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Julian awoke in the pre-dawn hours to the sound of tears.
It took him a moment to remember there was someone in his bed. Matt had slept over the night before. He didn’t want to be alone. Somehow they both fit on his full-size mattress.
“Matty?” he whispered. “Are you ok? Are you in pain?”
“I’m too scared!” Matt sobbed. “I don’t want to go to surgery today! Please Julian I don’t want to go!”
Julian parted his lips but no words came out. He swallowed. “Come here,” was all he could say. “Lie on me.” He encouraged Jasper to roll onto his side and onto Julian’s chest. Julian put an arm over him.
“It’s ok to be scared. Surgery is scary. Being cut open is scary. But you need to get better. I know you feel fine right now, but soon the pain meds won’t do it anymore. If that small tumor is cancer, then we can’t let it spread. It has to be biopsied. It has to go.”
“But it’s in my head,” Matt sniffled. “I don’t want them to go in there. You’re not supposed to. What if they change me?”
“I can’t guarantee nothing bad will happen if you go into surgery, Matty. But if you don’t, I know something bad will happen. It will grow. Spread. Hurt you.”
Matt whimpered.
“But if you’re a brave boy and get surgery today, that bad thing won’t happen. You’ll take a nap and it’ll magically be over. You will be good as new.”
“…But what if something goes wrong and I wake up a vegetable.”
Julian looked down on him. “I will take care of you for the rest of your life, and love you just the same.”
Matty began to cry again. “I love you Julian. I know you just think of me as your pesky best friend but…I really love you. You’re like a blood brother to me.”
Julian felt a lump form in his throat. “I love you too, my little dove. I want you to be healthy. Will get the surgery for me?”
There was a hiccup. “Yes. I’ll do it for you. All that tumor does is threaten to take me away from you. I want to be with you without it there. I hate knowing it’s in my head right now.”
“That’s it, doveling. That’s the right attitude. What’s the Prodigy song you like so much?”
That got a small smile out of Matt. “Invaders must die.”
“Exactly. We don’t have to be at the hospital until 7. Let’s got a few more minutes of sleep ok?”
“Ok, Julian.” Matt says, snuggling Julian’s pectoral. “This is so nice. I feel so safe.”
“When you wake up in the hospital after surgery, I’ll be resting next to you so you can cuddle me ok?”
“I – I would love that.”
“Then it’s settled. Now sleep a minute.”
Matt just sighed.

And soon the room was quiet except Matt’s little hiccups. Julian stroked his hair until it was time to get up. Julian couldn’t fall back asleep. He could sleep while Matt was in surgery. Right now, Matt needed a protector. Julian wished there was something he could do to protect Matty from this tumor. He hoped keeping him positive and strong would help them conquer the fight. “I’ll do all I can for you.” Julian whispered in the quiet room, and crossed himself to seal the promise. 

Captions are fictional.


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