Hi all,

Merry Christmas!  I hope you're all having a wonderful day, aren't too stressed, and that you can keep the Christmas spirit going in the days ahead.

So, ideally, I would have finished "The Advocate" this year which is set before the story that follows.  Unfortunately, life and my brain had other ideas.  So I decided to limit this story to only a small handful of characters so I don't spoil what happens with others during "The Advocate."  The only piece of information in "The Advocate" that would be relevant to know for this is that after giving Ed the choice of whether to remain an angel or become human in "The Lost Sheep," Joshua asked Andrew to be Ed's buddy and counsel him.  Andrew and a few other angels also brought Ed along on assignments to expose him to different things he could do as an angel so he could make an informed decision.  This story is the culmination of that.

Anyway, welcome to the last newsletter of 2022!  May 2023 bring you happiness!

God bless,

Love Incarnate, Love Divine


Love Came Down at Christmas
by Christina Georgina Rossetti

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and to all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.


Wednesday, December 16th, 1998

Steve sighed as he tilted his face up towards the sun.  Chilly as it was, the sun was dazzling.  And it was nice to be out and about, away from classrooms and his dorm... and away from Romeo and Romeo.  It's not that Steve minded Patrick and Craig making googly eyes at each other.  Despite the best efforts of his parents and, seemingly, the entire university faculty, Steve didn't believe that homosexuality was a grave evil.

But that didn't mean it was easy feeling like the odd man out.

And, if he were honest, sometimes Patrick and Craig got under his skin.  They were just so... confident.  He smiled to himself when he recalled the duo's latest post-class rant.

"Sure, sure.  It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve like old Rottweiler said."

"Don't call Rotterdam that, Patrick.  It's rude to rottweilers."

"Fine.  Apologies to the pups.  Anyway...  You can't tell me that there wasn't a couple of blokes making eyes at each other a few trees over.  Someone creates an arboretum, I'm gonna show up."

"Absolutely.  And the Serpent was definitely gay.  He was the original gay best friend.  All 'Oh, Eve, eat this so you can know things and don't just listen to your idiot husband.'"

"Right.  Exactly.  Eve and the Serpent were, like, the original Julia and Rupert."

Steve hadn't known what that had meant but Maren had sat him down with a DVD of My Best Friend's Wedding and put him right... somewhat apologetically.  Steve never quite let his fiancee know that he secretly adored rom-coms though he suspected she knew.  Maybe they'd have a chance to watch more when he spent Christmas with Maren's family.

Steve frowned at the thought.  It wasn't that he disliked them.  They were kind to him.  And Maren was, of course, the best thing to ever happen to him.  She was beautiful and intelligent and creative.  And she'd make a wonderful mother... something her own mother would repeatedly remind him of.  Steve loved her.  Truly. 

He just couldn't help but feel like something was missing.

He needed a drink.

On his way to a cart selling cocoa, Steve spotted them... a huddled mass of black and gray hair, worn denim, and a torn coat sprawled across a bench.  Their face was hidden behind the cascade of hair, making it impossible for Steve to determine the person's gender.  Instantly, Steve's own concerns seemed minuscule.  He sighed and said a prayer then proceeded to the cart.

"One co..."  Steve looked back to the bench.  "Two cocoas, please.  Extra marshmallows.  Maybe a bit of cinnamon?"

The woman behind the counter smiled and nodded.

"Be just a moment, dear!"

Steve pulled a few bills from his pocket, his eyes repeatedly wandering back over to the bench.  He hoped the person wouldn't leave before the cocoa was ready.

Thankfully, the woman was very quick.

"And here you are!"

Steve smiled and handed her the money.

"Thank you.  Merry Christmas!"

"Merry Christmas, dear!"

Steve slid a ten dollar note under the sleeve of one of the mugs.  His hands shook just a bit as he made his way to the bench.  He hoped the person wouldn't be irritated.  But he felt compelled to do something... even this small thing.

Once he was near the bench, Steve cleared his throat.

"Hi.  Umm...  It's a bit chilly, isn't it?  I... I thought you might want this.  It's cocoa.  With marshmallows and cinnamon.  I hope that's all right.  I'm just going to set it down here."

Steve proceeded to set the mug on the ground.

The figure grunted... a masculine sort of grunt, Steve thought.

"Right.  Well...  Merry Christmas."

Steve imagined the responding grunt might possibly have been "thank you."  He remained for a moment, entranced by the way the sunlight hit the man's hair.  Then, feeling very awkward, he hastened away, past another bench where a somewhat perturbed but kindly man sat pretending to read a newspaper. 

Steve had just reached the edge of the park, well out of earshot, when another man plopped down on the bench.

"So what did I miss?"  He noted the glare on his companion's face.  "My most beloved, bestest boss and Creator..."

Joshua laughed and threw an arm around the latecomer's shoulders. 

"Raphael...  My tardy, flighty, but, yes, very beloved creation...  You missed the meet-cute."


Joshua handed him some cocoa then waved to the other bench.

The figure slowly sat up then hurriedly grabbed his cocoa and began chugging it.  He paused briefly... looking ahead just as Steve turned out of the park and disappeared.

"Edgar Rawiri..." Raphael murmured.  His eyes filled.

Joshua nodded.

"What's he doing up here?"

"He was sent to break up a marriage by planting an earring in a guy's car.  He couldn't bring himself to do that so, instead, he just messed with the car... resulting in it not starting when the couple was headed to the wife's niece's Christmas pageant.  An argument ensued... she'd been after her husband to get the car checked out.  He'd procrastinated.  They'll be fine but, well..."  Joshua waved to Edgar who was staring into his mug, looking very glum.

"Poor fellow.  But that was his anam cara that just left, hmm?  When do I start with them?"

"2019.  So you have some time... and preparations to make.  I figured I should give you notice since, well, you're not known for punctuality," Joshua teased. 

