The first time Dr. James Wilson saw her, she was walking out a patient's room at Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. No one seemed to mind her as she walked down the halls of the oncology ward, which he found all the stranger because her pink hair and school uniform with the strange looking butterfly on the pocket, should have made her stand out. But the nurses and aids, and the patients who were walking the halls, did not seem to notice her at all.
So he walked over to her. "I'm Dr. Wilson. Are you looking for someone?" he asked.
"I'm Madoka." She replied, "And I'm not looking for anyone. I was just here to see Maria." She said, looking back at the patient room she had come from.
"Maria has… not been doing well." Wilson said carefully.
Madoka looked up at him, gold eyes filled with an emotion, not grief, sympathy maybe. "I know."
He shouldn't be talking about a patient to a grade schooler he'd met in the halls, but something made him continue. "She had a respite, for awhile, but now she's getting worse."
"Her wish was to have enough time to see her sister get married." Madoka said.
Dr. Wilson considered it, and nodded. "She mentioned something about that once."
"It was a good wish, and it bought her some more time. It was an unselfish wish, a self-limited one; the best kind. She got to see her sister get married." The pink-haired girl told him.
Wilson nodded. He hadn't known. "Well, that's good."
Madoka smiled. It wasn't unpleasant; it was the smile of someone who knew what hope was still, even when it had been, for the moment, lost. "She isn't suffering anymore. It was nice meeting you, Doctor. I have to go."
She moved past him and walked to the elevator at the end of the hall. He watched her go and join the people who were already in it, and she smiled at him as the elevator doors closed.
When the doors had closed, Dr. Wilson walked down the hall to Maria's room. One look at the hospital bed to him she was dead.
Wilson didn't think; he picked up the phone in the room and dialed the security desk. "There was a pink-haired girl who just got on the elevator. I need her stopped at whatever floor she gets off on." He gave them a few more details, was assured that security would keep her from leaving the hospital, and then dashed out of the room and down the hall to staircase.
When Wilson arrived at the lobby, the head of security for the hospital was there waiting for him. "There was no pink-haired girl on that elevator." The man reported. "No one on that elevator noticed her, and with pink hair I would think they would."
Wilson exhaled a sigh. It matched what he had noticed when the girl was walking the halls. No one seemed to notice her then either. "Alright. Thanks for the help."
The man looked confused. "Did you know who she was?"
Wilson looked back at him. "For all I know, she was the angel of death." He muttered, and walked away.
House caught his ball and turned to look at Wilson. "I heard you called security yesterday about a girl." He tossed the ball at the wall again.
"A girl with pink hair walked out of the room of one of my patients and told me the patient was dead. I wanted to know how she knew." Wilson said.
The ball thudded off the wall again; House caught it and raised his eyebrows. "Maybe the fact that your patient had no pulse?"
"Not even the nurses had caught the fact that my patient died." Wilson said. "And the patient wasn't on life support or having her heart monitored."
"You found the Angel of Death." House said, still tossing the ball off the wall. "I hope she was pretty."
Wilson gave him a dirty look. "Even if she was the Angel of Death, she's too young for you."
House caught his ball and set it back on his desk. "Was she pretty?"
"I'm not having this conversation with you." Wilson said flatly as he walked back out the office door. "Don't you have a patient you should be seeing?"
"No. I have underlings for that." House shot back.
Wilson had thought that Madoka was an angel of death, but somehow that didn't seem right, even though he knew that House's patient was dying. The diagnosis had come too late to do any good.
"You're back again." Wilson said, walking over to the girl. She wasn't in a school uniform this time; she was now in a frilly pink dress and gloves, lacy stockings that came up to her knees, and shoes with bows on them. A pink stone hung from a choker around her neck.
She smiled when she saw him. "Hello Doctor Wilson."
"Is someone about to die?" Wilson asked, his tone blunt.
Madoka wasn't offended and her answer was blunt, but softer. She just nodded.
Wilson looked taken aback. "Are you…some Angel of Death?"
"I guess you could call me that, but I'm here to save someone, not to kill them. That they are dying is what calls me, but they were dying before I came." Madoka said.
"And…how do you know that they're dying?" Wilson asked carefully.
