CHAPTER 20

In silence and alone, sitting at a table at the cafeteria, the blond angel's eyes registered people passing by at the patio of the Bountiful City Hospital. Most of them had a family member or a close friend admitted at the hospital and took a break from the cold and small hospital rooms to breathe some fresh air and maybe eat something while they waited for news about their beloved ones.

Andrew had a cup of hot chocolate in front of him but he had barely touched it. With his hands conjoined over the table, he was lost in thoughts about the future of his relationship with Monica. If she did not remember the journeys on which he took her spirit while she was unconscious he would have to live with those memories all by himself and stand next to her as a mere friend. He could also try to make her remember but wondered if his superiors would even allow him to stay close to her to start with. Besides this, Andrew was suspended from his duties as an angel of death and if getting out of this punishment meant letting go of his love for Monica he would rather remain like that.

"Excuse me?"

Karen's voice took him out of his reverie and drew his attention back to the present. The nurse was holding a tray with her lunch and looked at him with some curiosity.

"Hello, Karen. Sorry, I didn't see you coming." He managed a slight smile.

"Oh, it's okay! Lots of important things happened today." She watched as he nodded his head in agreement. "May I sit here?"

"Sure, please."

"I have 20 minutes before I come back to my shift, but now I confess that this is something I'll be glad to do. With the news about Monica's recovery spread everywhere, it seems that even the hospital atmosphere became a joyful one."

"I guess it's not just Tess and I who will offer our prayers of thanks for Monica's recovery. It's become everybody's miracle." He half joked, his fingers toying with the paper cup in front of him; his dark green eyes still holding much sadness.

The young nurse gazed at him for a long minute before speaking again. "You love her, don't you?" Watching as he eyed her with surprise, Karen realised she had spoken too much. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to sound like an intruder. Please forgive me."

Still with the same bittersweet smile, Andrew shook his head. Admitting defeat on that particular issue was not that difficult any longer.

"I think meeting Monica and not loving her is... unthinkable."

Karen was moved with those words and with the look in his eyes as he spoke. It was clear that he loved Monica dearly and deeply and would do any sacrifice to see her well.

"Anyone could see your devotion and your suffering during all the time you stood by her bed. I've known Monica for just a couple of hours but if she's deserving of all this care, then she might really be a wonderful person."

"She is..." He said, the memory of his dearest friend's uncountable assignments quickly coming to his mind. "Monica has this ability to bring joy to all of those who cross her path."

A smile graced the nurse's face. "I guess I have to agree with that judging by everything she's done not only for those children but for the many people who came to visit her...I did notice how she managed to touch some people's hearts even being unconscious in that hospital bed."

"Exactly. This is Monica."

"I sense you haven't told her how much you love her..." Karen hoped she was not being an intruder again.

"It's...complicated..." He said, not wanting to sound rude but at the same time unable to explain her the implications of his love for Monica.

"I understand." She spoke, with a sympathetic smile. "And I just hope she's aware of your feelings. There's nothing worse than having to hide your love exactly from the one you love."

At first, Andrew took those words as a mere encouragement. But on the following minute, the blond angel noticed something in her eyes he had not realised before but which suddenly became quite clear, especially for someone like him, whose heart was also having to deal with the threat of a lost love.

"You once said you've been working here for five years."

"Yes, that's right."

"And do you enjoy it?"

"Oh, yes. You see, at first I was an inexperienced young nurse who had never worked before and with a young baby boy to raise all by myself. But I was fortunate to be assigned with Dr Richards and his team. He taught me so much, Andrew. And I'm not just talking about medical procedures. Dr Richards treats his patients with utmost care and respect. Every life is too precious and deserving of all the efforts we can make."

Karen's eyes were shining with pride as she talked about the doctor and Andrew did not miss it. "Yes, he seems to be a very dedicated doctor."

"And he is. His wife's passing many years ago made him devote all his time and attention to his patients and still all those years later, I think he did not manage to recover from his loss." Karen kept on talking. "I just pray that someday he does. If there's someone in this world who deserves to be happy, it is him."

