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Title: Mad Season 3/?
Rating: NC-17
Pairing(s): Matt Stone/Eric Stough
Word Count: 10,229
Summary: Matt and Eric. Falling in love, breaking up, and coming back together when Eric realizes he's contracted HIV from another man. Your typical tragic love story as only these two can do it.
Warnings: BDSM, HIV-positive character, and eventual character death.
Disclaimer: Matt Stone and Eric Stough own themselves. I'm certainly not saying this happened or ever would in real life except for the part where I have video of them both kissing boys, but whatever: semantics. I make no money off of this and write it simply for my own sick pleasure.
Thank You: To [ profile] dancinbutterfly for keeping me up too insane hours to write this even when sleep calls my name. ♥

Matt sighs as he flops down on his back, sweaty and flushed, and lets Eric lay down beside him. Eric's bed is too small for them both, really, but they can't really fuck anywhere else, so they always seem to end up here. Lately, Matt ends up here as often as he ends up in his own dorm, which is weird, but he doesn't think about it too much because Eric never complains.

"You want to hang out tomorrow?" Matt asks. "I have class until five, but after that—"

"Don't you usually hook up with Randy on Wednesdays?"

"Who, the prop guy from Packer? Yeah, I guess. It's not like...a weekly appointment. You make it sound like I schedule my fucks."

"You do," Eric laughs. "Randy on Wednesdays, Dan on Sundays, and me on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays."

"I do not," Matt insists.

"Whatever," Eric says, rolling his eyes. "Anyway, I guess we could hang out then. I was going to hook up with that guy, Jerry, tomorrow, but..."

"But I'm a better lay than him?"

"Hell, yeah."

Matt laughs. "Yeah. You're better than Dan and Randy, too."

"I happen to be an awesome fuck. I told you that the first time we hooked up."

Matt rolls his eyes. "Yeah, I remember."

"Aw, how sweet. You've committed it to memory," Eric teases.

"It's not every day a guy drops to his knees and offers to blow me."

"Well, I wanted you."


"Still do," Eric murmurs.

Matt runs his fingers across Eric's chest, through the rapidly-drying mess of come and sweat.

"You know," Matt says softly, "I was thinking...Randy's not really my type."

"You have a type?"

"Yeah. Kinky. Randy's boring. No one likes to fuck Randy."

"I fuck Randy sometimes."

"Yeah, well, Randy's a whore, too, isn't he? And a big fuckin' mouth."

"Sometimes that can be a good thing," Eric says lightly.

"Yeah, I know. I just...don't think I want to hook up with him anymore. Ever."

Eric frowns. "So what are you going to do on Wednesdays from now on?"

"I don't know. Maybe hang out with you."

"I...we already hang out three days a week, Matt. It's college, you're supposed to fuck as many guys as you can and for some reason, Randy's whorish enough to fuck your big moppy head and Dan's kinky enough to know to go to you for it. Take advantage, man. You're not going to get that next year in L.A."

"I know."

"Seriously. You should keep seeing Randy."

"Okay," Matt says, and wipes his fingers clean. "I should go."

"Go where?"

"I don't know. You said we spend too much time together."

"No, I didn't. I said that you should fuck around while you can."

"Then maybe I should go pick someone up."

"Oh, come on, Matt. You and I both know if you go out cruising you're going to go home alone. Stay here and hang out."

Matt sighs. "Yeah. Okay."

"'Sides, Tuesdays are my day, right?"

"You don't own me."

"You're my bitch."

"Sometimes. And sometimes you're mine."

Eric shrugs. "Fair enough. So stay. We'll play some more."

"Fine," Matt answers.

"Well, don't sound too over-excited now."

"Well...I don't know. First you want me here, then you didn't, and now you do. So...hard to keep up."

"Oh, come on. Don't get pissy at me just 'cause I told you to have fun, Matt. Jesus Christ."

"This is fun, Eric. Isn't it? Isn't what we do fun?"

"Well, yeah, but...come on."

