He didn't know it was going to be this hard.
He should have, though.
He sat on a hard wooden chair next to the bed, so many thoughts running through his mind, so many things he wanted to say.
Things he needed to say.
This all just seemed so surreal. He always figured he'd have all the time in the world for this, but now he realized that everyone's time runs out eventually...something he often forgot after getting his father back due to the aurora.
He heard someone come in but wouldn't let his eyes stray from the person lying in the bed, drifting in and out of consciousness.
"Talk to him, Johnny. It's okay."
He looked up at the sound of his father's voice. He knew how hard this must be for him. Satch was his best friend, his confidante, his brother. When they first heard that he was sick, Frank was in complete disbelief. As he grew worse and it became clear that Satch's time was running out, John began to hear his father every night, locked alone in one room or another, trying his best to quiet his sobs.
John will remember that until the day he dies.
He knows his father and Satch have talked a lot during Satch's lucid moments, so he knows that though his father is still in deep pain, he's accepted it.
John, however, had yet to talk to him. He would look into the room from the doorway, sometimes even come in, but he never got close enough to the bed. He couldn't. It would make this all too real. It would mean it was too late.
It finally came to the point where he knew he was running out of time. He had to do this. So he had pulled up a chair next to the bed and watched Satch rest. He had yet to say anything though. He didn't know where to start. After Frank left the room, John let out a breath and began.
"Satch. Satch. It's me. It's John."
Slowly Satch opened his eyes and a small smile came to his lips.
Tears immediately came to John's eyes and a genuine smile lit his face. It had been so long since Satch had called him that.
"Hey. How you doin'?"
Satch sighed. "I think I'm at the end of my rope, Johnny."
John closed his eyes and let a few tears fall before he continued on. He had to. No matter what, he had to get this out.
"Listen, Satch. There are some things I need to tell you. Things I should have said to you a long time ago. I was just an asshole...an asshole who thought he had all the time in the world."
Satch let out a low chuckle but nodded for John to continue.
"Listen. I never told you how much I appreciated you and I'll never forgive myself for that. You were always there for me. Always. You got on my ass a lot, but that was because you needed to. I needed it. You always loved me, I know that. You took me under your wing and taught me so much. You were a second dad to me, Satch. And I know you probably won't remember this, but there was a period when my dad wasn't around, and you gave me all the love and support you could.
I guess what I really just wanted to say was...I love you, Uncle Satch. You're my family and I love you so much, and I'm so sorry for all the grief I caused you and for being an asshole so much to you over the years. Thank you so much for everything you've given me. I'll never forget it."
Satch looked up into John's eyes and smiled. This was the little boy he had known since the day he was born. Pieces of him had come back over the years, but this was him completely.
"It's okay, Johnny. I knew all this was deep down there somewhere all along. And you don't have to apologize. I love you. It's okay."
No longer able to control his emotions, John put his head down on the bed and cried. He hadn't called Satch 'uncle' in years, but that was what he was. That was what he had always been. And now he had that back...but it was too late.
He felt Satch's hand comfortingly stroking his hair and looked up with wet eyes. He grabbed the hand on his head and kissed the knuckles, looking one more time into those familiar brown eyes.
"I love you, Uncle Satch."
"I love you, too, Johnny."
With that, Satch let out what sounded to John like a sigh of relief built up in his chest over decades and closed his eyes for the last time.