of the message.  With a shrug, he left her chamber.

Disinterested, JenniAnn unfolded the note.  Her heart began to race as she read the words.

"Dear Psyche, I spotted Andrew and thought you should know.  He looked frightful.  I tried to offer him food and water but I don't think he remembered me.  He darted away.  Henry and I followed.  He's in the alley behind the abandoned tannery near the train yard.  Be careful!"

The last two words were underlined three times.  JenniAnn lifted her eyes, praying in thanksgiving for the Helpers, Lin and Henry, who had sent her the message.  She immediately grabbed her cloak and ran from her chamber.


Having rocked Jacob to sleep and brought him to Mary, Vincent was praying for his grieving and worried loved ones when he heard bickering out in the passageway.  A moment later, Owen and JenniAnn entered. 

"Tell him!" the young man shouted.  "Tell Vincent about that plot of yours!  Psyche, I supported you up to this point.  I know you care about Andrew but this foolishness...  Are you trying to get yourself killed?"

Vincent stared at his godchild with grave concern.  She didn't need to say a word.  He knew her plot.  He knew it because it had been his countless times through the years.  He'd cast off Father's concern for his safety so many times when he'd gone Above to protect Catherine.  For a fleeting moment, Vincent considered yielding to the woman but reason won out.

"Owen, thank you.  Now please leave Psyche and me to discuss this," Vincent requested.

"Of course."  Before leaving he hugged his friend.  "I care about you.  Don't think I don't understand.  And don't think I don't care about Andrew.  I do.  But I'm not letting you do this."

JenniAnn bowed her head but did not answer.

Owen left and Vincent approached.

"You intended to go Above, alone, to find Andrew?"

She nodded.  "Henry and Lin saw him... they sent me a message but please don't be angry with them.  I-I had planned it out.  Rose knew I was going.  We agreed that I'd keep my cell phone in my hand and keep it on speaker and she'd have hers and if I needed help then she would call for it immediately." 
"I am not angry with anyone.  Merely concerned that you would consider such a thing.  I won't let you go, Psyche.  It is too dangerous!"  Vincent shook his head, attempting to banish troubling visions.  "What if something were to happen and you would be unable to communicate that to Rose?  What if help were too late in arriving?  The sun has not yet fully set and I cannot protect you," he told her, his voice soft and sympathetic as he embraced her.
JenniAnn pulled away and, turning her back on him, moved to exit his chamber. "I didn't ask you to protect me!  And I am going Above.  Andrew is there and he's hurting and... and..."  She twisted her ring around her finger wildly.  "I love him.  I need to go to him." 
While her desperation moved Vincent to pity, a stronger paternal force caused him to let out a rumbling growl.  "You will not!" he bellowed. 
Seldom being on the receiving end of Vincent's anger, JenniAnn shuddered. 
Her godfather was sorry to have frightened her but seeing defiance yet on her face, he could not stop and console her yet.  "Psyche, my child, I know you love Andrew.... deeply... and I know, having felt it myself, how your stomach churns... your heart aches... your hands shake from uselessness in thinking of leaving him alone among unkind hearts and in grief.  I have marked the growth of your love for him and I know it is now immense.  But I... I have seen his love, too.  I have seen the love he bears for you all.  And it is that love I must defend now, that love which forbids me from allowing you to do this."
JenniAnn at last met Vincent's eyes, struck by the tears and understanding there.
Vincent took her hands in his.  "I know you recognize there are many types of love and I know you have insisted, unceasingly, that no one type is superior to the others.  Yet... I fear you have not fully believed your own words.  Whatever love you feel for Andrew, you do think it not just different but greater than his for you."
JenniAnn opened her mouth to protest but only bowed her head.
"You now insist upon recklessly showing your love for him.  You tell me that your love is so great that you will risk your safety... your life... for him.  But please, Psyche, try to see it all from Andrew's perspective."  The tears began to splash down Vincent's cheeks as he recalled Andrew's anguish over Maggie.  "He will never be in love with you nor with anyone and I know you would not wish it otherwise.  But it does not follow that he loves you less because of that.  To risk your life... claiming your love for him as reason to do it... disregarding the protection of *his* love and his desire that you be well... you do elevate your love above his.  You feel pain now but imagine his if you were to go Above and harm befall you!  He has felt such pain enough today!"

Beginning to sob, the woman turned away from her godfather and stared intently at a clock on his dresser.  Andrew had given it to him on his fiftieth birthday.

Vincent moved to her side to look at her but her hair hid her face.  He could not judge whether she was listening or if she still intended to run.  Fearing the latter, he continued.  "No matter what happens, Andrew will survive this and be returned to the love of his friends, yourself included.  But you... there are things in this world you cannot survive.  And if you were to go Above now and meet one of them, Andrew will not be comforted by the fact that, with love for him, you met your end.  No, he will only be grieved to have yet another he loved ruthlessly plucked from a world where he needs as much love as he can find.  And his grief will be greater than what you feel now.  In seeking to ease his momentary pain, you may very well leave him with a far deeper wound.  And what do you think such a loss would mean to the rest of us?"  Vincent finished,
falling into his chair and resting his head in his hands..  He was exhausted from finally admitting to a flaw in his beloved godchild that he'd kept to himself for years. 
JenniAnn remained mute.  She wanted to scream at Vincent and make him apologize for his lies.  But even as she thought it, she knew she was the one lying.  It wasn't untruth on his part that angered her, it was his making her face a lie she'd long held to believing only she knew it.  He was right.  She did think her love for Andrew superior to his for her.  She had taken some bizarre pride in it.  False pride she recognized for the first time.  And it had led her to selfishness.  She had put her need to console Andrew above his need to protect her.  She had nearly risked the lifetime of friendly, affectionate, familial love she knew he desired for her own romantic impulses and immediate need for some physical connection to him.
"I'll be in the chapel," she whispered.
Vincent looked up and watched her flee the room, he still felt distraught for having pained her but relieved.  He knew she would not make another attempt to leave.  A moment later, still staring at the entryway, he met Father's gaze as he entered. 

The older man shook his head; the impassioned blur of blonde hair, cloak, and denim sent him back twenty odd years.  "Vincent?  What's happened?"  He squeezed his son's shoulder.
"Psyche intended to go Above in search of Andrew.  I convinced her to abandon the plan but I believe she is angry with me."
"It will pass."  Father smiled sadly.  "It always did with you and it was you our fleeing Psyche reminded me of.  In those days... I did find myself hoping that one day you would know how torn I felt.  That you would understand my need to protect you, even at the cost of keeping you from someone you loved desperately."  He sighed.  "Now it has come to pass.  It does not have the feeling of vindication I thought it would.  I am sorry, Vincent.  But know you did the right thing even if it does not seem so."  The old man stooped to kiss his son's hair and sat silently keeping him company.


In the evening, Catherine moved everyone back to the Phoenix.  She knew those who had met Maggie, and even some who had not, were struggling with their feelings and she thought it best they work through their grief together.  Sitting down at the head of the table, she smiled at Cira, Yva, Owen, JenniAnn, Rose, Josephine, and Lady Beth.

"Thank you, everyone, for coming.  I knew it would be difficult coming back here but it's a little easier with so many friends with us.  I just wanted to say... I wish I could have done more for Maggie.  But I won't forget her.  She'll be in my mind and in my heart as I greet every person who comes to stay here."  Catherine began to cry and Cira took over.

"I wish I could have gotten to know her more.  But I won't forget her, either.  Sometimes life on the streets can turn a person cold and I know Maggie didn't have an easy life even before that.  But she didn't let either change her.  She was a nice girl."

"A sweetheart who only needed to know someone a very brief time to become devoted to them," Josephine added, brushing at a tear and gratefully reaching for Rose's hand.

Drawing in a deep breath, Catherine soldiered on.  "Maggie wanted her friends to be safe.  I think, in her memory, we should pray that both Andrew and Crystal find their way home."

Without hesitation, everyone agreed.

"What should we pray?" Yva asked.  "Or who wants to lead?"

"There's a psalm I used to think of when I felt lost and alone," Owen offered.  "I still do, sometimes."

Catherine smiled at him.  "Do you remember it by heart?"

The man nodded, bowed his head, and began. 

JenniAnn let the tears slide down her cheeks as Owen recited the familiar words of Psalm 27. 

"'One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.  For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.'"


November 25th


Vincent tossed and turned as he tried to sleep.  It had been an awful night.  Josephine had convinced Catherine to return Below and spend the night in their chamber.  Vincent had held his wife and tried to convince her she was not to blame for Maggie's death.  He did his best to dispel every theory ranging from if only she'd stayed awake to if only she'd made Zeke more aware of the urgency of her need to locate Andrew.  Eventually she had cried herself to sleep.  Vincent had never made his way to dreamland.

After several hours, he realized his insomnia was not to be helped and sat up.  He looked in alarm at the foot of his and Catherine's bed.  A man stood there. Their eyes met.  Unable to bear the intensity of the stare, Vincent blinked.  When he opened his eyes the figure was gone.  Stunned, he fell back to the pillows.

"Love, what is it?" Catherine asked groggily. 

Vincent continued to stare at where the man had been.  "I-I saw someone there..."  He pointed.


"You will think I have lost my mind."

Catherine cupped his face in her hands.  "I wouldn't!"

"I thought... I thought it was myself.  Younger.  When I first met you." 

"What do you think it means?" his wife asked.

"He disapproves of me."


"I kept Psyche from doing what I so often did myself."

Catherine sighed.  "You had to Vincent.  It would have been a great risk for her to go Above alone!  Even if it weren't so dangerous, she barely knows her way around!"

"Yes, I know.  She should not have gone alone then.  It was a potentially disastrous idea.  But now... perhaps, with a guide..."  Vincent buried his face in his wife's hair.  "I can remember times I witnessed terrible things.  Things that broke my heart, slashed at my spirit, left me feeling helpless.  You would come to me.  Hold me.  It is not that I would have died without that.  I would have survived still.  But there was immense comfort in having you near.  How can I keep her from that only because Andrew is immortal?"

Catherine wrapped her arms around Vincent and kissed him.  "Go with Psyche.  Then come back to me."

"As always, my dearest one," he murmured.  He embraced his wife, hurriedly changed, and went in pursuit of his godchild.


JenniAnn sat in the Tunnel chapel, her gaze shifting from the stained glass window depicting a dove to her rosary.  She'd wandered down from the Phoenix hours before, unable to sleep.  Tears flowed down her face until she could barely see the beads in her hands.  She tried to concentrate and pray but found herself unable to focus.  So many thoughts and worries plagued her.  Where was Andrew?  Was he well?  Did he know she was thinking of him?  That so many of them were?  She prayed he knew but how could she be sure?  If he'd closed himself off again... 

The reality of their situation hit her with a clarity it never had before: this uncertainty and strain was her life and unless she made a break this was how it would always be.  She would forever be waiting and praying and hoping that the Andrew who returned was no less joyful or peaceful than the Andrew who had left.  There would be no retirement, no rest for him.  In the meantime, she would grow old.  She recalled how Owen had called Rose the baby.  She was.  But even she was only a few years younger than the others.  They would all grow old, God willing.  And in those years it could hardly be expected that Andrew's devastating assignments would cease.  At twenty seven her heart was yet strong, she could be swift when she needed to be, and she had fewer health concerns than many.  Yes, Vincent had prevented her from going after Andrew earlier.  But it hadn't changed the fact that she could have rebelled and gone despite his admonishment.  The time would come, though, when her own body would forbid such things.  And how would she face his struggles then?  How would any of them?  How could they not be consumed with worry and helplessness?  And what of children?  She'd known for a long time she would never bear her own.  But she knew one day she wanted to adopt.  And she wanted good, ol' "Uncle Andrew" to be a part of their lives.  Could she rightly subject small children to repeated bouts of her own melancholy while he was away for lengthy periods of time?  She remembered Shelby sobbing into her shoulder.  What of the children's concerns for him? 

What if she just ran away from it all?  From him?

JenniAnn thought then of the anguished words of the psalmist as first Andrew and then Owen had recited them.

"Do not hide Your face from me, do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!  For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up."

In recalling the words, the woman knew who would see them all through in those long days and nights to come.  God would be there.  He would not forsake Andrew nor any of His angels in their journeys and He would not forsake their friends as they stayed behind.  Further, Andrew had been a part of her life for so long.  To distance herself from him... to forsake him... would be tantamount to losing some part of her own being.  It was impossible, like living without one's heart.  Finding the peace that comes with reaching a conclusion, JenniAnn at last concentrated on her prayers.  She was so deeply focused that for several minutes she didn't notice she was no longer alone.  Vincent sat beside her, fingering his own rosary beads.

She waited for him to stop.  "I didn't think you prayed the rosary."

"I don't."  Vincent reverently held the beads his Protestant father had carved for his Catholic mother.  "But I feel connected to my parents through them so I pray other prayers more suited to my beliefs.  Do you think that is permissible?"

"I doubt God minds what prayers are said so long as He hears from us," his cousin assured.  "Do you come here often at night?"

"No.  Only on rare occasion.  I came looking for you .  Owen said you had left the Phoenix and returned here.  Upon finding your chamber empty, this was my next guess.  Psyche, I have rethought our conversation earlier."

"You were right.  About everything.  It was a terrible idea and I have... I have felt as you said I did."  She bowed her head.

"That does not change the fact that you had good intentions and Andrew could use a friend at his side tonight, I am sure.  While I could not approve of your going alone...  I was reminded of how often I needed such companionship myself and God sent me Catherine.  I cannot deny the same to His angel.  If you will allow me, I would like to go Above with you.  I will leave you two alone, merely watch over you until you must leave."

JenniAnn threw her arms around Vincent.  "Thank you."

"You're most welcome.  Come, let's go find our friend."  He held his hand out to her.  They each looked once more at the stained glass window and left.


At JenniAnn's request, Vincent led her first to the Phoenix.  Of the Dyelanders, only Rose remained and so JenniAnn went to her room.  Careful not to wake Josephine, she roused her friend who readily agreed to tag along.

Vincent led them through seldom trafficked alleys and side streets until he came to the place he had last seen Andrew, the same place Henry and Lin had described.  JenniAnn moved to go to the huddled figure sitting against the wall the moment she saw him but Vincent held her back and indicated for Rose to remain.  "Wait."