Raphael bowed his head and giggled from behind his mass of curls.

"Here."  Joshua handed him a slip of paper.  "I need you to speak to this couple...  They need to buy the building listed.  Then I need them to turn it into a gay bar."

Raphael continued to giggle.

"Somewhere, a televangelist is weeping."

Joshua chuckled then glanced back over at Edgar, his features softening.

"Everything will turn out, my own.  I promise," he murmured.

Raphael squeezed Joshua's hand and took a sip of his cocoa.

"Your husband will be by your side soon enough, Edgar," Joshua continued.

Raphael began to sputter. 

"I'm sorry... hus... husband?!"

Joshua grinned.

"Maybe the suspense will keep you on track and on time."

Raphael looked in amazement at Edgar then in the direction where Steve had gone.

It most certainly would!


Saturday, December 10th, 2022

Steve awoke to the familiar sensation of being enveloped in Ed's arms.  He smiled dreamily and twisted around so he could nuzzle his boyfriend's shoulder. 

"Mmm... g'morning," Ed greeted.

"G'morning.  Did you sleep well, darling?"

Ed nodded.

"Bit cold but yeah."

"Hmm...  I think we can fix that."

Ed chuckled as Steve sandwiched him between his own body and the mattress then pulled the comforter over both their heads.

"Well... now I'm cozy but I can't see you, love."

Steve adjusted the comforter so a bit of morning light shone in.

Ed smiled up at Steve and cupped his right cheek.


Steve leaned down to kiss Ed who eagerly returned it before sighing.

"As much as I'd like to stay here... exactly like this... I better get up.  I want to give the ship a good once-over before I meet with Andrew.  And we need breakfast, of course."

"Of course."  Steve smiled as he smoothed some hair behind Ed's ears. 

Ed noticed when the smile faltered.

"What are you thinking, love?"

"Oh... it's only... well... this meeting with Andrew..."

"Just doing my due diligence... like I promised Joshua.  My mind is made up.  You're... all right with that?  Or... or not?" Ed checked.

Steve nodded before nuzzling his face into Ed's neck.

"It makes me nervous.  It... it was comforting to know that, no matter what, you could never die.  But... I trust you to know your own heart, Ed."

Ed kissed Steve's hair and gently stroked his back.

"I do, Steve.  Better than ever."

Steve responded by kissing Ed's neck.

Ed's contented sigh turned into a chuckle.

"I can only imagine what that's gonna do to me when I'm human, mate."

Steve gave Ed his most innocent smile.

"Not at all sure what you mean."

Ed laughed then patted Steve's back.

"As much as it pains me, I really oughtta get up now."

"I suppose..."  Steve released his boyfriend and watched as he began to get ready, humming as he did.   "Ed?"


"Could you... promise me something?"

Ed set the clothes he'd chosen down and turned back towards the bed.

"Anything, love."

"If it's possible... I mean I suppose it might happen in Heaven... but if not...  Can I be there when you... transform?  I...  Well, I'd just like to be there in case it... it hurts or is uncomfortable or... or anything."

Ed returned to the bed and enclosed Steve in his arms.

"Of course.  But I don't think it will be.  I think Joshua woulda mentioned that before.  But, yes, I want you to be there.  Absolutely.  And... if you think about it... not like it'll be the first time I've been in a human body.  So I assume it'll feel like that except without the soul-crushing anxiety over the fact that the love of my life was gone.  And probably also no nausea this time.  That'll be nice.  Didn't like that."

Steve smiled sympathetically.

"You were in quite the state when I got back..."

Ed rested his forehead against Steve's.

"Missed you.  But this... this'll be good.  You'll see."

After another quick peck, Ed resumed his preparations. 

Steve remained in bed for a few moments longer, admiring the angelic vision before him.  No matter what, Ed would always be his angel, his miracle.


Andrew pulled his robe more snugly around him as he stared out the window of his and JenniAnn's cabin near the Fields of Gold.  No more fresh snow, didn't appear to be much wind.  Their ride back to Willowveil should be fairly easy so long as Starbuck and Yonah complied.  That knowledge didn't do much to diminish the angel's reluctance.  Of course he wanted to see his kids and his pets and Joshua.  And he was very grateful to the latter for giving him and JenniAnn a night away.  But Andrew had an assignment after breakfast.  It was bittersweet taking someone Home right before Christmas.  So often it meant leaving behind families, newly grieving at a time that should be filled with joy.  On the sweeter side, sometimes his assignment was the last of their family and ready and waiting for their Christmas reunion.  Either way, they left Andrew thinking of his own family, of their future, of...

"I missed you."


She had her arms wrapped around his waist and her face pressed into his back.

Andrew smiled and twisted around so he could see her.

"I've only been away for three minutes, Laja."

"Mmm...  Too long.  I'm kind of obsessed.  Remember, I used to write songs and poems and stuff about you.  Ya know, before we decided to have five kids and two grandkids and a slew of pets and not much free time."

Andrew chuckled and kissed her hair.

"I do seem to remember that.  You'd have to update some lyrics nowadays, if I'm remembering correctly.  'Andrew's hair's more golden than the Irish sun.'  I don't think the sun... Irish or otherwise... has much gray."

"Mmm...  No.  Maybe not.  But..."  JenniAnn reached up and buried her hands in Andrew's hair.  "But I think it's even more beautiful now.  Gold AND silver..."

Andrew smiled.

"Glad you think so.  And I'd sacrifice my blonde hair a hundred times over to be able to do this."

JenniAnn giggled as Andrew lifted her onto the counter and began kissing her.

The couple was interrupted by the coffee maker beeping.

JenniAnn sighed and pulled away.

"As much as I love this... I do want my caffeine.  Can we take it back to bed?  I still wanna snuggle."

"Absolutely.  Because so do I."

Andrew prepared their mugs... black for him, creamer and vanilla syrup for her... and then carried them back to the bedroom.

