Hello!! Just a bit of an introduction for you all! I hope you guys enjoy this lovely little story; it's a bit depressing though.. So if you don't like sad sappy stories, read this anyway because I think it's written quite wonderfully! *Well, that's because I wrote it. ^-^;; * Get out the tissues and enjoy!!!!

Dianna



"I can barely stand this aching, burning endlessly.

"Love me now, forever" were the last words you said to me.

And when the morning comes, my hands will still reach out for you.

Some things remain the same. There is nothing I can do.

I can barely get through the day ever since you went away."

~The Last Words You Said

Artemis stared at the ceiling as her mother yelled for her to wake up and get ready for school. Slowly, she pulled on a T-shirt with a silver crescent moon on it and the words 'Moon Goddess' written across in gold lettering.

"Artemis, hurry up or you'll be late!" Her mother yelled again.

"Coming Mom!" Artemis replied as she pulled on her star stenciled jeans.

She pulled out of the driveway exactly on time. She munched on her toast as she waited for the light to turn green. The radio blared some Japanese pop music. She sang along, understanding fragments of what she sang. The light changed and she turned the corner, just barely missing the Mustang that swerved to avoid hitting her. She was deafened by the loud horn, which was almost as loud as her music.

She ran into school, colliding with someone on her way in, her books scattered everywhere. Mumbling an apology, she gathered her books and, without even looking up, she ran to her locker. She was late, for her second day of school. Heaving an exasperated sigh, she grabbed her English and trigonometry books and shoved them into her bag. The secretary handed her a pass to English and Artemis slipped in quietly, setting the pass on Mr. MacCaffrey's desk.

"Nice of you to join us." He turned from the board and smiled at her. She smiled weakly back at him and sat down at an empty desk. Everyone stared at her as she pulled out her English notebook. She looked up at them and everyone suddenly looked back at the chalkboard. Bored by the lecture Mr. MacCaffrey was giving on proper and common nouns, Artemis look up and noticed that a boy with shocking blue eyes and black hair was staring intently at her. Seeing that she had noticed him staring he looked down at his notebook. Artemis turned away and tried to pay attention but her eyes kept wandering to the boy, he was writing something furiously. She shrugged and started to doodle on her notebook. When the period finally ended, Artemis sleepily stumbled out of the room and then ran into someone again. This time she looked up, it was the boy with the shocking blue eyes.

"Here, you dropped this when you ran into me this morning." He handed her a gold notebook, she blushed a bright red as she took the notebook. It was her journal.

"Don't worry, I just wrote a note on the last page. I'll see you trig." He smiled and walked away. She paused a second and the bolted for her next class, just barely beating the bell. Fortunately, she was in study hall, so, she seated herself in the back corner and opened the notebook.

Hello,

I don't mean to stare, but you look most intriguing. I don't mean that in a rude way, you are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen. I'm quite new here (two months) and I was rather curious if you'd like to go see a movie tonight. You must find this utterly ridiculous, but there's something about you that I'm drawn to. My name is Galen Riley, I would like to know yours.

~ Galen

Artemis smiled and ripped a piece of notebook paper out of her trapper and wrote a response. After the bell rang for the next period to start, Artemis practically ran to trigonometry. She sat in the back of the room and waited, soon after, Galen entered the room. He saw her and he smiled and made his way to the empty desk next to her. Before she reached it, a boy with bleached blonde hair wearing a 'Pimpercrombie and Bitch' shirt plopped in the desk and pulled her towards him.

"Hey sexy, wanna be my goddess?" He said, putting his arm around her. Galen tapped the boy on the shoulder.

"Wadda ya want!" The boy snarled, twisting Artemis's hair in his fat fingers.

"Gary, I believe there's a twinky waiting for you on that desk over there. You know, where the Freshman sit? " Galen replied dryly. Gary, now realizing who was speaking to him, an upper classman, released Artemis and made his way to the front of the room.

"Are you okay?" Galen's eyes flashed a bright blue.

"Yes, I'm just a bit shaken, thank you." Artemis said softly, staring at her hands. "Here, I wrote you a response." She handed him a folded piece of paper. After a few seconds had passed, he looked up and smiled. The teacher still hadn't shown up and all of the students were talking loudly, Galen moved his desk over so he could be heard.

"Artemis Lunas, that's a nice name. I'll call you after school. Is this your phone number?" He pointed to the number she'd written neatly at the bottom. She nodded and smiled.

The teacher had never shown up and Artemis and Galen talked the entire period. The rest of the day went by quickly and, before she knew it, Artemis was home.

