WARNING: This is in the Gates of Hell Universe so religious overtones abound. If the mention of anything religious bothers you, leave now. I'm not kidding.
Okay, this story is for a reader who requested something similar to this--I never can write exactly what someone requests for some reason--for her birthday. I missed the birthday by about a month and half, Panthermate, but I tried. :-)
What can I say? This story did not start out to be what it ended up being. I was going for light, but the muses had depths they wanted to touch upon very briefly, and I had to go with the flow. That's about as much as I'm going to apologize for in case someone takes offense with anything in this story.
Sorry for the lack of posting this year. Real life just got awfully busy. Hopefully I'll do better in 2002.
Happy New Year and I hope you enjoy!
A TS/Touched By An Angel Crossover
"You know, if it was something I was looking forward to, Simon would have called by now."
Jim laughed at the forlorn look Blair gave him. "Sorry, Chief. It looks like you're going to have to attend the departmental meeting. I know they're good about letting you miss stuff because they think your position as a consultant to the police is a plus for the college, but helping your partner fill out the weekly expense sheet is not exactly a police emergency."
"Apparently they haven't seen you do math," Blair snapped, his cheeky grin taking all the sting out of the comment.
"Oh, that hurt, Dr. Sandburg," Jim said dramatically. "I'm deeply wounded."
"And full of--"
"Shit!" Jim yelled.
"Exactly. Uh, Jim?" Blair asked as Jim stopped the truck in the middle of the road and opened the door.
"Call it in, Chief. There's a jumper on the roof of the Iverson Building."
Blair squinted up at the twenty-story building. Sure enough there seemed to be someone on the roof. "Are you sure it's not just someone--" he began, only to discover Jim was long gone. A horn honked behind him. With a sigh he slid behind the wheel and reached out to shut Jim's door. One track mind. His partner had a one track mind. Great for investigating, but sucked in lunch hour traffic on a Friday afternoon in the middle of holiday shopping season. "Lughead," he muttered as he steered the truck toward the building's front entrance and picked up the radio.
Jim flashed his badge at the attendant manning the faux marble semi-circle information desk. "I need to get to your roof--now."
The girl blinked at him.
"Roof. Jumper." She blinked again. "Obstruction of justice," he said with a cold smile. She handed him an elevator key.
"Police business," he said when two oblivious, similarly-suited men tried to join him in the elevator. He tried not to feel satisfaction when the door closed in their faces. He failed.
Thanks to Blair's run-in with an elevator, he knew all about their operation, so he inserted the key, overrode any stops and headed straight for the top floor. As he ascended, he thought about how far he and Blair had come since the elevator incident. Blair had been a naive grad student hyped about having a ride-along pass as a police observer. Now, Blair had his doctorate and was a paid police consultant.
Of course, he too had changed. Back in those days, Jim Ellison had been concerned about handling his sentinel abilities and how it would effect his apprehension of crooks and cons. Now he was a warrior for an archangel, and he apprehended demons and devils--as well as talked with ghosts and had made an unprecedented trip to Hell. Worrying about his sentinel abilities just couldn't compare with that.
Jim exited the elevator and climbed the short flight of stairs to the roof access. As he opened the door, his ears automatically picked up on voices.
"I'm an angel sent from God," an Irish lilt was saying. "And God wants you to know that he loves you, Warren, and he doesn't want you to throw away the precious gift of life that he's given you."
An angel? Jim walked around a huge air conditioning unit and nearly gasped. At the edge of the building stood the man he'd seen from the street, and three other persons--persons who had a very odd glow to them. Were they really angels? He'd never seen one on earth before.
"But you don't know…no one knows…I was there. Oh, God, I admit it. I was there. I should have died."
"Where were you, Warren?" the reddish blonde angel was asking. She was the one with the lilt. Accompanying her was an older black woman with black hair that had a striking streak of white in it, and a man--who looked vaguely familiar to Jim.