Madoka looked up at him. "I told you. They call me."
There was a question here that needed answering, but Dr. Wilson wasn't sure if it was the right one or not. "What are you?"
She smiled, and he knew that this had been the right question. "My name used to be Madoka. Now it's Penitent Gretchen. When I see you again, I'll explain everything." Then, as if summoned, she stood up and entered the room that House's patient was in.
But now he wasn't sure he crawl to the kitchen to find his medication and even if he could, there was no way he could stand up and reach it on the counter where it had been left.
He could call House, and the other Doctor might come, but he wasn't sure how much help House was going to be. A lot of things had been going wrong for the other man lately and Wilson wasn't sure that he could handle House. It was all he could do at the moment to handle not vomiting again.
So instead he lay of the floor of the bathroom, on the rug in front of the toilet, and tried to will the nausea away before he started having dry heaves again.
Gentle fingertips pressed lightly on his temple, and James opened his eyes to see Madoka standing there.
In all of her previous appearances, in the years he had seen her, she had had short pink hair, tied up in ribbons. The ribbons were still there, but were white now, and her hair came down to the floor. She wasn't wearing the school uniform or the pink dress this time. Now she was wearing a white dress edged with pink. It trailed behind her, and the underside of the train showed stars moving in it. Her legs were sheathed in tall white stockings and her shoes had wings on the heels. The wings on the heels almost resembled the semi-translucent ones standing open on her back.
Madoka knelt next to him. "Hello, Doctor."
Wilson's laugh when he heard the title sounded more like a wheeze. "Physician, heal thyself." He whispered bitterly.
Madoka shook her head, and touched his forehead again, easing the nausea he felt.
"You are the Angel of Death, aren't you?" Wilson went on, his voice just a whisper. "But… that doesn't seem right somehow."
"Let me tell you a story." She replied.
It was a good story, Wilson thought. It distracted him, and she did all the talking. He didn't ask any questions. It was a story of a girl, ("A girl who knew very little," Madoka said,) who wanted to be a hero called a Puella Magi and who died over and over again, trying to save the city she loved from a great evil called Walpurgisnacht. And then it was the story of another girl whose devotion to her friend, the girl who wanted to be a hero, was so great that she went back in time over and over again, trying to save her fried from dying at the hands of Walpurgisnacht. And in the end, the girl who wanted to be a hero stopped Walpurgisnacht and saved the Puella Magi from the magic that destroyed them. When their power began run out, when their wishes could take no further if they wished for healing from sickness, that was when the girl who used to know so little and now knew so much would come and rescue them, to keep their power from corrupting them into monsters.
"And that ignorant girl was me." Madoka finished.
"Why did you come?" Wilson whispered.
"Because you need hope. And because Maria wished that you would have hope. You gave her her best chance. She wanted to give you the same." Madoka replied.
"Do you remember her?" Madoka asked.
"Y-yes. Sort of." Wilson murmured. There had been so many cases, in so many years. He vaguely remembered the girl who had wanted to live so much and received so little for her dreams.
"She wanted to help you, because you helped her. She could not come; her soul is at rest. But I have come instead, because you and I have met many times now."
"Is...is there something different that…that would have prevented this?" 'Something I could have done' was what he wanted to ask, but now that the nausea was in retreat, and the pain wasn't so bad, all Wilson wanted to do was sleep.
"No." Madoka shook her head.
"Did…did you know?"
"That this would happen to you? Yes, I did know. I can see the future, but I can't always change it. I can't reach into to you to fix what's wrong." Madoka replied.
"Stay with me?" Wilson asked.
When House arrived the next morning, the front door was unlocked. He let himself in and wandered through the place, until he came to the bathroom, and there he came to stop, trying to absorb what he was seeing.
Wilson was asleep on the floor. That meant little to House, jut that it had been a bad night for the other man. Wilson was wearing a t-shirt and sweats, so he'd been able to change clothes before things got bad. But what made the other doctor stop was that Wilson was resting his head on the lap of a beautiful young woman in white, who had wings and long pink hair.
House just stared, for once even his own acerbic commentary falling flat.
Madoka looked at him, and smiled. Then she was gone, leaving Wilson still on the floor, sleeping peacefully.