Once they'd both taken a couple of gulps, JenniAnn hugged Andrew's arm and nuzzled his shoulder.

"So your plans for today?"

"This."  Andrew kissed JenniAnn's hair.  "Then breakfast with the kids.  Then I have an assignment.  Then I need to be back home by 2:00 to meet with Ed."

"Oh right!  I forgot that was today.  You think he's gonna do it?  Become human?"

"I don't have a single doubt."

JenniAnn considered this for a moment then squeezed Andrew's hand.

"Would you have done that if Joshua had offered way back when?"

Andrew sighed.

"I dunno...  I don't think so.  Well, maybe in a weak moment had you not given your bird speech.  I love my work.  But... if it meant keeping you from something you really wanted... keeping us apart..."  He shook his head.

JenniAnn wrapped her arms around him.

"Then I'm very glad I finally got up the nerve for the bird speech.  Because I wouldn't have wanted you to do that."


"Okay, well, I might have had my own weak moments a time or two before Avi... when the baby fever got a lil outta whack.  But even then... not like we'd have had a guarantee of getting pregnant.  And... that baby wouldn't have been our Avi.  It wasn't a baby-sized hole in our lives.  It was specifically an Avi-sized one."

Andrew smiled proudly.

"Couldn't have said it better myself, Laja.  But I think it's different for Ed.  For one, Steve isn't ace.  For another, he was a principality.  Generally speaking, I think they're more human-like to begin with since it's not a swoop in, swoop out sort of assignment."

"Probably so."  JenniAnn waited for Andrew to take a sip of his coffee before she moved onto his lap and rested her forehead against his.  "I'm glad you're not human.  Not that bad things can't still happen to you.  We... we know that all too well."  She kissed his temples.  "But... but not like cancer a-and heart attack and all that.  But... I am sorry that you don't have that same comfort with me.  That burden isn't shared equally."

Andrew sighed and ran his hands up and down JenniAnn's back.

"No.  But I wouldn't change a thing about you."

JenniAnn beamed and planted a kiss on the angel's brow.

"Why do you suppose God offered that to Ed and only Ed, though?  I mean Reuel is a principality.  Reuel has a human anam cara.  But he never became human."

"Reuel still has his people thriving in the mortal worlds, Laja."

"Oh... of course.  True."  JenniAnn frowned.  "Poor Ed.  But also... many whole civilizations have died over the eons and yet..."

Andrew shrugged.

"I'm not sure myself what happened to their principalities.  Maybe they still work with the descendants.  Maybe they were given the choice to remain in Heaven with their people and took it.  I think God is allowing Ed this choice at least in part because, well, he's one of the strongest, most resilient people I've ever met, Laja.  But he has his mental health struggles and I think God, in his infinite wisdom and love, wanted to take as many worrisome things off Ed's plate as possible.  He's not gonna have to worry about depriving Steve of the type of intimacy he wants.  I also think God wants him to have the greatest chance of stability and acceptance.  He needs that after everything he's gone through.  Sad to say, Ed and Steve will face some bigotry simply because of who they are.  But by being allowed to marry... that gives them protection and status among humans that an obscure, heavenly blessing isn't going to.  I think for Ed... and Steve... it's going to be comforting to say 'This is my husband' and no one with sense questions it.  He belongs with him, they're established, nothing to see here.  There won't be a need to continually justify themselves with 'No, we're not married but we're just as committed and...'"

"Good points!  I hope they have many, many happy years together!"

Andrew beamed and kissed JenniAnn's forehead.

"Me too.  And I hope we have many, many more."


Andrew continued to smile as JenniAnn buried her hands in his hair.

"'His hair is silver and gold and my heart he will always hold,'" she sang.  "Okay, so it doesn't fit the original rhyme scheme but... it's true."


JenniAnn giggled as Andrew pulled her closer and buried his face in her hair.

Andrew sighed contently.  Whatever Ed chose, he hoped he and Steve would be as happy and he and JenniAnn were.


"Uncle Ed!  Uncle Ed!"  Belle bounced up and down in front of the window in Willowveil's entryway.  "Can I open the door, Mama?"

"Sure," JenniAnn agreed as she made one last attempt at wiping cookie frosting from Avi's face before he barrelled towards the door.

Ed laughed as the door was flung open and he immediately had a child on either side of him.

"Ah, tamariki!" he greeted, lifting first Belle and then Avi and briefly resting his forehead against theirs.

"Did you decorate your ship for Christmas?" Belle asked.

"Can we come see it?" Avi added.

"Kids, give him a chance to take off his coat before starting an inquisition, please," JenniAnn requested.

"I'll take your coat!" Belle chirped.

"Thanks!"  Ed handed it off to her.  "And, yes, we did decorate for Christmas and some of the other holidays, too.  And you can come and see it if your mum and dad agree.  Just remember, we can't actually sail because of the ice.  Not til Spring here."

Avi and Belle turned to face their mother.

JenniAnn smiled and nodded.

"We'll make sure to pay the Fleetwood a visit before Christmas.  Thank you, Ed, for the invitation that you were not at all pressured into giving," she teased.

Ed laughed.

"Happy to give it, in any case.  Always nice to show the Fleetwood off.  Steve will be thrilled."

"Oh good!  Now, kids, I have to talk with Uncle Ed for a bit so could you maybe go help Violeta and Shel in the kitchen?  I think they're gonna start making some Oreo balls."

"Oooh..."  Belle gripped her brother's hand then the two ran off towards the kitchen.

"Oreo balls?" Ed questioned.

"Horribly addictive things.  We'll make sure you get some," JenniAnn promised.  


"For now... let's head to the ballroom."

"Sounds good."

"So...  Andrew's running a bit late.  I think God's been giving him very chatty assignments lately to try to break him of his utter devotion to punctuality," JenniAnn explained as she ushered Ed into the ballroom. 

Ed chuckled.

