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Not While I'm Here
Jared walked cautiously from the twenty-four hour pharmacy, clutching the medicine Tyler needed to calm his fever to his chest. It wasn't so much that Notting was a particularly dangerous area-- in fact, it was a very safe, small, University town-- but no one could feel completely at ease in the complete darkness of the late night, especially with the cold wind biting into their skin.
But Tyler was burning up and needed the medications. It was yet another piece of evidence of Jared's deep love for his boyfriend that he would venture out even in that sort of weather for his beloved.
Behind him, Jared heard the door of Notting's local bar, The Cove, swing open, releasing the strong stench of alcohol mixed with vomit and an even stronger sense of foreboding.
Jared quickened his pace and glanced back. A pack of men in their early twenties swaggered down the sidewalk, cans of beer and containers of other unidentifiable alcoholic drinks gripped by their sweaty fingers. Jared recognized a few of them from his classes at the University.
One of the drunken young men caught his eye.
"Hey, I know you! It's uh... It's um... Jerry, r-right?" slurred one of Jared's classmates.
Jared quickly shifted his gaze.
"N-no, Jack! It's the fagot!" said the more coherent drunk to the boy Jared now recognized as "Jack".
"Right! Oi! OI! FAGOT! You look at me w-when I'm.... when I'm talkin' t' you!" stuttered Jack, stumbling over a crack in the path.
By this point, the group of intoxicated boys were all trying to catch up to Jared, all the while jeering.
Jared grit his teeth and broke into a jog.
"QUIT IT, FAG! Show some respect to your superiors!" yelled one of the men.
Jared simply could not outrun a group that outnumbered him seven to one, even if most of them were drunk. As the men reached him, the insults continued around him.
Don't fire back, he thought frantically, then you're just as bad as they are.
"Queer! You look at us, queer!" Jack said, pulling Jared by the sleeve so forcibly that several of the seams in his jacket ripped.
"Teach him some respect, Jack!" called a friend of Jack's.
"I think I'll do just that, Rick!" snarled Jack, grabbing Jared's collar and shoving him at the unforgiving brick wall of the flower shop.
"Brace yourself, girly," spat Jack, the stink of alcohol wafting out of his mouth.
Slam. The engorged knuckles of Jack's fist made contact with Jared's face.
As Rick and the rest of Jack's friends cheered and egged him on, Jack cracked his nose. Blood started flowing freely over Jared's face as Jack kneed him in the stomach. Jared doubled over and groaned in pain.
"Get the fag!" yelled Rick.
Soon. the rest of the men joined in, scratching Jared's face, punching his stomach, ripping his clothes.
"Please. Please! Why are you doing this?" cried Jared in pain.
"Why do you think, fag?" snarled Rick, before cracking Jared's head on the brick wall.
And then, mercifully, everything went black.
"Have they found who did it yet?" Jared heard someone above him ask.
The voice sounded worried, and familiar.
Tyler, thought Jared excitedly.
"The local police aren't investigating," said another voice, this time unfamiliar.
"What?" asked Tyler, aghast.
"If the police investigated, the newspapers would find out. This is a University town; not a lot of parents would want their kids going here if they caught wind of this little outbreak of trouble. And on top of that, if they here *who* was attacked! A lot of people think," here, he lowered his voice, " it is unnatural."
"Yeah, well, a lot of people are narrow-minded pricks," muttered Tyler bitterly.
"Tyler, don't be mean," Jared warned him. He blinked open his eyes.
"Jared?" asked Tyler, grinning. "Oh, thank God! Are you alright?"
The doctor to whom the voice belonged to glanced at the patient and left the room.
"I'm fine, now that you're here," replied Jared, smiling. "Are you okay? Did you get your pills?"
Tyler hushed Jared. "Yeah, I'm good. Don't worry, baby, it'll all be good."
"How did I get to the hospital?" questioned Jared, resting his head on the pillow.
"When you didn't come home after an hour, I was worried, so I went looking for you."
"You shouldn't have! You were sick!" protested Jared.
Tyler smiled and placed a finger on Jared's lips.
"It's okay. So, I found you by the florist's and brought you here as soon as possible."
"Excuse me?" asked a young, African-American nurse with a name tag reading 'Keisha'. "Dr. Parker needs to run a few tests in private," she said, addressing Tyler.
Tyler put his hands up in surrender.
"Don't worry, I was just about to leave." He kissed Jared, and as he moved to leave the room.
"You promise nothing bad will happen?" asked Jared, wide-eyed.
Tyler smiled. "Aw, baby. Not while I'm here."
Keisha bit her lower lip in a smile. "Is that your boyfriend?"
Jared nodded and she squealed.
"You lucky dog! He seems like such a catch!"
"He really is," said Jared happily.
Soon, Tyler fell into a nice routine. He would visit Jared after being led in by Keisha every day, bringing things he thought Jared might need from home, or some small token to cheer him up.
But this time, Keisha was not at the counter of the hospital. In her place was a rather stout, proper-looking, Grandmotherly type of nurse whose face was marked by dozens of smile-lines.
"Hello, there," said Tyler to the substitute nurse.
"Well, hi!" she said, giggling. "Which room are you here for?"
"Um, 203," replied Tyler.
The nurse winked. "Oooh, are you the patients beau?"
Tyler nodded, smiling faintly.
The nurse scanned her clipboard and her smile froze.
"Oh, no, you most be mistaken. The patient in 203 is a male."
"But you said you were her..." started the nurse before a look of comprehension dawned on her. The smile slid off her face.
"Visiting hours are over." she said, curtly.
"But the front desk said--"
"Well I say visiting hours are over. Now, please leave before I am forced to have you escorted out."
Mouth agape and slightly dazed, Tyler left the hospital.
From his room, Jared felt a sharp pang in his head.
"Tyler!" he cried.
A nurse ran in and yelped in shock.
"Doctor! Emergency!" she screamed out the door.
"Tyler!" gasped Jared, clutching the sides of his scalp.
Jared died of internal bleeding on the thirteenth of January at seven P.M, while screaming for Tyler.
He died alone.