Visiting Hour

By Nomad
Mar 2002

Spoilers: "He Shall From Time to Time", I guess.
Disclaimer: Even if I could fast-forward time to when this fanfic is actually set, they still wouldn't be mine. Sigh.
Author's Note: I made myself cry writing this. You have been warned.

Hey there, Leo. How's it going?

Okay, there's no need to look like that. I know I'm not exactly at my best, lying flat out like that. But I'm not hurting, anymore.

Honestly, I'm not.

I know you're feeling guilty. I wish you wouldn't do that. I don't see how you can possibly try and make yourself to blame for something that's nobody's fault. Still, I suppose you wouldn't be you if you didn't try.

Is this about you not visiting me often enough? How could you think I'd be upset about that? I know it was hard for you, when things started to get bad. I know you didn't like to see me like that. I understand, of course I do. I wish you wouldn't beat yourself up about it.

And I'm glad you're busy. Oh, you thought I didn't know about that? Maybe you thought I'd be upset that you're back in the game again, and I can't be? Come on, Leo, you know me better than that.

I'm glad you've found something to occupy your time. Even if it's totally unofficial. I know you think Josh ought to be allowed to spread his wings on his own, but he'll always be grateful for you. He'll always listen to you. I know how proud you are of him. He's like a son to you.

He's like a son to me. They all are. And CJ's like a daughter. I guess that makes us co-parents. Almost like a married couple.

I'm sorry. I find I'm thinking of weird things like that, lately. My mind wanders, you know, now that it doesn't have all the workings of my body to occupy it.

At least I didn't lose my mind. That was a blessing, you see. I was blessed. No matter how bad it got, no matter how much else I lost, I never lost sight of that. Even after all I went been through, my mind stayed as sharp as it ever was.

This is where you're supposed to say something, you know. A little sarcastic line like you used to. And then we'd laugh.

I wish you would laugh.

You should go and see Abbey. No, you should. I know she's suffering as much as you with this, but she's never let it show. Even on the days when it was the worst it's ever been, when we started to realise it might never get better, she was so strong for me.

God, I love her so much.

You should go and see her. It'd do her good to have a shoulder to cry on. She has to be strong for the girls as well, you see. But I think she could bare her soul to you. She only cries alone, and that's not right. She shouldn't be alone.

Neither should you. The two of you should be there for each other. You should be together.

Oh, I know how you're horrified at the very thought. I saw the way she touched your hand when you came in here, and the way it hurt you both. I guess you thought I couldn't see you, but I did. And I wish you wouldn't both be so stupid about it.

Do you honestly think I would mind? Yes, I love her. I love you too. And I could never begrudge the two of you sharing something I'm not able to give anymore. I would never do that.

Oh, I know you're not listening to me. I know you're gonna just carry right on like you are, tearing yourself up inside because you think you're doing me wrong. You could never do me wrong, either of you. I love you both so much. I just hope one day you can see your way past all this senseless guilt and be happy.

Because you should be happy. I want you to be happy. That's all I want. It's not about me anymore. I wish you could only see that.

I know you think you owe me something. I'm not sure exactly how you arrived at that idea, because it seems a little crazy to me. But if you really believe that, then I'm asking you to let it go. That's the favour I'm asking - I'm asking you to let it all go. No more guilt, no more pain because you think I'm hurting. I told you, I'm not hurting anymore.

No, don't cry. Oh, Leo, why are you crying? Oh, I wish I could just reach out and put my arms around you. I wish I could still do that.

You shouldn't cry like that. Not over me.

I know you have to go soon. Of course I'm not upset about that. I understand, Leo. Why do you never believe that I'll understand? Why do you insist on thinking that you've failed me?

I don't understand that. How could you ever fail me? After all the things you've done for me, how could you ever go on thinking that you've failed me?

You're too hard on yourself, Leo. You always were.

I know it doesn't matter what I say. You're gonna go away from here with all that guilt weighing down on your shoulders, and I don't have any way to lift it off.

I hope you go to Abbey. Or I hope she goes to you. I mean it, I do. I love you both. I could never think it was wrong for the two of you to love each other.

I see the priest's coming back. I could've been a priest, you know. A priest instead of a president.

I'm glad I wasn't. Think of all the things I would have missed. I would never have had Abbey. There could never have been an Elizabeth, or an Ellie, or a Zoey. And what kind of a world would that have been? A world without my children in it.

I'm glad I never had to live that.

A world where there was no you and me, where you never came to me with three words scrawled on a napkin and a pocket full of dreams. A world where we never achieved great things together.

You made me a great man, Leo.

You made me a great man.

I guess you have to go now. That's okay. You don't need to tell me how much you'll miss me, I know that. But you shouldn't miss me. I'll be with you. You just won't know it.

I know you can't hear me. That's my one regret, I guess. I wish I could have said all this... before. I wish I could have said goodbye.

I wish I could have said goodbye, and I wish I could have told you not to cry. I wish I could tell you not to cry over that crumpled old man lying there, because that's not me. I know you can't hear me and I know you can't see me, but I'm here and I love you and I don't want you to cry because it's over now.

It's over now, and I'm happy, and I love you.

And I'm not hurting anymore.

I'm not hurting anymore.

End