"In--in New York. I flew there on a date with…with my girlfriend. No one knew we were there. My wife--my wife thought I was at a sales meeting in Phoenix. Deanna and I had dinner and went to a Broadway show. We didn't want to fly back on the same plane, so she went on to the airport. I was to take a later flight to Phoenix, then fly to Cascade. It would have given me the proof I needed in case Jocelyn suspected…. I went to the Towers to see an old schoolmate. He'd just gotten to work when I arrived. We made plans for lunch and I was just turning to leave when the plane hit. I thought--I thought it was an earthquake, like the one we had here last year. But there were televisions and we saw--We headed for the stairs. We got halfway down and they told everyone that it was safer to stay inside. Matt--Matt went back up, but I had planned to get something nice for my wife before I left so I told him I'd meet him at the restaurant.
"I made it down to street level and it was chaos. Everyone was looking up, so I did too. Then they were telling us to run and…" Warren dropped his face into his hands and started sobbing. "Matt loved his wife. He was faithful and kind and…and he--he died. It should have been me!"
"No, Warren. God saved you for a reason."
"What reason? So I can live with the guilt every day! Jocelyn still doesn't know, damn it! She thinks I have the nightmares about Matt because he was my friend, not because I left him in that damn building!"
"God knows--" Monica began patiently.
"God doesn't know!" Warren cut her off abruptly.
"But I do," Jim said softly as he neared the group. "I know it's not just Matt who haunts you in your dreams. It's all of them, those who died while you walked away."
"How do you know?" Warren asked scornfully. "Are you another angel?"
Jim shook his head. "I know because I've been where you are."
"On a fucking ledge?"
Jim moved closer. "No, on a helicopter with my Army team. We were cracking some pretty crude jokes, laughing, when it happened. A missile. I walked away… No one else did."
"But I bet you weren't screwing around on your wife at the time," Warren said, his eyes pleading with Jim, begging Jim to be the one that truly understood.
"No, I hadn't screwed around on my wife, but I had done some--questionable things in the name of national security."
"You're making this up," Warren said defensively.
Jim gave a weak smile. "I wish like hell I was."
Warren cocked his head. "Who are you?"
Warren wrapped his arms around his waist protectively. "How?"
"I repressed it. Forgot most of it."
"Did--does that work?"
Jim shrugged. "Until it sneaks up and bites you on the ass in the middle of something really important. The blood--sometimes you can see the blood, can't you?"
"Yes," came the anguished whisper. "All the innocent…blood, and I'm alive and whole. It's too late for me. Make them understand how it is."
Jim shook his head. "I can't lie to angels, Warren. Because it's not too late. It never is." Jim gave him a self-deprecating smile. "I know it's a hard concept to swallow. I didn't think it was possible I'd ever be sitting around talking to angels, either. Scary as hell, isn't it?"
Warren grinned. "I thought Monica was just an office temp. Then I come out here and...."
"Yeah, angels like making sudden appearances. Listen, Warren, I need you to walk toward me, away from the edge."
"You've seen angels, Warren. You need a better reason to live?" Jim reasoned.
Warren stepped down from the shallow ledge. Jim's hand went to his arm when the man turned back and looked down.
Warren smiled and patted the hand on his arm. "It's okay. It's just--I almost really fucked up, didn't I?" He blushed when he realized what he'd just said in front of three celestial beings.
"It wasn't one of your brighter moments," Jim agreed.
Warren rolled his eyes. "I don't think you were supposed to agree, Officer--?"
"Detective Jim Ellison. And my partner's the one who minored in psychology, not me. And speaking of, my partner's on his way up, along with medical personnel. You okay with going with them, getting some help?"
"A shrink can't help me."
Jim shrugged. "They do a pretty good job and--" He gestured toward the angels-- "you're not alone in the struggle, you know."
"Will do what she thinks is best, Warren. Which is only fair. You were chosen to live. Nothing was said about it being easy."
"Why was I chosen? Am I supposed to be better after going through this crap?" He looked at the three angels for answers.
"God knows you and loves you for who you are, Warren, not who you're going to be," Monica answered, giving him a warm smile.
He frowned and looked to Jim for reassurance.
"Yeah, Warren, you're supposed to be a better person after this," Jim said honestly.
"Okay, but what if I'm not?"
A shrug. "Then you're a bigger fool than I think you are."
Jim turned toward the roof door. "It's okay, Chief. Warren's ready to get some help. Right, Warren?"