"Come on what?" Matt asks. "Come on and not have fun?"

"Don't you have fun with other guys?"

"Of course I do. But I have more fun with you."

Eric stares at him for a moment, then asks, "You do?"






"Nothing. Do whatever you want. I'm charge of you. You don't need to take my opinions into account for your decisions."

Matt sighs. "Yeah, Eric. Fine."

He's tempted to leave but then Eric wraps his hand around Matt's cock, so. He decides he'll stay. Just for a few hours.


Trey wants to head out to L.A. the day after Matt's graduation, a little pissed off that he had to wait a whole year after he got kicked out to make the move. Matt's a little angry at that, angry in the way where he wants to push Trey against a wall and grind against him, telling him what a bad little bitch he is and Matt's got better things he could do with his mouth.

But he doesn't because he and Eric agreed to meet up for one last goodbye fuck in Matt's dorm before he has to turn the keys in to the office. His roommate has been gone for days because he wasn't graduating this year, so they'll have the room to themselves. Matt even pushed both beds together the night before so they wouldn't be cramped.

And now all he has to do is get rid of his parents and his sister so that he can go meet Eric there.

"It's a long drive back to Littleton," he says, checking his watch. "You sure you don't want to get home before dark?"

"Are you in a hurry, son?" his dad asks.

"Probably wants to go to a stupid party," Rachel says, crossing her arms across her chest. "That's all college boys do, daddy. They get drunk and try to get chicks."

"That's not all I do," Matt says, because he can't remember the last time he was truly drunk and he hasn't hit on a girl since he was seventeen.

"Maybe he's right, Gerry," his mom says. "You know how you hate driving in the dark."

And after an hour more of pictures and goodbyes, they finally leave and Matt all but sprints to his dorm, tearing off his robe and hat as he goes.

When he gets there, Eric's sitting in the deserted hall with a book propped on his knees.

Matt hauls him to his feet and kisses him right there in the hall, fumbles with the door, and pulls him inside.

"Someone's in a hurry," Eric laughs as he shuts the door behind them.

"I was hard through half the ceremony just thinking," Matt says. "It's a good thing this robe is so big on me."

"Yeah," Eric says. "Bet you looked good in it, though. All smart and grown up."

Matt shrugs and closes his eyes because he can't actually look at Eric when he says it. "I just...I have to tell you...I'm going to miss you."


"When I'm in L.A., I'm going to miss you."

Eric blinks. "'ll probably visit at Christmas, right? Or at Thanksgiving?"

"I don't know. Depends on where I'm working and if I can get time off."

"Well...maybe I can come out sometime, then."

"I'm living with Trey. How's that going to work?"

"You could try telling him. He knows about me, and he's cool with it."

Matt shrugs. "Maybe. Can we not think about that now?"

"Yeah. This isn't really about that, is it?"

Matt shakes his head. "No. Not even a little."

He moves closer to Eric, sliding his hands around his waist. He knows he's skinny himself, but Eric is so god damn tiny it's ridiculous. He lifts him off his feet and Eric wraps his legs around Matt's waist, helping to keep himself steady, and Matt carries him over to the bed, laying him down and kissing him as he works the button on his jeans.



"I'm going to—" He stops. "I'm gonna be working in a little cubicle. Did I tell you? It's all white and—"

"You want to talk about your job now?"

Eric shakes his head and pulls Matt's mouth towards his. "Sorry. Just nervous," he says, and kisses him before Matt can ask why.

Matt tries to memorize the way Eric's lips feel against his or the way his skin tastes. He tries to find something to compare the softness of his hair to so that he can remember it later. There's no way to commit to memory the feeling he gets when Eric's inside him, kissing him and fucking him at the same time, but he tries anyway.

He has no idea where it all comes from, the way he somehow went from hooking up with Eric once every few weeks because he wanted to and it was Colorado and hard for him to find guys to needing to be with Eric almost every day, but that's what happened and he can't believe he's leaving tomorrow and has to be without this for at least six months, and maybe forever.

