Night had fallen, and the hospital was relatively quiet. In room 235, however, the lights were still on, and soft chatter could be heard coming from inside.
Griff was lying on his bed, and his condition was worse than ever before. The little flesh that was left on his bones was now practically gone. He struggled to keep his eyes open, so he'd just send a look, through barely parted eyelids, in the direction of his partner, Ted. By some miracle he was still talking.
"Any minute now", he said feebly, and Ted's head jerked upwards.
"Be quiet" he snapped, and immediately regretted it, biting his lip and shifting in his seat. Griff gave him a soft look, almost as if he were pitying him.
"It'll be fine" this made Ted's chest tighten again.
"No it won't be fucking fine!" His fists were clenched. Griff sighed. "What? You expect me to just sit here and smile and pretend I'm alright?"
"Well you can't really expect me not to" his arm moved slightly towards the end of the bed. "I don't like seeing you sad."
He was making such an effort to talk, but he had to. He couldn't just leave this life without having one final conversation with the man he had hoped to spend 'forever' with.
Ted bit his lip even harder. This couldn't be happening, this whole situation was just absurd. His life had just been one massive nightmare for the past months, and he really wanted to wake up.
Griff's eyes closed, but to Ted's relief they opened again a few moments later. "I never told you what I wanted."
He knew Ted had understood, because his partner's face became one of shock and worry, one Griff didn't like seeing but had been more and more frequent since they had moved to London.
"You haven't written a will!?"
"Of course I've written a will, you silly, but my will doesn't say 'Oh yeah, and I want Ted to do this and that'."
"Oh, so you're leaving me instructions, are you" upon hearing this, Griff's lips stretched to form a tired half-smile.
"Shut up, would you..."
Ted shut up, and waited.
"I'd like-" he started to cough. Ted felt tears forming in his eyes, but he blinked them away before they could fall. "I'd like you to buy the bike back..."
"I can't buy the bike back!" He was incredulous. What was Griff saying?
"But you loved that bike..."
"I have no idea where the hell it is! I-I can't just buy it back! I don't even know if-" he sounded desperate, and he was waving his hands about. He relaxed. "Look, I just can't buy the bike back."
"You're asking me ridiculous requests!"
The once strong and cheerful young man felt weak and defeated. The mood of the conversation had just plummeted and he didn't feel like talking anymore. He pathetically attempted to roll over to one side, but the pain and effort that movement required were too great. Ted got the message anyhow and felt sobs rising to his throat.
He did his best to keep them down.
"You think I'm angry at you?" his voice cracked. "I'm not. I'm not!"
Griff's arm moved closer towards the edge of the bed, and Ted finally understood he was meant to be holding his partner's hand. "I know you're not."
"Do we really have to talk about this?" He didn't know how much longer he'd be able to hold the tears in, and this conversation was surely not helping.
"You've been putting it off for too long. I'm more than likely to die tonight-" Ted gripped his hand tightly and looked away, making an odd gasping sound. A reaction not uncommon from someone who is hearing something they don't want to hear. "-And you're going to have to face up to that."
His stern, nearly whispering voice left no room for doubt; he was being serious. Not exaggerated nor comforting, but plain honest, as if giving Ted an order; an order to accept what was to happen and be strong.
He stroked Ted's fingers with his thumb. "Once it happens- now, don't interrupt me or I'll use every last ounce of strength I have to punch you in the face..." Despite tears already running down his cheeks, Ted laughed. "...I want you to move out."
"M-move out?" Griff nodded.
"Get the hell out of Whitechapel. Actually, get the hell out of London. This city has only ever managed to drag us down."
"I'll be fine. " Getting beaten up meant nothing to him anymore.
Griff shook his head slowly. "You know...I never could forgive myself for letting you get hurt. For not being able to protect you, for having this..."
" It's not your fault!" He was losing it. It was impossible to hold back tears and sobs. He was choking.
Griff hushed him gently. It was so painful to watch him cry, and he himself was in enough pain already. And he felt so tired...
Ted breathed heavily, yet managed to speak. "But...but where do I go? With what money? I don't have enough to move out..."
"Go anywhere, anywhere you want. Don't worry about the money, I've been saving up. It was meant to be for our trip to India but oh well..."
"You were saving f-Oh never mind..." he wiped his eyes. "I can't take your money."
"Of course you can! It's yours. Whom else is going to use it, anyway? My Holy Ghost?"
Again, this managed to pull a laugh out of Ted, but it was a crying laugh, the kind produced when you don't know what to feel anymore.
At this point, Griff's chest felt like it had caught fire. He slowly embraced it, but fought a little longer. Their hands still intertwined, he pulled Ted- his beautiful, sweet, kind-hearted Ted- closer to him, for what he knew would be the last time.
"You know I love you" he didn't care how soppy he was being. It had to be said. "More than anything."
Ted was unravelling. He knew exactly what this meant. "I love you too", he whispered. "Forever." He could barely produce the words. Why was it so hard now? It should be easy, especially since this was the time they had to be used the most.
"That's right" Griff smiled, and his voice was barely audible anymore. "Forever..."
His head rolling to the side, wavy, unkempt locks parting and covering his face, Griff released his grasp around Ted's fingers. Feeling the fire spread throughout his body, he finally gave in to exhaustion and let himself go, drifting into a well deserved rest.
The monitors went off. Nurses must have been getting ready to rush into his room.
As the weight of the world came crashing down on him, Ted held his breath and squeezed his eyes shut.