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Chapter 33

When Kevin opened the door to Brian’s room, there was no one else in the room. “Go on in,” he urged, gently nudging Nick towards the doorway. “You need to spend some time with him alone, don’t you?”

Nick nodded. “Thanks, Kev,” he said softly, as he walked into the room, shutting the door behind him. His eyes filled with tears as he looked at his best friend, lying so sick and frail in the hospital bed. He looked no different than when Nick had last seen him.

As Nick got closer, he saw that Brian was asleep. He tiptoed around the bed to the chair that was sitting next to it. He took a seat and ran his hand gently over Brian’s, which rested atop the covers. Brian stirred and opened his eyes. A look of confusion came over his face at first, and then hurt.

“Where have you been, Nick?” he asked, his voice soft and breathy.

“I was in Los Angeles,” Nick replied, figuring it was best to be honest with Brian. “I’m sorry Bri, but it was so hard for me to see you like this. I just had to get away. I’m such a terrible person, and I know that now. I knew it when I did it too, but I did it anyway. I betrayed you. I don’t blame you for hating me,” Nick said, his eyes filling with tears.

Brian’s own eyes became teary as he listened to his best friend. “Nicky,” he said, “You will always be my best friend. Nothing can change that. What you did hurt me, but I forgive you. I know how hard it must be for you. You’re not a horrible person.”

Nick began to sob out loud. Brian was the bestest friend anyone could have, and he knew he didn’t deserve him as a friend. But he didn’t say that. All he said was something he hadn’t told Brian for awhile. Something he knew he needed to say, before it was too late. A simple, “I love you.”

Brian smiled tearfully and weakly gripped Nick’s hand. “I love you, too, Frack,” he said. “Thank you for coming back.” Nick said nothing, just bent and wrapped Brian in a tender hug. Brian smiled and closed his eyes.

“You okay, Bri?” Nick asked.

“Yeah,” Brian said. “I’m just kind of tired.”

“Do you want me to leave so you can take a nap?” Nick asked.

“No, that’s ok,” Brian said. “I want to talk to you still.” He smiled, and Nick returned his smile, happy to have been forgiven. “So,” Brian started, “did-“ He suddenly stopped and grabbed his chest, his blue eyes filling with pain and fear.

“Brian?!” Nick cried. “Brian, what’s wrong?!”

“My… my chest…” Brian moaned, his breathing growing rapid and shallow. The beeping on the heart monitor grew fast and irregular.

“Oh my God!” Nick screamed. “Hang on, Bri, I’ll get help!” He leapt up and raced out of the room, running faster than he ever had before, shouting for help all the way. Some nurses rushed into Brian’s room, followed by Dr. Adele. Nick tagged along behind them, his heart racing.

When he got to Brian’s room and looked at his best friend, he gasped. Suddenly, the room began to spin, and his breath came in short gasps. Then, he fell into darkness.

Chapter 34