He took a moment to survey the alley, pausing to listen for any hint of people nearby.  He heard only cars, the meowing of stray cats, and the wind.  He nodded and watched as the women drew nearer to the angel.  Vincent tried his best to not focus on whatever would pass between them.

Andrew was oblivious, staring at the police tape yards away and remembering Maggie and what she had suffered there.  He only became aware of JenniAnn and Rose when they sat on either side of him.

"Laja," he greeted drowsily, remaining slumped against the brick.  "Rose."  A second later he straightened up and glared at them.  "What are you doing out here?  Do you have any idea how... how dangerous..."  His gaze traveled back to the dumpster then alighted on the women once more.  "You can't stay!"

"Shhh...  Don't get yourself worked up.  That's the last thing you need, Andrew."  Rose waved to where Vincent was standing.  "Vincent is here.  He's more than capable of protecting us."

"And he checked everything out.  He doesn't think anyone's around here right now cept us," JenniAnn added, unfurling a blanket and tucking it around him.

Her words calmed Andrew.  He waved to Vincent's shadowed form then smiled gratefully
as Rose produced a thermos from her bag.

"Here.  It's potato soup."
  She deftly unscrewed the lid, filled it, and handed it to the angel.

"Thanks.  How did you know where I was?"

"There was a woman.  She tried to give you food earlier.  Do you remember?" JenniAnn asked.

Andrew nodded, wondering how she knew.

"That was Lin.  A Helper.  She was concerned so she and her husband, Henry, followed you.  They told me where they found you."

Andrew rested his head in hands.  "Please tell Lin I'm sorry I didn't recognize her.  I was just..."  His voice drifted off.

"She understands, I'm sure.  Andrew, why aren't you at the shelter?" Rose asked.

Andrew shrugged.

JenniAnn frowned.  "You promised."

"I didn't think it applied any more," he responded bitterly, once again looking at the crime scene tape.

JenniAnn opened her mouth to protest but was so shocked and hurt she didn't know what to say.

Rose only shook her head.

"I'm sorry.  I didn't mean it to come out like that," he apologized.  "I know I promised you, too.  Not only Maggie."

Waiving a response, JenniAnn began to roll up his sleeve.

Andrew raised an eye brow and studied his friend's face for any hint of her intentions.  "What exactly are you doing?" 

"I was wondering the same myself," Rose added, equally unsure of what to make of her friend's behavior.

"This won't hurt."  JenniAnn pinched Andrew gently then stared at his arm.  The skin she'd gripped remained elevated.  "You're dehydrated again.  Andrew..." 

The angel saw her eyes fill with tears.  He sighed and remembered the prayer he had made at the Phoenix.  Or, rather, the one he'd cut off.  He'd found himself again wishing that the love his mortal friends bore for him might settle into a subdued, pleasant, even slightly disinterested fondness.  Something that would make these cases and their involvement easier to tolerate.

"What are you thinking?  I see such confusion in your eyes," JenniAnn mused sadly.

Andrew sighed and faced out into the alley.  "What kind of life is this for you?"

"The only one I know, Andrew," JenniAnn responded.

Rose nodded.  "And the one we chose, Andrew."

The angel swiped at his eyes.  "You spent Christmas worrying about my being in Iraq.  Then there was January.  All of you were with me through everything as I tried to comes to terms with Dawn's murder, Nadia's anger, Raquel's grief.  Laja, you're at odds with members of your family over me.  Now this?  And that's just from the last year!  You can't tell me your life wasn't easier, more carefree before me."

"I didn't have a life before you!"

Rose was taken aback by JenniAnn's cry.  While her friend might feel that way, it struck Rose as a bit over-the-top and she knew Andrew wasn't going to buy it.

Andrew chuckled in spite of the seriousness of the conversation.  He recognized hyperbole when he heard it.  "Laja, you had seventeen years worth of life before me."

She shook her head and slowly rotated her ring around her finger.  "No... less than that." 

"I don't think your crush on Andrew on the show really counts," Rose opined.

"No.  It doesn't," JenniAnn agreed.  She turned towards the angel.  "Andrew...  There's something... something I never told you."

The smile fell from Andrew's face.  "What is it?"  He glanced at Rose.  "Do you know?"

Rose shook her head, beginning to feel anxious.  She hoped whatever news flash JenniAnn was about to spill wouldn't distress Andrew further.  "I don't have a clue."

"It's not that I never intended to tell you.  I thought about it as early as the first Christmas after you came to Dyeland.  But at first it seemed too... alarming."  JenniAnn sighed. 

Rose silently took Andrew's hand in her own, wincing at the coldness of his skin through his threadbare gloves.  She made a mental note to leave hers before they departed.  Any earlier and she knew he'd refuse them.

JenniAnn soldiered on.  "Then once I knew you long enough... by then I could tell how responsible you felt for us all and for our well-being.  Something you're doing a fine job of exhibiting right now, by the way, with all that easy, carefree life stuff.  And I didn't want to make you feel even more responsible for me.  But maybe now...now you need to know."

"Then tell me."

"Should I maybe go wait with Vincent for a little bit?" Rose suggested, hoping JenniAnn would say no.  She had no desire to leave Andrew.

Shaking her head, JenniAnn drew in a deep breath.  "No... I might need you to keep me from wussing out, Rose."  She smiled at her younger friend before drawing in another calming breath.  "Okay...  It was January 1987.  I was four.  My parents let me stay here with Catherine for much of the month, so I could be with Vincent for his birthday.  One day Catherine took me shopping for his gift and a new coat and whole winter ensemble for me.  I felt like such a big girl.  We'd just finished lunch and were walking back to Catherine's office so she could show me off.  As we walked, a police officer saw Catherine and waved her over.  He said they'd found something related to a case she was working on.  But he must not have seen me amidst the crowd.  Assuming he had, Catherine followed him with me holding her hand.  She thought he only intended to show her a bit of evidence that I'd find no significance in.  But to her dismay, he led her to a body.  She was livid.  The cop felt awful.  I remember being scooped up and carried away."

"I'm so sorry you had to see that.  How awful for a small child."  Andrew moved to put his arm around her shoulders but stopped.  He was still soggy and covered with mud.  An encouraging look from Rose spurred him on.

JenniAnn squeezed his hand gently, nodded, and continued.  "It was but that didn't really hit me... at least not as terribly as it might have.  I was insulated from it because...  I'd seen someone else in the alley.  Someone beautiful and glowing and he looked so compassionately at the dead man."

Rose gasped, guessing where the story was headed.

"I was in love... well, puppy love or whatever.  I tried to tell Catherine and Vincent about him.  About Cupid, as I called him.  I think they thought it was some sort of stress reaction.  That I'd pulled my favorite storybook character out and inserted him into a traumatic event in my life to be able to cope."

Through the haze of discomfort and fatigue, memories began to coalesce in Andrew's mind.  He knew JenniAnn had received her Tunnel name because Vincent had spent many a night putting her to bed as he read a picture book version of the myth of "Cupid and Psyche."  Some years later, Vincent had shown Andrew the book.  The angel recalled the illustrations and being amused by them.  There was green-eyed Psyche with her flowy dresses and long, blonde tresses.  She was clearly at least one of JenniAnn's role models.  And Cupid...  Medium build, shoulder length dishwater blonde hair, olive eyes.  A hand-drawn mirror image of himself.  JenniAnn had simply blushed and kept her own counsel when Andrew had pointed out the likeness and jokingly threatened to take up archery to further the resemblance. 

"You saw me... when you were four?" he finally choked out.


Andrew ran his hand through his hair and grimaced when it got tangled. 

"And I'm telling you this now because I need you to know... I've thought exactly what you have.  Earlier I found myself thinking about the future and that it might be easier... to break away now.  To not be concerned about you any more, to not spend my life waiting for you, growing old and less able to do anything to help you when I'm already so limited.  But then I remembered that four year old girl, waiting for Cupid... you... to come back.  She waited for thirteen years, Andrew!  What would she think if I willingly walked away from you now?  And would you... truly... want me to?  Want any of us to?"  JenniAnn drew in a deep breath and looked expectantly at the angel.

Andrew rested his head in his hands.  "I... I don't know what to think."

"Then I'll just give you some of my thoughts," Rose piped up.

The angel smiled at the younger of the two women.

"I think there's something in what JenniAnn shared that applies to every last one of us that love you.  She felt insulated from the horror of that man's murder because she saw you.  Without knowing it, you protected a four year old child from something no child should ever see.  And you never stopped, Andrew.  Yes, we were worried when you were in Iraq.  But it's not like before that we hadn't felt touched by the war.  We did.  Just as we knew before Dawn's death that sometimes women are killed by the men they loved and that the grief that follows can be so painful.  And homeless people... they suffer so much and often are ignored and cast aside."  Rose's gaze traveled to the site of Maggie's death and she squeezed Andrew's hand when she noticed he was staring at the dumpster, too.  "We know and feel these things.  Maybe these issues become less escapable for us when you're involved, Andrew.  But they were *never* fully escapable.  And knowing you, seeing you with your assignments, noting how much you care about them... enough that you're willing to sit out here in the cold, exhausted, hungry, and dehydrated on the chance you might be able to save one...  Knowing and feeling that compassion and devotion is part of our life, too, Andrew.  And whether we've known that for only a few years or twenty three those aren't years we'd change."  She relinquished his hand and moved in front of the angel.  "So to answer your question...  Our lives probably would be easier without you... in some ways.  But they wouldn't be better, Andrew.  We love you.  How could it possibly be easier to be apart from someone you love than to be with them?"

"It's not," Andrew admitted, relaxing and pulling the blanket more tightly around himself.  "I don't want any of you to leave me.  I love all of you, too."

"Good," JenniAnn beamed at him and squeezed his left hand then examined his right one.

"It's healed," he told her.  "I think... I think a lot about me is.  Thank you both.  And Vincent.  I guess sometimes even angels need some kind of revelation."  He smiled at the two. 

"I'm glad you realize that," Rose answered.  "And I also hope you realize angels need more than that, too.  Andrew, do you think you could come back to the Phoenix with us?  Just for a little while?"

JenniAnn patted his arm where she'd pinched him.  "You need a bit of TLC."

"I know.  How about if I promise to be there for breakfast?  Right now I just need a little more time.  Is that okay?"

"Breakfast it is," JenniAnn agreed.

"You bet.  We'll be waiting for you with friends and freshly baked muffins," Rose added.  "9:00?"

Andrew grinned and nodded.  "That sounds amazing... mostly the part about friends."

JenniAnn hugged him.  "Take care until then."

"See you at 9:00, Amish Boy."  Rose bestowed her own hug, handed Andrew her gloves, and dashed after JenniAnn to rejoin Vincent.

"How is he?"

"Better now.  He'll be at the Phoenix at 9:00."  JenniAnn realized she'd forgotten to grab her pocket watch.  "What time is it?" 

"2:00," Rose answered, checking her cell phone.

"Seven hours," JenniAnn murmured.

JenniAnn and Rose imagined how that breakfast would be as they followed Vincent.  They were shaken from their reverie when they heard someone running after them.

"Chandler Jr.!  Is that you?" a voice called.

"It's Joe!" JenniAnn cried.  "Vincent, go!  Rose, you should probly go with him."

"Do not take another step, young lady!" the district attorney ordered.

"I'll have him drop me off at the Phoenix.  Go!" she repeated in a hushed tone before turning around and walking towards the angry man.

Joe became positive it was her.  He waved her nearer.  "I knew that was you.  Have you lost your mind, JenniAnn?  Follow me."

Meekly, JenniAnn followed him to two police vehicles, one marked and the other unmarked.  He waved to the marked car.  "Get in.  We're taking you to Cathy's shelter.  I assume she's there.  You, her, and I are going to have a little talk.  As if we don't have enough to worry about without young women wandering around at 2:00 in the morning!  And who were those people with you?  Was one wearing a cloak?!?"  He eyed her up and down.  "For that matter, why are you wearing one!?"

JenniAnn opened her mouth to answer but Joe shook his head.

"Just get in.  We'll talk about it during the ride.  I'll be right there."

Without argument, JenniAnn ducked into the backseat.

"Hello, miss," the driver greeted.

JenniAnn looked into the rear view mirror, smiling at the winking Adam it revealed.  "He is so ticked..."

"That's an understatement!"

They watched as Joe conferred with Bratton then stomped back to the car and got in.  "We're going to the Phoenix, Adam."

"Yes, sir."  Adam glanced at JenniAnn in the rear view mirror again then turned onto the street.

"Now you're going to start answering questions.  What were you doing out there?"

JenniAnn wasn't sure how to answer.  "I... I..."  She sighed.  "Andrew..."

Joe looked at her in surprise.  "Andrew?  You mean that lawyer that worked in the office for a while?  I could tell you were hung up on him but what does he have to do with..."  His face darkened.  "Did he hurt you?  Because if he did and that's why you were wandering around then so help me God I will personally..."

"No!" JenniAnn cried.  "Adam!?"

Adam opened his mouth to help her out but Joe cut him off.

"Adam?" he looked at his supposed partner, incredulous.  "You know each other?  Would someone mind telling me what's going on here?"  He turned back to JenniAnn. 

She sat silently, staring out the window.

"You're just like Cathy and, I'm sorry, but I don't have the heart to go through two generations of this.  She's one of my best friends and she doesn't trust me with anything.  Clearly you don't, either.  No body trusts me with anything!  That's fine.  That's just fine."

JenniAnn began to cry when she saw how greatly Joe was hurting.  "It's not that we don't trust you but there's so much we... we just can't tell you."

"JenniAnn, it's time the truth came out.  Starting with the truth about me."  Adam parked the car and turned to Joe.  "Joe, I'm not a detective."

Joe looked at Adam and the gun he was wearing.  "Oh God...  JenniAnn, run!"

Adam laughed gently.  "I would never hurt JenniAnn.  And I'm not going to hurt you.  I wouldn't be much of an angel if I did, would I?"

"An... an angel?" Joe stared in disbelief.  "I don't bel..."  He gaped in awe as Adam began to glow.  "Okay, well, I may need to re-evaluate my stance."

"I *am* an angel, ask JenniAnn if you need to."