"Hello Artemis, how was school?" Her mother said as Artemis pulled a bottle of water from the refrigerator.

"Good," Artemis replied. "Where's Dad?" Her father was always traveling because of his job.

"He's somewhere in Greece, he's suppose to call sometime tomorrow. Why?" her mother asked.

"I was going to go out with a boy I met in school today. Is that okay?" Artemis replied.

"Yes darling, I'm very happy for you." Her mother said, hugging her tightly. The phone rang and Artemis jumped up and answered it. Her mother watched her daughter, she was glad that Artemis was finally happy.

SENIOR YEAR

Artemis and Galen were inseparable for the rest of their entire Junior year and they continued dating all through their Senior year. When Prom night finally arrived, Artemis was surprised when Galen asked her to marry him. In a month, they would graduate, life couldn't be any better.

"Moon Babe!" Galen called to her, using the nickname her friends had given her. " Do you want to do something tonight?" He asked, his eyes shining happily. She nodded and kissed his forehead.

"Why don't we go to the football game?" She suggested as they walked to French class.

That evening, they watched a great football game; their team was going to the finals. After the game, they went for a walk on the path behind the school, the cross country runners used it for practice. They sat down on a fallen tree and gazed up at the stars.

"Galen?" Artemis muttered dreamily.

"Hmmm?"

"I love you." She replied hugging him closer to her. He was about to reply when Artemis clutched at her chest and began to cough uncontrollably. She tried to stand up, and as she did, she started to fall, Galen caught her in his arms.

"Artemis, are you okay?" Galen asked, looking her over with concern.

"I just.....I.....have a cold..... I must have gotten dizzy. I'm sorry..." she smiled, her face was pale in the moonlight. Her skin was drawn tight against the delicate bones of her face. "Uhm, Galen? You can put me down." She laughed a bit and the worry drained from Galen's face, he smiled and set her down.

"Let's get back to the car, okay?" He said, starting down the path. Artemis followed, but stumbled, Galen grabbed her arm. "Artemis?"

Her smile had contorted into a grimace of pain and she coughed again, Galen held her close to him. Her eyes were wide and frightened and her breathing was labored, but she managed to take a deep shuddering breath. Galen held her tightly and he put his hand on her cheek. She took another breath and then she coughed again, very thickly. Something wet splattered on Galen's hand, and he held it up to the moonlight. There was bright red blood on his hand. He ran to the car with Artemis in his arms.

Twenty steps from the front of the wall of the tiny hospital room to the back wall. Turn around, repeat. And again. And again. He could feel Artemis's eyes on him as she watched from the hospital bed. He had taken turns with her mother, waiting with Artemis's test results, they were still waiting. Her mother had to leave and pick up Artemis's father from the airport. Mrs. Lunas had been very reluctant to go, hearing about Artemis coughing up blood had really caused her to panic.

He stopped and glared at the wall, willing it to move. It didn't. He went back to pacing.

"Galen...." He heard Artemis say tiredly.

"Yeah?" Turn around, repeat. He had managed to sit still in the chair for a grand total of seven minutes before he couldn't stand it any longer. He hated not having anything to do. Not that pacing was any better, but at least he was moving.

"You don't have to wait around....I'm fine." She said quietly.

"You know Artemis, I bet you'd say you were fine if you were trapped under fallen building and trying to saw off your own leg." That made her think.

"Probably." She finally agreed, her rueful.

"I'm not going anywhere until a doctor looking type person comes and tells me that you're going to be fine." Galen said. "You really scared me."

"Sorry, it wasn't as if I was trying to." Came the quiet reply.

Someone knocked on the door. Galen let them in-- it was the doctor, and he was carrying a thick manila file folder. His smile was a little too cheerful, a little too professional. The room suddenly felt very cold.

"Ah, Artemis...I was hoping that you'd still be up." The doctor said. "I need to talk to you about the results of your blood test." His eyes flicked towards Galen. Artemis saw it.

"Galen is part of my family. If you have anything to say to me, he should be allowed to hear it as well." The doctor nodded and sat at the foot of her bed.

"I have the report on the blood tests we ran on you earlier." He paused, as if to collect his thoughts. "The results were.... abnormal." A chill ran down Galen's spine.

"Abnormal as in how?" Galen asked before Artemis could. The doctor shot him an unreadable look.

"The white blood cell count is much too high. Nearly thirty times higher than they should be."

