The young man in the hospital bed coughed hard, blood flecks coming up with the phlegm. He knew he was close to the end. He could barely see, even with his glasses, and the coughing hurt more and more. He just wanted the time to do one last thing before he left this world.
"Son?" A soft voice said.
"Dad." The young man breathed. There was so much he wanted to say. So much he wanted to do for his father. "I'm sorry." He felt the tears gather in his eyes and roll down his cheeks.
"Why?" His father asked as he gathered his only child in his arms.
"I don't want to leave you alone. I don't want to put you through this." The boy sobbed, clinging as tightly as he could to the man that had raised him.
"Shhh...this isn't your fault. It's just something that happens. It's not fair; it's not just, but that's the way life goes. I won't be alone. You and your mother will watch over me."
"I know. It'll be all right." His father soothed. He hoped it would be. He had just checked with the doctor. The doctor confirmed what they already knew. It would not be very long now. He just prayed it would be peaceful for his son.
He laid his son back down on the bed, but did not let go of his hand. "Rest. Just sleep, and everything will be better."
He watched as his son closed his eyes. The heart monitor gave a steady stroke, and he felt comforted by that. Warren brushed a stray lock of sandy blond hair away from his son's face, and smiled sadly. He wished his son did not have to go through this. *The first time he's honest with himself and opens himself up, and this is how he's repaid.*
"I wish I could have seen you grow old. You had so much potential, so much to give the world, and it all got ripped away from you. I wanted you to have it all: love, money, friendship. Life was never easy for either of us, son.
"I wanted you to know what it was like to love with your whole heart and soul, and be loved in return. Instead, you were saddled with this. I'm sorry, son. I just wanted you to be happy. I wanted you to be someone special. I wanted people to look at you and see the caring heart you had underneath, the loving soul that your mother and I got to see day in and day out.
"I understand why you don't want your friends here. Even when nobody would begrudge you a bit of selfishness you are still protecting your friends. I'm proud of you, Billy."
"I love you, Dad." Came the rasped reply from the bed. Warren looked down and found his son staring up at him, a sad smile on his face. Warren smiled back as his son's eyes slid close for the last time.
"I love you too, Billy. I love you too."