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.“All right.I just spoke to Hanson.Like I said, my treatments start next week.Wednesday, specifically.So Tuesday will be my last day.Everything’s all set.”“Sir, who’s going to replace you as ASAC?” Sophie asked.Vince shared a furtive, awkward glance with Harry for a split second before addressing the entire team.“We don’t know yet.We probably won’t until next week.That decision involves more people than just Hanson and me.” When no one had anything else to add or ask, he felt it his duty to continue.“I’m sorry that this news had to come in the middle of the week when you’re all trying to work, but I couldn’t imagine trying to hide it from you.” He looked around the table, seeing every eye either watering or already spilling over.Angela still faced him but expertly avoided his gaze.“We’ll be here for you every step of the way, sir,” Sophie said shakily.“You know that, right?”Vince’s lip twitched and he nodded.“I do.And I appreciate that more than you know.I don’t know what my remaining days will be like.I might have to call in some favors.”“Don’t even hesitate,” Marshall said, reaching over and clutching Vince’s shoulder.“I think I speak for everyone when I say we wish we could be by your side throughout all of this.”“You look beat,” Harry noted to Vince.“To be honest, I am.”“To be honest,” Sophie echoed, “I don’t think you should stay, sir.Not today, not this week, not next week.If you’re fatigued, it’s your body fighting off the illness, and it’ll work more efficiently if you’re resting.”“That’s a nice thought, but I’ll appreciate the distraction.I might not be here all day every day, depending on how I’m feeling.Some days lately I’ve fought the urge to go home early, and I might start listening to my body for change.”“If today’s a bad day, then you should go home,” Marshall insisted.“Get some rest.”“I might.I don’t know.I appreciate the concern, either way.I know I’ve asked you all this already, but do you have any more questions? I honestly don’t know everything myself, yet.I’ll know a bit more about the treatment process once it starts.And I guess I’ll learn about the rest along the way.But if there’s anything I forgot to cover…”“Are you getting a second opinion?” Sophie asked.“I’m going to try to get an appointment before my treatments start, but I was told not to expect a different answer.Anything else?”“Cancer is highly hereditary,” Marshall said matter-of-factly.“Do you know if it came from either side of your family?”“As far as I know, there hasn’t been cancer on either side except for my great aunt’s breast cancer.”“Do you think Charlie’s at risk to—”“Marshall.” Angela finally engaged herself in the conversation.“What is the matter with you?”“It’s okay,” Vince said, eying Marshall with hesitance.“That is something worth thinking about, though the only thing I can do for Charlie is make sure that, once he gets older, he understands he might be at risk for it, and needs to live as healthy a lifestyle as he can.”“I’m sorry,” Marshall mumbled.“I wasn’t thinking.”Angela’s first tears came at the vision of Vince’s own eyes pooling up again, she figured from Charlie being brought into the conversation.As much as she knew Marshall had just been trying to help, she wanted to do him bodily harm.“Vince, I really think you should go home,” she said.“You look far too tired to be here.”“Please,” Sophie said quietly.She glanced at Harry and got a nod from him.“Go,” Harry said.“We’ll hold down the fort.”—Angela hadn’t even been back at her desk for five minutes before the guilt nagged at her so relentlessly that she couldn’t think straight.“I’m sorry,” she said waveringly to Marshall, turning in her chair.“For snapping at you in there.I know you were just trying to help.”“I was, but it’s okay.You were right.He didn’t need to add that to his plate.Are you okay?” Marshall asked somberly.They paused to watch Vince heading for the door, finally heeding everyone’s gentle commands.“No,” Angela said, laughing pitifully.“This kind of stuff…it really makes me question what little faith I still have.What kind of god puts someone through all of this? Vince doesn’t deserve this.”“Nobody deserves terminal illness,” Marshall said.“It’s one of the worst ways to die.I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.But I don’t think you should question your faith because of it.Maybe you should do some digging instead.”“You know, I’ve never lost anyone close to me, to death, that is, not since I was little,” Angela admitted, ignoring Marshall’s suggestion.“Have you?”“I was rather close to my mother’s parents when they died of old age.That’s about it.”“How did you cope?”“You’re asking me for advice?”Angela just waited for it.“Take everything one day at a time, I guess,” Marshall said [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]