He doesn't say a word the entire time they're fucking because he can't. He can't speak because if he does, he'll say something stupid that he can't take back and it will ruin everything and right now, he just wants to commit this moment to memory so that when he's in L.A. trying to find a hook up amongst all the failed pretty-boy actors who don't want a guy like him, he'll be able to remember that for one entire year, there was someone who wanted him.

It's over far too quickly and they don't have time to do it again because Eric has to get back to Conifer that night. They dress in silence and Matt tries really hard not to touch Eric one last time, just to map the planes of his chest and feel the rise and fall of his breathing.

"You''ll give me a call when you get into town?" Eric asks as he finishes buttoning up his shirt.

Matt clears his throat before he speaks. "Yeah. Sure."

Eric nods. "When you get a know. Give me your address. Maybe we can...send mail and stuff."


"I had fun with you."

"Yeah. Me—me too." His throat is so fucking dry and he clears it again, but it just doesn't help. "Eric—"

And Eric looks at him so fucking hopeful that Matt's words are knocked right out of him.


"I—I forgot what I was going to say."

"Must not've been important, then."

"Probably not," Matt agrees.

"I should get going. It's a long drive back to Conifer."

"Okay," Matt answers, and then they kiss goodbye.

It's the saddest kiss he's ever had in his life and he never wants it to end, but it does.

Eric touches the side of his face softly, just once, and then he's gone.

Matt's sheets still smell like him, but they're nothing more than an echo, a memory, just like the images he saved in his mind. They'll never compare to the real thing and as Matt touches his lip absently, right at the spot Eric nibbled at with his teeth, he wonders if anything ever will.


"Matt," Trey says loudly, nudging him with his foot. "Come on. Get up, man. We're gonna be late for our meeting."

Matt groans, smacks Trey on the shin, and shifts away from him. "All right, all right. I'm getting up."

"No, you're not. You're just laying there."

"Well, you try sleeping on a pile of clothes after a night like I had."

"Dude, I don't even know what kind of night you had 'cause you never let me come with you. Just get up."

Matt sighs and gets to his feet, then twists to pop his back. "Fuck."

"Yeah. Now shower, okay? We have to get going."

Matt shrugs and pushes past him into their tiny bathroom, stripping down and hopping in the shower. He smoothes his hands over his hair, washing away the sweat and probably come from the night before. It was a new club he'd never been to before and the guys there had been rougher than he was expecting.

Ben, the guy he was out with, had said it was great but Matt guesses Ben likes it rougher than he does, or maybe Matt just likes it rough from specific people and not total strangers.

Either way, they have a meeting at Fox today, with Brian Graden and one of his assistants, Pam Brady, and they're supposed to pitch what Packer would be like as a TV show. Matt's not too stoked of doing the big gay miner thing again, but he figures a job is a job and he's not sure how much longer he can keep going out every night and sleeping on the floor afterwards. He gets that Trey has that fractured hip and everything, but seriously, would it kill him to trade off or something? At least he's not out on his knees half the night for one reason or other.

When he's finished, they hop in Trey's Geo Tracker and drive to the Fox offices. It takes forever to convince security that they have an appointment and aren't just a couple of random guys, but they're finally let inside.

He's not really sure how the meeting goes. Pam throws the phrase, "did not test well," around a lot, but asks them to try to re-tool it as a children's show. Trey does most of the talking and Matt just tries to listen in and make sure they're not getting blatantly screwed over.

As they're leaving, Brian dismisses Pam and asks, "You know, boys, another thing. Personal this time. That Spirit of Christmas you made in college. I was wondering if you would make me a Christmas card like that to give to my friends and family this year?"

"Sure," Trey says, and starts negotiating price.

Matt, though...he couldn't care less about how much they're getting paid. He just knows that making something like that means they're going to have to go back to Colorado.

It means they're going to need Eric.

"I don't know, Brian," Trey says. "I mean, that's a lot of work for just a thousand bucks—"

"We'll do it," Matt interrupts quickly.