"What does that mean, exactly?" Galen asked, glancing at Artemis. If anything, she had somehow managed to get paler,

"We can't be certain without more tests. We'll need to do more bloodwork tomorrow and perhaps a biopsy." The doctor said, glancing down at his charts. Galen caught sight of Artemis, her pale face suddenly looked very, very afraid.

Galen stared at the ceiling as he lay on the couch in Artemis's room. He turned and watched her sleep, occasionally she would cough. He grimaced everytime she did, remembering the frightened expression on her face. He tried to close his eyes, but he knew that he would sleep very little.

In the early afternoon, after all of Artemis's was bloodwork was finished, the doctor came back in, his smile was no longer present.

"Artemis, I just received the results of the tests we ran early today." He said without preamble. "Do you want to hear them now?" Artemis nodded, the color once more draining from her face. "There's no right way to go about saying this... the biopsy confirmed our original fears. It's leukemia." The doctor licked his lips nervously and continued. "Lymphoblastic, acute, very late stage."

Artemis made a very small distressed noise, and Galen looked down at her. His hand had a white knuckled grip on her shoulder. Through and act of sheer will power, he made himself loosen his fingers.

Dimly, he heard her ask, "How late?"

"Very. You should have been exhibiting symptoms for at least the past month." The doctor said. "If you'd come in before now..."

"There wasn't time." She replied quickly, as if she had been expecting to hear that. Angel looked at her sharply. She'd been feeling sick for the past month and she hadn't even told him? "How long?" She asked softly.

"Wait a minute!" Galen yelled. "What the hell do you mean, how long? Are you planning to die or something!? Don't be stupid!" He looked at the doctor. "Tell her to stop being stupid, doc. Doc?" The doctor shook his head.

"I'm sorry, we'll still try chemotherapy to see if we can force the cancer into remission....If we can, then there is a possibility of a bone marrow transplant, and we can hope that the cancer hasn't metastasized. But if that doesn't work...." He didn't finish the thought, he didn't have to.

"How long?" She asked again, sounding way to calm. Way to calm.

"Three weeks perhaps." The doctor sighed quietly. "I'm sorry Artemis. We'll begin chemo tomorrow." He stood and patted her on the head as if she were some child who couldn't comprehend what was going on.

By the time he'd sorted himself out, the doctor had gone and Artemis was staring blankly at the ceiling. He forced himself to groan at her and with tightness in his voice he said,

"Eh, well, you know doctors, they're pessimists. You're going to get better." She turned away from him so that she was lying on her side.

"I'm tired, Galen. Would you mind letting me sleep?" Her flimsy hospital gown had slipped over one shoulder. There was a large ugly bruise there now, where he'd grabbed her. He stood up.

"You're going to be okay, Artemis." He said kissing her on the forehead.

"Goodnight, Galen." She didn't say anything else, and then he was out of the room, the door closed behind him with a soft click. He headed for the hospital doors. The pounding in his head got louder, Artemis was going to die. Suddenly, his breath got very loud in his ears, drowning out any surrounding sound and the pounding in his head. He could hear himself panting, like he had been running in a marathon. Stumbling diagonally across the dark hallway, he hit one of the sterile walls and slip to the floor. He leaned against the cool white wall, his breath was coming faster and faster. It wasn't real, it wasn't real..... Before he realized what was happening, he was throwing up his breakfast on the cool sterile tiles. When he was done, he wiped his mouth on the back of his trembling hand.

"Jesus kid, are you okay?" Someone grabbed him by the arm and pulled him off of the floor. Galen look up, the man was wearing a white lab coat. Another doctor. Galen lost it.

"NO!" He screamed. "I'm not okay!" He hit the man, but his hands were shaking so badly that there was no force behind his blow. The doctor looked stunned. "NOTHING is okay! It's never going to be okay! NEVER!" With each word, Galen hit him again, more weakly each time. "It's not fucking okay." He sobbed, his eyes stung. The doctor went to put his arms around him, but Galen shrugged them off and ran into the dark and wet evening.

The next morning, Artemis smiled up at Galen from the hospital bed. The sheets were fresh and clean and very white. She looked lost in them, washed out, smothered. He offered her a small smile in return as he reached out and gently took her hand. There were still bruises on her arm from where he'd caught her, and the new one he had caused when he grabbed her shoulder. Slowly, he moved his hand away, he didn't want to risk another bruise. He didn't want to hurt her. He couldn't hurt her, ever.