"He really and truly is, Joe," JenniAnn verified.

"Obviously.  So, angel... Adam... could you... could you tell me what's going on?" 

"Joe, I would be happy to do that but first I think we need to get to the Phoenix.  When we get there, we're all going to have a talk about trust and the truth."  He looked sharply at Joe.  "All of us.  Now, please call your wife and ask her to meet us there."

Obedient, Joe did exactly that.


Catherine looked nervously out the front window.  Angie stood beside her and put a hand on her shoulder.

"Relax, Cathy.  Joe's bark is far worse than his bite.  JenniAnn's ears might be ringing when they show up but she'll be fine... then she'll just have to sit through a lecture from me.  Honestly, what do you think she was doing out there?"

Catherine looked at Rose who was still somewhat of breath after racing back with Vincent to forewarn her.

"I think maybe we better wait and see what JenniAnn herself has to say," the young woman responded, hoping the car ride had given her friend enough time to come up with something. 

"I suppose that's fair."  Angie shrugged then shook her head.  "It just doesn't make sense to me.  She, like the rest of you, knows better than most what's going on out there."

"Maybe that's exactly why she went," Rose suggested.

Catherine turned back to the window.  "I think I see them."  She turned to Angie, smiling with a trace of amusement.  "I have to say, I never thought I'd see my cousin dropped off in a squad car."  She peered out again.  "Oh, look, it's Adam."

The three women waited nervously as JenniAnn, Joe, and Adam came up the walkway.  The angel motioned for the other two to enter first. 

Joe immediately took a seat beside his wife, shaking his head. 

Catherine sat at his other side.  "Joe, how are you?"

Joe grunted.  "Oh, I'm just dandy.  I've trying to get the homeless off the streets and here comes this one," he waved to JenniAnn, "wandering through them like it's Sunday at the park!"

"I wasn't just idly wandering!  I... I had to see someone.  Andrew.  He's out there Joe.  And he befriended two of the people killed and he was so distraught and... Rose and I just wanted to..."  She gulped then.  "Oops."

"Great!  So you were one of the others!" Joe looked to the younger girl before turning back to Cathy.  "Chandler, what are you going to say about this?"

"I'm going to say... I'm proud of them."  Catherine smiled at the two girls seated on the other couch.

Joe stared at her in horror.  "That's ridic..."

"Please, let's all calm down," Adam suggested.  "If for no other reason than Josephine finally lulled Cira to sleep.  But more than that, I think we all just need to listen to each other.  Joe, there's been something that's been eating you up ever since these attacks began.  And it's beyond the compassion and desire to serve and protect that we all know you feel.  This is personal, isn't it?"

Joe wrapped his arms around his chest.  "I don't need to answer that."

Angie rubbed his back.  "Honey, you told me on the phone that Adam was an angel so... I think you do."

Joe looked up at Adam who smiled encouragingly.   "Alright.  See, I have a younger brother.  He fought in the Gulf War.  He never was quite right after that."

JenniAnn shot a quick look at Rose only to discover she was already glancing at her, wondering.

"Started drinking when he came back.  He lost everything.  Wife, house, job...  I... I tried to get him help.  Put him in rehab.  He'd just leave.  I had him move in with me for a while.  But he'd never stay put.  I lost track of him for years.  Then one day, last year, I was driving home from the grocery store.  This homeless guy darts out in front of my car!  I slammed on the brakes.  He just stood there, stunned, as the car stopped only a few inches away.  And I saw then...  My brother.  I ran after him, begged him to let me help him.  At least tell me where he was staying so I could see him.  He wouldn't.  He said I'd never understand.  Then he ran off."  Joe laughed bitterly.  "I don't know why I'm surprised neither of you," he waved to Catherine and JenniAnn, "trust me.  My own brother won't."  He swiped at the tears rolling down his cheeks.  "Is it the job?  Is that why no one talks to me?  Lately... lately I've been thinking it is.  That's why I'm resigning as soon as we wrap this one.  I'm done!"

Crying, Angie rested her forehead on Joe's shoulder. 

Adam began to glow.  "Joe, God is so pleased with all the work you have done.  You deserve a break, you deserve peace but...  The Father has work for you yet.  There will come a time for you to resign and to move onto a new phase in your life.  But that time isn't now."

Joe looked up at the angel, shaking his head.  "So God wants me to just put up with the distance this job has apparently put between me and those I love?"

"Joe, God never wants His children to feel alienated from each other.  Now He wants to begin to heal those bonds you feel have suffered because of your job."  The angel's compassionate gaze shifted to Catherine and he set his hand on her shoulder.  "Catherine, he needs to know.  He needs to know you trust him.  It's time."

Nodding, Catherine looked at her cousin.  "Psyche, please go get Vincent.  He's in the basement."

JenniAnn obeyed.

Joe looked up in alarm.  "Vincent?"

Catherine nodded and squeezed his hand.  "My husband.  The secret I felt I had to keep from you.  Joe, he's not like other men.  He's... he's different.  He looks different and he's stronger than most.  And in the early days when so many of our cases put me in danger... Vincent did what he had to do to protect me.  And I wanted to tell you so badly.  But there was the job.  I didn't want you to feel as conflicted as I did.  But I never realized how personally you took my silence."

"You're my friend, Chandler."  Joe patted her arm.  "I never wanted to lose you and if this guy, your husband, kept that from happening then I don't care who he is.  I wouldn't put him in harm's way.  I wouldn't betray you!"

JenniAnn stepped back into the room.  "He's waiting in the kitchen."

Catherine left and quickly returned, holding Vincent's hand.

Angie and Joe looked up at the man with alarm but neither screamed nor looked away in terror.

"Hello," Vincent greeted.  "I am very pleased to finally be meeting you both.  Catherine has told me so often of your kindness and friendship."  Uncertain, he held out his hand.

Staring for a moment, Joe took Vincent's hand and shook it.  "Great to meet you.  You, uh, you have a swell wife."  The man blushed, realizing how inane he sounded.

Vincent chuckled.  "Thank you, I agree."

Angie reached for his hand next.  "You're extraordinary..." she murmured. 

"That he is," Catherine agreed, hugging Vincent.

"Hey, wait..."  Joe waved to Vincent's ensemble.  "The cape.  You were the third person with JenniAnn and Rose."

Vincent nodded, settling into the love seat with Catherine.  "Yes, I kept watch over them.  I would have protected them if necessary."

"So you weren't really being stupid?" the D.A. asked, looking to JenniAnn and Rose.

"I won't lie.  I had some pretty foolish plots going on.  But, no, in the end Vincent kept me from that.  Rose and I were only there because we knew he could protect us.  We wouldn't have gone otherwise.  And, please know, it's not that I didn't want to tell you but Vincent's secret wasn't mine to reveal and I wasn't sure... I wasn't sure what you could be told about Andrew," JenniAnn explained. 

"So what is the story with Andrew?  I know it's been a while since he had that stint in my office but he seemed to have it all together.  How did he end up on the streets?" Joe questioned.

"Andrew's like me," Adam answered.  "He's an angel, Joe.  But while God sent me to you, He sent Andrew to Ryan and Maggie and other people who needed to hear that even as society seemed to have abandoned them, even as they were being targeted by people with hatred in their hearts... God loves them.  And Andrew and other angels have been with each and every person who has suffered since this began.  They've taken them Home to Heaven, Joe."

"Whoa... wait...  So Andrew's an, uh..." 

"An angel of death?" Angie finished for her husband.

Adam nodded.  "And so am I."

"B-but you just said you were assigned t-to..."  Joe looked up at the angel, nervous.

"Oh no..." Angie moaned.

"Angels of death aren't always sent to the person who will die," Adam assured.  "Sometimes we're sent to help others cope with death and the issues it can bring up.  And God knew that these attacks would make you think of your brother.  He knew you shouldn't be alone with that so he sent me to be with you as you went from crime scene to crime scene, worried each time that it would be your baby brother."  The angel looked to Joe with utmost compassion.

"When these attacks started up, I was horrified by what was being done.  But I was also scared.  What if they came after Jerry next?" Joe cried.

"J-jerry?" Rose stuttered. 

"My brother, yeah.  Why?"

JenniAnn drew in a deep breath.  "Monday night a friend thought Rose and I needed a break.  We went out for dessert and as we were walking to the car to come back, we saw these kids gathered around a homeless man.  They weren't hurting him.  Just being nasty.  Rose and I... we thought it might be Andrew.  But it wasn't.  He... he said his name was Jerry and he seemed to know Andrew.  He said something about Iraqis."

Joe leapt up from the couch.  "Where was he?  Where did you see him?"

"We were concerned so we drove him to New Life," Rose answered.

Joe began to sob and Angie pulled him back to the couch. 

"He's alive," Joe murmured.  "There's still a chance!"

As Joe processed the news, the group sat quietly, pondering how connected they had all been even at the times they felt apart.


Mick and Billings were patrolling the streets when Mick came to a dead stop.

"What is it?" the police officer asked.

Mick waited.  Yes, he'd definitely picked up on the scent he'd first noticed the night before, near Maggie's body.  He spun around, searching for another person but the block seemed to be silent.  A moment later, he heard footsteps.  Four sets.  No... five.  Then faint voices.  Voices he knew Billings would have no hope of hearing.  Foul, hateful language.  But amidst the barrage of insults, Mick could piece together a narrative.  One man was angry at the other.  He thought he'd gone too far killing Maggie.  No one cared about a few drugged up homeless men being taken out, he said.  But a woman.  A young woman at that.  One with a beautiful high school photo dredged up from some sweet, little Midwest town.  That got people to watch out.  Then he'd gone and left evidence.  She'd cut him as they struggled.  Idiot hadn't bothered to pick up the scissors.  True, his DNA wasn't in the system.  But their no-good cousin's was.  They could trace by family now.  He'd seen it on Law and Order.  Now they'd just have to go back.  Do some clean-up if the cops hadn't already nabbed it up.

Mick guessed them to be several yards ahead.  A good distance but not enough to start up the cruiser without them noticing and scattering.

"Billings," Mick whispered.  "I think they're a ways ahead us.  Something tells me they're headed back to the scene of the last crime."

"You kidding me?" Billings scoffed.  "These guys have had us running around for over a week and they're going to do something that stupid?"

"Maybe they've realized no one grabbed the scissors.  They're hoping we missed it and they can get it."

The officer shook his head and shrugged.  "I think you're nuts but we're not accomplishing anything here.  Let's go."

"On foot.  They're really close and if they hear the car, we'll lose them.  Get to the alley as soon as you can."

"Aren't you coming?" 

"Yeah, just go.  I'll be right there," Mick assured, knowing he couldn't allow Billings to see him run at inhuman speeds.  "I'm just going to call for back up." 

As Billings set off, Mick called Bratton and directed him to get word out.  Then he set off in the direction the gang of men were headed, hoping he'd beat them there.  He had a sick feeling in his stomach.  He knew sometimes Andrew returned to the places his assignments had lost their lives... what if he had that night?


Andrew knelt by where Maggie had died and prayed.

"Dear Father, I want You to know I'm sorry that for a moment I second-guessed You.  You have given me such amazing, wonderful gifts in my friends and it was wrong of me to want to change those friendships.  I don't.  But that doesn't... that doesn't mean this isn't very, very hard."  Tears pooled in the angel's eyes.  "I know You've said I can go Home.  Or I can go back to them.  And I want to, Father.  I do.  I don't want them to worry any more.  I don't want them to be sad.  And I... I miss them.  And I miss Maggie and Ryan.  I want to see them.  I want to see Your face but..."  Andrew rubbed at his eyes.  "There are still people out there who will continue to hurt, even kill, Your children.  The children You sent me to.  Children like Crystal.  I can't bear the idea of walking away from this assignment, leaving her and knowing that others can't escape this threat."

Peering to the heavens, Andrew stood.  "If there's any way I can help to end this: use me."


Joe and Angie were preparing to leave, not wanting to waste a moment before heading to New Life, when Joe's cell phone rang.

"This is Joe.  What??  Where???  Okay!  Adam's here.  We'll head that way right now!"  The district attorney beamed at Adam.  "That P.I. called Bratton and told him he and Billings are tracking our perps!"  He turned to his wife.  "Honey, I'll be back as soon as I can.  I just have to see this through."

"Where are they headed?" Adam asked.

"That's the crazy thing.  Right back to the scene of the last attack.  Matthew was right.  They do screw..."  He drifted off then and turned to Rose and JenniAnn.  He recalled he'd spotted them, on their mercy mission to Andrew, not far from there.  He noticed the color had drained from both their faces.  "Was that where..."

Vincent nodded.  "Andrew's there.  Go."

Adam hugged both girls then ran out of the house and into the squad car with Joe.

Vincent embraced his wife then pulled up his hood.  "I'm going, as well.  Please, promise me you'll all stay here?"

"Of course, Vincent," Catherine vowed, bringing his hand to her lips briefly.  After he nodded and left, she took a seat between Rose and JenniAnn and hugged them both. 

JenniAnn pulled away and walked to the window.  "'Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident...'"

Josephine came down the stairs.  "What's going on?  I saw Adam and the district attorney run out of here."  She noticed her niece crying into Catherine's shoulder.  "Rose, what's wrong, dear?"

"W-we need to call Yva, Lady Beth, and the others," she responded, only causing her aunt more confusion.  She left the room to do that.  JenniAnn shook herself out of her haze and followed her.

"I-it's Andrew, isn't it?  What's happened?"

"Maybe nothing," Catherine explained.  "But we know the killers are headed towards where he is."

Angie looked to Catherine, horror-stricken.  "But he's an angel!  What could possibly happen?"

"He's an angel in human form," Catherine clarified.  "And I... I don't know."


Andrew was packing up the last of the mementos the group had gathered and hid.  He hoped, one day soon, he'd be able to give them to Crystal as a remembrance of her friends.  There was a small, metal Statue of Liberty that had belonged to Ryan.  A weathered volume of poems and stories from which Maggie had occasionally read to Crystal to calm her when she became frightened.  To this Andrew had added a bookmark he'd fashioned from a stray piece of leather they'd found one day.  He'd given it to Maggie and she'd thanked him as if he'd given her the keys to the city.  Last was a limp rag doll.  Crystal's.  In a moment of clarity, she had told him her mother had made it for her and though she had walked away from everything, she couldn't leave the doll.  Its presence there saddened the angel.  He worried that she hadn't returned for it. 