"Matt," Trey hisses. "Over here for a second?" He pulls them both off to the side, then says, "What the fuck?"

"Dude, we can make it for like...four hundred? That's three hundred apiece for the two of us."

Trey frowns. "I do need money to buy presents for my family..."

"Yeah, exactly. Dude, this is perfect."

Trey sighs and turns back to Brian. "Yeah. All right. Sure, Brian. Anything you want specifically?"

"Nah. You two know what you're doing."

They shake hands and head back out to the car.

"We're gonna have to do it in Colorado," Trey says. "We need Eric for something like this."

"Yeah. I know."

He has a hard time keeping his excitement hidden until they get back to the apartment, but then Trey has to leave for his shift at Pizza Hut so he changes into some work clothes and leaves. It's Matt's day off, though, so he has the apartment to himself for the evening, and the first thing he does when Trey leaves is snatch up the phone and call Eric.


"Hey. It's me."


"Yeah. How are you?"

"Uh...fine. Yeah. Fine. You?"

"Good," Matt lies. "Guess what?"

"You got a deal?"

"No. But the head of Fox wants us to make him a Christmas card like the one we made in college. He's paying us like a thousand bucks."

"Oh, cool."

"Yeah, so...we're coming back to Colorado to do it. And we need you."

"Oh. Yeah, sure. I can do that."


"Is that...that all you called for?"

"No," Matt admits. "I've been wanting to call you for weeks and couldn't come up with a good excuse."

"Since when do you need an excuse?"

"I don't know. Seemed stupid to call you up just 'cause I wanted to hear your voice."

" did?"

"Yeah. I miss you."

"The L.A. boys aren't as good as me, huh?"

"Nah. Well, maybe this one guy, Ben. That's my answer. No. They're not."

"Yeah. The guys in Conifer aren't"

Matt laughs. "So you haven't gotten laid at all since I left?"

"A few times. Dan was in town last week, so we hooked up."

"Dan? My Dan? Kinky Dan?"

"Yeah. You don't mind, do you?"

"You didn't...I mean...not with him, right? The stuff we do?"

"Oh. No. We just fucked. It felt weird trying to do that with him."

"Yeah," Matt agrees, because every time he tries it with other people, it feels weird to him, too.

" want to do it when you're in town, though? To work on the card?"

He asks it tentatively, like he's scared Matt might say no.

"Hell, yeah," he answers. "Yeah. But dude...I gotta tell you. The L.A. scene? Is crazy. We thought we were freaks? We didn't know the half of it."

Eric laughs. "So you can teach me new stuff."

"Yeah, but not just that. Seriously, I'm probably going to get tested for everything before I come home 'cause some of the guys I've been with...yeah. We should both get tested before then."

"Yeah, okay," Eric says. "You know when you're coming back?"

"No idea. Probably within the next month or something."

"Okay. Call me when you've got more details, all right?"

"Yeah. Sure. Bye."

"Matt? Wait."


"I...I miss you too," Eric says, and then the line goes dead.


The first time Trey goes upstairs to find a new pair of scissors, Matt pins Eric against the wall and kisses him.

"Matt—" Eric says, ducking out from under his arm. "I—I have to tell you something."

"Yeah. Me, too."

"Well...I should probably tell you this first, so—"

"Eric? I think I'm in love with you."

Eric freezes and stares at him, mouth open. "I...Matt..."

"I know," Matt says. "I didn't think I would, either, but I do, so...I you?"

"Matt...the thing I needed to tell you...I'm seeing someone."

Matt feels like he's been punched in the gut. "What? I thought you said—"

"Yeah. of the guys I used to mess around with in high school? Who all decided to be straight when we got to college? One of them...well, he's married now, but..."

"You''re seeing someone who's married?"



"I'm sorry."

"I...fuck. Do you not know how wrong that is?"

"He only married her 'cause he got her pregnant. They don't love each other."

"Spare me the lecture about how she's a bitch and you're better for him. Seriously."

"Matt, I'm sorry. I didn't know you felt that way about me."

