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Eric stood over Alan's bed with a wet towel in his hand, he seemed to be resting. Finally. The thorns were getting worse; they were spreading closer to his heart. Everyone figured it wouldn't be long now until Alan left this world, and Eric behind. Even so close it was something Eric Slingby didn't want to think about. He couldn't think about the fact that the one person that meant the most to him, that made him whole, was going to die. Wiping his face he hoped to take some of the sweat off Alan; keep him comfortable.
"Eric? Why not go get some sleep. I'll keep an eye on him?" Pulling the cloth from Alan's face he dumped it back in the bucket. Turning towards the door he saw Ronald in the doorway trying to give them space while lending a hand as best he could. Stepping away from the bed he moved towards the door placing a hand on Ron's shoulder and mumbled "thanks," before he went into the living room. Usually he slept with Alan when he slept over but he knew if he did that he wouldn't sleep at all. He couldn't guarantee he would now, but here he had a better shot.
Lying on the couch he faced the cushions so he would be able to hear Alan better. God, how could things get this bad so quickly? Alan had the thorns for two years now but he was the same he had always been. Hardworking, helpful, still held the smile he fell in love with. Then a few months ago he noticed Alan would tire out quicker, he would want to go out less and wanted to cuddle with blankets more. He was getting slower. Reaping jobs that would usually take him two hours were now taking him four or more. Nothing was a drastic change though it was all gradual. Until earlier in the week that was. They were walking him from work together as they had done every day since they started dating, when Alan had an attack. Eric dropped down beside him to help him through it, they had become more frequent so he picked up a few tricks on helping him. Once the attack ended Alan moved away so he could stand and they could continue on their way.
"Eric, oh my God, Eric!" Eric had just stood back up before he heard Alan panicking.
"What? I'm right here. I wouldn't leave you behind."
"No. I. I can't stand up."
"What?" Pulling his hands from his pockets he saw the panic on Alan's face.
"Eric, I can't stand up. My legs, they won't move!"
"Calm down. You're okay. Let me get you home." Bending down he had Alan put his arms around his neck so he could lift him up.
"You okay, should I reposition my arms?"
"No. You're fine." Alan lowered his head to rest it under Eric's chin.
"You know, this is the first time you've ever let me carry you."
"You've always complained when I offered."
"Then I guess it is." Keeping his arms around Eric's neck he held on a little tighter to him. Eric didn't say anything right away knowing Alan had let a few tears escape. This had to be hard on him knowing he was getting worse. Home they got Alan in bed and resting. Eric was going to turn off the light and let him sleep when he heard his name. Going back to the bed he sat on the edge and gently stroked Alan's cheek.
"Try to sleep Alan, you'll feel better."
"Eric I…thanks. For taking me home."
"Don't thank me; you know I have no problem with it. You know I love you and would do anything for you."
"Nothing." Using the back of his wrist he wiped his eyes.
"Hey, don't cry. There is no need for tears. I'll always have your back. You should know that by now." Moving closer he stopped as Alan put his hand up.
"I know! Don't you think I know that by now? That's why this is so hard for me. If I never met you, if I hadn't fallen in love with you then I wouldn't hate the fact that I'm dying!" Eric's jaw hung open from Alan's words before he saw him start full blown crying. He had never known this.
"If I never met you than this, this stupid disease would be easier to handle. The thought of leaving you wouldn't hurt so much! When I die I'll never see you again. You'll go on living; we will never meet in heaven like humans do. I hate it! I don't want to never see you again. I don't want to leave you!" Eric moved forward to pull Alan into his chest allowing him to cry into his work shirt. He didn't want to believe he would never see Alan again, he couldn't. There was no way he could go on without him, without the hope they would meet again. Calming Alan down they laid together, there was no way Eric could leave him like that.
Rolling over on the couch Eric tried to clear his mind from the memory. That was all he saw when he tried to shut his eyes. Damn it! He knew it wasn't going to be easy but he didn't think it would be this hard either.
"Alan!" Hearing Ronald's voice Eric jumped to his feet and ran into the bedroom. There he saw Ron holding a towel to Alan's mouth as he coughed. Stepping closer he took the cloth from him and took over. As they switched positions Eric saw blood soaking the towel. The thorns were ripping Alan apart from the inside. The amount of blood he was coughing up, it wouldn't surprise him if they had pierced a lung.
"You're alright, I've got you. Cough it up; it's not good to keep it inside you. Try to clear it out of your lungs as best you can." Looking over at Ron he said, "Go get a bucket and a glass of water, bucket first though. Please." Ronald nodded and rushed out to get what Eric asked for. Grabbing another towel from the bucket of water and held that to Alan's mouth to dump the other one in the water. Alan coughed up more blood instantly soaking the side. Ronald ran back in and handed it to Eric before running out to get the glass of water.