Stuffing the doll into his interior coat pocket along with the other items, Andrew stood up.  He gazed around the alley one final time, remembering the few but precious nights spent there with Ryan, Maggie, and Crystal.  Smiling sadly, he turned to leave and head towards the Phoenix. 

Andrew had only walked a few yards when he heard voices.  Harsh voices. 

"Well, gentlemen, it looks like we're not destined for an off-night tonight."

The angel turned towards the speaker and found himself eye to eye with a group of... boys.  They weren't even men.  Teenagers.  One or two may have been nineteen but no older.  Each one of them stared at him with disgust and hate.  Andrew knew at once that they were responsible for the deadly attacks.  He felt anger rising up inside of him but along with it great sadness and grief for the lost promise of five young lives.

"What do you think you're doing staring at us like that?" a second boy demanded, stepping closer.

"I was feeling sorry for you.  I can't imagine what it must feel like to be so consumed by hate," Andrew responded calmly.  "This isn't what God wanted for you."

The boy at the back pushed through his friends and stood nearly nose to nose with the angel. 

Andrew didn't flinch despite the boy being considerably bulkier than himself.

Enraged, the boy shoved him.

Andrew winced as he slammed again the hard brick of the wall. 

The boy looked around the alley and seized upon a metal pipe.  "You don't have any right to be looking down on us.  Trash.  Piece of..."

Andrew stood up and stepped nearer the group, his defiant gaze taking each of them in.  "And what right do you have to take lives?  What right do you have to stand in judgment of others?  Every person you have killed belonged to God, was loved by God."

Irate, the boy swung at Andrew as his friends clustered around.

The angel moved to catch the pipe.  He cried out to his Father when, instead of stopping in his hand, the pipe made hard contact with his lower arm.  Dizzy with pain, Andrew fell to his knees.  He looked up to see the boy had again raised the pipe.  Shutting his eyes, he waited for the next blow.  He didn't feel fear, only concern for his friends and pity for his attacker.  "Father, forgive them," he whispered as the boys shouted encouragement to their friend.

"Do it, man!  Just hurry up!"

"Yeah, finish it!"

The boy with the pipe stepped forward, gripping the pipe more tightly.

"Turn around with your hands in the air!" a familiar voice shouted.  "Now!  Turn around and drop the weapon or I'll shoot!"

Blinking, Andrew saw Mick approach with his gun raised.

The assailant turned and let the pipe clatter to the ground.

"Up against that wall.  Every one of you," Mick shouted. 

One boy darted into a side alley but wasn't gone for long when he reappeared, Billings and Bratton each with a grip on one of his arms.

"What did the man say?  Against the wall," Bratton demanded. 

Andrew watched the scene feeling incredibly relieved yet somehow detached.  It was over.  They wouldn't hurt anyone again.  He heard the screech of tires and saw Joe and Adam step out and dash towards them.  They were soon joined by another squad car. 

Adam knelt beside Andrew.  "Buddy, you okay?"

"Yeah.  I think they may have fractured something in my arm but..." 

The elder angel set a hand on his friend's shoulder.  "We'll get you fixed up.  It might require something a little more extensive than Catherine's first aid kit and Nurse JenniAnn but..."  Adam frowned.  He pulled his hand away from Andrew.  He stared at it.  Blood.  "A-andrew, what else happened?"

"I hit the wall.  I don't think it was that hard," he shrugged.  He looked at Adam curiously and blinked.  "I think I need my glasses.  Everything's blur..."

Adam grabbed Andrew by the shoulders before his head hit the ground.  "Call a bus!" he shouted.  "He's lost consciousness!"

In the shadows, a newly arrived Vincent heard and ran back towards the Phoenix.


JenniAnn, Owen, Angie, and Catherine were sitting on the porch.  JenniAnn was staring up at the stars and occasionally gripping Owen's hand for comfort.  Rose and her great aunt were sitting in the living room, a Bible resting between them.  Josephine read quietly to her niece.  Willy, Yva, and Sir Sven sat on the couch across from them; each lost in their thoughts about or prayers for Andrew.  Lulu and Fawn were curled up on Andrew's former bed.  Henry, Lady Beth, and Nigel waited in the kitchen; occasionally offering food and drink to their anxious friends while feeling equally anxious themselves.  Cira had woken up shortly after Adam and Joe had fled.  She walked from room to room, wondering what she could say to comfort the people who had been so gracious and kind to her.  Finally, she thought of something.  She crept up to her room and returned holding a candle.

Everyone in the living room watched as she carefully set it in the windowsill.

Yva smiled.  "It's beautiful, Cira."

"When I was little my mother would put a candle in the window.  She said it was to guide those who were lost home.  I... I think she wanted it to bring my father home.  It didn't but... maybe it'll bring Andrew back?" she offered. 

"I hope so," Yva responded.  "Thank you."

The group jolted when they heard a thud in the basement.

"Catherine?" Willy called.  "I think something's fallen in the basement.  Would you like me to go check?"  Well he knew that the noise had been the work of Vincent but he was equally aware that Cira didn't yet know about Catherine's husband.

"No, thank you.  I'll look into it."  She smiled appreciatively then made her way quickly through the living room, kitchen, down the stairs, through her office, and into their bedroom.  Entering, she saw Vincent with his hands resting on the dresser and his head bowed. 

"V-vincent?  What is it?  Is Joe..."

"Joe is fine.  He's helping bring the killers in as we speak but...  You need to take the girls to the hospital.  St. Vincent's was the nearest.  They would have headed there."

"Why?  What's happened?"

"I'm not certain but Andrew lost consciousness and they called an ambulance."

"Oh God..." Catherine whispered.

"He's with him.  But his friends should be, too.  Go, Catherine."

Numb, Catherine nodded and bolted back up the stairs.  When she reappeared, everyone was crammed into the living room. 

"W-we need to get to St. Vincent's.  Andrew's being admitted."

Gasps and cries arose from the group.

"What happened?" Lady Beth questioned, clutching Henry's hand.

"I... I don't know.  But I know we need to get there.  Angie, could you drive a few people?" Catherine asked as she dug her own keys out of her purse.

"Of course."

"Thank you.  I can get 4 others in my car."  Catherine began to count.

"Everyone else will fit in the van.  I'll drive.  Rose, do you still have the keys?" Henry asked.

Shaking, Rose handed them over.  "But the van is..."

"It's in the garage," he interrupted.  "There will be room for everyone.  Now let's get going."

The group scrambled to lock the doors and check on the dogs.  A moment before rushing out, Cira prayed and blew out the candle.


Adam sat in the waiting room, staring at a magazine.  It was several minutes before he finally read a word and discovered he was looking at an article about finding the perfect little black dress.  He shoved it back onto the end table and rested his head in his hands.  Joe held some coffee out to him.

"Drink.  It's actually decent," the man encouraged.

Adam did as he was told then absently stared into the coffee.

Joe took a seat next to the angel.  "He's going to be okay, right?"

"He'll live.  It's a perk of being what we are," Adam whispered. 


"It doesn't mean we can't get hurt and stay hurt for a while.  Head trauma can... I mean his sight, movement, cognitive skills..."  The angel of death shook his head and banished the thought.  There was nothing to be gained by imagining the worst.

Joe blinked and slunk against the cushions.  "Damn."  He noticed Adam's hands were folded and his head bowed.  He commenced his own prayer. 

After a few moments, the two men heard a stampede of hurried foot steps.  Soon they were both mobbed as the party from the Phoenix Inn entered the room, embracing them and throwing out questions.

"What exactly happened?"

"Where did they take Andrew?"

"Has the doctor come out?"

"Are *you* okay?"

Adam and Joe indicated for everyone to find seats before they began to answer their friends.  Once this was done, Adam perched on a chair towards the entrance so he could face everyone.  He decided to tell them the answers as quickly as possible to get it over with.  "No doctor yet.  He's in the ER.  We're fine.  We don't know exactly what happened.  Mick arrived first and he saw someone strike Andrew's arm with a... a... pipe."  He grimaced as the dismay and hurt of the group filled the room.  "When I got there... h-he seemed dizzy.  I asked him what had happened and he said he'd hit a wall and then I touched his shoulder..."  Adam's voice faltered and tears filled his eyes.  Yva moved next to him and hugged him.

Joe drew a deep breath and took over.  "It became obvious Andrew had hit his head and there was a cut which was bleeding.  Now, you have to know that we didn't get a close look.  It may have been very small."

"What did Andrew say when you noticed?" Willy pressed.

Joe and Adam exchanged a look.  Catherine bowed her head, remembering what Vincent had said.

"Adam," JenniAnn knelt before him and took his hand, "please tell us."

The angel nodded.  He glanced heavenward, praying for strength and the right words.  Words that were truthful yet wouldn't panic his friends.  "Andrew started to say that everything was blurry."  The scene replayed in his mind.  "Then I grabbed him because he fainted."

The room was silent for several moments.  They didn't notice when a nurse entered the room.

"I'm looking for Andrew's family," she called.

They all jolted.  She smiled at them.  "The doctor would like to speak to Andrew's family so if whichever of you that is would please follow me..."  She looked curiously at the group as they all exchanged uncertain glances.

Joe finally stood up.  "They're all his family."

The nurse looked surprised but recovered her calm, serene countenance quickly.  "Perhaps if a representative or two..."

The district attorney shook his head.  "We'd all like to go.  Please.  It's important."  Feeling slightly guilty about it, he flashed his badge.

"Alright then, follow me, please." 

The group followed the nurse, bracing themselves and praying.


For a moment the room seemed very still and quiet.  Only a soft beeping could be heard.  But then Andrew zeroed in on an odd, scratching sort of noise that soon stopped.  His eyelids felt terribly heavy so he kept them closed, relying on his other senses to reveal where he was and who was with him.

"'Dearest and loveliest of all Andrews'" a male voice read.  "Sweet.  Obsessive but sweet, the essence of our Psyche."


"Adam said I could!  So did Dr. Steffens." 


An unknown, feminine laugh followed.  "That I did.  So I guess that little inscription there is under doctor's orders."

"Can I write something?"

"Sure.  But then it's my turn."

Yva.  Adam.

A sigh.  "He looks so peaceful.  Do you think he's dreaming?"  Someone brushed some hair from his forehead.  Rose's voice.  Maybe her touch, too?

"Pardon me, but aren't you a little concerned Andrew might awaken and be alarmed to find all of us here?"

Andrew blinked then forced his eyes wide open and stared... in alarm.  Nigel's warning hadn't quite prepared him for... he paused to count.  Willy, Nigel, Yva, Sir Sven, Catherine, Angie, Joe, Lady Beth, Rose, Josephine, Henry, JenniAnn, Owen, Cira, Adam, and a doctor.  Sixteen faces looked down at him expectantly.

"Hi," he rasped, wincing at the bright light above them.

"Do you feel like you can you sit up?  Just don't try to put weight on your right arm.  It's in a cast.  Try to drink some of this." 

Andrew looked up at the doctor who was holding an orange juice box.  He recognized her.  She'd been working on Ryan.  She was the one he'd followed into the hall.  The angel smiled at her and nodded then accepted the drink.

"How are you feeling, Andrew?"  Yva looked down at him with the same deep concern that was writ across all their faces.

Andrew took another sip of his juice, awkwardly holding it in his left hand, then beamed at them.  "Better than I have been."  A number of them still looked gravely concerned and Andrew wished he could do something to dispel it.  He raised an eye brow in contemplation.

"What is it, buddy?" Adam asked.

"I was just trying to remember something."

"Y-you can't recall something?"  JenniAnn peered at him, misty-eyed, then turned to the physician.  "Do you think his memory suffered any d..."

"No!  Laja, no.  Well, now my joke just plain isn't gonna be funny," Andrew lamented.  "I'm sorry I scared you."

"Joke?" she looked at him curiously.

"Well, yeah.  See, I remember telling Yva that I thought it was alright that you, she, and Rose took turns sitting at my bedside at Catherine's.  I just can't remember telling you I thought it'd be a good spectator sport.  There are sixteen of you in here!  That's a sports team!" he exclaimed before laughing.  "But I wouldn't want a single one of you not to be."

Dr. Steffens smiled.  "We have policies against this but when the district attorney makes a demand..."  She looked slyly at Joe.

"Yeah, well, I didn't want to be stuck as a bouncer," he jested then grew serious.  "Andrew, I can't tell you how glad I am to see you and to know..."

Andrew sighed, closing his eyes again for just a moment.  "It's over."

"Yeah."  Joe squeezed his shoulder. 

"So what exactly... I don't remember how I got here."  He smiled reassuringly at JenniAnn.  "Believe me, that's the only part I don't remember."

Dr. Steffens grabbed his chart.  "You, sir, were extremely dehydrated and malnourished upon arrival.  We believe that accounts for your fainting spell.  Detective Addams was concerned it was the result of your head wound.  However, that was merely superficial and required only a couple stitches.  Your arm however...  It was broken and so you'll probably need to wear that for at least six weeks.  Maybe some physical therapy afterwards.  But I'm just glad... I'm glad there wasn't more.  You're very lucky the police arrived when they did."  The doctor patted Andrew's shoulder.  "Normally we'd want to keep you in the hospital a little longer but I promised your friends here that I'd release you to them for the holiday as long as you promise to stay with them, eat, rest, drink plenty of fluids, be careful with your arm.  Is that a deal?"

Andrew surveyed his friends' expectant, hopeful faces and nodded.  "It's a deal.  I have no intention of leaving them any time soon if I have any say in the matter."

"Good.  I'll let all of you say your good byes in private but then I'd like Andrew to rest, alright?"

Andrew nodded.  "Yes.  Thank you, Dr. Steffens.  For everything."

The doctor found herself blinking back tears of relief.  The sadness she had borne for days had been lifted away from her as Andrew beamed at her.  She quickly exited the room.

"Alright.  We have a lot to get done.  It's the first Thanksgiving at the Phoenix Inn and if the head count in this room is representative... we have a lot of cooking to do!"  Catherine smiled at the amassed group then peered down at Andrew.  "We were hoping you might spend some time there recuperating.  The police have some questions and then there's the trial and maybe it would be easier to have you around here?"

