Prologue

"I'm sorry, Mr. Hickenbottom, Denise isn't well. If we don't find a donor heart for her, she won't live to see her high school graduation," Doctor Tristan said.

Michael's face fell in agony. His Denise, his little girl, his pal, had a failing heart and short of someone else dying, there was nothing he could do for her. How could something like this happen to such a sweet little girl? She was still so little, only eight years old.

"Thanks, Doc. Please, do everything you can for her," Michael said to him.

"We will. In the meantime, while she is on the donor list, keep her on these meds. It should help stabilize her heart," Doctor Tristan said, handing Michael a group of prescriptions. "I will need to have check-ups with her every three months to keep an eye on her progress. Obviously, if there is any change in her condition get her in here to me, or considering your unique position, to the nearest emergency room. You can have them page me. My pager number is on the last page I gave you. I will call them back with any information pertinent to your daughter's case."

"Thank you again, Doc. I just hope that it won't be needed."

"As do I. It's always harder when my patients are as young as your daughter, Mr. Hickenbottom. I will do everything in my power to take care of her and give her the longest, healthiest life possible. I promise you that."

"I appreciate that."

Michael got up and picked up Denise, who had fallen asleep in the chair behind him. Cradling her to his chest, he carried her to his car, putting her in the back seat, buckling her in, and driving back to their home. Once they were there, he put her to bed, tucking her in and leaving her door open partially in case she started crying from pain in her chest again. He went downstairs and called his best friend and co-worker, Paul Levesque.

"How did things go with the doctor?" Paul asked.

Michael started crying.

"How bad is it, Michael?"

He took a deep breath.

"Her heart is failing. Doc said she'll be lucky to make it to high school graduation, Paul," he said as he started crying again.

"Screw McMahon. I'm coming down to see you guys. I'll be there in the morning."

"Thanks, Paul."

"She's like my kid, too, Michael."

"I know."

"I'll see you in the morning."

Paul got off the phone and Michael went to the living room and started a fire. He sat in his favorite recliner and cried. How could the world be so cruel to make his daughter so sick?