"When had she gotten to be so thin?" Galen though. She'd never been large, he knew, but she'd never been so delicate, like a thinly spun glass sculpture. She was fading. He could think of no other word for it. Every day, she seemed a little less real, a little more ethereal, as if she only remained solid through sheer strength of will. Every time Galen came to see her, he struggled desperately to keep himself calm so that Artemis wouldn't start to worry. His life was slowly becoming one large, empty ache, all of his feelings and strength and his self was being slowly sapped away by something that he could not even begin to name. He could tell be the way people looked at him, they could feel the pull of that black hole that was building itself inside of him. And he was angry. That was all he had left; emptiness and anger. He wished that leukemia were something tangible, some kind of monster that he could kill, strangle it with his bare hands so that it would no longer hurt Artemis. They no longer talked during Galen's visits. Neither of them had anything left to say; words were inadequate to describe anything anymore. Most of the time Artemis slept anyway. She was taking a great deal of pain medication; the cancer had started spreading to her lungs and her bones. Galen watched her sleep, ever so gently, he would hold her hand, not letting to until one of the doctors tried to chase him away. They said he should get some sleep. But he would never let her go. He fell asleep in the chair next to her bed.

She was awake when he woke up.

"Do you want some Jello? It's lime." She said, pointing with her eyes to a tray that the nurse had set down in front of her. Her joints were swollen very badly, she told him. The hospital's narcotic painkillers weren't even a help; they would not defeat the pain.

Two days ago, she hadn't been able to stand; now she could no longer walk, and she was forced to depend on others to take care of even her most base needs. It had to hurt her, had to grate on her nerves, even if she wasn't showing it. Her hand was thin in his, much too thin. The doctors said that Artemis weighed less than 30 kilograms. If he held her too tightly, her bones might snap under the pressure.

"Galen?" She whisper quietly. Her voice was the only thing that hadn't been partially destroyed by the cancer. It was still as sweet as it had always been...

But now, he could detect a faint thickness in it, the sound of lungs beginning to strain. He cleared his throat.

"Yes?" He looked at her. At times it was almost painful to do so. Her hair was beginning to fall out in large patches, fine blonde strands littering her shoulders and the pillow. It was hard because he still remembered how, only a short time ago, she had been the most beautiful person he had ever seen, not just for her looks, but for her vitality. Now, that was also being slowly leached away. He glanced down at the IV that was in her arm, and the wires that were running from her body to the machines monitoring her heart and breathing. He wanted to rip them away, stop them from invading her. He couldn't help feeling that they the tangible demons that were destroying her from inside out.

"I love you." Artemis said.

He looked back up, fighting for control, fighting to keep from becoming angry or crying. He wanted to tell her that he loved her as well but he couldn't. It hurt too much, tore at the void that was eating away at him. But she didn't seem to be expecting an answer, she just smiled. She was beautiful. He bent over and kissed her, very gently, on the lips, never letting go of her hand.

After missing two weeks of school, Galen was in trouble of losing credits for his classes. He left Artemis in a drug induced sleep went to school. Everywhere he went, people gave him hugs or offered him comforting words. But he didn't care about them anymore. When he got to English, he stared at Artemis's empty desk the entire class period.

"Why did this have to happen to her? She just started living, she was going to spend the rest of her life with me. How can she die? She never had a chance to live!" He covered his face with his hands and sobbed silently. He felt a hand on his shoulder and saw Mr. MacCaffrey standing next to him.

"Come with me." He said to Galen, to the class he said, "Finish reading chapter seven, there'll be a quiz on it when I return." He took Galen by the arm and brought him into the hallway. "Why did you come to school?"

"I-I-I couldn't miss anymore classes. They said I wouldn't be able to graduate." Galen replied, staring at the floor. He heard Mr. MacCaffrey sigh.

"Just go to the hospital, I'll talk to the principal and the rest of your teachers. I'm sure they'll understand." He pushed Galen to the exit and re-opened the classroom door.

She was asleep. Galen sat down on her bed and gently took her hand, as always.

"Artemis," he whispered. "I wish..." He closed his eyes. It was too painful to say outloud.

/I wish just for a little while, you could hold me, and tell me that you're going to all right. Even if it is a lie. I wish... I wish I could give you half of my life. I wish half of my worthless years would be yours, so you could have a chance to live.... To live... with me..../

It hurt too much. It was a cruel, stupid game he played with himself, that wishing. He just sat there, for the rest of the night, and simply watched her sleep. Artemis's mother had tried to send him home, he refused. Finally, the hospital reluctantly agreed that he could stay in a room down the hall.

