Summary: Some things don't take a break for the holidays, how do you find the strenght to survirve when your best friend isn't?
Song: Have Your Self a Merry Little Christmas
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters are property of their respective authors, including Twilight by S. Meyer and the song used in this fic.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
I took a deep breath before pressing the elevator button. I concentrated on my breathing as I rode up in the elevator, I really didn't care for the hospital smell.
7th floor. Onchology.
I got out of the elevator and nodded briefly to the nurses as I passed by their station. I recognized most of them from my previous visits. I had been here more times than I cared to count.
As I reached his door, I took another deep breath before quickly knocking. I didn't wait for a response before I opened the door and popped my head in.
"Hey man, how's it going?" I asked as I stepped into the room. He was sitting on the bed with an IV hooked up to his arm.
"I'm great. Having poison slowly enter your body like this is pretty awesome. You should try it." He gave me a smile, but he couldn't hide the fact that he was in pain.
"Nah, I'll think I'll pass. You look good man."
He rolled his eyes in response, we both knew I was lying. He didn't look good at all, he had lost lots of weight during the last few months. His skin was pale, and due to all the chemo treatments over the past few months he had lost all his hair. He didn't really look like himself anymore, but when he smiled I could still see my best friend in there somewhere.
"So, any news? Has the doctor seen you yet?" I asked and gave his shoulder a small squeeze as I sat down on the bed next to him.
"No, he should be here later, I think. They just started the chemo now and then I need to get a new scan done tomorrow, so I might have to spend the night here," he replied.
"Dude, that sucks. But I guess it's easier than having to come back here tomorrow morning."
He nodded and we both sat in silence for a while, watching the slow drip of the liquid in his IV.
"How are you doing honey? Any pain?" an older nurse asked as she stuck her head in the room.
"No, I'm ok," Jasper responded.
"Don't be a hero, honey. I have the good stuff right here," the nurse said as she held out a small glass with some pills in it.
"Take the pills, Jasper," I encouraged. It broke my heart to see how much pain he was in.
"Humor us, sweetheart." The nurse smiled and handed him the pills together with a glass of water.
"Fine, but only because you're my favorite," Jasper joked.
"Oh, I bet you say that to all the nurses," she laughed.
"He does," I confirmed. My best friend, always the charmer. Not even cancer could prevent him from flirting.
"So, staying the night, are you?" she asked as she took his temperature.
"Yup, figured I owed it to the night nurses, haven't seen them in a while," Jasper said with a wink.
"Honey," the nurse said with a suddenly serious tone in her voice, "looks like you have to stay more than tonight. You've got a fever."
"Hey Edward, did you hear the big news?" Jasper asked as I got into his room. I shook my head. "I've picked up an infection now, too."
"Is one disease not enough for you these days? You just had to get one more, didn't you?" I tried to keep the tone light.
"Bah, one," he said and rolled his eyes, "I've got three now you know, the fever is still there, too."
"Life is good here. I get food served on my bed, all sorts of drugs and then there's all the nurses... What's not to enjoy?"
"I guess that's true. Too bad you need to have cancer in order to be here," I said.
We tried to keep it light when I came to visit, pretending that the whole thing wasn't so bad, but the truth was that my best friend was really, really sick.
"Okay, that part of it does actually suck. I'll give you that much."
"So, did you get your scan results back?"
He nodded and pointed towards the chair that was next to his bed.
"I did. You might want to sit down for this."
Let your heart be light
"So, your mom called me last night, she asked me to give you this."
I threw the plastic bag in Jasper's direction. He didn't have the energy to even try to catch it so it landed on his bed with a small thud. He eyed me suspiciously as he pulled the black notebook from the bag.
"A diary? Why did my mom ask you to buy me that?"
"It's not really a diary," I explained, "but when she called me last night we talked about how all the medicine you're taking is influencing your short-term memory. She asked me to get this for you so you can have your visitors write small notes in it when they're here to see you. That way you can remember who was here and what you talked about."
"Hmm, that's not a bad idea, I guess. It really sucks not being able to remember anything."
I simply nodded in response, not knowing what else to say him. We sat together in complete silence for a while. It was a comfortable silence. We had known each other for so many years that it didn't feel awkward to sit and be quiet together. The silence broke when Jasper started coughing. It was so bad I wanted to call for a nurse, but he refused, claiming it would pass soon.
"Have you told your family how bad this really is?" I asked. I didn't even try to hide the concern in my voice.
"No, they don't need to worry about this. Besides, they're far away."
"They would fly up here if you told them."
"Edward," he reached out and grabbed my arm firmly, "you're my best friend. You're all the family I need."
From now on our troubles will be out of sight
"How's Jasper doing? And tell the truth," my dad asked. He had invited me out for lunch and I knew him well enough to know that lunch was just an excuse to get me alone.
"I don't know," I answered, "he won't really tell me. But I don't think he's doing so well, he's tough so he downplays it a lot when I'm there."
"He's a strong kid, he always was," my dad agreed and took a sip of his ice water.
"Why are you even asking me this? You work at the hospital, you have easy access to his file, or you could ask his oncologist."
"I have, and I did. I also stop by to visit him when I can. But I asked you because I wanted your thoughts. I wanted his best friend's opinion, not his doctor's." My dad had concern written all over his face, so I swallowed hard before I asked the question I had been avoiding asking for weeks.
"So, how is he doing dad? Give me the doctor answer."
