“So what do you think, darling? Pastels or warmer tones? The pastels would be beautiful in the springtime but the warmer tones would complement both our skin tones.” Magnus had been asking him several questions like that over the past few weeks. Ever since they got engaged Magnus was shamelessly making Pinterest boards for their wedding. Every night when they laid in bed, Alec would read his book, while Magnus opened up his laptop to his various wedding planning sources. Alec joked Magnus was only in it for the wedding, not the marriage. Magnus had gone to playfully swat his arm but got distracted by his engagement ring.
“I doubt anything you plan will be as beautiful as you, Magnus.” A bold statement to his wedding planner boyfriend- fiancé- but true nonetheless. Magnus was unlike any other man Alec had ever known. Not just in his beauty, but in his strength and character. Before meeting Magnus, Alec’s dating history was… sparse. His most serious relationship before Magnus was Lydia in high school and that nearly put him off relationships for the rest of his life. Not that Lydia wasn’t a wonderful girlfriend, he considers her to be one of his best friends now, but they were wrong for each other in every way.
The memory of breaking up with Lydia still shames him to this day, unlike Lydia who finds it hysterical now. It was senior year and Alec had been having suspicions on whether or not he was gay, he enjoyed watching Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, but no boy in their school really caught his eye, and he felt none of them should have when he had Lydia. But after their prom, Lydia and Alec snuck out to the golf course in her dad’s 1967 Mustang. They had started to kiss, which Alec never found unpleasant, he enjoyed it quite a bit. But when Lydia lowered her dress to show Alec her breasts for the first time, Alec blurted out, “Oh my god, I’m gay.”
He left that car single and with a black eye.
They lost contact with each other until the summer of their sophomore year in college. Alec missed her, and for some reason Lydia missed him too. They talked things over, and after a drunk tearful night they swore to always remain friends. She was the one Alec first came out to, even though it was unintentional, she was the one to take him to a gay bar for the first time, and she was the one who stood by his side when he came out to his parents. She was also the first person he told his engagement to, and she had been as happy as he was.
Alec felt like the luckiest man in the world. He was going to marry the love of his life, he had great friends and family, and he was content in his career. There wasn’t much Alec could think to ask for.
Alec winced. “Is your head hurting you again, darling? You need to go to the doctor. You can’t keep living like this.”
So perhaps there was one thing in Alec’s life he wanted to change. His headaches. They had been an annoyance in his life for a few months, and it had been getting worse. Sometimes they got so bad his vision would blur and he would lose his balance.
“I know, Magnus. I have an appointment tomorrow actually.”
Not a lie, technically. Alec had had a few appointments for his headaches. Finally, they did an MRI last week and tomorrow he would be getting the results. He didn’t tell anyone, he didn’t want anyone to worry. Especially Magnus. He knew what would happen if he told Magnus he would start to panic and go on Web MD, and jump to the worst possible conclusion, convinced Alec was dying. Magnus was a strategic worrier, it was what made him so great at his job. If one thing went wrong, he had backup plans A, B, and C.
“Do you want me to come with you? I might be able to move some things around.” Alec definitely could not bring Magnus to get the results of the scan, especially when he never told him about it in the first place.
“No, it’s fine. I’m really not that worried. How about I meet up with you at Taki’s after work instead? I will tell you all about it then.”
“Well, if you say so darling. If you aren’t worried, then I will make sure to worry enough for the both of us.” Magus winked at him and kissed his cheek.
Alec liked Dr. Garroway immediately when he met him. He was a large man, full of muscles and broad shoulders, intimidating in size but it was his smile that won you over. In just the few times Alec had seen the doctor he could tell that Dr. Garroway was a paternal figure to all. Nurses loved him, other doctors respected him, and the patients trusted him. Sitting in his office, Alec felt at ease with him. Until he said the unimaginable.
“I’m sorry, but there isn’t much we can do.”
Alec could hear those words, words like ‘cancerous’ and ‘tumor’, but they didn’t make sense. It was if they slid through his mind and turned to ice. Alec could clearly see the tumor on his brain on the scan. A blob. A misshapen blob that was killing him.
“So what are my options?”
Dr. Garroway sighed, “Well, unfortunately brain tumors are a challenge. Your body is designed to keep out things that will harm you, like chemotherapy-” but not a tumor apparently, “and we never know what will happen with surgery. It depends on whether or not we can even get in there. And even if we do, we won’t be able to completely remove the tumor. Some pieces will still be left. Especially given the size of the tumor.”
“So what you’re saying is I’m screwed?” Alec stared at the plant on his desk. A fern maybe? Possibly fake, the leaves looked too waxy to be real.
Dr. Garroway didn’t reply right away, he stared down at his clipboard as if it would give him all the answers he needed. “Look, every patient is different, and every tumor is complicated. There are risks with any procedure. Whatever you choose to do, we need to act quickly and aggressively.” The soil in the plant looked moist though, so it was definitely real. Dr. Garroway must have a green thumb to have a plant that looks so vibrant. Then again, everything looked different to Alec now, the light was too harsh, and the clothes on his skin felt too itchy. It felt like he could feel each individual hair on his head, and his pulse on every part of his body. If he really focused, Alec could swear he even felt the tumor in his brain.
Alec cleared his throat, “So if I do that, I won’t… die?”
The air in the room was suffocating him. He couldn’t be sick, he did everything right. When his dad died he made sure his siblings were taken care of. He was responsible in school, and made sure to get scholarships so his mom wouldn’t have to worry. He was everyone’s shoulder to cry on, and he never burdened others with his problems. He recycled and drove a freaking Prius! Things like this don’t happen to people like him.
“The fact is, we really don’t know what the outcome will be.”
“But if you had to guess, how long do you think I have?”
Dr. Garroway seemed to sink into his chair, as if a heavy burden fell onto his shoulders that was too heavy for him to carry. “At most? Maybe a couple of years. I have seen some live up to five.”
Five years. One thousand eight hundred and twenty five days.
It wasn’t enough time.
How was he going to coach his future kids soccer games? How was he going to walk Isabelle down the aisle? How was he going to travel the world with Magnus? Magnus.
How was he going to look into his loved ones eyes and tell them that he was dying?