Author’s Note: This was written shortly after “The Ties That Bind” aired, when we (as well as Declan) knew next to nothing about Miranda. This was one possibility I decided to play with.
By the time Declan finally gave up and left her alone in the tacky motel room, Miranda was shaking. Too close. He’d come way too close to finding out something he wasn’t supposed to know. If he’d kept pushing…
He didn’t know she couldn’t lie. Diverting the conversation and half-truths was all she was allowed, provided he supplied the half that was false.
Deep down, she knew she should be surprised that it had lasted this long, that it had taken two years for him to realize how little he knew about her. But Declan had always been so absorbed in the mysteries around him that it had been fairly easy to keep him from investigating the one right in front of him. Until something had happened which shouldn’t have been able to happen: she’d lost control of her own actions.
She didn’t want him to find out. If he did, then her time here would be over and she would be reassigned.
Sending out a silent plea that her secret would remain safe for a little while longer, she slipped into the large, lumpy double bed and drifted off into a restless sleep.
She was shaking even worse by the time she returned to her room the next day. As far as Declan was concerned, the mystery was halfway solved. Except for her, all the victims of this strange curse had received organ transplants.
But even if the answer could be so simple, how did that explain her? Could the force of a human personality overwhelm her own? Had her choice made her that vulnerable?
As soon as the door shut behind her, Miranda sank to her knees, her dark blue eyes pinned on the room’s ceiling, but seeing something far beyond it by any meaning of the word.
“Father,” she spoke softly, her voice shaking with this strange emotion, fear. “Father, I don’t understand what’s going on. How can this be happening to me? And how can I keep Declan from finding out who I am if I can’t regain control? Father, please…help me. I’m so frightened.”
She knew before the voice came that there was another presence in the room. It was familiar, comforting. Her breath escaped in a long ragged gasp as she turned to face the form just now beginning to speak.
“You accepted this form and all the weaknesses–physical and otherwise–that came with it.”
The voice was rich and melodious beyond any human power, while the shimmering shape it proceeded from glowed with an inner light. It vaguely resembled a human, only without gender, without race.
“Gabriel,” she gasped gratefully.
A smile crossed the bright countenance. “Hello, Ariel.”
She had accepted the form and all the weaknesses that came with it. Including fear.
But did it also include death?
It was something she had never considered, never understood. Why did humans fear death so deeply when something so magnificent lay beyond it? But now she could grasp that terror–it wasn’t what she knew would welcome her that frightened her beyond tears, it was the moment of transition. She couldn’t bear the thought of her mind shutting down. Even sleep, the first time she had experienced it, had been an agonizing experience, which was why she remained an insomniac to this day.
And it wasn’t just the loss of consciousness. It was the dread that whatever of this young man had been transferred to her with his blood could have the power to make her try to take her own mortal life. To break one of the Father’s precious laws.
But she had accepted the form and all the weaknesses that came with it. There had certainly been other ways she could have completed her assignment. A whisper in Declan’s ear to point him in the right direction. A direct intervention disguised as coincidence. She had done that for him once, years ago. He would never knew that she had been responsible for the “accidental” miracle that saved him from that avalanche.
If he ever did, she would have to leave. Unlike that TV show, they weren’t allowed to be known. Father wanted his human children to come to him by faith, not sight.
She didn’t want to find out if she could die.
Her mind scrolled back to her conversation with Gabriel the night before:
“You remember, shortly after you accepted this assignment, the appendectomy?” he had asked. Okay, so he wasn’t a he, but this limited language only offered ‘it’ as a pronoun for their kind. And she had begun to think of herself by the gender of this body, so it seemed only fitting that she should assign one to him as well.
She nodded. “I must admit, I wasn’t expecting to experience ‘pain’ quite so soon.”
Gabriel smiled. “We all do on these assignments, though not in the same way. It’s one of the first things we learn, and the one lesson we most often repeat. Just like humans themselves.”
“But what does that have to do with this?” she protested, a plea for answers.
“You received a blood transfusion. From the same young man who donated the vital organs that saved the lives of those three men.”
Her mouth had opened in a startled ‘o’. “I have human blood in me?”
“You have from the beginning, Ariel.” He chuckled. “I like the human name you chose. You always did have a lingering fondness for William, especially the play where you inspired him to use your name.”
“Maybe I should have tried human form for the first time with him,” she sighed. “Then this time wouldn’t be catching me so much off guard. I still don’t understand how this boy’s personality can overwhelm *mine*.”
Gabriel had smiled again. “The human spirit is a powerful thing.”
“Is it that powerful, Father?” she now whispered in desperation. “Could he even make me die?”
Gabriel was waiting for her again when she returned to her room, her hair still wind-tangled by the jump. “So, you didn’t die, huh?” The light-hearted joke sounded strange in his ethereal voice, but it made her smile anyway.
“Well, Ariel, you ought to do things like this more often, if it produces that smile. Even when you were with us, you were always too serious. I sometimes wonder if that isn’t why Father decided to give you this assignment.” He smiled. “Give you a little exposure to the human spirit he’s so proud of.”
She snorted. “I’ll admit to being surprised that this was what he had in mind.”
“You can always come home, if you want,” he reminded her.
Miranda shook her head. “No. I like this assignment. Besides, he still needs me.”
“Just remember, Ariel,” Gabriel warned her. “You accepted this form and all the weaknesses that came with it. Anything that could happen to a human can happen to you in human form.” He paused to give his next words added significance. “Even love.”
“Father is love,” she countered. Closing her eyes, she pictured Declan’s smile. “I do love him, Gabriel. But not in that way. I promise, I won’t fall. I’ll just stay until he’s seen everything Father wants him to see.”
The glowing form smiled again, then stretched out a bright hand to touch her shoulder. “Goodbye, then. I’ll see you in eternity.”
Without any drama or spectacle, he quietly vanished.
“In eternity,” Miranda echoed. Then she left the room and went in search of her assignment, still wondering at how, this once, he had been the one protecting her.