"Really? You didn't? You didn't clue in when I wanted to stop sleeping with everyone else in college and just be with you? Or when I missed you so bad Trey thought I was depressed for weeks? Or when I told you I wanted to call you just to hear your voice?"

"I—I suspected, but..."

"But you just didn't feel the same way," Matt snaps. "Fine. Sure. Fuck your married guy."

"Matt, come on. Don't be like that. This was never supposed to be that. This was just..."

"Two friends fucking?"

Eric swallows, grimaces, and looks away from him. "Yes."


"Please don't hate me. Please. I can't have you hating me. Not now."

"I don't—fuck, Eric. I don't hate you. I love you."

"I know."

It hurts like hell and Matt can't actually look at him while he does it, but he pulls Eric into a hug and whispers, "He make you happy?"



The door to the basement opens and they break apart as Trey descends down the steps.

"How come you two aren't working? Do I have to be the mom around here or something?"

"Sorry," Matt answers, coughing to cover the roughness of his voice. "We were just talking."

"Well, get to work. Jesus, guys. This damn thing isn't going to make itself."

They get back to work but it's so hard to be around Eric after that. It's so fucking hard when the urge to touch, kiss, hold is flowing through him like electricity and he can't. Not just because Trey's there, either. He can't do it because Eric isn't his to do that to anymore. He's someone else's, someone who already has a wife and a kid and doesn't need his Eric, too, but gets him anyway.

When they finally break for the night, Trey heads up to his bedroom and Matt walks Eric out to his car. He's staying with Trey's family so he doesn't have to drive back to Littleton every night, but he feels like he needs a moment alone with Eric before he can really let this go.

"Can I ask you something?" Matt asks when they get to the car. He leans against the driver's side door so Eric can't open it and rests his hands on Eric's arms.

"I guess."

"Did you...did you ever maybe feel...what I feel?"

Eric swallows. "I...yes. I didn't want to, but I did."

"So if I had told you sooner...would any of this be happening? Would you have been with me?"

"Matt...please don't make me answer that."

"I just want to know what I'm regretting here. If I'd told you I was in love with you sooner, would we be where we are now?"

"No," Eric says. "I can't imagine that helps you, but no. I would've been with you."

Matt leans down and kisses him softly, just a brush of lips and nothing more, and straightens up, moving away from the car. "All right. Good night, Eric."

"Good night, Matt."

The next day is no better, and not even the rest of the week. Eric seems to throw himself into the work so that he doesn't have to acknowledge Matt, which is fine, because Matt doesn't want Eric to see the fact that he's kind of crumbling inside. He's never been in love before and if this is it, then he wants no part of it in the future.

This is hard and it hurts and he can't stand having to be in the basement with him all day long and not be able to have him the way he wants.

He can't believe all he had to do was speak up and he could've had this. Three words that had been so easy to say yesterday, and Eric could've been his. It's not fair and it sucks and Matt can't get over the fact that all he had to do was say it and he could've had everything he's been wanting since the Eric visited him in Littleton over the summer.

There's a part of him that wants to find this guy, this married man that Eric is seeing instead of him, and tell him to stick to his family and leave Eric for someone who can be with him properly. But then, he's not out to anyone, either, so he can't hold that argument for very long. He still wants to, though.

Except what he really wants is to not have to. He wants Eric to do it for him. He wants Eric to realize that he should leave that guy and be with him just because he knows it's right. They're right. They always have been.

The thought keeps festering in his head, the knowledge that Eric's in a relationship that can't be as fulfilling as what they had, even before, and that he doesn't want to break it off to be with Matt instead. It drives him crazy and eats at his brain and Trey keeps asking them both what the fuck is wrong with them and why can't they just focus on the damn card already?

But Matt finally gives up on that and corners Eric in the basement again when Trey leaves to run to the store and buy more construction paper.

"Eric," he starts, then stops because he's not sure what he wants to say. "Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why are you with him? I mean, do you love him? Is that it?"


"Then...then why don't you just break up with him?"

