Most of the characters and situations in this story belong to FOX, David Shore, Heel & Toe Films, and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them. All others belong to me, and if you want to play with them, you have to ask me first. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any.

Spoilers: none really. Response to a private challenge.

Heh, I've been posting here for five years now--the mind boggles, or at least mine does. This isn't really my 100th posted story--I've posted a few and then removed them, and I've posted stories on my site that bring my total past 100--but I thought it would be fun to acknowledge both milestones. Thanks to Kirsty for the idea!

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Of course he saw them around. In fact, he'd be willing to bet that most of PPTH's people did. But no one would mention it, because…well, because. For obvious reasons.

Mind you, he didn't see them often. And it was probably just as well for his sanity that he didn't. He strongly suspected that there were many more around the place than anyone saw, but then if you're a supernatural being you probably are perfectly capable of staying out of sight of mortals unless you have a purpose in visibility. He supposed.

The whole thing didn't really bear up under analysis, anyway; it was best to just accept it, and not talk about it. To anyone. That way lay psych evaluations, and other unpleasantnesses.

Wilson sighed, and shut his office door behind him on his way to rounds, hoping against hope that the one he'd seen by Evan Tzouki's bed would be gone this morning. The thing was, while sometimes they were there to help, more often they were indications that whoever was in the bed was going to lose their fight. Not that Wilson let that influence him, but still.

He couldn't see anything as he swung into the ward with a cheerful nod to the nurses at the desk, but that didn't mean anything. Most of the time he couldn't see them unless he looked at them straight on, and even then sometimes they weren't much more than a waver of light, a stray sunbeam almost.

But as he made his way from bed to bed, checking charts and trading gentle quips with the occupants, he saw it--a shimmering tall figure that seemed to go beyond floor and ceiling without actually touching them, the same as it had been last night. It was ambitious to assign it limbs as such, though on this one Wilson did get the distinct impression of wings, but what might have passed for a head seemed to be bent a little over the man's bed, as though listening.

Or guarding.

There wasn't much to listen to. Wilson snagged Evan's chart as a formality; the man's breathing was sodden and slow, and he had passed over the threshold into coma sometime during the last eight hours. His wife, looking almost as drawn as the patient, sat slumped next to his bed, dozing despite the discomfort. Wilson declined to rouse her--she'll wake soon enough--and made a mental note to have Evan moved into a private room. His DNR was on file, but it was still disturbing to the other patients to have someone die not twenty feet from their own beds.

As he replaced the chart, it looked to him as though a small part of the iridescent brightness next to the bed drifted outwards, resting weightlessly on Mrs. Tzouki's shoulder. Feeling his lips tighten, Wilson turned away.

The first few times he'd seen them, in medical school, he had feared he was going crazy, possibly from lack of sleep. But when he finally, timidly approached the rabbi attached to the campus, the man's straightforward belief had been a shock before it was a relief. For a moment he'd thought the rabbi was mad.

They're real, Norman had told him. And if you see them, it's because you're meant to.

But Norman hadn't told him how to communicate with them, and Wilson had spent long frustrating months watching for them, pleading with them, trying to argue or command them into healing. They were angels, for pity's sake. They had powers. Couldn't they touch the suffering, the dying, and heal them? Couldn't they at least ease pain?

Occasionally one would appear to give him some species of polite attention. Mostly, they seemed to ignore him. And finally Wilson stopped trying. He couldn't quite ignore them in turn, but he could pretend they weren't there.

He finished his rounds and stopped by the nurses' desk to update orders before heading out to the Oncology lab to hunt up some results. As he made his way down the corridor, dodging people, he saw another one; it seemed to be his day for it.

This one was much more defined, looking like a human, if overly tall; and humans weren't usually luminous around the edges. The scientist part of Wilson's brain wondered if it was visible in any way to anyone else; people seemed to move around it in the hallway as though they saw it, though one sleepy intern walked right through it, without reaction by either party.

Well, he didn't know about that one, but he was pretty sure that others saw them. He'd seen Chase cross himself a time or two, reflexively, when there was no visible cause, and he'd heard the nurses talking about angels once or twice--they were the only ones who dared. He'd even seen Lisa, striding confidently through her domain, give a regal nod to someone who wasn't there, and the idea did amuse him on some level--angels might be supernatural, but Doctor Cuddy was still in charge.

If House saw them, of course, there would be no way the man would admit to it. And probably just as well.

He saw no more that day, or the next; Mr. Tzouki died during the next night shift, while Wilson was home sleeping. A few weeks passed, and he thought no more about it, until he walked into the Peds ward and saw one.

And cursed.

Quenta Yarborough's leukemia had been responding so well to treatment. Two days ago she'd come in for a routine check-up, and her cell count had been high, so they'd admitted her just to be safe. But now the ten-year-old lay pale and still, and even without the shimmering presence at her side Wilson could tell that the cancer had won.

Unable to face them--the child or the angel, he wasn't sure--Wilson spun and walked away again.

He came back later, of course. He never shirked his duty. But it was hard to ignore that silent presence that took up no space next to the bed, even as he smiled gently at Quenta and took her vitals.

She was one of those children who knew the truth. It never failed to amaze him how calm the children could be about illness and death; they often behaved far better than their adult counterparts. In Quenta's case, she met his eyes squarely, while her sniffling mother hovered in the background. "I'm gonna die, aren't I?"

Wilson loathed giving her the bitter truth, but lying was worse. "Probably…yes. I'm sorry."

Her mother burst into noisy sobs, and behind him Wilson heard Mr. Yarborough lead his wife out of the room. Quenta reached out a thin hand and patted his arm. "It's okay. I knew it when I saw her."

Wilson blinked. "Her?"

"Right there." Quenta gestured to the angel. "I mean, it's not really a her, but she said I could call her that."

Setting aside the question of how Quenta knew he could see the angel, Wilson moved on to the bigger puzzle. "She talks to you?"

Quenta cocked her head. "It's not really talking. But yeah."

He couldn't help glancing up at the angel, waiting so patiently, and barely managed to bite back angry words. The shimmer rippled just slightly, as if in reaction.

"You don't have to be mad at her," Quenta went on. "She's just here to keep me from being scared."

Wilson's gaze snapped back to the pinched little face. "Scared of dying?"

Quenta shrugged a little. "Yeah. Kids get scared sometimes." She yawned. "I knew I was going to die; she came to keep me company."

Wilson's head spun. Was that it? Were the angels there not to steal souls away but just to escort them? Or was that just for the children? Each question seemed to spawn a dozen more, and he knew there would be no answers.

But he couldn't help remembering another child, younger than this one, dying of AIDS-related infections two years before. The little boy had been in frantic tears every night, afraid he was going to die before morning. They'd had to sedate him so he would sleep.

Until the angel had shown up. It had been one of the odder ones, a suggestion of roundness rather than a human-like form, and it had hovered over the bed instead of beside it. But for two nights the boy had slept soundly, his face unmarked by fear, and when he slipped away in the third, it had been without struggle.

Angels were said to be messengers of God.

Maybe…maybe they don't have a choice.

He looked back to the scintillation of light, waiting silently, patiently.

Maybe…they don't like it either.

If it returned his gaze, he didn't know about it, but the anger seeped out of his soul. Maybe the angel was just on a mission, having nothing to withhold, having only its assignment to give.

When he looked back to Quenta, she was asleep. Wilson snorted softly and pulled the sheet up to her chest before rising. Glancing back to the brilliant shimmer, he tilted his head, a semi-acknowledgment, and turned to go.

He didn't know for sure, but then there were a lot of things he didn't know.

And…for the moment…he was okay with that.

End.