"Isn't punctuality generally considered a good thing?"

"Definitely!  And, obviously, completely necessary with his assignments.  But do we really need to show up thirty minutes early to a movie... in Omaha?"  JenniAnn teased.  "He and Violeta got into it a lil bit a week ago because she was taking too long with her makeup.  All it was for was cookie decorating at my parents'.  So... I think God's trying to stress to him that, among family and friends, there's always grace.  Showing up five minutes late to my parents' is most assuredly not the same as showing up five minutes late to an assignment."

"Right.  And I hope he knows I'm not going to give him a hard time.  I mean... I certainly don't mind spending a few minutes with you if... I mean only if... you're up for a chat."

JenniAnn squeezed Ed's hand. 

"Of course!  But lets get you settled and then I'll get some cocoa for the both of us."

Ed beamed.

"Sounds great.  Thank you, JenniAnn."

"You're very welcome!"  JenniAnn waved to a comfortable couch.  "I just started the fire so if you're chilled, help yourself to that throw."

"Will do.  Thanks.  Again."  Ed smiled shyly.  He was still not used to the way so many of the Friends, JenniAnn and Andrew chief among them, had seemingly taken him under their wings.

"Welcome again!  Be back in a bit!"

Once JenniAnn was gone, Ed did make himself comfortable.  He admired the Christmas decor then reached for a photo album on the coffee table.  It was a recent addition.  He smiled when he saw it was devoted to Andrew's and JenniAnn's blessing ceremony.

Ed flipped through the pages, admiring the gorgeous photos.  He especially loved the ones of Andrew, JenniAnn, and their kids.  But his heart skipped a beat when he turned a page.  This one was his favorite. 

It was a candid shot of Andrew and JenniAnn at the reception.  Even though there were people scattered around in the background, they appeared to be in their own little world.  Andrew was seated and JenniAnn was on his lap.  Their foreheads rested together and they were both smiling as if in the midst of a private joke.  The phrase "They are a pair.  Do not separate" popped into the angel's mind.  He loved that meme and this was a perfect embodiment of it.

Ed sighed happily as he reached the end of the album.  He couldn't wait until he had one of his own... his and Steve's... to show off.

"And here we are..."

Ed blinked at the tray JenniAnn was approaching with.  Then he laughed.

"This is..."

"A lot, I know."  JenniAnn smiled down at the array of toppings and mix-ins.  "But I wasn't sure how you took your cocoa.  The tea I've figured out... seven sugars, splash of milk.  But not cocoa so... have at it."

"Thank you!"  Ed merrily surveyed the toppings, zeroing in on the whipped cream and hundreds and thousands which he heaped onto his cocoa followed by a dash of cinnamon. 

Once JenniAnn had prepared hers... a bit of chocolate orange melted in and topped with marshmallows... they each sat down and took a sip.

"Delicious."  Ed sighed with contentment.

"Good!  So... how have things been?  You're back on the ship for a couple of days?"

Ed nodded happily.

"Yep.  I got yesterday and Monday off so we decided to make a long weekend of it.  Any less than that and it can be a little difficult with the time zone shifts."

"Yeah...  I can see that.  And the dramatic seasonal changes."

Ed shrugged.

"Kinda love it.  Get to come here and have a movie Christmas... snow, ice, scarves, mittens...  But then go home to Aotearoa and bask in the sun.  You're always welcome, ya know.  The whole fam.  To get away."

JenniAnn patted Ed's arm.

"I know.  Thank you!  And I just might take you up on it in January when things slow down.  Just hard in the lead up to Christmas and also with Avi..."

Ed nodded.

"Course.  I understand.  If there's anything we can do to make you all more comfortable, let me know.  But I also understand if you'd rather not take the risk."

"Thank you.  Really.  Andrew and I go back and forth on things... always looping Vincent in.  It'll be easier when Avi is older.  He's such a mature little fellow but... maybe not quite at the point where we can entirely trust him to make the best decisions."

"Never been four.  Well, not four like that.  But if I had, I imagine I woulda based decisions on how much sugar I could get."

JenniAnn laughed.


The two were quiet for a few moments, enjoying their cocoa, when Ed began to shuffle.

"I, umm, had been hoping to run something by you.  A... a concern I have.  Nothing major just..."

JenniAnn set down her mug and peered intently at the angel.

"What is it, Ed?"

"Well...  I... I'll be asking Joshua soon... probably very soon... about becoming human.  My mind's made up.  It's the life I want for Steve and me."

JenniAnn squeezed Ed's hand.

"I'm so happy for you, Ed!"

Ed smiled and nodded.

"Thanks.  Me too.  And I don't think there's anything that can deter me but... I do have a couple concerns.  First, I know I'll miss my family.  It's been nice being able to visit them.  I... I hated being apart from them for almost 200 years.  But... I know this time will be much shorter.  A quarter of that at most.  And... and I know I'll be with them again.  Not like last time when... when I was worried I might never..."  Ed brushed at a tear.

"I can only imagine...  But you're right.  This won't be like that at all."  JenniAnn handed him a handkerchief.  "And I'm sure they'll be watching over you... so happy for their angel!"

"Yeah.  Thanks.  They said as much when I visited last week... probably for the last time."  Ed gave her a shaky smile then took a deep breath and proceeded.  "The other thing... well... this past Spring... I really enjoyed spending time with you and the other ladies.  Having you confide in me, feel safe around me.  What if...  I mean I know I'll want Steve and only Steve... I just know that...  But what if Ed-as-human turns out to be bi or pan?  Will... will we lose that?"

"Oh Ed!  That's... well, frankly, that's adorable that you've thought of that.  But, no, I don't think anything will change.  You'll still be Ed.  Our Ed, our friend.  So please... don't worry about that.  And please know that Aziraphale and I would love to have you still come join our group when you can.  Just because you'll be human, it doesn't mean you won't still be dealing with the baggage of being an angel.  And I'm not nor have I ever been an angel.  So... would even be nice to have another human around."