"I can't."

"What, did he threaten you or something? He's not like...abusive, is he?"

"What? No. Matt, just...just drop it."

"I just want to know. Don't I deserve to know after everything we've been through?"

"Matt, I just...I can't be with you."

"Why? Is this about the stuff we do? Are you getting all ashamed of it again?"

"No, I just—Matt, please. I have my reasons, okay?"

"I just want to know what they are."

"Matt—please. It's nothing you did, okay? It's me."

"So you are ashamed again then?"

"No, Matt. Please."

But he has to know. He's been obsessing for almost three weeks about what he did wrong and how he lost Eric and if he can ever get him back, and he has to fucking know. He deserves to know.

"Eric...I love you. Just help me understand how I lost you."

"I'm not answering the question."

"Yes, you're fucking gonna," Matt snaps.

Eric stops in the middle of cutting out a head for one of the kids and says, "No. I'm fucking not. Back off." He goes back to cutting and Matt's just about to grab him and push him against the wall when, in his distraction, Eric slips and cuts his finger.

"Shit," Matt says, darting forward to grab his hand. "Are you all right?"

Seconds before he touches Eric's finger, Eric pushes him away with his uninjured hand and screams, "No!" so desperately that Matt actually freezes and obeys.

"Eric, it's okay," he says. "Blood doesn't make me squeamish. See? I was fine when I did this the other day." He holds up his hand in demonstration, showing off the long, thin cut he got when a piece of the paper decided to go rogue and he got a paper cut on his palm.

"I—fuck. I know. It''s fine."

"You're not fine. You're bleeding. Here, just let me help you."

"No. You can't."

"What, I can't even help you now?"

"No. I—Matt, you can't touch my blood. Especially not with that cut."

"What? Why not? It's just bl—"

He freezes as cold realization hits him in the pit of his stomach.





"I—you can't—"

"I..." Eric swallows. "You said we should get tested and I did and...and I came back positive and—"

"Stop saying that. It's not true."

"Yes, it is."

"It can't be."

"Yeah, that's what I said but two tests later and it still says the same damn thing."

"Eric...why didn't you tell me?"

"I didn't want to...admit it," he says. " would make it true."

"Did your married guy give it to you?"

"Married guy? Oh. Oh, that. I—there isn't a married guy."


"I knew you'd want to have sex when you got here and we couldn't, I lied."

"I—clean up your hand," he says and watches as Eric goes to the sink and carefully cleans the cut.

"Matt...please. This is hard enough as it is. I can't have you hating me now, too."

"I don't fucking hate you. God, Eric. How can I hate you?"

"I don't know. Let's start with how I lied to you. Or how I pushed you away for so long. God, this is all my fault. You wanted to be with me and I pushed you away and—fuck. I never would've been with him if we'd been together and—fuck."

"With who? You know who gave it to you?"

"I...yeah. When I tested positive, I had to call the people I'd slept with and tell them to get tested. But you'd just had it done and came out negative, so I knew you were okay so I didn't tell you. But as best I can figure it out, Dan got it a month after you left from some guy in Denver and then he gave it to me."

"Dan gave it to you?"

"He didn't mean to. He didn't even know he was positive."

"Didn't he use a fucking condom?"

"Yeah, we did, but sometimes it just...happens anyway, you know?"

"Eric...this is...we can't be talking about this. This isn't real."

"Matt,'s hard enough to accept it on my own without you denying it, too."

Matt reaches out to touch the side of Eric's face. "Eric...I love you. I don't want you to..."

"I don't either," Eric says, choking back a sob. "God, I don't fucking want this. But I have it and it's scary as hell and I can't keep hiding it. I'm going to get sick, Matt. Maybe not right now, but I'm going to. And then what's going to happen? My friends? My family? They have to watch me—" he cuts himself off, shakes his head, and stares down at the ground. "I haven't told anyone yet. Not my friends and family, anyway."

" need to tell them."

"Yeah. I know. So they can be careful around me and make sure they don't catch it—"

"No. So they can help you."