"He's very sick, Edward. The radiation treatment didn't work, he has had five different types of chemo and so far none of that has had the effect we wanted, either. And on top of that, he now has an infection that his body is too weak to fight. His last scans showed that the cancer is spreading fast and even if we try to operate it will be useless. The cancer is attacking his vital organs and when he's done with this round of chemo we should consider what options he has left. It's not a lot."
My dad looked at me before he continued in a soft voice, "But you knew this already."
He was right, I already knew, but hearing it out loud like this hit me like a ton of bricks.
"Edward," he said and my eyes met his for the first time that day, "how are you doing?"
"I'm okay," I answered automatically, not really letting much on with my answer.
"No," he said in a voice that was soft and stern at the same time, "how are you doing?"
I could feel the tears creeping up and for the first time in many months I let myself go.
"I don't know how to exist in a world where he doesn't."
Once again as in olden days, Happy golden days of yore
He was asleep when I got there. He looked both peaceful and fragile at the same time and I decided not to wake him. Surely he needed all the rest he could get. I sat down on the chair next to his bed and reached for the notebook I had brought him a few days ago and flipped through it. There were a few notes from my dad, from when he had come to see him while working, some loving and concerned words from my mom and lots of "get well soon" wishes from friends.
I reached for a pen in my bag and deliberated for a few seconds if I should write something or not. I stared at the blank page in front me and decided to write down all the things I wanted to tell him but didn't have the courage to say out loud.
When I had finished, I put the notebook back on the table and reached for a book in my bag. I might as well try to get some studying done and I didn't want to leave just yet.
"Hey, when did you get here?" Jasper asked in a sleepy voice.
"Not sure, an hour ago I think."
"You should have woken me up."
"No, you need your rest," I smiled.
"Dude, I sleep all fucking day, I don't want to sleep when I have company. If this happens again you better fucking wake me up."
"You know, I rather enjoyed the silence here for once, not having you go on and on about your exciting life here and all the hot nurses," I teased.
"Shut the fuck up, Edward and tell me what's happening outside these four walls. I'm going stir crazy in here."
"Did Santa throw up in here?" I laughed in surprise as I saw all the Christmas ornaments that were suddenly occupying Jasper's room.
"No, Alice and your mom were here this morning. Alice felt I needed some holiday cheer, so she took it upon herself to decorate in here." Jasper rolled his eyes and I laughed. Typical Alice.
"She even wrote it down in the book that she was the one who did all the decorations, like anyone who knows your sister would ever be in doubt that she was the one behind all this," he laughed a hoarse laugh that turned into a nasty cough.
I smiled sadly at the thought of Alice and Jasper. My little sister had carried a torch for him for years and a few months before he got sick they finally decided to give the relationship thing a try. He had broken it off when he had gotten sick, he didn't want her to feel obligated to go through this with him. Knowing Alice she would have stayed with him through anything if he had let her, and it broke my heart to realize there would probably never be a happy ending for these two.
"Dude, I read what you wrote in the book the other night while I was sleeping. I love you too, you know."
"Really, don't be gay about it," I laughed. I didn't want to talk about it. Talking about it would make it real and then I would have to deal with the fact that this would very well be the last Christmas we would get to spend together.
"Anyway, the nurses told me that if you're up for it, we could get a wheelchair and go for a walk around the hospital," I said, changing the subject.
"Did you seriously wait until now to tell me this? Get the damn wheelchair and let's get out of here! I'm going absolutely nuts being stuck in here. Do you think we might even be able to go outside for a bit? I forgot what fresh air feels like."
"You're such a rebel."
Faithful friends who are dear to us, will be near to us once more
"Has my dad been here yet to tell you?" I asked, and I couldn't hide the excitement in my voice.
"No, what's going on?" Jasper asked while eyeing me suspiciously. Excitement was a rare emotion these days.
"He managed to pull some strings and arranged for you to come home to spend Christmas with us. He already called your parents and they are flying up here on the 23rd. You're coming home with us on the 22nd and if everything goes well you can stay at our place until the 26th. The only condition is that you're back here at the hospital in the evening on the 26th. They've scheduled a new round of chemo for you there."
Jasper, the strongest person I know, couldn't hold back the tears when he realized what I was saying.
"That's the best Christmas gift I could ever ask for. Thank you."
Someday soon, we all will be together, if the fates allow
Alice and I were curled up on the couch, watching some random movie on TV. None of us really paid attention, we just wanted something to occupy our minds so that we didn't have to think for a few hours.
Christmas had been emotional, to say the least. While we had all been more than thrilled to have Jasper out of the hospital, even just for a few days, but nothing could hide the fact that we were all aware of the fact that this would probably be the last Christmas we would get to spend with him. We had all put on our happy faces, and tried to get into the appropriate holiday spirit.
We had eaten Christmas food and Christmas candy, played games, watched Christmas movies and we even managed to talk about some of the things that were difficult. I had tried to avoid it, but Jasper had insisted that it was necessary to talk about it, and in a way we all felt better when it was over and everything was finally out in the open.
"You know, Edward, talking about this is healthy," he had said. "Don't let this eat you up when it's over, find someone to talk to about it. Don't let this eat you up alive, that way the cancer wins. Don't let it beat you, too."
I had simply nodded, I didn't have the words to respond to it.
My mom came in the room with the phone in her hand and a concerned look on her face.
"Edward, you might want to take this. It's from the hospital, it's about Jasper."
Until then, well have to muddle through somehow, so have yourself a merry little Christmas now.