Ed beamed.  That had been another concern of his.  He'd enjoyed taking part in Aziraphale's and JenniAnn's therapy group.

"Yeah...  Yeah, I'd like that a lot.  Thanks!  And thanks... for putting me at ease on the other thing.  I... I went so long without real friends that, well, I don't want to lose any," he explained.

JenniAnn squeezed his hand again.

"And you won't.  We'll be there."

"Thanks."  Ed sighed happily then took another sip of his cocoa.  "I did promise Steve I'd cut down on the sugar once I'm human.  Don't love that."

JenniAnn giggled.

"Well, we'll just have to get you some stevia for Christmas.  Though I'm not sure if they make sprinkles... hundreds and thousands... from it.  But maybe we could figure it out!  Could be a good thing to experiment with in our group."

Chuckling, Ed nodded.

"Sounds like a good time.  Thanks.  So... you gonna watch the Call the Midwife Christmas special?"

"Yes!  Though probably not the night of.  Lil hard to pull off with the kiddos.  But what do you think is gonna happen this season?"

"I hope Lucille is pregnant again.  And that Dr. Turner and Sister Julienne have made a full recovery, of course."

"Yes!  And I wonder if Trixie is gonna get married."

"Hoping so!"

Five minutes later, the two were still making their predictions when Andrew hurried into the room.

"Sorry!  I got held up by a very sweet, little, old lady who insisted we organize her closet before I took her Home.  She didn't remind me of anyone at all."  Andrew winked at JenniAnn then kissed her cheek.

"Did she organize it based on ROYGBIV?" JenniAnn asked in between laughs. 

"No.  Most favorite to least favorite color."

"I can respect that."

Ed laughed and offered Andrew his hand.

"No worries, mate.  JenniAnn and I have been having a great time.  So your assignment's good?"

"Thrilled.  Though I suspect she's probably already started organizing hues in the Department of Natural Wonders."

"Probably for the best.  They tend to get a little disorganized and I don't want to think about the panicked headlines if people woke up to a turquoise and indigo sunrise," Ed jested.

"Oof.  No.  Dealt with enough doomsayers in my life," Andrew agreed.

JenniAnn hugged his arm then smiled at Ed.

"Well, I'll leave you two gentlemen alone for now but I'll be back with some cookies later.  Or are you going out back to the shop?"

Andrew kissed her hair then shook his head.

"I think we'll stay here since it's so toasty and comfortable.  That all right with you, Ed?"

"Yeah.  Absolutely."

"There's still cocoa in the carafe, love.  But if you'd prefer coffee or tea or..."

Andrew squeezed JenniAnn's hand and shook his head.

"Cocoa is great.  Thank you, Laja."

For a very brief moment, Ed felt awkward and intrusive when the couple exchanged a charged glance.  When JenniAnn finally smiled and walked away, Andrew watched her go.  The look on the angel of death's face made Ed miss Steve.

Once the door to the ballroom closed, Andrew returned his attention to Ed.

"Again, sorry about being late.  It's not like me but..."

Ed held his hand up and shook his head.

"No need to apologize.  Really!  I always look forward to our chats, Andrew, but... I needed that one with JenniAnn.  So I'm grateful for the time.  I, umm, I started to worry... wonder that... well, what if when I'm human... I mean I assumed I would be gay but then I realized I don't know that.  Maybe I could be bi or pan and I was worried the ladies wouldn't feel comfortable around me and..."

Andrew smiled gently.

"But JenniAnn put you at ease on that front?"

Ed gave him a relieved smile and nodded.

"She said human Ed would still be me."

"Right.  So... your mind is made up?"

Ed shuffled a bit nervously and nodded.

"I... well, I really loved tagging along on assignments with you, Andrew.  And with Monica.  And Takoda.  And I think if I was going to remain an angel, angel of death woulda been my top pick but... I want a life with Steve.  I want to give him everything he's never had before or... or only had small pieces of.  And I want that life, too.  I appreciate what you and JenniAnn have.  I... well, I envy it.  You both want the same things.  You both feel comfortable with the same... goings on."

Andrew chuckled.

"And neither of you ever feels held back... from what I gather."


"But Steve's not JenniAnn and I'm not you and... yeah.  I want to be human.  Mostly for Steve's and my sake but also... before I reunite with my iwi for the final, eternal time... I want to live as they lived.  To fully understand what it's like to live as a human... and to die as one."

Andrew smiled softly then flicked at a tear.

Ed frowned.

"I'm sorry if you're disappointed.  I really am but..."

Andrew reached over and set a hand on the younger angel's arm.

"No, Ed.  I'm not disappointed at all.  I think that's beautiful.  You just... you reminded me of Someone Else for a moment."


Andrew waved to a nearby Nativity scene the children had put up.

Ed blinked.

"Oh...  Well...  He came to do something a little more significant than getting married but..."

"But it's still pretty amazing, Ed.  And I'm far from disappointed.  I'm proud of you!  You'll be the first... and probably only one ever... among us to truly know what it is to lead a human life.  That's a big deal.  And I think you made the right choice for yourself and for Steve."

Ed brushed at a tear and chuckled.

"You have a good poker face, Andrew.  I really thought you wanted me to remain an angel."

Andrew shook his head.

"I only wanted for the decision to be wholly yours, made with as much information as possible.  But... I was, privately, pulling for you to become human."

Ed beamed.


"JenniAnn, too, I think.  We know that there are definitely challenges that come with it but... it just feels right."

"It does, doesn't it?"  Ed sighed happily then reached out to touch Andrew's shoulder.  "I do have something to ask you..."

Andrew's cheeks briefly flushed.

"This isn't about the birds and the bees is it?  Because I did that for Max but..."

Ed burst out laughing.

