Well, I got this idea when I a) was mentally exhausted, b) had a killer headache, c) was bored out of my mind, d) was feeling an insane compulsion to organize something, e) in spite of my mental exhaustion was nowhere close to being tired, and f) was listening to "Skin" by Rascal Flatts. So, taking all that into account, who knows what it's gonna be like? Oh, this is also the first 3rd person story I've written in a while, so forgive errors. Pretty please?—KG64
Gavin holds Trent close. There isn't much more he can do. He's tried speaking, he's tried telling Trent that everything will be alright, but why should Trent believe him when Gavin only half-believes it himself? Because no matter what they say about the situation, it doesn't change the fact that they are currently sitting in the hospital, waiting for the lab results—and they both know, instinctively, that the results are not good. After all, what doctor calls and tells you you need to come in because the results are perfectly normal? No, they only tell you to come back to the office because something is wrong.
And so now Gavin is holding Trent close, praying to God that there was just some weird quirk in the results, one that will be cleared away with another simple blood test. But then the nurse appears calling out for a Trenton McIntire, and Trent gets up, reluctantly releasing Gavin's hand. Gavin can't help but notice that Trent's legs look shaky. Can't help but notice that there is yet another purpling bruise on the back of Trent's left leg. And that realization just solidifies Gavin's sense of foreboding; the bruising was why they had come to get Trent some tests in the first place. And in the weeks since they had taken the blood samples, Trent had obviously not gotten any better.
Gavin wants so badly to accompany Trent, but he is not "family." He will never be "family." He is neither a blood relative, nor related by marriage. Because their state—Michigan—neither performs nor recognizes same-sex marriages and civil unions. Gavin hates it. But right now, he's too worried about Trent to feel angry at the government. He just wants to know that Trent—his Trenton, his partner, the man he would give his life up for—he just wants to know that Trent is healthy. And he almost convinces himself of that; after all, Trent is only twenty six, and he's very rarely sick in any way, let alone seriously ill.
So Gavin tries to make himself breathe, tries to keep himself from fidgeting, tries to suppress the desire to jump up and pace through the waiting room as he waits for Trent to come back out. He is largely unsuccessful on all three counts, as his breathing remains shallow, and he keeps standing up and sitting down, unable to sit still.
And after what seems like an eternity, Trent returns. His face is drawn, and he's clutching a stack of papers in his hands. He doesn't say anything. So they go to the elevator, and nothing is said all the way down. Nothing is said on the thirty minute car ride back to their apartment. And when they have locked the door and Gavin faces Trent, Trent still says nothing, just handing Gavin the papers he's still holding.
He understands because the doctor told him what it means; Gavin will understand because Gavin is a doctor. A pediatric physician, yes, but a doctor nonetheless. Gavin looks at the page and sees the words Acute Myeloid Leukemia and his face pales. Trent can't have AML. He can't have any form of AML. But as Gavin looks at the paper, he's faced with the fact that Trent does have AML. More specifically, he has a subtype known as acute eosinophilic leukemia, Chromosome 5q deletion syndrome.
Trent watches Gavin's face pale, all color draining away, and it's easy for him to see that it's likely worse than the doctors said. "Gavin," he whispers. "How bad is it?"
Gavin shakes his head, unable to find words. Trent… Trent… that's all he can think. His lover's name and the words acute myeloid leukemia, the words acute eosinophilic leukemia, and worst, the words chromosome 5q deletion syndrome. And in spite of himself, Gavin begins to cry. He takes the younger man in his arms, and they fall onto the couch, and Gavin cries, because he knows something Trent does not. He knows the survival rates.
They go back to the hospital about a week later, where Trent is started on chemotherapy. Gavin can see how frightened Trent is, despite how hard Trent is trying to hide it. The sickness is putting a strain on their relationship, mostly because Gavin is so worried and Trent is trying to hide how frightened he is.
Then, sitting in the hospital, Trent asks, "Gavin… are we going to survive this?"
Gavin looks up, knowing that Trent means their relationship. "Yes," he croaks. "Of course. I love you, Trent. Nothing will ever change that. I'm just worried." Gavin is still trying to deny that in all likelihood Trent won't see his thirtieth birthday. He knows that Trent's doctors have only told Trent that the chemotherapy works well quite often. Gavin knows that they haven't told Trent that the five-year survival rate for someone with Trent's kind of leukemia… Gavin knows that Trent doesn't understand what a fifteen percent five year survival rate means.
Gavin tries to trick his mind. Lots of things can change numbers and manipulate the mind. 'This treatment is eighty percent effective and seventy five percent of patients suffer no serious side effects' sounds a lot better than 'this treatment fails twenty percent of the time and twenty five percent of patients suffer serious side effects.' But no matter how Gavin looks at it, it just looks horrible. Fifteen percent of patients survive for five years. Eighty five percent of patients die before they reach the five year mark. Gavin can't help but think that both options suck. Neither is comforting in the slightest.
