I am sad to say this is the last chapter. The title is not mine, it belongs to Jonathan Larson. But it's one of my favorite Rent songs, so I decided to use it for the title of the last chapter.
I'm not sure when I'll be writing a Rent story next. I'll definitely try to finish Crash as soon as I can, but I don't know when that will be. Don't forget to review. Enjoy.
Thank you so much to Rosablasifann08 and Renthead621 for always being there for me. You've helped me so much. Our friendships are invaluable to me. Thank you.
"I'm sorry, Eve," Doctor Sheppard said, giving Eve the most sympathetic of looks. "They're the lowest they've been since you were diagnosed. It's full-blown AIDS."
"How long do I have?" Eve asked.
"Maybe a month," Doctor Sheppard said. "Since you don't have long, I'm not going to require you to admit yourself into the hospital. That's your decision to make, of course, but I really think you should spend your final time with your family."
Eve smiled gratefully at him. "Thank you, Doctor Sheppard," she said. "I appreciate that more than you know."
"You're welcome, Eve," he said. "I'm sorry I have to be the one to give you this news. Go home to your family."
"I will. Thank you, Doctor."
Eve stood up and went home.
"How was the doctor, Eve?" Barbara asked, when Eve came through the door. The remaining Bohemians were gathered at Eve's house, just hanging out while they could. Leo and Adam were both going off to college on the West Coast soon, so they spent as much time at Eve's place as possible, before it ran out.
"Not good, Barb," Eve said worriedly. She looked up at Barbara, with tears in her eyes. "I have a month. The doctor said my t-cells are really low. Barb, I'm so scared."
"I'm so sorry, sweetie," Barbara said, coming over and hugging her. "I understand how scared you must be. But you know Mark, Mo, Jo, and I will take good care of them when you're gone, right?"
Eve looked up. "Yes, I know," she said. "But Dylan's not even in high school… Both he and Leo have to graduate without me there, and Angel already had to graduate without Collins there to see her walk across the stage. Barb, I don't know what to do. I'm lost."
"I know what you should do," Barb said. Eve looked at her. "You should go in there and spend as much time as you possibly can with your boys and Angel. You should tell them the truth, too; you know how that goes."
"Yes, I do," Eve said. She hugged her friend. "Thank you, Barb, I'm so glad to have you as a friend. Thank God for you, Barb. Thank God, Mark walked into your classroom that day at the college."
Barb smiled and Eve went into the living room.
"Angel, boys," she said, "I need to talk to you."
"OK, Mom," Dylan said, coming over to sit in front of her with Angel and Dylan. "How was the doctor?"
Eve felt tears springing to her eyes, and Angel and the boys immediately picked up on it. "Not good?" Leo asked.
"No, Leo," Eve said, looking into his Kryptonite-green eyes that were just like his father's. "It wasn't good. I have a month. Guys, I'm so sorry. I wish I had more time, but I don't. So I'm not checking into a hospital, I'm spending it at home. I've left the Times, too.
"All I can really say is, I love you guys so much," Eve said. "I love all of you so much. Your friendships and your love, blood or not, have been so great and have meant so much to me. I know that Angel, Leo, and Dylan will all be in good hands once I'm gone. Thank you."
"That's what we're here for, Eve," Barbara said. "That's what family is for."
"Barb," Eve said, a few days later, from where she was laying in her bed, talking to Barbara, "I think you should get Angel and the boys."
"Is it time already?" Barbara asked, from where she was standing by the door.
"I think so," Eve said. "Barb, I'm so glad you came into my life. You're my best friend, along with Joanne. I don't know what I could have done without you lately."
Barbara smiled and came over to Eve. "I'll go get everybody," she said, and she walked out. Eve could see she was trying to keep her composure.
Angel, Leo, Dylan, and Mark came into Eve's room and all stood around her. She took Angel and Leo's hands and looked at each one of them individually.
"I'm sorry, guys," she said, "but it's time for me to go. I love you guys so much."
"No," Dylan protested, kneeling down and laying his head on her chest. "No, Mom, you can't go. It's not a month yet. Aunt Maureen and Joanne aren't here, either."
"I know, baby boy," Eve said, "but I have to go. I told them a couple days ago, they're prepared." She looked at Mark. "I'll miss you, big brother."
Mark smiled sadly. "I'll miss you, too, Eve," he said. "Make sure to tell everybody up there that I love them and miss them, OK?"
"I will be sure to," Eve said, as Mark kissed the top of her head and rocked her gently. "Can I talk to the kids alone for a moment?" she asked everyone.
"Sure," Mark and Barbara said, and they walked out.
Eve turned to Angel, Leo, and Dylan once the door had closed, as they caressed her grey-streaked red hair. "You guys know that Mark, Barb, Mo and Jo will take good care of you for me, right? I'm sorry I have to leave so soon, but I guess I can't change that. Be good to them for me. I'll always love you. You guys were my world."
"We love you, Mom," they said, tears running down their face.
"I'm so glad that you kids are so good," Eve said. "It'll make my leaving easier. I'll tell your dad all about you guys, but I'm sure he already knows. I'm sure he's watching. Leo," she added to her eldest son, "could you please go get Barb and the others?"
"Sure, Mom," he said, and he walked out of the room. A moment later, he came back in, Mark and Barbara with him.
"I'll miss you guys," Eve said, looking at them one last time, as each one of them took her hands. Then she closed her eyes and peacefully slipped away.
"It's OK now, guys," Barbara said. "She's in a better place now, with all our friends up there. You can stay with her for a few minutes. I'm going to go call the ambulance."
Angel and her brothers nodded, and they stayed with Eve, Mark by their side.
"Hey, Baby, open your eyes and look at me."
Eve felt herself standing up, though she wasn't sure what she was standing on. She opened her eyes to a familiar face. "Roger," she said, running forward and hugging him. "I can't believe I'm finally seeing you again."
"I know, Baby," he said. "Are you OK?" he asked, seeing the look on her face.
"Yeah," she said, "I'm just a little light-headed. I'm sorry I had to leave the kids so soon, too. I know Leo and Angel are grown, but Dylan… he's not even in high school yet."
"He'll be fine," Roger assured her. "He's a good, smart, tough boy."
"He gets it from his daddy," Eve said, smiling as Roger leaned down to kiss her. They hugged tightly, tighter than they ever had before. She'd missed him so much over the past few months.
"Come on, I want you to meet everybody," Roger said, "and then Collins wants to show his Baby girl around."
"OK," Eve said, smiling, as Roger led her over to a small group of people. "This is April"— he indicated to the redhead— "Angel"— he indicated to Angel, who was standing next to Collins— "and Mimi." He indicated to the woman standing next to April. "And you already know Collins, of course."
"It's so good to see you again, Baby girl," he said, hugging her close.
"I've missed that hug more than you know, Collins," Eve said. "Angel has, too. You did watch her graduate, right?"
"Yep," said Collins. "I was so proud of her that day, you know."
"I know," Eve said, smiling up at him. "So how crazy has Roger been making you guys?"
"Super crazy," they all answered at once.
"Roger always said you were the heart of the family," Mimi said. "We can see that now."
Eve smiled. "Maybe I was," she said, "but only half, I think. I think he was the other half. That's why we made each other's lives the way we did. I love you, Roger," she said, kissing him passionately.
"I love you, too, Baby," Roger said, as he deepened the kiss, "and welcome home."