"No!  No, thank you.  I'm sure you did an admirable job but... Graham has actually already offered that if I want it and, ya know, can't get much better than a married doctor for that."

Andrew sighed with relief.

"What I wanted to ask is... could I borrow your workshop and could you, please, help me with something?"

Andrew grinned.

"Is this what I think it is?"

"Do you think it's an engagement ring?"

The angel of death nodded.

Ed's face lit up nearly as brightly as if he was doing a revelation.

"Then yeah.  Yeah it is.  I'd like to design and make it myself.  Like you did for JenniAnn.  And then... then I want to propose.  I was thinking maybe the day after Christmas.  Steve starts to get a little blue after Christmas so... so I thought I'd do it then.  Is that enough time?"

"More than enough," Andrew replied.  "I got a good deal of practice in with JenniAnn's ring.  And... I have a feeling that if we ask, we can get help from a master carpenter."

"You... you think?"

"I do.  I mean... Ed...  Not to bring up a sore subject but Joshua is the only physically present parent either you or Steve are going to have at the wedding.  Don't you think he'll want to be involved?  Of course, the Fa... Mother will be there, too.  But She can't exactly pick out boutonnieres with you."

Ed smiled sadly.  It was true.  Of course it was.  Steve would inform his parents but neither would show up.  They likely wouldn't even acknowledge receipt of the invitation.  It would fall to Joshua to be there for them both as mother and father so, of course, he would be as involved as they wanted him to be.

"You're right," Ed confirmed.  "And... I'm grateful.  To have Joshua helping me and... and my brother."

Andrew smiled and patted his hand.

"I'm always there for you, Ed.  I promise."

Ed rested his other hand on Andrew's and beamed.


Monday, December 12th, 2022

"I'll be back by lunchtime, love.  I promise," Ed vowed as he and Steve finished up their breakfast.  "I told Andrew I would help him with a project."

Well, it was true... he'd just left out that it was his project.

Steve frowned for a moment.  He'd hoped to spend the whole day with Ed.  But then he did have Christmas shopping to do.

"All right.  You should definitely help Andrew after all he and JenniAnn and the others have done for us.  And I wouldn't mind some shopping in the city.  I'll wear my mask," he tacked on when he saw Ed's eye brows begin to dart up. 

Ed squeezed his hand.

"Thank you."

"Of course, darling.  Being sick at Christmas would be no fun at all.  And if I get back early, Ant has wanted to go over the plans for holiday meals.  Any requests?"

"You know what I like."

"So fairy toast, lots of it."

Ed laughed.

"I mean maybe not at every meal.  But would be nice to have some a time or two.  With festive colors."

Chuckling, Steve nodded.

"Noted. " 

Steve's eyes welled.

"Our fourth Christmas together..."

Ed set down his tea cup and shifted his chair closer to Steve's, looping an arm around his shoulders.

"And I'm very grateful for that." 

Ed's own eyes filled as he remembered a time when he thought his beloved might not see another Christmas.

"More than I can say," he added.

Steve rested his forehead against Ed's for a few moments then squeezed his hand.

"Enough of our maudlinness!  It's Christmastime!  You have a project and I have shopping to do."  He planted a kiss on Ed's lips.  "Let's finish up breakfast and be on our merry ways."

Grinning, Ed returned Steve's kiss.



Later that morning, Ed trekked out to Andrew's carpentry shop with the angel of death, Joshua, and JenniAnn.

"Brr!  It's chilly in here!" JenniAnn commented as she began to unload a box of drinks and snacks. 

Andrew flicked on a couple of space heaters. 

"Between those and the smorgasbord you're setting up, we'll be fine, little bird," Joshua assured. 

JenniAnn finished setting up then hugged him.

"Good.  So... spiced milk is in the green thermos.  Hot water is in the blue.  Coffee in the red.  Ya got some tea, sugar, cream, cocoa...  Oh and..."  JenniAnn opened a container and held it out to Ed first.  "Oreo balls."

The angel's eyes widened as he took one and popped it in his mouth. 

"Wow...  Yum..." he praised after a few moments.

"Another one?" JenniAnn offered

Andrew and Joshua chuckled as Ed wasted no time in grabbing another.

"Anks," Ed mumbled through a mouth filled with chocolate and cookie crumbs.

"You're welcome!  There are some other cookies in the other container.  Call my cell if you need anything.  And... pray for us.  Violeta and I are going to try to do some Christmasy ombre thing with Shel's hair and I hope it doesn't turn into a muddled mess."

Joshua hugged her.

"It'll be beautiful.  And thank you.  This is perfect."

JenniAnn kissed his cheek then Andrew's and, not wanting him to feel left out, Ed's.

"Oh... thanks." 

"You're my brother-in-love.  Always will be.  Now... I hope everything goes really, really well.  With Joshua here, I'm sure it will."  JenniAnn gave Ed a final, encouraging smile then headed back to the castle.

"So... what's first?" Ed asked, sniffling and blinking back tears.

"Well, first you need to choose a wood.  Andrew and I went through and selected the ones that will hold up best as a ring.  Then you need to figure out what you want in the inlay.  It looked blue in your drawings so maybe turquoise or blue opal?" Joshua suggested.

Ed nodded eagerly.

"I like opal.  I was also thinking... and tell me if this is too much... I'd like to have a gold element.  Cause... well, I love Steve's hair.  It... it's beautiful and comforting and so soft and..."

As Ed's eyes misted over, Andrew and Joshua exchanged amused, touched smiles.

"We can do some gold," Andrew assured. 

Ed beamed.

"Good.  And I liked my previous design that I showed you both yesterday but last night something came to me...  I think, well, I think I'd like to start getting tattoos again.  But I want something other than stars.  The stars were for my first family.  I... I want something different for the family I have with Steve.  Maybe birds...  and so for the ring..."  Ed produced a folded piece of paper from his pocket.  "I mean, again, if it's too much..."

Andrew and Joshua studied the drawing.

