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Sad chapter time!
So I will dance with Cinderella,
While she is here in my arms.
Don rubbed his forehead.
Just as he had thought, the leukemia was back and it was worse than before. Ayla was back in chemo and on the waiting list for a transplant.
Dr. Graham came into the hall. Don stood up. "How is she?" he asked.
"I'm sorry, it's not looking very well," she said gravely. "We're going to try another type of chemo to see if it works, but I have to be straight with you. If Ayla doesn't get a transplant, she might die some time in the next few weeks."
Don closed his eyes. "What if… what if she gets a transplant?"
"I'm sorry, the list is very long and it takes a long time for a donor to come a long with a match for your daughter," Dr. Graham said. "The transplant is not very hopeful."
Don sighed and looked down at the floor, willing the tears in his eyes to go away.
"Mr. Eppes," she said softly. "She's waiting for you."
"Thank you," Don smiled. He looked up. "Thank you doctor for all that you've done for us."
"No problem, anyone I can help."
He winced as he heard her heaving. The chemo always made her sick. Don walked into the room and gently wrapped his arms around her as finally the last heaving stopped.
"Thanks dad," she grumbled. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay," Don gently eased her back onto the bed. "Are you okay? Did Dr. Graham talk to you about it?"
"Yeah, a few weeks," Ayla looked down. "Not much time."
Don studied his daughter, "Are you sure you're okay?"
She shrugged. "I don't know."
_. _. . _._ . _ ... ._ ._ ._
'Cause I know something the prince never knew.
It was Wednesday.
Dean always called Ayla on Skype on Wednesdays.
Ayla looked at her laptop as it beeped.
"Are you going to answer that?" Don asked, gesturing to the incoming Skype call.
She shrugged but answered it.
"Hey," Dean grinned at her. He realized that she wasn't at home. "What's going on? Where are you?"
"Okay, first of all, I want you to know that I'm okay." Ayla smiled. "I'm in the hospital again. The leukemia came back."
"What?" Dean yelped. "Are you okay?"
"I told you that I'm okay," she laughed. "Dean, you know I love you and nothing's going to change that,"
"Mr. Eppes," Dr. Graham poked her head into the door. Don stood up and joined her out in the hall, leaving Ayla and Dean alone.
"How are you doing?" she asked.
"How are you doing?" Dr. Graham asked. "I like to check in with my patient's family as well as the patient."
Don sighed and looked into the small hospital room.
"For so many years it was just me and Ayla," Don said softly, not quite answering her question. "Just me and her, she was so patient with my work and with me trying to be her mom and dad at the same time as being an FBI agent."
"She was a special kid," Dr. Graham noted.
"Ayla was more than special," Don sighed, "She was the best child anyone could ask for. I would promise her the moon, I would kill someone if it means saving her, I don't want to lose her, I don't want to lose my little Ayla."
Don sat by Ayla's bed. She hadn't said a word since she ended her call with Dean a few hours ago.
"Ayla?" Don asked again. "Are you okay?"
She sighed and turned over.
"Ayla, could you talk to me?"
"I said good bye to Dean." Her voice was muffled by the pillows. "I told him to stay there, I didn't need him here."
"Oh, Ayla," Don whispered.
"I want him here," she said.
Don looked at the ground. "What else did you talk about?" he asked.
Ayla's tense shoulders relaxed. "He said that he would always remember me with a warm heart." Ayla sighed as she remembered what he said. "He also promised me that… he would look after you."
_._. ... _. _._ . _ _. ._ ._
Oh I will dance with Cinderella,
I don't want to miss even one song.
Two days later, Ayla was still alive.
Any day now, at anytime, he could lose her. She was getting weaker and weaker by the hour.
"Dad," she whispered.
"Are you okay?" Don asked, sitting forward in his chair.
"I'm good." She wet her lips. "Dad, could you help me?"
Don blinked away tears. "I would promise you the moon, you know that."
She laughed softly. "I want to dance."
He shook his head. "Please, not this again, you need to rest."
"Please dad, just one more dance."
Don closed his eyes and looked down at the ground.
"Please, just one more dance with me," Ayla pleaded. "Just one more."
"Okay," Don agreed. He helped her out of the bed, holding her tightly as her knees shook underneath her.
Don wrapped his arm around her skinny waist, she put her arm around his neck and rested her head on his chest. They held each other tightly as if they could ward off death. Don sighed and rested his cheek on her head. They started to dance slowly to the music that wasn't there.
"Dad… I'm scared," she whispered. Don felt tears seep through his shirt. "I'm scared… I don't want to die."
Don blinked and let a tear fall down his cheek. "I don't want you to die either."
Her small frame wracked with sobs. "I don't want to die, I don't want to die."
More tears fell down Don's face.
... _ ._. ._. _._ ..._ _ ... . _. .. _... _... . ._. .. ... ...
'Cause all to soon the clock will strike midnight…
She looked so small in the battlefield of wires and tubes. Ayla locked eyes with him.
"Dad, I love you," she whispered. "Take care of Dean, right? He needs a family."
Don nodded, "Take care of yourself, be with your mom again."
Ayla lifted her hand and Don took her hand.
"I'm going to miss you," Don whispered.
"Me too," she smiled softly.
Don sat on the edge of the bed and pulled her into his lap. "Go to sleep Ayla," he whispered. "Your mom is waiting for you."
She nodded and closed her eyes, "She says hi," Ayla said, her voice barely audible.
Don blinked back tears. "Tell her… tell her to take care of you and I miss her."
"She already knows that," Ayla smiled softly, her eyes still closed.
He smiled. "I love you both, I miss you both."
Ayla sighed and smiled softly. "Love you too dad."
Her breathing slowed and stopped all together. Slowly her smile faded. Don pressed his lips against her head.
"I love you, my little Ayla," he whispered.
And she'll be gone…