X

Monica's sweet brown eyes blinked a few times before she woke up from a brief nap. She still felt her human form quite drowsy as the effect of the medications she had been under so far caused a certain lethargy she was eager to get rid of. But she knew it would take some time.

Tess was standing by her side and smiled broadly at her.

"Hello, baby."

A sleepy smile graced the Irish angel's face when she saw her supervisor and dear friend. "Hi, Tess."

"Is there anything you need?"

"N-no, I guess I'm still a wee bit sluggish..."

Chuckling at her wording, the supervisor covered her hand with hers. "It'll be over in a few days, baby."

"I know." She let out a small sigh and looked around. "Where's Andrew?"

Tess had to make an extra effort to hide all her worry at the mention of the angel of death. "He went out for a while, but should be back soon. There's a cafeteria on the first floor and we've been using it for quick snacks while we're in our human forms."

Monica nodded her head. "I understand." After a brief pause, she spoke again. "I told Andrew that I felt your presence while I was unconscious."

"Really, baby?"

She nodded again. "I remember finding the children in the room on fire and telling them to escape through the garden door, but after that..."

"This is when you got yourself hurt and fell unconscious."

"I know." The younger angel gave her shoulders a tiny shrug. "But even so, I guess I felt that you and Andrew were by my side in this room. It's a cosy feeling, you see."

With sadness, the supervisor only confirmed what she already suspected: Monica had no memory of her encounters with Andrew or of the feeling that brought them together in this meantime.

A slight knock on the door interrupted their conversation: Andrew opened it slowly and held a slight smile on his face when he saw that his dearest friend was awake.

"Hey, sweetie..." He greeted, coming closer to her bed, and the fact that she offered her free hand to him brought him a spark of extra joy. "How are you doing, baby?" The blond angel wanted to know, his fingers soon entwined with hers as he gently kissed her temple.

"Fine, I guess. But a wee bit disappointed, you see."

Monica's smile never faded as she said that, but her words caused him to frown with slight confusion. "Disappointed?"

"Tess told me you were at the cafeteria...And I see no mocha cup in your hands..."

Monica's cheerful mood was a relief to both angels and her witty remark made them laugh at last. Tess could clearly see that her friend was still trying to hide the sadness at Monica's lack of memory, but still, she could also tell he was extremely happy with the Irish angel's recovery.

Playfully, the blond angel leaned closer to Monica so he could whisper against her ear. "I'll get you one when it's safer!"

He winked at his dearest friend, whose soft giggling filled the room and also his own heart.

"Hey, I heard that, mister!" Tess immediately spoke, with a mock stern expression on her face.

The trio of angels spent the next following hour sharing the same feeling of joy and relief brought by Monica's recovery. Their voice were only silenced when the little angel started to doze off to a slight sleep. Highly amused and with their eyes filled with tenderness, both Andrew and Tess watched as Monica stubbornly fought to stay awake but ended up failing.

"We definitely couldn't have been more blessed, Tess." The blond angel spoke, gently arranging the blanket over Monica's sleeping form.

"No, we couldn't, angel boy." She said, looking at him like a mother who knows exactly what lies in her son's heart. "But it all comes with a price, doesn't it?"

Aware of what she was talking about, Andrew nodded and sat back on the chair next to the bed. "I feel I have no right to complain or feel sorry for myself. She's recovering and coming back to her old self, and this is more than I could ever ask for."

"I can see your sadness as well as I can see how much you love this little angel right here, Andrew." The supervisor's words somewhat surprised him. "And if in the beginning I could not understand it or even admit it, now I know that your feelings for her are genuine and deserving."

Biting his lower lip, the blond angel nodded. "Thank you, Tess. It...it means a lot."

Tess reached out for his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. "Do not give up, angel boy. What you and Monica shared in those dreams is still inside her somewhere. I have no doubt that it'll be only a matter of time before your souls recognise each other as more than friends."