"If there's somewhere else you'd rather be, believe me, Adam and I can fend everyone off long enough for you to rest," Joe insisted.

Andrew looked appreciatively at the D.A.  "All of you are coming to Thanksgiving dinner there?" 

Fifteen heads nodded in unison. 

Andrew laughed.  "Then I can't imagine anywhere else I'd rather be.  Catherine, thank you.  I'd love to stay."

A collective sigh swept through the room.

"So your assign..." Rose remembered Cira then and stopped.  "So you won't be staying on the streets any more?"

Andrew frowned.  "No.  I know that's not where I'm supposed to be any more.  I just wish I could have found Crystal."

"We can help you," Cira offered.  "Just because you have a home now doesn't mean she wouldn't still listen to you if we found her.  Once you've had a few days to rest, I'd be happy to help you out."

"You know we all would, buddy," Henry added.

Andrew smiled wearily but gratefully.  "I do." 

"Good.  Now try to get some sleep."  JenniAnn gently brushed her fingers against his poking out from the cast.

"We'll check back in a while, dear," Josephine promised. 

Yva nodded.  "Hopefully you can leave tonight.  Oh and... here."  She produced his teddy bear from her bag and set it beside him.

Andrew patted the bear on the head then squeezed Yva's hand.  "Thank you."

After myriad hugs and well wishes, Andrew's friends left him to his rest.  But there was one more person the angel needed to speak to.

"Father," he whispered, "thank you.  For letting me see this out.  I am so glad that those boys... boys," he repeated, still incredulous, "won't be able to hurt anyone else.  And for those who have been hurt by them, either directly or indirectly, please help us all begin to heal.  And, wherever Crystal is, please help her to know she's loved.  And missed.  Amen."

As a feeling of peace washed over him, Andrew drifted back into much needed sleep.


True to her word, Dr. Steffens released Andrew early that evening.  When he arrived at the Phoenix, Mick was waiting. Since it was the vampire's first chance to see Andrew, the others dispersed to various areas of the house while the two visited in the living room.

The angel of death didn't waste a moment before hugging his former assignment-turned-friend.  "I was worried you'd left.  I wanted to thank you."

The vampire shook his head, his curls flying.  "No way.  I had to see you first.  Hospitals just aren't a great place for me.  But I can't stay long.  Beth has to work tomorrow so we're celebrating Thanksgiving tonight.  I have turkey duty."

Chuckling, Andrew shook his head.  "You're a good man to cook a turkey you can't eat."

"Takes one to know one."

Andrew blushed.  "Thanks, Mick."

"So how are you feeling?  The dizziness let up?  Any more blurred vision?"

"Your inner medic is showing," the angel jested.  "I'm feeling good.  Not dizzy, still just a little bit near-sighted but that's nothing new!  Only this is."  He pointed to his right arm which was tucked into a sling.

"I wish I could have gotten there in time to stop them from doing that but then again..."

"Mick, you did more than enough.  But 'then again...' what?"

Mick shrugged.  "Part of me is glad.  Not that *they* broke it, of course.  But I think you needed something like that to happen before you'd be willing to take it easy and be with your friends."

"I'm afraid so," Andrew admitted.  He traced the writing on his cast, a slight smile forming.  "Thanks for being one of them."

"Any time.  But now I better be heading back.  You take care of yourself.  And you let them take care of you, too.  It'd be as much for their sake as yours."

"I know."

"Good.  I need to get going before the girls toss me out for monopolizing their, ahem, dearest and loveliest," Mick teased, reading Andrew's cast.  "Happy Thanksgiving!  I'm glad you'll be spending it here."  Mick hugged the angel.

"Thanks, and happy Thanksgiving to you, too.  And Beth.  Josef and Logan, too.  And Mick?"


"When this thing comes off," he carefully elevated his right arm an inch or two, "you'll get that rematch at pool."

Laughing, Mick nodded.  "You got yourself a game, my friend.  Good night."

"Good night."  Andrew smiled at Mick as he left.

A moment later, JenniAnn came down the stairs and plopped down beside him.

He smiled affectionately at her.  "Laja, what can I do for you?"

She bit her lip.  "I don't really know.  Just... be."  She cringed.  "That was really, really..."

Andrew smiled and hugged her.

"Sweet and obsessive," Owen called.  "Remember there's no door here in the kitchen, Psyche."  He strolled into the living room, grinning.  "I'm just teasing you although, yeah, sweet and obsessive it was.  But I concur.  Let's all just be.  It'll be very zen."  He took a spot on the floor and assumed the lotus position.

Andrew doubled over with laughter as JenniAnn launched a throw pillow at her friend. 

"Children, do either of you need a time out?"  Catherine walked in with Jacob balanced on her hip, smiling and shaking her head.

"Did I just hear one of my favorite noises ever?" Rose asked as she and Josephine emerged from their room.

"What noise is that?" Andrew asked as more of his friends filed into the room.

"You laughing."

"Good gravy!  It's contagious!  Sappiness is infecting one and all!"

Yva laughed at Owen's mock hysteria.  "I'm afraid so.  Be careful, Owen, you might catch it.  But I really do think JenniAnn was onto something.  After everything that's happened, I think we all just need to be together for a bit."

"Movie night?" Henry suggested.

"Can we make it comedies?" Lady Beth added.

"Yes!" everyone cried in unison, more than ready to put drama and crime behind.

While Yva and Nigel selected movies, JenniAnn went Below to retrieve Shelby who had been patient enough in waiting to see Andrew.  After fixing up some food, they all crowded into the living room for a few blissful hours of simply relaxing, laughing, and enjoying being together.


Though everyone was reluctant to be parted from Andrew, they realized he was still worn down.  After their movies ended, they left him on his own in his room with orders to let them know if he needed anything at all.  Fawn and Lulu, however, refused to leave his side.

Andrew laughed as they romped around.  They seemed to understand he wasn't up to his usual games with them and so contented themselves with running after the plush ball the angel threw from the bed, retrieving it, and waiting for him to throw it again.  Andrew was relieved that it was plush and not something harder.  His left-handed pitches continuously went astray but neither dog minded.

They'd been at the game for about ten minutes when someone knocked on his door.

"Come in," Andrew called.  He was surprised when Cira poked her head in.

"I know we're supposed to let you rest but it didn't exactly sound like you were..."

Smiling, Andrew motioned for her to enter.  "I wasn't.  At least not entirely.  Can I help you with anything?"

Cira took a seat in the chair beside his bed.  "I don't really need help just... can I ask you something?"


"Are you... human?"

Andrew looked at the girl in surprise.  "That's a question you don't hear every day." 

As if sensing the seriousness of the coming discussion, Lulu and Fawn plopped on the foot of the bed and sat quietly.

Cira smiled sheepishly.  "I know it's strange but...  I don't know.  The moment I saw you, when you were helping Ryan and got your hand cut, there was just something about you...  That's why I didn't worry about bringing you here.  And why I was so shocked when you, well, lunged at JenniAnn.  And then once Catherine sort of explained that... I went back to what I'd originally thought: there was just something about you.  Something beyond human."  Cira's face fell.  "And then... then the day we found out about Maggie... everyone was so devastated.  Even though Catherine had switched my room, I... I just couldn't bring myself to go into it.  I sat in the hall for a while and that's when I heard..."

Andrew reached for Cira's hand.  "What did you hear?"

"I could hear JenniAnn and Rose.  They were in JenniAnn's room and the door was closed but it must not be very thick and I didn't mean to eavesdrop but... JenniAnn said something about needing to see you.  But that someone named Vincent had convinced her not to go.  Rose was sympathetic and that's when she said something like it being assuring to know angels can't get killed or anything but that she wished there were also guarantees their hearts couldn't get broken.  At first I thought maybe she was just being affectionate.  Because I could tell how much they love you.  But she was being literal, wasn't she?  You are an angel, aren't you?"

"I am," Andrew responded.

"W-were you with Maggie when she died?"

The angel nodded, tears forming in his eyes.

"I wish she hadn't.  I didn't know her very well but when she was here we talked for a long time and she seemed like a great person.  And one that really cared about you.  And I just... I feel better knowing you were with her, Andrew.  That she got to see you before she died.  I know what it was I felt when I first saw you: love.  God's love, your love.  And I can feel it now, coming from you.  I can imagine how much peace Maggie felt, being there with you and wrapped up in that love."

Andrew moved to get up and hug the girl but she guessed his intent and moved herself into his embrace.  "Thank you.  That means so much to me to hear you say that."

"And it means so much to me to know an angel would come down here and live this life just to help us."  Cira pulled away and smiled at the angel.  "Thank you."  She sighed, wiping at her tears.  "I better get back out there.  I promised Lady Beth I'd teach her some authentic Mexican recipes.  And you do need to rest.  But I'll see you tomorrow."

"Tomorrow.  Have a good night, Cira."

"You, too, Andrew.  Sleep well."

Settling into bed, Andrew knew he would.


November 26th


It was nearly noon when the Phoenix Inn's first Thanksgiving dinner was being laid out on the dining room table.  The early time had been chosen so Catherine and Jacob could join Vincent Below for the Tunnel Thanksgiving celebration that evening and others could be with their families.  However, Lady Beth joked that it had been chosen to accommodate the men's need to watch football. 

"I thought Joe and Angie were coming?" JenniAnn questioned as she sat a basket of rolls on the table. 

"They're a bit delayed," Catherine answered.  "They said to start without them but I thought we'd give them about fifteen."

"Why does this turkey look slightly... different?" Owen asked as he set it down in front of the seat Adam would be occupying.

Following him with a bowl of stuffing, the angel of death simply shrugged.  "Does it?  I hadn't noticed.  I'm sure it tastes great."

"Everything's going to taste great!" Lady Beth insisted with confidence.  "We all did a great job."

Rose stepped in from the living room.  "Catherine, Joe and Angie are here.  And Jerry."

Catherine smiled then sprinted to the door to greet them.

Rising from the couch, Andrew stood and followed Catherine.

"Jerry, this is Cathy," Joe introduced.  "She used to work with me but I guess she got sick of me and started this shelter to get away."

Catherine laughed and swatted at her old boss.  "You're terrible."  She directed her attention to his brother.  "Welcome, Jerry.  We're so pleased you could join us.

Jerry pulled his gaze away from Andrew and smiled at Catherine.  "Thank you, ma'am... Cathy."

Andrew moved closer.  "Jerry," he greeted, holding out his left hand.

Shaking it, the man stared at his other arm in its sling.  Something about it pierced the shell he'd built in the years since the war and tears stung his eyes.  "A-andrew."  He patted his shoulder.

Andrew hugged him.  "Jerry, I'm very glad to see you again, especially here.  With your brother."

Jerry looked proudly at Joe.  "I'm glad to be here with him."

The two brothers hugged as the group made their way into the dining room.

Catherine smiled at all the familiar faces: Cira, Josephine, Rose, JenniAnn, Owen, Nigel, Willy, Yva, Sir Sven, Joe, Angie, Jerry, Lady Beth, Henry, Adam, Andrew, and Jacob perched on her lap.  Though she wished Vincent could be there, she was warmed by the sight of them all gathered together, safely.  "Adam, would you like to lead grace?" she asked.

"Sure," Adam agreed.  He bowed his head and the others followed suit.  "Father, on this day when so many gather to give thanks, we want to thank you for all the blessings in our life: food, shelter, good health, our safety, and, above all, the love we have for each other.  Though we know it binds us even when we're apart, we are so grateful that today You've allowed us to be together.  Thank you.  Amen."

"Amen," the others echoed.

As the dishes were passed around, Andrew looked on with immense appreciation.  Even though his broken arm caused consternation as he tried to eat with some semblance of gracefulness, he couldn't help but find amusement in the way the ladies vied for the chance to help him.  He found himself wondering, too, if Mick hadn't been right about his arm.  Though the Father had told him after Maggie's death that he could take some time for himself, Andrew had insisted upon continuing in his pursuit of Crystal.  But he recognized then that he had needed the time with his friends and that, quite possibly, being under doctor's orders was the only way he would have agreed to it.

"You look enigmatic, Andrew," Yva mused as she helped dish out mashed potatoes for him.  "What is it?"

Andrew smiled.  "I was just thinking about how glad I am to be here with all of you.  This just might rank as my favorite Thanksgiving."

"Better than the one with the pilgrims?" Cira asked with a glint in her eyes.  She remembered Jerry's presence then.  "Eeek...  Umm..."

Jerry looked at her and winked.  "I know, kid.  It's something else, isn't it?"  He lifted his glass.  "To angels.  Better yet, let's make it just to friends, whatever you might be."

"Hear, hear!" Joe added. 

The sound of glasses clinking filled the air and was soon followed by friendly chatter.


"Pass the ball!  Pass the ball!" Joe shouted.

"They can't hear you," Jerry teased as his older brother mimed thwacking him.

Angie peeked out from the kitchen and smiled.  "It's so great to see them like that."

"It really is and I'm glad... I'm glad everything's out in the open now." 

Angie hugged Catherine.  "Me too.  And here I was going to try to set you up!"  She looked back into the living room and laughed.  "I guess male bonding via Thanksgiving Day football viewing isn't confined to our species.  Of course, some of the girls seem to be enjoying it, too."

"*Some* of them," Yva stressed, walking past them with a stack of board games she was carrying into the rec room for the less sports-enthusiastic members of their group.  "Lady Beth and Cira appear to be genuinely enjoying the game.  Not so much JenniAnn and Rose.  Why else would they be staring at the lap top?  They could care less about the Chiefs or Bulls or Giants or whoever that is.  They just want to be near Andrew.  I can't say I blame them.  I'm snagging him for a game of Checkers during halftime!"

Angie laughed.  "I figured they were just checking scores of other games."  Before returning to the kitchen with Catherine and Yva, she waved at JenniAnn and Rose who were sitting on the stairs with the lap top.  They occasionally glanced at Andrew, smiling each time. 

"Run!  Run!  Run!" the Maxwell boys shouted, echoed by a chorus of angels of death and then a dejected "Awww..." as the play ended with a dropped ball and the video went to a commercial.  A more enthusiastic and feminine "Awww!" followed from the staircase.