"Ed..." Joshua started.

"Yeah, I know.  It's too much.  I..."

Joshua hugged Ed and kissed his hair.

"It's beautiful, Ed.  We're doing this," he affirmed.

Ed's eyes filled.


Joshua squeezed his hand.

"Yeah.  Now, c'mon.  Let's pick out the wood."

"While you're doing that, I'll get the inlay choices out," Andrew offered.

"Thanks, Andrew."

Not releasing Ed's hand, Joshua led him over to the wood options and their work began.


Sunday, December 25th, 2022

Following a day filled with cheer and good food and giddy children, Andrew and JenniAnn made a final tour through Willowveil, ensuring everyone was comfortably settled in for the night. 

Everyone was... save one.

"Joshua, what ya doing?" JenniAnn asked as she and Andrew entered the ballroom to find the birthday boy seated near a window, the Christmas tree his only light.

Joshua smiled as JenniAnn sat beside him.

"Just remembering... reflecting... enjoying the beauty of the night as I wait.  I have some business to attend to later."

"That sounds... interesting," Andrew replied.

Joshua only nodded and continued to smile.

"Well, we'll leave you to it then.  You know where to find us if you need anything."

Joshua squeezed JenniAnn's hand and nodded.

"I do.  But I won't.  Enjoy your evening together."

JenniAnn giggled when she saw the twinkle in his eyes.

"Plan to."  She kissed his temple.  "Night, night.  Happy birthday, Joshua.  Love you."

"Love you, too, little bird," Joshua replied.  "And you, too."  He rose and hugged Andrew tightly.

"I love you, Joshua.  Have a good night... whatever you're doing."  Andrew clapped him on the back.

"Thanks.  See you both tomorrow for breakfast."

"See ya!" JenniAnn embraced him then moved into Andrew's arms.

Joshua watched them go, arms around each other's waists.  He smiled lovingly then resumed peering out at the moon and the stars.  As he did, tears pooled in his eyes.

Suddenly, two arms wrapped around him and guided his head to rest on a familiar shoulder.


"I'm here, my own.  Always."

Joshua snuggled closer.

"Not every day I experience something new, Ama.  But this...  I've only just gotten Ed back.  Now... he won't be able to hear everything I say to him, won't be able to come Home as he pleases."

"I know, my own.  It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, you know," Maryam whispered into his ear.  "Let you go... let you leave my body where I could protect you and keep you warm and fed.  But it was worth it.  So worth it, Yeshu.  There was a whole world who needed your love."

Joshua nodded against her shoulder.

"It was a world where you could get hurt... get sick.  Get older, no longer be my little baby.  A world where... where you would die," Maryam continued.  "But... you would also live.  You would love.  To the fullest."

"And I wouldn't change a thing," Joshua murmured.

"No," Maryam agreed.

Joshua let out a ragged sigh.

"I... I need to go, Ama.  It's time."

Still with her arms around her son, Maryam rose to her feet along with him.  She moved to stand in front of Joshua, squeezed his shoulders, and brushed a curl behind his ear. 

Joshua smiled and pressed a kiss to her forehead.

"Thank you, Ama.  I feel ready now."

"Good.  I'll be waiting here for you, Yeshu."

"Thank you but... actually... can you make sure you know who is in place?  You know how he is."

Maryam laughed.

"I do know.  And happily."

"Thank you, Ama." 

Maryam squeezed her son's hand then watched him disappear in a beam of golden light.


On the Fleetwood, Steve took a sip of his cocoa then opened his laptop.

"I really think you would have put the kibosh on the men's wish to spend Christmas here if JenniAnn hadn't told you that they get the Call the Midwife Christmas special here," he mused.

Ed chuckled.


"Well, I have to admit that, at first, I was a little disappointed.  I wanted to spend Christmas in our house but... the soft sway, the Christmas lights on the bridge reflected in the water... it's all very charming."

"Very," Ed agreed as he shook more cinnamon into his cocoa.

"I find that odd, you know."


"You put cinnamon in your cocoa.  You're not much of a fan of it otherwise.  But always in cocoa."

"Oh... yeah.  Just seems right.  I... it reminds me of someone, I guess.  Someone who was kind to me once."

"Oh?" Steve asked as he navigated to the necessary web player.

"It was probably the last assignment I had before the one with you.  Late 90s.  I, umm, caused strife between a married couple.  Felt awful.  Ended up sulking in a park.  Some college kid bought me a cocoa with cinnamon."

Steve's hands began to shake as he remembered black and gray hair... hair now as familiar to him as his own... hit by sunlight.

"Was... was there a ten dollar note..."

Ed's eyes widened then filled as he nodded.  It had, somehow, never occurred to him that the park had been near Steve's alma mater.

"Tucked under the sleeve.  Steve... love... you..." 

"I... I... you looked so... Ed..."

Ed yanked the laptop away from Steve.

"But you wanted to watch..."

Ed shook his head. 

"Don't care.  Not important now.  Steve..."

All thoughts of an elaborate breakfast proposal left Ed's mind.  He opened his bedside table, pulled out a hand-carved box, and knelt beside Steve in their bed.

"Steve... Steve, love... marry me?" he asked, opening the box.

Steve gasped when he saw the ring... wood with an inlay of opal shaped like a wave.  Above it, two tiny, golden birds flew.

Too overcome to speak, Steve could only give an enthusiastic nod before collapsing against Ed with a joyful sob.

Ed held fast to Steve and swayed gently.

"Yes..." Steve finally squeaked out.  "Oh, Ed..."

Ed beamed as he slid the ring onto Steve's finger.

"I love you so much, Steve."

"Oh, Ed... I love you, too, darling."

Suddenly, the room was flooded with golden light.  Once it started to dim, the two could make out Joshua, clad in a robe of gleaming white, a crown of gilded heliotrope and hyssop resting on his curls.