Trent just nods, understanding Gavin's worry and strokes Gavin's hair, feeling strangely as though he is the one comforting Gavin. Especially when Gavin breaks down crying again. And then Trent is alone because Gavin needs to get up to use the restroom—which Trent takes to mean he needs a smoke, something Gavin had promised he'd stop doing.
Sure enough, when Gavin returns, he smells of cigarettes and cold October air. "Gavin…" Trent says slowly.
Gavin smiles wryly, indicating he finds nothing happy about any part of the situation, not even the fact that Trent saw straight through his lie. "Sorry, Trent. I couldn't help myself. I… I'm really stressed. It was the only way to calm my nerves."
Then Trent whispers the words neither of them wants to hear. "Don't do that anymore, Gavin. You'll get cancer too."
That "too" seems to stop time. It's the first time they've really admitted it. They've seen the doctors, they're getting Trent the treatments, but they haven't really addressed the fact that Trent has cancer. Gavin feels as though it should be a curse word. Cancer. Six bloody letters. Six bloody letters had totally ruined their lives. Six letters could quite possibly cut Trent's life short by fifty years or more. And there is nothing Gavin can do about it.
So he sighs and promises, "Okay, Trent. No more cigarettes. I swear. For real this time."
Trent nods, trusting Gavin. "Okay, Gavin."
And they lapse into silence, acknowledging without words how bad the situation really is. It isn't till Gavin falls asleep that Trent allows himself to cry.
Several treatments later, Trent's hair begins to fall out. Gavin bites his lip; he loves Trent's hair, the first thing he noticed about the younger man. Thick and dark, grown out to almost his chin, it always stuck out in every direction when he woke up, most of the time so unruly he had to shower or at least wet it, just to get it to fall in a somewhat normal direction.
And then, suddenly, it is all gone. Trent is sad to see it go, but unsurprised. He is surprised when Gavin shows up, his head shaved as well. "Gavin," he manages to say.
Gavin smiles. "I figured I might as well go bald too. I'm supposed to go bald before you do."
The comment earns Gavin a laugh, and Trent says, "Come on, Gavin. You're not that old."
"Oh, aren't I?" Gavin asks. "You're twenty six, and I'm almost forty."
"Barely thirty seven is not almost forty, Gavin," Trent reminds him.
"Whatever," Gavin mutters, tossing him the remote. And they sit cuddled up on the couch and watch a movie.
The treatment is successful, fighting off the leukemia, killing it. But that's just the first battle. Trent looks joyful at the news, but Gavin only looks mildly relieved. So Trent finally puts his foot down. "Gavin, what is it you're not telling me?"
Gavin knows he's backed into a corner on this one; Trent has known from the beginning he's been hiding something, the real reason for all his worry. So he whispers, avoiding Trent's eyes, "Only fifteen percent of patients survive past the first five years. Seventy eight percent relapse." He hesitates and adds, "The only cure for relapsed AML of any kind is a stem cell transplant."
And Trent is rubbing circles on Gavin's back, trying to calm him. "The doctors told me, Gavin," he says. "I know. I didn't want to worry you, if you didn't already know."
Gavin looks at his friend, lover, partner in disbelief. Here he was, having an emotional breakdown and trying to hide it from Trent so that the younger man wouldn't worry, and Trent knew all along. He guesses he shouldn't be surprised. Trent was always the calmer, more logical of the two.
So he decides that, if Trent can remain calm, he can be relieved and relaxed as well.
Gavin and Trent have been monitoring Trent's health for three and a half years now. And then, for what seems to be no reason at all, Trent starts looking pale, gets tired easily, he begins losing weight, and his joints hurt.
And he begins bruising easily.
They don't need to see the lab results to know what's been printed.
And this time it doesn't go away. The leukemia has returned with a vendetta. The chemotherapy doesn't work, and Trent is not a candidate for a stem cell transplant. They put him in clinical trials, none of which do anything for the cancer, merely making Trent feel worse.
And then, on September twenty fifth, seven days before his thirtieth birthday, Trent loses the fight.
And Gavin is alone. Trent—the person who meant more to him than anyone else, anything else in the world—is gone.
"Damn it," Gavin curses. "Damn it, Trent, I'm eleven years older. I was supposed to die first. Damn it!"
And no matter how many people try to comfort him, the hurt remains.
No matter how many years pass—first one, then five, then ten—he can only think about how Trent should have been with him.
And no matter how many tears he sheds, Gavin can't make the pain of losing Trent fall away with them.
Okay, so… super depressing. Sorry. I'm kind of in that mood. Yeah… Well, goodnight everyone. Thanks for reading. Review if you want. If you hated it… sorry. :( I really don't blame you.
Kiyoshi'sGirl64 and Kiyoshi