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Would You Stand By Me

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Paul walked into the hospital waiting room, Linda at his side to calm his scattered nerves. He immediately saw Yoko sitting with a sleeping Sean next to Cynthia and Julian. It had been about twelve hours since he’d gotten the call and thirteen since it had actually happened, or so he was told.

It was almost noon, and poor Sean was still sleeping, probably exhausted from having to be woken up in the middle of the night.

Yoko stood up the second she saw him standing there with Linda, completely lost. Within moments, she was hugging him, and he was hugging her back. “I’m so glad you were able to make it,” she whispered in his ear, moving on to hug Linda next.

“Is he okay?” The worry in Paul’s eyes shone through the relief that John was even alive.

“He just came out of surgery, so it’ll be a bit until you can see him. Probably half an hour.” Although it was good news, it was the worst thing he could have heard at that moment. Despite the rush he was in to get to New York from so far away, he still had to wait.

“That’s alright,” Linda said, nudging Paul in the arm a tiny bit.

“George and Richard will be here soon,” Cynthia then chimed in, rubbing Julian’s knee. “Olivia and Barbara will be here, too.”

Paul and Linda sat down on the other side of Julian. “Where’s Heather?” he asked Linda, who gave him a soft smile.

“She’s back home watching over the kids for us while we’re here.” Julian made an o with his mouth before Cynthia put an arm around his shoulders. The rest of the thirty minutes before Paul could see John went by quietly. The others made small talk, but Paul couldn’t bring himself to join in their conversations.

Until a doctor appeared in the doorway, and that caught his attention. “He’s awake now, still recovering well from the surgery. All fragments of the bullets were removed.” Paul’s heart ached at that. Sure, John was doing great, but it finally settled in him that he’d been shot. That somebody had tried to take his life from him.

“Can we see him?” Paul blurted out before the doctor was finished talking, and he blinked over at Paul, obviously recognising him as one of the former Beatles.

“You can, yes. H-he asked if you were here yet.” Paul wanted to smile at that, but instead, he stood up. “I’ll take you back there. I’ll be right back,” he said to the rest of them in the waiting room, then leading Paul back towards John’s room.

As soon as he stepped in, he saw John’s brown eyes dart over to look at him, and he just about lost it. What would he have done without John?

“Paulie,” John whispered, and it scared Paul. He had never heard John’s voice so gentle and reserved. “Paul, you’re here.”

“Of course I am,” he replied, moving towards the hospital bed and taking John’s hand in his own, still a little unsure about everything. “I was so scared. Thought I’d lost you.” He was too upset for tears to come to his eyes.

“Are the others here? I’ve only seen Yoko.” Paul looked down at the white woolen blanket on top of his friend.

“Cynthia and Julian are. But George and Richie aren’t here, yet, no.”

“God!” John shouted. “God, Jules! I didn’t even think about him, I-I’m a horrible parent, Paul.” Paul squeezed his hand. “What if I had--?” He cut the last word off, knowing it would be too painful to say.

“You didn’t,” Paul reminded him. “It’s gonna be alright, yeah? You’re right here, and you’ve got your family all around you, and--” John looked back up at his face when the words stopped coming.

“Paul? You okay?”

“John, I love you.”

“W-what?”

“I mean, you’re the greatest friend I’ve ever had, and the entire time I’ve been with you, we’re always fighting or drunk or working, and I’ve never had the time to ever tell you how much I love you.” John’s mouth hung slightly ajar. “When I heard that you’d been shot, it was the first thing that came to my mind. That I never told you. I was afraid I might never get to.”

“Paul--”

“I’m sorry. I should’ve said so before I thought you were on the brink of death.” He let go of John’s hand to bring it up to John’s face instead.

“I love you, too.” He leaned his face into Paul’s hand and repeated it once more. “I love you, too.”