"Joshua..." Steve murmured, awed by the sight of him.

Ed squeezed Steve tightly then rose from the bed and knelt in front of Joshua.

"Joshua... I... thank you for giving me a choice."  Ed drew in and let out a breath then beamed first at Steve then at Joshua.  "I'm ready to make it now.  Make me human?  Please?"

Joshua knelt down and embraced Ed.

"Happily, my own.  But first... my congratulations to you both.  I'm so pleased."

Unsteadily, Steve rose from the bed and approached the two heavenly beings.

"Thank you.  I... I'm so glad.  Could I... can I... be by Ed when you..."

"Of course, Steve."

Steve knelt beside his fiance and wrapped his arms around him. 

"Are you ready, Edgar Rawiri?"

"I am, yes."

For a moment, Joshua froze and only stared at the two then at Ed in particular... his Ed, his angel.  He blinked back a tear, smiled, and began to recite a blessing.

"Oh..." Ed murmured as Joshua's hand rested on his hair.  He felt tingly and warm.  It was a pleasant sensation.  Like dipping into a bubble bath.  A single tear slid down Ed's cheek as he thought of Home, of his people.  But then he became keenly aware of the very welcome weight of Steve's body pressed to his.  He giggled.

Joshua quieted and smiled.  He'd felt as if something had been ripped away from him but then, as soon as it was gone, the connection had come back.  Strong and sweet, just different.

"Ed... Ed are you okay?" Steve checked.

Ed continued to laugh and nodded.  Then, he sobered long enough to kiss Steve, marveling in how it felt.  All their previous kisses had been wonderful but now... 

Steve interrupted Ed's thoughts by jolting.

"Umm...  Joshua?"

"Yes, Steve?"

"Why is the bartender from the Revenge here?" Steve asked.

Joshua laughed merrily as Ed jumped to his feet and looked around, his confused gaze landing on the figure in the corner of the cabin, grinning and holding a tray.

"Well, he may be a bartender sometimes but..."  Joshua waved the guest forward.  "This is my archangel Raphael.  Raph, come say hello properly."

Raphael handed a glass of champagne each to the stunned fiances.

"Hey there!  So glad we finally reached this point.  Congratulations!  I have to admit, I really wondered how this was going to turn out when Joshua first mentioned your pending nuptials clear back in... what was it?  1998?"

Joshua nodded.

Steve gaped at Joshua.

"You knew back in... wait, of course, you did!  You know everything."

Ed chuckled and took a sip of his champagne.

"So you've been trailing us since?"

Raphael shrugged.

"Off and on.  Let's see... helped get the Revenge open so you could have your second meet-cute, managed the playlists every time you came in, oh!  Dropped Ed's passport off at Joshua's behest.  Let's see what else..."

Ed and Steve shook their heads in amazement.  They'd had the archangel Raphael playing Cupid the whole time...

Joshua squeezed Raphael's shoulder.

"And now he's brought you celebratory champagne and chocolate.  There will be time in the days ahead to reminisce but for now... we're going to leave you to celebrate your betrothal."  He kissed each of the men on their cheeks then, for a moment, rested his forehead against Ed's.

Ed gave Joshua a tearful smile.

"Doesn't seem right it's your birthday and yet I'm the one getting a gift and... and such a gift."

Joshua stroked his hair.

"Having you safe and happy and knowing you're loved is my gift, my own, my Ed."

"I... I do, Joshua.  So much.  And I... I love you."

"I love you, too.  Now..."  Joshua patted his back.  "Enjoy your evening.  We'll talk more tomorrow."

"Tomorrow," Ed echoed.

With final smiles and waves for the happy couple, Joshua and Raphael disappeared.

Ed and Steve fell into each other's arms and kissed.

"I love you, fiance," Ed murmured with glee.

"And I love you, too, fellow fiance," Steve replied, nuzzling Ed's neck then planting a kiss there.

Ed let out a shaky breath.

"That... do that again, please?" he requested.

Steve chuckled and complied.


When Joshua reappeared in the Willowveil ballroom, both Maryam and Yosef were waiting with open arms.

"How are you feeling, Yeshu?" Yosef checked.

"I'm feeling..."  He smiled brightly.  "I'm feeling happy.  And excited.  And now... now you know what I want."

"We do," Maryam confirmed with a smile.  She handed her son a mug of spiced milk then led him to a couch in front of the fire place.  She settled on one side of him and Yosef on the other and then she began to tell their story.

"One day an angel... our Gabe... appeared before for me.  And he said..."

"'Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you,'" Yosef picked up.

Joshua continued to beam, soaking in the love of his earthly parents and his Dad. 

He knew there would be trials ahead for Ed, pain and grief he might have otherwise been spared.  But, like Joshua himself, he would love and be loved until his last breath and beyond.

The End

Author's Notes:

This was originally supposed to be one of the Valentine's Vignettes.  However, in light of recent events where members of the LGBTQIA+ community were targeted, I decided I wanted to feature Ed and Steve in the annual Christmas story. 

I couldn't remember if I named the club where Steve and Ed met in "The Lost Sheep" and a quick perusal didn't reveal it.  If I did... well, it's The Revenge now because 1. I clearly forgot, 2. that's the name of the ship on Our Flag Means Death, and 3. it's very similar to an actual gay club in the UK.

While in King-mode, Joshua wears heliotrope and hyssop because they represent eternal love and sacrifice, respectively, which seemed fitting for the Incarnation and the choice Ed makes here.  The flowers are also purple, the color of royalty.  Admittedly, I get a little excited any time I can put Joshua in his kingly garb.

Works Cited:
Love Came Down at Christmas by Christina Rossetti
Genesis 3
My Best Friend's Wedding
Call the Midwife
Luke 1:28- Gabriel greets Mary

This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye for being an honorary part of my Christmas celebration and traditions for over half my life.  I know he's an important part of many of your traditions, too.

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(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.)