He calculated heart rate and respiration as Warren nodded. The man wasn't lying. Moments later, the paramedics were satisfied with the answers they'd received and began to escort Warren toward the elevator, but the man paused and turned back toward Jim for a moment. "Thanks."
"Tis a fine thing you've done, Detective," Monica said. "But I can't understand why you could reach him when we couldn't."
"Sometimes the unreality of the reality of angels can be a bit too much to take."
Blair's eyes widened as he mumbled part of Jim's statement. "That is deep, man. So the Warren guy saw angels?"
"You're seeing them, too, Chief."
Blair blinked. "All three of them?"
"Yes, baby," the black angel replied. "I'm Tess, and this is Monica, and Andrew."
"Cool. I'm Blair Sandburg, Jim's partner. Are you all Warren's guardian angels or something?"
"I'm a caseworker," Monica answered. "I get to know my charges and their problems, then I tell them of God's love. Tess is my supervisor."
"And Andrew is--the Angel of Death," Jim said somberly, remembering where he'd seen Andrew before.
Angel bowed his head in acknowledgment. "It's my job to usher people home."
"You--you were in Peru."
"Yes, Captain Ellison. I'm surprised you remember. For a while, I thought I might be escorting you."
"I'm tougher than I look."
"And you're more than meets the eye, aren't you, baby? How did you know we were angels?" She stared at him for a moment, then her mouth dropped open slightly. "Oh. But shouldn't you be a--"
"Monk?" Jim supplied with a wry grin. "Sorry, I'm Michael's latest model. Something about teaching him humility?"
Tess laughed. "The archangels are slightly remote from humanity."
"Archangels?" Monica looked back and forth between Jim and her mentor. "You mean Detective Ellison--"
"Jim," Jim interrupted.
"You mean Jim is--" Both Jim and Tess nodded. "And you, Detective Sandburg?" she asked.
"Dr. Sandburg, actually. I'm just a consultant for the police department. But call me Blair, and no, I don't work for Michael. You're the first angels I've lain eyes on--except for the Fallen Angels. Man, that was a scary group."
"Fallen Angels? Wherever did you meet Fallen Angels?" Monica asked curiously.
"In Hell. And man, are we high up or what?"
Jim wondered when it was going to hit Blair they were on a roof. "Come on, Chief. Let's see if angels ride elevators."
"Of course we do," Monica said, taking Blair's arm as they walked toward the door.
"What was such a sweet thing like you doing in Hell?" Tess asked as the elevator swished closed.
"Jim took me. Of course if I'd known he was going to tick the whole place off, I would have worn a safety hat and asbestos underwear." Blair grinned at his partner.
"Um, Jim," Andrew started cautiously.
"Yes?" he replied calmly, as if he didn't know where this conversation was going to head.
"You wouldn't happen to be the same Warrior who--"
"Blew up Hell?" Jim snorted. "I don't think I'm ever going to live that one down. It was sort of an accident. I was just trying to buy some time. I didn't know it was going to blow up."
Tess shook her head and chuckled. "I thought I had my hands full with Miss Wings yonder and my Angel Boy, but poor Michael."
"I'm not that bad really," Jim said defensively.
"Lilith," Blair whispered, and Jim groaned.
"You're the one who--" Andrew's eyes bulged. Monica blushed. Tess just shook her head again.
"So, do you think Warren is going to make it?" Jim asked hastily.
"We can't see the future, Jim, but I think you definitely put him on the right road," Tess consoled.
"I still don't understand why I wasn't getting through to him," Monica worried.
"Because of his guilt. When you feel like that, the last thing to make you feel better is the fact that there's someone watching and judging you," Jim reasoned.
"God loves us all."
"Not according to some of the more popular religious leaders," Blair muttered.
"What do you mean?"
"This is all tied up in the September 11th attack, right? That's what you told the paramedics." They nodded and Blair continued. "Well, according to some, the attack was God's way of getting back at America for allowing gays, lesbians, abortionists, and other sundry evildoers to run around unchecked."
"God's way of--that's absurd," Monica cried. "God isn't like that. He's not vengeful or petty. He wouldn't--he just wouldn't, that's all."