"Al, spit." Having him spit he watched as it was all blood. This was getting worse.
"Eric. Eric I hurt so much." Ronald rushed in and handed the glass to Alan who rinsed his mouth out as he slowly stopped coughing. Swallowing the rest of it he handed the glass back to Ron. Seeing Alan was weak and pale Eric had him also take the bucket just as Alan fell back into his arms.
"Where does it hurt now?"
"My chest is tight. The thorns moved around my lungs this time. I feel as if, they aren't expending enough."
"Panicking won't help you. Just relax, I'm right here, I've got you."
Cleaning up the best he could with Ron's help they found Alan asleep soon after. Carefully, Eric left Alan on the bed and stepped out with Ronald for a quick moment to wash up.
"Sorry for bossing you around. You had him I should have,"
"Eric. I offered to help you. Don't worry about it."
"Not really. Hard to when I'm listening for him."
"I understand. But please try alright?"
"I will." Drying his hands he went back to the bedroom to lie with Alan. He knew the couch was pointless. "Guest bed's yours Ron. But you already knew that." Eric laid behind Alan and wrapped his arms around him to hold him tight. How many nights would he be able to do this? Was tonight it? Hugging him tighter he hoped that wasn't true.
Eric took the thermometer out of Alan's mouth only to frown at the temperature. "You've got a pretty bad fever." Alan pulled the covers up a little higher. Eric knew what that meant, Alan was avoiding the comment. "Alan. You've had this fever haven't you?" Nodding 'yes' he looked away.
"It's a side effect, if you will. As it grows my body tries to defend against it and well I get a growing fever." Putting the thermometer on the nightstand he sat next to Alan and moved his bangs from his eyes.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"I didn't want you to worry, You already worry about me so much and I can take care of a little fever."
"Let me in already. Geez, you know I will anyway." Kissing his forehead he saw Alan smile.
"I guess you're right."
"Feeling better?" Nodding partially his hands dropped to his legs.
"They hurt, my legs. I don't think I'll be able to do much moving anymore. The thorns wrapped around them before, well much tighter than they had been. I feel better but I can't walk, I can tell that much. So much for work."
"I've been telling you to take a vacation."
Hearing him laugh Eric smiled, no matter what happened with the thorns Alan's laugh remained the same, and he seemed to always make him laugh despite the situation.
Opening his eyes Eric saw Alan watching him. He wasn't wide awake but he was awake.
"Morning." His voice was still soft, he must still be having trouble breathing.
Saying nothing more they enjoyed the peace of staying near each other. Their souls fluttered inside them, this had started happening whenever they were close, ever since they first met. It was how Eric knew he was falling for Alan. Pulling him near him Eric inhaled Alan's scent, still the same as it had always been. How could he ever bear the thought of losing this?
The next day Eric held on to Alan's hand trying to help him through the attack. Alan was barely breathing; blood soaked the sheets as he coughed it up. The hand that wasn't holding Eric's gripped his chest as the thorns grabbed his heart. They could both feel it; this could be the end of Alan, of all they had shared. These moments were going to be their last. Alan's fingers dug into his chest as he screamed from the pain, from the thorns becoming tighter and tighter, beginning to poke his heart. Holding Alan as tightly as he could he tried to have him us his body as an outlet for the pain. Ronald ran beside him trying to clear the blood from his throat, hearing he was starting to suffocate from it.
"…Eric…I love you." The words were whispered, barely audible. Yet Eric heard them loud and clear.
"I love you too. And I promise you, we will meet again. And I will love you then as much as I love you now. I promise don't forget it."
"Thank you." His lips made the motion only to have the words fade before they reached outside his body. Eric closed his eyes, digging his face into Alan's shoulder as he screams peaked, as more blood poured from his mouth before stopping suddenly. Looking up Eric saw a single line of blood leave the side of Alan's mouth as his eyes were wide; tears had started to fall before his heart was pierced.
Ronald had stood there frozen by the fact that Alan was really gone. He had truly witnessed his best friend die before his eyes, and he couldn't even die in peace as he deserved. It wasn't fair.
"Ron. Could you, give me a minute?"
"…s…sure. I'll, um, I'll let Will know."
"Thanks." Eric placed Alan back on the bed, placing a hand on his eyes he gently closed his lids before kissing him one last time and wiping away Alan's tears.
"Damn it Al, you aren't the one that supposed to cry." Pulling him back into his arms Eric finally let his dams break, let the tears he had been suppressing since the start of all of this pour from his eyes.
"Alan I love you. And I promise you, we will meet again. Wait for me. I refuse to believe this is good-bye."
This story has been brewing inside of me for a long time now but I never felt the right time to write it. Just so you know I got teary eyed writing the last few paragraphs. And I can't decide if I want to make this a one-shot or a short story so I'll leave that up to you. Tell me what you think. Thanks for reading, Thanks for reviewing.