A/N: This is a dark and angst ridden piece. Hope you enjoy it. One very tiny spoiler for SWAK.
The hospital's hallways were long and narrow. Despite the fact they were empty, one could feel as if they were closing in. Sickness scented the air, pungent and overwhelming. This was the section people were placed when it was time to die. There was no hope here, only stark resignation.
He stood near the entrance of a door. Hidden in the shadows he watched silently as the withered figure on the bed coughed roughly and then stilled. An odd feeling settled in his chest as time slowed and memory overlapped reality. Once upon a time he'd lain in a bed like that. Only the lights had been different then; they had been blue.
Not really sure why he was looming in this doorway, he glanced down the hall in desperate search for a distraction to ignore the situation at hand. Nurses wandered by; one or two even gifted him a smile. Feeling his mind wander to the man in the room, he glanced down at the floor and noticed how shiny it was. How nice, he thought, when it's time to go the floor will shine as you speed along your way.
He'd worn a new suit today. A new suit that cost him a pretty penny, Abby had been suitably impressed but then stilled as she realized why he'd worn it. He'd ignored her soft query as to how he was and explained that he splurged on a new shirt, tie and shoes since it had been a fine day as any to look good. She'd smiled softly and hugged him, one of her special hugs. He kissed her softly on her brow, and then he'd left to come here. He was completely wrapped up in his armor. He'd thought he was ready. He wasn't sure why he'd bothered.
A cough erupted again, pulling him back to the here and now. He moved away from the door and shifted deeper into the shadows. The old man in the bed glanced his direction, but didn't see him. Couldn't see him considering that he was blind. Had been for the last few months once the illness had taken hold of his body and ravaged it. Strange how a man who had once inspired naked and raw fear in a twelve year old boy now held no power over him. He was frail; the monster was dying.
"Someone there?" the old man rasped and then hesitated.
"Tony? Are you there?"
The distressed words hung in the air like a flickering beacon.
The man in question stilled and became like a statue. Tony hadn't meant to be noticed, and surely as a NCIS agent he shouldn't have been. But then again, he had inherited his superb sense of hearing from that man…no that thing in the room. He should have known he'd be found out. It was morbid curiosity that had drawn him here. Not love, not affection he told himself firmly. Not a misguided hope of a last minute attempt of some semblance of familial normality. The odd feeling in his chest expanded and he felt slightly ill. He shouldn't have come here.
Why had he come? He was going to leave. This had been a foolish mistake. He should have stayed away.
He drew back further, silently into the dimness. Fading out to black. Exit stage left.
"Tony…please." The faint words floated out the dark hallway, beckoning and earnest in nature.
He stilled again, fraught with indecision and fear. Why had he come?
"I don't blame you. I know what… what I have been." Another cough was followed by frantic gasps as the old man's sightless gaze veered towards the dark hallway. Green eyes watched from the darkness but did not move.
"I know what I did to you." Words are softer now and peppered with emotion Tony had never heard when the man in the bed had been full of life, and drunk with power. Anger flared and pushed the odd feeling further up into his chest. Why had he come? He should have listened to Abby.
"I know…" another gasping interlude intruded "I know I was wrong. I just wanted to tell you before I go. I haven't much time left. But I am…" coughing interrupted his speech again and when it finally subsided the old man had laid so still that Tony assumed he had finally succumbed to the illness.
"I wanted you to know that I did love you. I wanted you…I wanted you to know."
The words faded and the man stilled.
Tony watched from the hallway as the monitor flat lined and his father passed.
The odd feeling gained ground and overcame him and something not unlike a sob stuck in his throat.
Why had he come?