Jim shrugged. "The current line is that he punishes the wicked."
"And if that were the case he could single out the wicked and deal with them," Andrew said. "Besides, why would he use terrorists when the power of all the earth lies within his palm? It doesn't make sense to think that God would react like a spoiled child and destroy all to punish a few."
"He's done it before--Noah," Jim pointed out.
"And Sodom and Gomorrah," Blair added.
"No, babies. He warned everyone before he did those things, and he allowed the innocent to separate themselves. And like Andrew explained, God used his power to deliver the punishment. Why would he use the wicked to destroy the wicked? That would be hypercritical--and awfully human."
"It's a common failing of ours, Tess," Blair said, leaning back against the elevator wall. "We often indulge in anthropomorphism--giving human traits to every existing thing, animate and inanimate. It's a way of explaining what can't be explained."
"But it's wrong," Monica said sadly. "And it lessens the hope of man when he needs it the most. September 11 was a horrible day and we caseworkers have been working around the clock because of it. We just didn't know there were other forces working against us." She looked at Tess in confusion.
"Sometimes it's not just the Devil we fight against, baby. Sometimes it's against those we think are with us." Dark brown eyes looked at the two humans. "You don't believe any of that, do you?"
"It's about free will," Jim said. "Those men chose to blow up the planes and the Towers and the Pentagon. God had nothing to do with the destruction."
"But he was there in its aftermath," Andrew said quietly. "I know that for a fact."
"It must be tough being the Angel of Death," Blair commented sympathetically.
"In a way. I mean it's an honor, and a pleasure, to escort people home. But sometimes what goes on before the final journey…. You are policemen, you know what I mean."
Jim and Blair nodded. Jim wondered if Blair was flashing back to the first murder victim he'd seen, Susan Fraiser naked in her bathtub, wearing only a yellow scarf around her neck. He reached out and squeezed the broad shoulder.
The elevator opened and they all walked outside.
"Hey, Chief. I think I'm ready to tell you what heaven is," Jim said, sounding slightly dazed.
"What?" Blair asked eagerly.
"A candy apple red classic Cadillac convertible."
Tess smiled. "You like her? She's been with me a long time."
Jim reached out to caress the hood, but his fingers stopped less than an inch from the surface, not wanting to mar the finish with smudges. "Sweet," he murmured.
Tess looked around. "I think Miss Wings, well, all of us really, could use some cheering up. Why don't we take a drive and find us some mocha latte. Y'all got that around here, don't you?"
Jim and Blair looked at each other. "Welcome to Cascade," they said together, mimicking Simon's favorite saying to visitors. "We have seven kinds of rain and forty-two different ways of ordering coffee."
Andrew laughed and threw his arm around Monica companionably. "I think that's a yes."
Jim stared at the car. "You think I could--"
"No!" Blair yelled.
Jim sighed and turned his baby blues on Tess. The woman stilled for a second, then shook her head. "Michael says to tell you even he wouldn't be able to save you if you damaged my car."
Jim sniffed and hung his head dejectedly.
Tess got in behind the wheel and patted the seat next to her. "But you can ride shotgun, and I'll tell you about all the adventures me and this little darling have gone on together."
Jim got in.
"I must tell you I'm a bit particular about my mocha lattes," Monica told Blair as she settled in between him and Andrew.
"Then you're in for a real treat. Cascade is number one in crime, corruption, and coffee."
"Do you think they're all connected?" Monica said with a teasing smile.
"Well, now that you bring it up…"
Jim sank into the fine leather, his arm draped comfortably across the back of the seat. Listening to the hum of his partner mixing with the hum of the powerful engine, he smiled as he pictured telling Simon that he and Blair were late because they'd been out joyriding with angels. The Watcher was going to absolutely hate that. Jim laughed aloud.
"What's got you so happy, baby?"
Jim looked over at Tess and towards the back where Blair's hands were dancing as he went through all his theories with Monica and Andrew. "Life, Tess."
Tess smiled. "Michael's a mighty lucky angel."
Before Jim could reply, a streak of white caught his eye. He looked up and sighed contentedly as a dove soared overhead.