"Andrew, look!"  JenniAnn walked towards him and perched on the arm of his chair, holding the computer out to him.

"You look so cute!" Rose gushed, stepping behind the chair to see the screen.

Andrew blushed.  "You two..." 

"We're being proactive.  Labeling and sorting videos *before* Valentine's Day.  We can't help it if we get distracted," Rose defended with a laugh.

JenniAnn giggled as she watched the video of Andrew.  It had been shot the previous September when a rather rambunctious game of Truth or Dare had left Andrew busking in Central Park. 

Getting up to get a drink, Joe passed the three and looked down at the monitor.  "Hey, you're pretty good!  I have to say, though, when I imagine an angel singing I just never think of Neil Diamond songs."

Andrew stared up at Joe, his heart beginning to race. 

"Look!  This lady was totally into it and started dancing!"  Rose pointed to a figure on the periphery.

The angel's gaze shifted back to the screen.  His eyes grew wide.  "C-Crystal."

"What!?  Andrew, did you say that's Crystal?" JenniAnn asked, alarmed.

"Ryan... when he was dying... he told me Crystal said she would meet him where the angel sings.  I assumed something from a play.  I looked at theatres.  Or maybe a statue or stained glass window with a musically-themed angel so I scoured the city looking b-but... it was me.  M-maybe's she's somewhere in Central Park."  Andrew jumped up from the chair.  "Can someone drive me there?  Please?" 

I'll take you," Joe offered. 

"Joe, spend time with your brother.  I'll take Andrew," Adam counter-offered.

"That sounds like the best plan.  Thank you, Joe, Adam."  Andrew yanked his coat out of the closet and grimaced as he tried to wiggle into it.

JenniAnn and Rose immediately moved to help him.


"No problem," JenniAnn answered.  She moved to tie his scarf but first cupped his chin in her hand.  "You be careful.  Don't wear yourself out, Andrew.  It won't comfort Crystal... or anyone... to have you pass out again!"

"That's right.  So let Adam help you," Rose added.

Andrew embraced each of them.  "I'll be careful.  I promise."

"I'll keep him in line," Adam assured.

"What's going on?" Yva asked, stepping into the living room. 

"I think I just might know where Crystal is," Andrew answered with a radiant smile.

Yva hugged him.  "That's wonderful!  Now just don't over do it.  Okay?"

The angel laughed.  "Already been lectured."  He drew in a deep breath then.  "Ready?" he asked his fellow angel of death.

"Let's go."  Adam smiled encouragingly at his friend as they stepped out.  He prayed that Andrew would, indeed, find the girl.  It was what he needed to feel truly and completely at peace with all that had happened.

Their friends gathered at the front window and prayed as the green mini-van disappeared around the corner.


By the time the two angels had reached the park, a light rain was beginning to fall.  Undeterred, Andrew walked as fast as he dared towards the place he'd been singing in the video.

"Not too fast, buddy," Adam warned.  "I don't want to get clobbered by our friends if you wear yourself out."

"Where could she be, Adam?"

"Somewhere she would be able to see you, if you returned here.  Obviously that moment lodged in her mind."

Andrew spun around, looking for some place within view that might also serve as a hiding place.  He gaze fell on a drainage tunnel.  It wasn't the one frequently used by the Tunnel-dwellers but much like it.  He knew they were definitely large enough to house a person in need of shelter.  "There."  Andrew pointed it out to Adam.

"Okay, let's go.  But slowly..."

Andrew nodded.  He walked alongside Adam to the tunnel.  He paused outside when they reached it.

"Do you want me to go in with you?" Adam offered.

"No, no... I'm fine.  It's only... what if she's not in there?" Andrew fretted.  "Or what if she is and..." 

Adam hugged his friend.  "Whatever happens, God is with her.  You know that."

Andrew smiled, took a deep breath, and moved into the tunnel.

Moving under a tree to wait, Adam prayed.  He checked his pocket watch.  Then again a while later.  Five minutes had passed.  He wasn't sure how long he'd thought Andrew would be in there but knew it had passed.  He was about to enter himself when he saw movement in the darkness.  Andrew emerged.  Alone. 

Andrew walked to where Adam stood and sat down, leaning against the trunk of the tree.  "No sign of her.  I guess I thought... it seemed like the Father was trying to speak to me.  What were the odds of JenniAnn and Rose watching that particular video?  Or of Crystal being in it?  Of Joe saying what he did, making me think of what Ryan said?"

Adam crouched in front of him.  "I don't know, Andrew.  I'm sorry it didn't work out.  I really am."  He hugged him.  "Come on, let's head back."

Andrew nodded and followed his friend through the rain which had begun to fall in torrents.

Adam shook his head as he watched Andrew trudge back.  Once they'd reached the van, he waited for Andrew to get in then moved to shut the door for him.

"Don't go," a voice called.

Andrew craned his neck, looking around for the source of the voice.  He didn't see anyone.  Finally, he hopped back out of the van.  "Where are you?" he cried out.  A moment later he saw her.  She was peeking out from behind a tree.  His heart soared and relief and gratefulness washed through him.  "Crystal!"  Andrew beckoned for her, walking nearer.

"Who is he?" she asked, pointing to Adam and glaring at him suspiciously.

"A friend, Crystal.  One of my oldest friends," Andrew replied.

Adam waved, smiling kindly at the girl.

It was all the assurance Crystal needed and she ran towards Andrew.  She stopped within inches of him, noticing his arm tucked under his coat. "Th-they hurt you?"

He nodded.  "But it'll heal.  I was more worried about you, Crystal.  I've been looking everywhere for you!"

"I came back here.  I thought you would come sing again.  A beautiful singing angel!  Like in the carols."

Andrew smiled.  "Yes, I am an angel.  But I don't actually sing here very often.  Only that one time.  I'm sorry I didn't find you earlier.  I wanted to so badly and I kept looking but..."  He held his good arm aloft.

Crystal slid into his embrace. 

"Let's get you out of the rain, okay?  Will you go with Adam and me to a friend's?  I promise I won't leave you."

Crystal nodded, nestling against his coat. 

With Adam's help, Andrew got her tucked into the car with some blankets.

"Why don't you sit in the back with her?" Adam suggested.  "I think it would be good for you both."

Agreeing, Andrew climbed in beside the girl.

"They got Ryan and Maggie.  I saw it on the TV," Crystal murmured, bowing her head.

Andrew took her hand in his.  "I know.  I'm so sorry."

"Did you take them to God?"

"Yes, Crystal.  I did."

"Like with my parents?"

Andrew looked at her in surprise.  He'd wondered how she'd learned he was an angel but he'd been so sure she couldn't have seen him on that day, years before.  "You saw me then?"

She nodded.  "That's how I knew you were an angel when I saw you singing.  I remembered.  Mom always said they watched over us.  You watched over us: me, Ryan, and Maggie."

Andrew wiped at a tear.  "I sure tried."

"You did.  There were just... too many bad people.  It's not your fault, Andrew."   She used a corner of the blanket to wipe the tears from his face.  "It's never your fault.  You believe me, don't you?"

Andrew closed his eyes.  He saw Ryan and Maggie, laughing and talking animatedly as they walked through a brilliantly lit field exploding with flowers of every color.  There was no trace of the worry, exhaustion, and despair that had lined their faces in the days he'd spent with them.  Maggie's smile lit up her whole face and her eyes shone as they seemed to land on him.  Giggling, she blew him a kiss.  Ryan waved, his smile also showing only warmth and peace.

Opening his eyes, Andrew discovered that Crystal was still staring expectantly at him.  Adam, too, was glancing at him via the rear view mirror.  "Yes," he answered.  "I do believe you, Crystal.  Thank you for reminding me.  I needed to hear it once more, I think." 

Adam smiled at his friend then focused back on the road and the short drive to the Phoenix.


November 27th


Thanksgiving had been a day of miracles.  Andrew had spent it surrounded by friends, even Tess and Monica had stopped by for dessert after finishing their assignments.  A family had been reunited.  Though Jerry still had his troubles, Andrew knew he realized he could trust his brother and sister-in-law to help him through.  Crystal was settled into a loving, caring home.  There she could safely face her struggles with her illness and get help in coping with the loss of her friends. 

That night JenniAnn had reluctantly woken Andrew after Crystal had suffered nightmares.  The angel had sat with her, talking about Maggie and Ryan.  He set the items he'd been saving for her on her bed stand.  She'd gone to sleep clutching her doll as he read from Maggie's book.  After praying over her, Andrew crept out of the room.  A dim ray of light at the bottom of the staircase caught his attention.  Someone was on the porch despite it being well after 2:00.

"Laja?" he whispered, turning into the room.

She turned to him with a smile but he could tell she'd been crying.

"How's Crystal?"

"She's sleeping now.  I know things will be rough for a while but now that she's here, I'm hopeful for her.  And more importantly she's hopeful."  Andrew smiled then focused on the woman.  "Laja, what's wrong?" he asked softly, sitting beside her on a wicker love seat.

She gently set her hand on his cast.  "D-does it hurt?"

"I'm thinking you more than it does me by the looks of it."

"That's not really an answer."

"It is.  And probably a truthful one.  There's a dull pain but I'm fine," he assured.  "Now answer my question, please.  Laja, I know this wasn't an easy time for you.  Not for any of you."

"Andrew!"  She stared at him, aghast.  "You were living on the streets!  Whatever was going on with me or any of us pales in comparison!"

"Not for me," the angel insisted.  "When you could, all of you listened to me and were with me when I needed you.  And I was very, very thankful for that.  But now you need to let me do the same."

JenniAnn stood up and began to pace the length of the porch.  "I... I don't know.  I've just never felt so helpless or so... so... enraged.  When we had to go to the hospital... waiting... not knowing..."  She began to shake with pent-up worry and sadness.  "I... I wanted to be with you.  To see you.  But I also wanted... I was so angry at them!"

Andrew reached for her hand.  "Laja, you and all our friends were far from being helpless.  You all helped so much!  And as for the rage... I'd be concerned if you weren't angered by what's happened.  Anger isn't a sin unless it makes a person lose control and hurt others."

"I'm not sure I wouldn't have hurt someone... had I been there when that happened to you.  If I'd been able to..." she admitted.

Andrew gently tugged her hand and pulled her back to the chair.  "We both know that if you'd been there you would have gone to me, not after them.  Of course, I would have been pretty angry with you myself at that point."  He smiled when he noticed her lips begin to curl upwards in her own smile.  "But I know you.  Your love would have outshone your anger.  That's what I love about all of you.  That's why I'll be very glad to get back to Dyeland when the time is right."

"Maybe..." she responded doubtfully, then smiled when Andrew cast her his own look of disbelief.  "Okay, you're right.  I would have focused on you, not them.  But... that reminds me of something else I was thinking about... before Rose and I came to visit you in the alley."

"You must have done a lot of thinking that night... or morning, I guess it was."

JenniAnn nodded.  "Yeah.  And sometime... soon... we'll talk about it all.  But the one thing I can't get off my mind..."


The sweet, compassionate look on Andrew's face shattered JenniAnn's emotional barriers and in a torrent all her worries came out.  "I was thinking about how hard it's going to be... to get older.  Now... now we have been able to help you.  To come to you when you need us sometimes.  B-but what happens years down the road?  This time it was Vincent's counsel that kept me from running to you the minute Henry and Lin told me where you were.  What happens when it's my body o-or my mind?  What happens when Rose, Yva, Lady Beth, me, Vincent, Catherine... all us mortals are old?  And th-then... what happens when we die?  What happens when there is no Dyeland for you?  What happens if 150 years from now you're sitting in another alley, mourning another beloved assignment?  All this time I've felt so blessed that I will never have to mourn you.  I know the others feel the same.  But somehow it never occurred to me that your immortality also meant...  'Rest in peace' will never come for you, will it?"

Andrew sighed, not knowing how he could put to rest such a concern.  "I wish I had an answer for you but I don't.  Maybe one day I will be Home for good.  I don't know.  I'm touched that you'd think of that for me even though I wish you didn't have those kinds of worries."  His expression morphed into a smile as he continued.  "You know what I do know?  When the time comes, and I hope it's a long time from now, we'll all be together there.  And even when I do leave, I'll have those memories.  And when I come back... time simply... well, it just isn't in Heaven.  I'll have an eternity with all of you in between assignments.  That's just what I know, Laja.  Who can tell what the Father has planned?  Whatever it is, I know He planned it with nothing but love for each and every one of us.  Can you trust in that even when there's so much we don't know?"

Thinking, JenniAnn was silent for a few moments.  Andrew was beginning to grow nervous when she tilted her face up to him, smiling.  "I can, yes.  And even though you don't have all the answers, the ones you shared do make me feel better.  Thank y..."  She fought a yawn.

"I think it's time you get back to bed," Andrew suggested.

"Yeah..." JenniAnn admitted but simply settled against the cushion of the love seat.

Andrew chuckled.  "And yet you're not moving."

"I spose I'm kinda afraid when I wake up, you'll be gone," she confessed, blushing.  "I-I know it's probly babyish but... I am afraid."

"I will be there right next door.  I promise you.  And it's not babyish."  Andrew bestowed a consoling smile on her and kept it to himself that he found her worries concerning his disappearing or fading away to be more than a little irrational.  And yet...  "That day... when you were four... how did you lose sight of me?"

JenniAnn stared down at her hands, nervously twirling her ring around her finger.  "As Catherine carried me away, I peeked over her shoulder.  You were walking down the alley and then you just got see-through and then... nothing."

Andrew nodded as he realized, unwittingly, he'd done exactly what he'd promised her he'd never do: disappear.  For thirteen years.  "I will never, ever do that again.  I promise.  And I wouldn't have done it that day if I'd realized... I didn't know you could see me.  It's still...  Wow."

"I know.  And you have enough on your plate right now so we'll hash it all out later.  But...  thank you for the promise.  It meansh a lah..."  She frowned after the yawn subsided.

"You're welcome.  But now... bed time?"  Andrew stood and held his left hand out to her.

JenniAnn hesitated.

"It's okay.  I'm much stronger now.  These ladies kept shoving plates of food at me," he teased.

Smiling again, JenniAnn accepted his help up.  She stopped once they'd come to the door.  "Andrew?"


