"Yeah, I must have been really bad in a past life or something." He smiled, his eyes still in pain. Reaching up, he touched a strand of mt hair. " Don't leave, OK?" "Shhh. I'm not going anywhere." I kept stroking his forehead, trailing my fingers across it. His muscular shoulders gradually relaxed, his eyes closing again. His breathing slowed, became more regular. I could hear the TV on in the other room, the sound of voices. None of it mattered to me. I stayed there until long after Alex had fallen asleep-- gently caressing the vbrow of the boy I loved, trying to keep his pain at bay."