Andy didn't know who he was angrier with, the law firm who had taken away much of the time that he could have spent with his family, or himself for putting his family and Miguel through all of this in the first place. Lying in the hospital bed with an oxygen mask on was a curious position to be in; you could observe much and say little. You could see the hurt, the fear, the anger, the love in the eyes of those who loved you. There was so much he wanted to say to them but he was physically unable to. He tried to convey his feelings, sometimes with a wink or a squeeze of a hand, sometimes it was a refusal to sleep in someone's presence, but he fought, oh how he fought to show his feelings. He knew he would not be around much longer to show his loved ones how he felt so time was of the essence.

Now life was about healing, It was the biggest paradox of his life; just as his body was shutting down he was finally healing from the wounds and the sins of the past. He was forgiving himself for the infidelity that had led him to this room in the first place. His family was forgiving him for not being who they had imagined he might become. He was forgiving his former law firm for denying him his basic rights as a human being to practice work as any other citizen might. There were so many things that needed healing, and here in this hospital bed he was finding in. Ironically the only thing he couldn't heal was his body which had betrayed him so.

Sometimes he loved Miguel so much he couldn't look at him. He would pretend to sleep when he was in the room. Andy knew that he would be leaving him behind, and sometimes the guilt was too much to bear. He tried to imagine what Miguel's life would be like without him, and all he could hear where the cries that Miguel didn't think that Andy could hear. Andy would hear those cries, even in his sleep. But when Andy was "awake" and Miguel was awake, there were no tears, just only happy memories and affirmations. The way it should have always been right from the start. One day Andy had been bottling up his feelings and was playing this game and couldn't take any more pretending.

"Why do you cry, Miguel?" Andy asked out of the blue. Miguel was shocked.

"I'm still here. I haven't left you. I want us to be happy. I want you to be happy. That's all I've ever wanted for you," he smiled.

"Why do you cry?" Miguel challenged.

Andy was shocked. His secret was out. "You were never to know that. That was between me and myself. I was never to burden you with my problems."

"But you see Andrew…your burdens are my burdens. We are as one. How can I not take your burdens on as mine? I cry because you cry? I cry because you do not talk to me? I cry because I see you shut down every day… physically, emotionally… and you won't let me in. And there's only so much I can do. You turn me away. You always accuse me of being a proud man. Well today the opposite is true. I surrender my pride but you pick it up," Miguel looked him in the eyes.

Andy looked at him, determined not to cry but felt himself pushing back the tears. "I pick it up because it's the only thing I have the strength left to carry."

The room grew strangely quiet. Andy was not giving up, but he was giving up on them, on being part of a couple. He was drifting away into his own identity. Andy Beckett- the person who needed to do things by himself- and that terrified Miguel even more than losing him. It was as if Miguel would lose him twice. Miguel got up and walked out of the room, looking for the nearest chapel, and broke down in tears.

00000

Alone. Was this how it would be at the end? Just him in the room? This was Andy's biggest fear, and now it had come true. Miguel had left him. And it was no wonder. Andy had put him through so much. He had had enough. Andy had cheated on him, contracted AIDS and now was going to die alone. His body started shaking and he dropped the nurse's call button on the floor accidentally. He began to panic. That call button was his other lifeline, next to Miguel. Now he had no way of saving his own life, even if he wanted to. He was powerless over his own life. He'd never been more terrified in his entire life.

Just as they had always been connected, that bond had led Miguel back into Andy's room at that very minute. Instinctively Miguel looked for that call button and he ran over and tied it around Andy's bed. He looked at him.

"Are you okay? Do you need something?"

"Only you."

Miguel nodded. He wasn't expecting an apology, nor did he want one. He just needed to know that Andy still loved him, the way he did him. Those two simple words told him everything.

"Miguel… I…"

"Sshh…get some sleep…"

"I'm scared, Miguel."

Miguel leaned over and kissed Andy on the lips. "Andrew I will be right here when you wake up."

Suddenly Andy wasn't so scared anymore. He closed his eyes, and in the morning things looked a lot clearer.. He went to sleep in peace.