"I have one more question.  Actually, it's one some of the other girls and I were trying to figure out earlier..."

His eye brow arching, Andrew looked down at his friend.  "Go on."

"Well... it's just with your being right-handed and that being outta commission... how are you gonna brush your hair?" 

"Hmm...  You know, I had given that some thought.  I was thinking I might get it cut really short.  Maybe like a buzz cut?"

JenniAnn's face fell.  "Oh...  Well, yeah, I guess that makes sense.  That'd look... it'd look very nice.  Very... nice."

Andrew squeezed her shoulder, laughing.  "I was only kidding you.  I'll figure it out and I suppose if any one in our group would like to try their hands at men's hair styles I'd be willing to be a guinea pig."

JenniAnn enthusiastically hugged him.  "Oh, I'm so glad!  I mean not that I wouldn't still love you with short hair... I mean you had short hair when we truly met, after all... or no hair for that matter, but it just... it would be sad.  And... it might be kinda fun to practice styling hair that isn't attached to my scalp.  I mean one never knows when one might need a second career."

The angel chuckled.  "Right... because that's exactly why you asked about my hair: career exploration.  Laja, I mean this is the absolute best sense of the word: you're just a little crazy."  He beamed at her.

Giggling, JenniAnn nodded.  "Your fault, though."

Andrew laughed.  "So am I to be held accountable for every crazy thing you've ever done since you were, well, four?"

"Sounds reasonable.  I'll let the other ladies decide how many years of their own craziness you should be held accountable for.  But, yes, twenty three of mine."  JenniAnn's grin faded away after a moment.  "You're not upset with me for not telling you before now, are you?  I understand if you are."

Andrew shook his head.  "I'm not upset.  Still surprised.  But I understand why you kept it to yourself.  The truth is if I'd known a few years ago, I'm not sure I would have handled it very well.  Did you... were you really waiting for me to come back?"

Hesitating for a few moments as she thought, JenniAnn began to pace again as she answered.  "Yes... and no.  The little girl was waiting for a fairy tale prince to come back... complete with an entourage of singing animals like something outta Disney.  Not really you.  But later when I got older and would find myself reflecting on that memory... I guess I was waiting.  I just had this feeling that..."  JenniAnn's face reddened.

Andrew blushed himself, wondering what exactly the preteen JenniAnn had imagined.  "Tell me, please.  Whatever it is," he requested.

"It's going to sound dopey."

"So what if it does?  It's only you, me, and God here.  And He already knows and I wouldn't judge you."

"Okay... I had this feeling that when I found you again... I'd be home.  Truly.  Well, as truly as I can be in this life.  And I was right in more ways than I could have guessed, Andrew.  Because it wasn't just a feeling of belonging and acceptance that I found with you.  All of Dyeland really became a community, a home after you showed up.  For so many of us.  And that's why, no matter what happens and no matter how hard it may sometimes be, I can't step away from you.  You bring people Home and you do such an amazing job of it.  But you've also brought me and so many others a sense of... no... a *true* home in this life, too."  JenniAnn drew in a deep breath.  "Remember when Eli was in Beauty and the Beast?  And I cried and cried during the song where the Beast seems to die?  Into your shoulder for part of it, if memory serves."

Andrew nodded, smiling.  "I remember very well."

"Well, it wasn't just what was happening on stage, Andrew.  It was the lyrics.  'Don't you know how you've changed me?  Strange how I finally see: I found home.  You're my home,'" she quoted, brushing at tears.  She reached for the angel's hand.  "And you always will be."

Andrew pulled his friend into a hug.  "And that means so, so much to me."  He chuckled.  "You're yawning again."


"I think you should head upstairs.  You wait much longer and I'm afraid I'll have to carry you... with one arm as if you were a football."  He grinned, the twinkle in his eyes apparent even in the dim light.  "And that just doesn't seem respectable." 

Laughing, JenniAnn shook her head.  "Alright, alright."

They went inside and Andrew waited as JenniAnn locked the door behind them.  They trudged up the stairs, parted with a hug at their doors, and soon everyone in the shelter was sleeping soundly.


December 3rd
A Week Later


Shelby was trying to loop Andrew's tie around his neck when JenniAnn and Rose trooped in, their arms laden with freshly laundered clothing.  They did their best to stifle giggles.  It was obvious the little girl had chosen the tie which was covered in neon images of Mickey Mouse and clashed rather spectacularly with the angel's tweed jacket.

"I don't get it."  Shelby looked up to JenniAnn, imploring her.  "It won't tie right."

Andrew attempted it himself but quickly threw up his left arm in defeat.  "It's turning out to be one of those things that's really hard to do one handed.  Please help." 

JenniAnn whispered something to Rose then approached Andrew and began to do up his tie.  "No problem."

"Shelby, do you think you could help me fold these socks?" Rose asked.

The little girl nodded enthusiastically and sprawled on the floor with the pile of socks.

Andrew smiled then leaned closer to JenniAnn, whispering.  "Do you think you could manage to grab me another tie without Shelby noticing?  I'm just not sure about Mickey Mouse at trial..."

JenniAnn grinned.  "I already asked Rose to.  She'll grab one as soon as Shelby's occupied with rolling your socks.  We'll switch it on the ride over."  She pulled back to get a better view.  "Tie looks straight to me.  You're set!"

Andrew glanced in the mirror and nodded. 

Rose deposited some clothing in a drawer then stood next to the angel of death as he continued to stare into the mirror.  "Are you nervous?"

The angel shrugged and smiled at her.  "Not really nervous although I'm not particularly looking forward to this.  But, then again, I am.  I want to speak up for Maggie, Ryan, and the others."

"I know you'll do a great job," Rose assured.  "And I'm glad you're letting us go with you.  I don't think you should testify alone."

"I agree.  But there are definitely some things I can do alone."  He noted JenniAnn buzzing around the room, putting away his clothes.  "Laja, please just relax.  I'll put my own clothes away later.  It may take me longer but I can do it.  I could have even done my own laundry if certain individuals hadn't insisted..."  He looked from Rose to JenniAnn.  "I don't want any of you spending the next few weeks feeling like you need to take care of me."

"Now, let's be fair here, Amish Boy," Rose protested.  "Don't act like you've never gone out of your way for us.  Seems to me it was you that patched up Aunt Josephine's roof when it started to leak."

"And unclogged my bath tub drain after it got a lil too much of my hair," JenniAnn added as she put clothes away.  "And fixed my window when that storm broke it."

Shelby tugged on Andrew's good hand.  "You fixed my doll house.  And built our tree house and our playground."

"There you go.  Besides, Andrew, you know JenniAnn needed quality time with your flannel," Rose added, returning his smile then looking to JenniAnn who she fully expected to tease her right back.

JenniAnn remained silent, leaning over one of the drawers, and transfixed by something. 

Andrew and Rose exchanged a concerned look, their levity dissipating. 

Catherine knocked on the door, causing JenniAnn to jump.  "Sorry.  Just wanted to let you know that Willy and Yva just stopped in with some brownies.  I thought you might want to grab one before we head to the court house." 

Andrew smiled at her.  "That sounds great.  Thanks, Catherine.  We'll be right down."

Catherine sensed something was afoot and waved Shelby over to her.  "Hey, Shel, why don't we go save some brownies for them?"

The little girl nodded enthusiastically and ran down the stairs with Catherine in pursuit of the treats.

The angel returned his attention to JenniAnn.  "Laja, what is it?" 

JenniAnn slid something off the top of the drawer.  "Your driver's license."

"Oh, yeah.  I noticed that showed up.  Believe me, I won't be driving like this.  Don't worry."  Andrew raised his sling.  "I'm guessing I'll need it at the courthouse today for ID," he explained.

The blonde woman continued to stare at the piece of plastic. 

"Is the photo that bad?  I better look again."  Andrew smirked and reached for it.

"Only if I get to see it after!" Rose insisted, eyes lighting up at the prospect of soon having another bogus ID to add to her collection of Andrew's.

JenniAnn handed it to the angel who allowed Rose to look at it with him. 

Rose smiled, admiring what was actually a very kind, characteristic expression on Andrew's face.  It wasn't at all the squinting, bad hair day disaster she'd imagined.  A moment later, however, she stifled a gasp.  She knew what had upset JenniAnn.  It was there just to the right of his photo: DOB: 9-20-1964.  The last ID Andrew had turned over to her for safekeeping had read 9-20-1974.  It was confirmation of something she'd suspected they'd all noticed but none had spoken about.  Andrew simply looked older.  Now there was the confirmation in black and white.  God, not prone to hyperbole or fits of worry, agreed.

After a week of being comfortably ensconced at the Phoenix, doted on by loving friends, and very nearly spoiled; Andrew had rallied.  But he knew the strain of the assignment was still evident on his face.  And in his hair which had lost some of its luster.  He tired easily.  As he dragged his hand through his hair, he noticed that it was chapped and cracked.  "I'm just a little tired still," he explained, his voice very soft.  "Maybe once the trial is over... maybe I'll look like my old... younger self.  I'm sorry if this has upset any..."

"No!" Rose interrupted.  "It's just upsetting because it really brings home what you experienced and the impact that had on you."

"The very obvious impact," Andrew muttered, glancing fleetingly in the mirror before stepping away.

"But you can't think that changes how any of us feel about you!" Rose cried.

JenniAnn drew Andrew back to the mirror and Rose stood at his other side.  All three of them looked at their reflections as JenniAnn spoke.  "I wish you hadn't been hurt.  I wish your heart wouldn't have been broken having to see what human cruelty wrought here.  I wish you looked as carefree and rested as you did that last morning in Dyeland.  But that doesn't change the fact that right now, looking into this mirror, the Andrew I see is somehow even more beautiful than that one of two weeks ago."

"I definitely agree to that," Rose seconded.  "Because this Andrew," she squeezed his hand, "has helped, encouraged, and loved even more people.  And while you've always been very handsome and still are, that's always been what's made you beautiful."

Speechless but intensely grateful, Andrew attempted to hug them both.  He let out a much needed chuckle when he saw the new reflection in the mirror.  Rose received a hug like all the rest he'd given her.  JenniAnn's hug, however, had somehow resulted in a lock of her hair becoming entwined in his sling.  When she moved a sizable chunk of her hair stood out at a right angle, connecting them.

"Uh oh," Andrew squeaked out between chuckles.

"Andrew, Psyche, Rose: it's time to go!" Owen called, hustling up the stairs.  Turning into the room, he burst out laughing and looked back down the hall.  "Catherine, you better come here.  Your cousin has actually succeeded in physically attaching herself to Andrew."  He grinned at Andrew.  "You, sir, seem to have attracted a parasite."

"Brat!"  JenniAnn hissed but her angry facade was diminished by her laughter as she tried to break free.  "And I prefer symbiont, for the record."

"Are you the anemone and Andrew the clown fish or is it the other way around?" Rose teased as she tried to extricate her friends.

Catherine and Yva walked into the room and both joined in on the laughter.

"Andrew's the clown fish, of course.  He looks much better in clown, well, mime make-up than I do," JenniAnn responded.

"And this hair looks much better on you than me," Andrew added, picking at strands with his good hand.  After a few tries he untangled them.

"Good job!" Yva cheered.  "I wasn't sure about how the two of you were going to get into the witness stand like that!"

Andrew laughed.  "The judge would have loved that."  The bemused expression melted from his face.  "I guess we better go."

Yva hugged him.  "You're going to do wonderfully, Andrew.  And we'll all be right there for you.  Now let's go grab you a brownie before we leave."

"Okay, thanks."  Andrew hugged her back then followed her out of the room.

"For a moment there he looked... peaceful again."  Rose smiled wistfully.

Catherine hugged the young woman.  "I've seen him look that way frequently.  He'll keep improving, you'll see."


"Oh, Psyche, what is it?" 

"What if I can't bear to sit there and listen to what they did to him and to the others?" JenniAnn murmured. 

"I'm worried about that, too," Rose added.

Owen nodded.  "I'm a little concerned about my ability to stay in my seat myself."

Catherine pulled all three into a group hug.  "It's going to be hard but we're all going to sit there and we're all going to listen because that's what Andrew needs us to do.  Okay?"  She peered into three solemn faces and upon receiving three nods, she led them out of the room to face the boys who had caused so much pain.


Andrew had given a testimony that truly moved the jury, especially in contrast to the stony, emotionless faces of his attackers.  However, the victory was hard won and the angel had been left shaken.  Though he hadn't told anyone, he'd been looking forward to the court date as one final chance to help those boys see what pain they had caused.  As he'd stared out at them, he'd known he'd failed at that.

Sensing he needed something pleasant to focus on, JenniAnn had invited him to accompany her, the Tunnel children, and a few others on a trip to Central Park.  It was a mild afternoon and Andrew was cheered by seeing the kids running around, sledding, and making snow people.

The angel was giving Shelby advice on how to create an optimal snowball when he heard JenniAnn gasp.  Spinning around, he saw she was staring at a sixty something woman and that the lady was looking back at her.  A moment later the stranger's gaze shifted to him.  A young girl at her side set off at a run and stood before him.

"Hi there," he greeted.

"Andrew!" she cried, flinging her arms around him.

Startled, Andrew patted the girl's head then looked questioningly at the woman she'd been standing near.  The lady was intently regarding him with a mixture of surprise, sadness, and... tenderness?  He watched as JenniAnn took her arm and led her towards him.  As they approached, Andrew recognized her.

"Andrew, this is Myrna," JenniAnn introduced.  "Do you remember her from the Renaissance Faire?"

The angel nodded, blushing as he recalled her fussing over his tunic.

Myrna studied him.  Tears filled her eyes when her gaze landed on his right arm. 

"Andrew, when I was with Myrna she told me she saw... she saw that you were going to get hurt.  I didn't believe her," JenniAnn lamented.

Andrew shook his head.  "Laja, it wouldn't have changed anything.  You couldn't have done anything.  But why... how did you know?" he asked Myrna.

"Grandma sees some things sometimes.  She has a gift," the girl explained, proudly smiling at her grandmother.

Myrna smiled.  "This is my granddaughter, Melissa."

"It's good to meet you, Melissa."  Andrew stooped to shake her hand.

The girl stared at him, enchanted, and seemed in no hurry to relinquish his hand. 