Artemis's weight had fallen to 24 kilograms. She had begun vomiting profusely, and the doctors had finally given up and stopped treatment. The chemotherapy wasn't going to help her; nothing could stop the cancer from completely destroying her body. All that was left was to make her comfortable until the end, the doctors said.

Galen was staring at the ceiling in the room that the hospital had given him. Unwillingly, he let his eyes slide over to the phone. They would call, they said, when it was time. His eyes slide from the phone to the television, it was tuned into a soap opera. Two people were smiling broadly, they were getting married. Galen felt tears running down his face, he felt a surge of energy and he punched the monitor. There was a sharp pain in his arm, and he pulled his hand out of the television. Blood was running freely from his hand. He screamed and began to destroy the room. Almost nothing was left on the walls and glass, from the smoking television, littered the floor. In the midst of the wreckage, he sobbed violently. He was breathing heavily and his eyes were open so wide that the whites were visible all the way around. Artemis's mother and a doctor rushed into the room, as the watched in shock, Galen grabbed a glass from a table and flung it against the wall. The shards showered down on him, one cutting his forehead. Blood ran thickly down his face.

"WHY?!" he screamed, pounding on the wall. "She NEVER got to LIVE!" He grabbed the table and overturned it, crushing a chair under its bulk. He screamed again, grabbing the chair. He looked in their direction, a wild look in his eyes. With another scream, he threw the chair at them. That act pulled them out of their shock and they both ducked. The doctor ran forward, dodging another chair, and grabbed Galen's arms.

"GALEN!" Artemis's mother screamed. Galen's eyes widened for a moment, the sanity returning to them, and he simply collapsed to his knees. There was blood everywhere...on the floor, on his hands, running down his face and mixing with the tears that were flowing from his eyes.

"I'm....so sorry for all of this..." he sobbed and covered his face with his hands. "I'm sorry."

Galen stared up at the ceiling, his mind still fuzzy with the tranquilizers that the doctor had forced into him. Why was he still feeling this? The emptiness should have eaten everything already. He didn't want to feel.

/I wish.../

His eyes burned and he closed them. Why was he still doing this to himself? Why couldn't he accept the inevitable in this situation like he had with every one before?

/I wish..../

Artemis was dying, there were no more wishes. A dim sound jangled across his nerves, shredding away what was left of the drug induced lassitude. The phone. There was a pause, and then the door of the dark room opened, letting in a tiny shaft of life.

"Galen?" It was Artemis's mother.

"Huh?"

"That was the doctor, he says it's time.."

Time? Time.... for what? Time was stopped, everything stopped.

He closed his eyes tightly for a moment, and fought for control. "Aa"

He arranged himself on Artemis's bed, and for a long time, the only sound in the room was her breathing bubbling and rattling. The doctors had told him that the cancer had almost completely eaten away her lungs now, and she had caught pneumonia somewhere along the way because her white blood cells were completely defective. Artemis's mother and father had decided not to put her on a respirator. They'd already said their good- byes....it wouldn't be right to keep her any longer.

He wasn't entirely sure if she could see him at first. Her eyes were open wide as she struggled to breathe. struggled to live. She wanted to live. Wanted to live.... Galen gently lifted Artemis's almost skeletal body into his arms, and took her hand. He could see every bone, feel how brittle they were under her too hot, papery skin.

/Oh please God, give us a miracle....Please God.../

He was making soft choking sounds, trying to keep back tears that wanted to leak from his eyes. Her finger curled ever so slightly around his. Time continued to run away as she struggled against her own body. He could see it in her eyes. She wanted to live...but there was so much pain. It lined every line of her pale face. She wanted to live. He could feel her struggling in his arms, fighting to breathe, fighting to live. He knew it was a useless reflex of dying; she couldn't win. They couldn't win.

/I wish..../

He wished that he could breathe for her, that if he held her tightly enough, they'd melt into one and she could be whole and strong again. It hurt her. She never made a sound, still struggling, fighting in his arms. It hurt too much. He was too empty. Empty. Always empty.

"Artemis," He murmured softly into her ear. "can you see the end?" Her eyes widened and she took in a choking breath.

"Yes," she whispered. Her voice was hoarse, thick, weak. It hurt to hear. "It's beautiful, but...."

/I wish.../

Artemis closed her eyes tightly against the pain and pressed her cheek against Galens.

"Let go Artemis." He whispered to her. "Just... let go." His cheek was damp now. He held her tightly as she shook and struggled, until he felt her face move. She smiled and then she was still. "I love you." He muttered. Then he held her until there was nothing left.