A steady beep roused him. He licked at his parched lips, as the infernal beep echoed through his mind. His wrist was lifted and his pulse taken. A sharp pain in his arm made him wince.
“Hey, you’re awake.”
“What happened? Where am I?” Josh was shocked to hear his voice was thick and slurred. He tried to sit up and was pushed back down.
“Lay down, you’ve had a nasty warning.”
“I don’t want to die, don’t let me die!” JC started to cry. “I know you hate me but please don’t let me die.”
Lance stroked the sun bronzed curls from JC’s eyes. “I won’t, I promise.”
“I never meant to make you hate me, please don’t hate me!”
“I don’t hate you baby. I was hurting and I took my pain out on you, I never meant the words I said. I love you like you were my own flesh and blood. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“What happened to me Lance?”
Lance wiped away a tear from under JC’s eye, “You had a stroke, brought on by stress, stress I caused. It’s my fault.”
“I forgive you.” JC’s voice was barely a breath as he sunk back into a drug induced sleep.
Lance made one more check of the sleeping mans vitals then went outside to where the rest of the colony had gathered, waiting for news of their most beloved member.
Justin jumped to his feet, looking pale and gaunt, the children sat round tearstained and dishevelled. None of them had felt JC’s pain as he collapsed or felt his desperate need for help.
“He woke up.” Lance said as he leaned into Chris’ arms.
“Can I see him?” Justin sounded like a child, lost and confused, he’d nearly lost his frail lover again.
“I sedated him, you can see him later.”
Justin started to protest. “But …”
“No buts Justin. JC had a close call this time, he needs rest, and looking after, he died, I had to revive him.” Jewel started to cry, weeping softly into Joshua’s chest. Jovian clenched tightly at Joey’s hand. The rest of the J’s and Sapphire wept openly along with Shaun, Davy and Sally.
“What caused it Lance?”
“Stress! What stress?” Justin ripped at his hair as he paced back and forth, his eyes rested on the heavily pregnant Jewel and Jovian.
“Don’t you dare Justin … don’t you dare blame those boys.” Lance was almost beside himself.
“Then who should I blame?”
“Me.” Chris tightened his grip round his lover’s waist. “I lost my temper with Jace earlier today, said some terrible things. I caused this.”
“I’ll fucking kill you.” Justin lunged at the blond doctor; Chris yanked him out of the way, putting himself between his lover and his friend.
“Don’t blame Lance. I’m the cause of this. Lance was upset, he couldn’t cope with the secret I was making him keep”
“What fucking secret?” Justin demanded.
Lance began to cry as he heard the words for the first time from his lover’s mouth. “I’m dying Justin. I’m going to die and I wouldn’t let Lance tell you.
Joshua let out a strangled scream and Lilly sobbed hysterically. The older boys rushed to comfort Chris and Lances children. “There must be a mistake?” Justin’s eyes filled with tears for the man who had become his best friend.
Chris shook his head sadly. “No mistake, we did the tests a couple of times.”
“ I don’t know what to say, I’m so sorry Chris.”
“Don’t be sorry, just don’t pity me okay.”
Justin rubbed the heels of his hands into his eyes, “alright, everyone have an early night, Joey, you sleep over with Joshua, Jewel you sleep back with your brothers till we can sort out a permanent place for Joe to stay. The pregnant teen nodded, knowing better than to argue, but really wanting to stay and comfort his boyfriend. The two families split up, both subdued with their own private grief.
Chris hugged Lance tight. “I know you didn’t want to tell them, I’m so sorry I put you in that situation.” Lance said regretfully.
“Its ok, I’m sorry the children had to find out like that, but now they know and you don’t have to hide your feelings away anymore.”
“I love you Chris, don’t leave me.”
The human crushed his alien lover to him. “I try not to my love, I promise I’ll try.