"'And you're making me feel like I've never been born...'"
Paul and John laughed together: a pleasant sound that hadn't been heard in a long time.
"Is that who I think it is?" came a high, clear voice.
Paul, who was sitting up with John sitting on the bed facing him, turned his head a bit and said,
"Hello, Paul, John," Brian managed to say and then swooped them both up in a shaky hug. "I thought something had happened to you two...they said you were dead, Paul...and they said they couldn't find John, so I thought..."
"Don't, Brian," Paul said softly, John's hand patting his in a reassurance that John was really there. He did not want to even think of what Brian thought could have happened to John.
"I apologize for everything, lads, but especially to you, Paul," Brian replied just as softly. "I should have let you boys take a vacation...maybe that's why you got sick...oh, Lord."
"It's all right, Eppy," Paul said gently. "We're all fine. Don't worry about me; I'm quite healthy!" Paul sat up perfectly straight, chin held at an angle. He ended up coughing terribly and he fell back into the pillows.
"Damn," he said with a weak smile. "I had to start hacking when I was trying to convince you!"
John helped Paul get comfortable again (as he knew how, even better than the doctors) and said, "Eppy, could you get George an' Ring?"
Brian nodded and gave Paul a loving, fatherly smile and left them alone.
"Sometimes," John said, looking down his nose, "I think we're the managers."
Paul laughed and John joined him.
Paul permitted himself a small smile.
"What're you smiling about?" George asked.
"Oh, nothing," Paul answered airily, trying to sit up. John helped him and said,
"He's just smiling because he was missed." John snorted, but nonetheless smiled back.
"I'm sorry for what I put you all through," Paul said softly and sincerely, "but," he added with a grin, "it's nice to know that you guys---well, you know---care."
"Care? Us?" John said in a put-on falsetto voice. "Beatles don't care 'bout nothin'. We're cold, unfeeling sods that don't give a damn about anyone or thing."
"I'm sure," Paul replied and they all laughed.
"Really, though, Paul..." John started and trailed off. "We really, well, you know..."
"...Care," Ringo finished. "'Salright, John. We all feel the same way. We're just glad you're alive---more'n that, even. You know, Paul."
Paul nodded and gave them all a brotherly smile.
"Yes, loveys, I do know," he said.
"You can bring my clothes now," he told John one afternoon. "I think they're going to let me out come a bit."
He was sitting up in his bed and then he leaned easily against his pillow. He ran a hand through his hair and then smoothed his hospital gown. He looked young and vulnerable and somehow innocent in the light green gown and somehow even easier to hurt.
John missed the last part, but would have been much more careful with Paul if he had thought of it. He only nodded.
"You've a key, John luv?" Paul asked.
"Yeah...what d'you want me to bring?"
"I don't know...a couple shirts, some pants; you'll know."
Paul studied his friend sitting at his bedside. John's eyes were fixed on a spot in Paul's sheets and he seemed to be in a reverie.
John had been such a wonderful friend and brother, Paul thought, relaxing against his pillow, letting John think. He had taken better care of Paul---physically and mentally---than the doctors could ever have done. And, most importantly, he had always been there for Paul. And knowing that had helped Paul get well a lot quicker than if he had thought no one cared if he lived or died.
He studied John again and noticed that he looked a bit sleepy and was already beginning to nod. His head was lightly brushing his shoulder and his weary hazel eyes had closed.
Paul reached out and hoisted his friend up, as he was going to fall onto the floor. He got out of bed, carrying John over his shoulder and gently put him in a chair. He then fetched John some pillows and got him as comfortable as he could.
Then he opened the window next to John's head.
Copyright 2000 and beyond: Lissa Michelle Supler/Strawberry Sunshine
This is original copyrighted material and...all right, you guys know the rest. Just don't steal this, okay? I worked hard on it. But if you want to link to it, just e-mail me and I'll link to you.
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