JenniAnn hid her smile when Shelby, apparently a little jealous, began to cling to Andrew's coat.

"Do you think we could... I mean you and whichever of your friends would like to... meet for dinner?" Myrna asked.

Still very much confused, Andrew nodded. 

"My cousin runs a shelter where we've been staying.  Maybe we could meet there?  It's the Phoenix Inn, across from Adrian's Coffeehouse.  It'd give us some privacy we might not find in a restaurant," JenniAnn suggested as she handed Myrna a business card.

"I'd love that," Myrna accepted.  "If Andrew doesn't oppose."

The angel of death shook his head.  "No...  No, that's great.  I, uh, we'll see you then?"

"At 6:00?" JenniAnn asked.  "Does that work for you?" 

"Perfectly.  Melissa, let's let them get back to what they were doing."  Myrna reached for the girl but her gaze never entirely drifted from Andrew. 

Reluctantly letting go, Melissa went to her grandmother.

Andrew, JenniAnn, and Shelby watched them walk away.

"What was that all about?" Lady Beth asked, leading over a group of kids with whom she and Henry had been sledding.

"Andrew and I briefly met that lady at the Ren Faire.  But I'm beginning to think she has more history with our Andrew than anyone knows just now," JenniAnn explained.

"There was something about her..."  Andrew tried to place her.  It was in her eyes.  Something familiar.  He'd noticed it that day at the Faire but had been too flustered and concerned for JenniAnn to think much about it.

Shaking her head to dispel the oddness of the situation, JenniAnn looked back to Lady Beth.  "She and her granddaughter are joining us for dinner.  I guess we'll find out then what's going on.  I get Myrna being struck to see you here, Andrew, but I wonder why Melissa acted as she did?  Huh."

Andrew was still watching the two figures, lost in his thoughts.  He roused when Shelby slipped her hand in his.  "Hey there, kiddo.  So let's see that snowball!"

The little girl proudly produced a perfect, icy sphere and showed it off to the angel.

"Great job!"  Andrew knelt down and whispered something to her.

A moment later Henry was hit in the back of the leg with the snow ball as Shelby and Andrew did their best to look absolutely innocent.  The brown-haired angel of death chuckled and quickly moved to build up his own arsenal of snow balls.  Very soon the entire group was engaged in a snow ball fight.


Andrew, Lady Beth, Rose, Yva, JenniAnn, and Myrna sat at the Phoenix Inn kitchen table after the last of the dishes had been cleared.  They smiled as they heard Melissa, Shelby, and the others debate what movie to watch.  Before long the discussion died down as a movie was selected and the group in the kitchen more easily followed each other's conversation.

"I'm still so surprised we met you here!" JenniAnn exclaimed, looking at Myrna in amazement.  "When everything happened... I wished I had some way to contact you.  To apologize for being short with you if nothing else.  I am sor..."

Myrna cut her off.  "No need to apologize.  Just because I was right about that doesn't excuse the other things I've made up and I do intend to make a change.  But as for how we ended up here, Melissa's mother is away on business so I thought a trip to New York would be a nice way to distract her.  I could never have guessed..."  She looked up at Andrew.  "We've been thinking a lot about you, praying for you."

Andrew smiled at her.  "Thank you.  I still don't understand how you knew I was in trouble."

"It was when you followed JenniAnn into my tent.  When I touched you.  I was overcome by this vision," Myrna explained.  "I don't usually have such vivid ones except with family and very close friends.  But you... I saw you looking..."  She cringed.

"Homeless?" Andrew guessed.

The old woman nodded.  "And you winced as if in pain."  She looked at his arm.  "How did it happen, Andrew?"

"When you were here did you happen to see anything on the news about the attacks on the homeless?"


Andrew nodded.  "I was the last.  They were apprehended right after..."  He gingerly lifted his right arm. 

Myrna peered at JenniAnn.  "Now I really wish I hadn't said that stupid stuff to you that day.  Maybe if I hadn't rattled off about a proposal of all things you might have taken me seriously and Andrew would be..."

Andrew set his hand on Myrna's arm.  "No, Myrna.  Everything that happened had to happen.  If it hadn't been me that night... they might have killed someone else.  I don't regret being out there.  It was very, very hard..."  He gratefully accepted a tissue from Yva.  "But it was an honor to be there for some of those people and to deliver them Home, to safety.  And don't think your prayers didn't help.  They did, Myrna.  They always do.  Thank you."

After a few moments of silence, Lady Beth spoke.  "I wonder why you had that vision of Andrew, though, if usually they only happen with those you're close to?"

Myrna drew in a deep breath.  "I'm not sure you'll believe me."

Rose smiled encouragingly.  "I think we'd all believe a lot more than you might think."

Nodding, Myrna went to her purse.  "I asked a neighbor to fax this over to me.  I think you need to see this, Andrew."  She set a stack of papers in front of the angel.

"'The Journal of..."  A lump caught in Andrew's throat as he read.  "'Nathan Wilkens.'"

The Dyelander women looked from one to the other, confused. 

"Nathan was Hope's fiance," Andrew explained.  "Hope Lewis."

JenniAnn gasped.  "Oh... Andrew..."

"Look here, dear."  Myrna stood behind Andrew's chair and flipped through the pages.  "There you are... an angel of mercy as Nathan told it.  A real angel."

Andrew nodded as the group stared in awe, looking at the centuries old drawing of him.

"And here..."  Myrna turned the page again, "is Hope, your friend and my ancestor."

The angel stared at the beloved, much-missed face.  Though Nathan's drawing was only in black and white, it brought to mind the color of her eyes and their sparkle.  Andrew realized then why Myrna had seemed familiar.  He stood up and hugged the woman, crying into her shoulder. 

"I... I always wanted to believe some part of Hope continued on here," Andrew finally said. 

"And I always wanted to believe that this," she waved to the book, "was real.  That there really was an angel there.  That there are angels around us still.  I didn't want to think, like my dad, that Hope had hallucinated you in grief.  Her letter was too beautiful for it to have been to someone who didn't exist."

"H-her letter?"

Myrna looked at Andrew, surprised.  "I thought you would have seen it.  It was a letter to you.  After the trials, it was found in the prison and given to Nathan.  But I assumed you would have known somehow."

Andrew shook his head.

"Then maybe it's been waiting for the right time."  Shakily, Myrna dug through the pile of papers and held one out to Andrew.

The angel swatted at his tears but couldn't keep them at bay and returned to his chair.

"Andrew, would you like me to read it to you?" Yva offered.  When he nodded, she took the letter from Myrna and began.  "'Dearest Andrew, I am writing you from this lonely prison on what I know shall be the last night of my life.  I am shunned even by my fellow prisoners.  I am anathema to those who helped educate me.  I am rejected by the church which built my faith.  I am filthy.  I am cold.  I am cast out.  I shall be killed by those who were told to love me as themselves.'"

Myrna stroked Andrew's back as he laid his head down on the table.  It all sounded far too familiar and recent to him.

Yva hesitated but eventually continued her recitation.  "'And yet God has sent you to me.  You have brought His love to this dark corner.  You have brought friendship to my lonely heart.  In your embrace, I know am not evil.  I am not an object of scorn.  I am Hope.  I am God's child.'"  Yva handed the letter to JenniAnn to continue as she reached for a tissue herself.

Steadying herself, JenniAnn began.  "'My future is short, Andrew.  But yours shall be limitless.  I ponder what will come your away.  I long to guard your heart and spirit as you have guarded mine.   I know this has been a difficult time for you, Andrew.  I... I can see it in your face, in your eyes.'"  She paused to look at him but his face was still hidden.  "'I hope soon you will smile again with the joy I first saw in you.  I know you will face much more pain and sorrow in the years to come.  But I know you shall never be overcome by it.  This is what I want you to know: your presence has meant so much to me.  In thanks to you, I go without fear to face my new Life.  Be at peace, dear Andrew.  Thy friend eternally, Hope.'" 

Andrew sat up and took the letter from JenniAnn.  As the paper passed from her hand to his, the facsimile morphed into a sheet of parchment.  Hope's actual letter to him.  He clasped it to his chest. 

"I have to believe that what she wrote would be echoed by Ryan and Maggie, Andrew.  And Jerry and Crystal," Rose whispered.  "By everyone who knew that you lived among them and suffered with them so they wouldn't be alone.  You helped them see that even if it seemed the world cast them out... God and His angels never did."

Lady Beth crouched by Andrew's chair.  "Andrew, you took Ryan and Maggie Home.  You brought Crystal to this home.  We'll watch over her.  I promise you that.  Right now... I think you need to go Home yourself."  She looked up at her friends' faces.  Though tears were in their eyes, they all nodded.  "We think so."

Andrew nodded.  "Thank you.  There's so much I want to tell you about what you've meant to me these past weeks..."

"And we'll be here, ready to listen, when you're back," Yva assured.

"Angels can get to Kansas, can't they?" Myrna asked, beaming at the angel.

Andrew chuckled.  "We can.  And this one will be paying you a visit.  After I go Home.  But first..."  He hugged them one by one. 

There was cooing at the window and the women all turned to admire the pure white dove, nestled on the snow covered windowsill.  When they turned back, Andrew was gone. 

He was Home.


December 6th


The Sunday night after Andrew's departure, the ladies of Dyeland had gathered at the Cafe to unwind.  They'd been there for nearly an hour when Tess had walked in... leading Andrew.  There had been much shrieking and hugging and excited cell phone calls.  People scrambled to finish a surprise they'd been working on for Andrew and an hour later Tess and JenniAnn walked him over to his house.  As they stood on his porch, Tess produced a blindfold. 

JenniAnn bit her lip as Tess wrapped it around Andrew's head.  "Just be careful not to get his hair tangled up in it!  That hurts!"

Tess gave her a Look as she started to tie the blindfold.  "Baby, you're too anxious.  How much caffeine have you had?"

Andrew chuckled.  "Enough, I'm sure.  But you know what?  How about I just close my eyes?"

"Promise you won't open them til we say?" JenniAnn checked.

"I absolutely promise."

Tess shrugged.  "Alright then.  No peeking.  Here we go, Angel Boy."  She knocked and smiled as Adam opened the door.

"Hey, there buddy!  You look great!" the elder angel of death greeted.

Everyone hovered around to see that this was, in fact, true.  Though Andrew's arm was still in a cast and he still looked older, he appeared infinitely more rested and contented than he had three nights before.

"I'd like to say the same of all of you but I'm not allowed to open my eyes."  Andrew grinned, stooping to pet Lulu and Fawn whose locations were easily surmised by their wet noses pushing up against him.

"Just a lil bit longer.  Here."  Rose took his hand and led him into the living room.  "Everyone ready?"

A chorus of yeses answered her. 

"Okay, open your eyes, baby!" Tess cried.

Andrew looked around to see that Monica, Henry, Yva, Eli, Sir Sven, Willy, Nigel, Lady Beth, Owen, Josephine, Vincent, Catherine, Mick, Beth, and some of the Tunnel children were all crammed into his festively decorated living room.  Behind them stood his Christmas tree and beside it all his ornaments, unwrapped and ready to be hung.  Another table was brimming with carafes of cider and hot chocolate and plates of cookies galore.  A banner reading "Welcome home, Andrew!" ran across the front of it.

"We thought you might like a little Christmas cheer to welcome you back, Andrew," Monica explained. 

"With lots of Christmas food!" Eli added, surveying the impressive spread with wonder.

"I... yeah... wow...  This looks great!"  Andrew's face lit up as he turned around, surveying their work.  "You all... thanks.  Thanks for everything you've done for me."  He smiled at Rose, JenniAnn, Yva, and Lady Beth.  "You were right that I needed to go Home.  I really did.  But now... now I'm happy to be home here, too.  It looks like you have everything ready for one heckuva decorating party!"

"And it's only part one of two.  I've invited all of you over to decorate the Phoenix tomorrow.  Crystal and Cira are really hoping you'll be there, Andrew.  Do you think you can make it?" Catherine asked, hopeful.

"I'll be there!" Andrew vowed, beaming. 
"So what are we doing first here?"

"Hugs first!" Shelby cried.

Andrew chuckled and happily obliged, greeting first the little girl then each of them.  Once he'd made the rounds, drinks were poured and plates of cookies passed around as ornaments were hung. 

Through out the evening, Andrew found himself stepping back and admiring the sight of so many people he cared about gathered together in his home.  He briefly thought back to that troubling night in Catherine's kitchen and to the psalm he had prayed along with JenniAnn: "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life."

Andrew knew that his prayer had been answered.  As an angel, he'd always known that God's true house was simply love.  He felt it perfectly and completely in Heaven but standing there in his living room amid laughter, friendly embraces, and the amused recitations of shared memories; the angel recognized he was very nearly Home there, too. 

The End


The following were referenced or quoted in this story:
Psalm 27- New American Standard Bible
Law and Order
"Transformation" from Beauty and the Beast, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Tim Rice

These are the songs that inspired me for this part:
"Love, Reign O'er Me" by Pearl Jam- I believe this was the first song I really connected to this story.  I'd actually want this one played were this an episode of a TV show.  I can't decide whether I'd want it played over the scene of Mick, Vincent, Adam, and Joe racing to the alley or over the scene of Andrew searching the park for Crystal.  Maybe both?

"Have a Little Faith" by Michael Franti & Spearhead- This I would use over a juxtaposition of images from the hospital after Andrew was admitted, doctors working over him, with his friends worrying, them going to consult with the doctor, etc.

"Here With Me" by Dido- This has been one of my "Andrew songs" for a long time.  I had it in mind when I was writing the scene of Andrew and JenniAnn on the porch.  Her angsting out about Andrew never resting in peace made me think of these lyrics: "And I won't go.  I won't sleep and I can't breathe until you're resting here with me."

"Your Arms Feel Like Home" by 3 Doors Down- Credits song.  It works on so many levels.  Andrew and God.  Crystal and Andrew.  Andrew and anyone with a tie to Dyeland.

"God Help the Outcasts" by Bette Midler- Yes, from The Hunchback of Notre Dame a la Disney.  I thought of it at odd moments during the story, especially during the reading of Hope's letter.  Plus, it always kinda reminds me of Christmas.

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 288

(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.)