"Help me what? I've got it now. Nothing they can do."

"They can love you."

"They already love me."

" one can handle this alone."

"How do you know, Matt? How do you fucking know? You've been off in L.A. fucking city guys and you're still negative. So how do you know what this is like?"

"Because the guy I'm crazy about has it and I can barely deal now. I can't even imagine what it's like to be you right now."

"Just...stop. Stop loving me. I'm going to die and you can't be in love with me when that happens."

"Yes, I can. Why can't I?"

"Because it's so much harder to do this knowing I'm hurting people. You, my parents...God. I don't know how to deal with you watching me die, knowing that I'm leaving you alone."

"Eric...stop talking like you're already dead," Matt says, brushing one thumb across Eric's cheek, wiping the tears away even as matching ones form in his own eyes.

"Matt...please. Don't. We can't do this. We can't be together."

"Why not?"

"Because—because I'd give it to you and...or you'd have to watch me die and—"

"Eric, you aren't going to give it to everyone you sleep with if you're careful."

"Me and Dan were careful."

"Then we'll be more careful than you were."

"No. Just...just leave me alone, okay? Just...let's get this thing done and then you can go back to L.A. and—"

Matt grabs Eric and kisses him roughly, pushing him back against the wall. Eric gasps and tries to get out from under him, but Matt holds him there firmly.

"Matt, please. Please, I don't want to give this to anyone—"

"So what? You're going to be a eunuch from now on? You're going to stop living your life and just wait for it to finish with you?"


"Eric...forget about it for a second."

"I can't."

"Try. Forget that you have it. And then just answer me this: Do you love me?"


"No. Do. You. Love Me?"

Eric swallows and refuses to meet his eyes. "Yes," he sobs brokenly. "Yes. I love you."

"Then be with me. Don't let it decide the rest of your life. So you've got it. All right. So maybe you don't have forever anymore. Live as much as you can in the time you do have. Do what makes you happy. Be with the people you love. Grab life by the balls and make it your bitch. If you just roll over and decide to be miserable, you're letting it win. And more than that, you won't make it as long because you won't be fighting. So fight, Eric. Please, god damn it. Stop pushing me away and just...let me love you."

Eric fists his hands in the sleeves of Matt's t-shirt. "Please, Matt. Please. I can't—"

"We can."

And then Eric's kissing him, desperate and sad. He tastes like salt from his tears, but Matt doesn't care. He kisses him back with everything he's got and loses himself in Eric's mouth.

He doesn't even notice the sound of the door opening or of Trey's footsteps as he comes down the stairs, and he almost doesn't even notice the sound of him gasping and dropping the plastic bags of construction paper he's carrying, but Eric does, pulling away from his mouth quickly and staring at Trey with wide eyes.

"Okay," Trey says, backing up a step. "What the hell happened while I was gone?"

"What?" Eric asks softly, and Matt realizes he's still got him pressed against the wall.

"I come back and you've got a paper towel wrapped around your hand like a band-aid, you're both crying, and suddenly Matt caught the gay. I was only gone half an hour, guys. Jesus."

Matt glances at Eric, unsure if Eric wants to say anything.

"I..." he says when Eric remains silent. "I didn't just catch it."

"Oh," Trey answers, then frowns. " long, then?"

"Um...since before we met?"

Trey's eyes wide. "What? That' That's a long time. Are you two...are you two like together or something?"

"Yes," Matt answers quickly.

"Oh. Okay. Where's the next scene? Did you guys get that cut out or were you just humping each other the entire time I was gone?"

"I...we didn't get it finished."

Trey laughs. "Good for you guys. Okay. Work now, though. You can do your thing tonight."

"I—" Eric says, then stops and shakes his head. "Matt—please? Help?"

Matt threads their fingers together and clears his throat until Trey turns to face them again.

"What now? Work, guys. Sex later."

"''s kind of serious," Matt says.

Trey frowns and crosses his arms across his chest. "All right. What?"

"Trey..." Eric says softly. "I...I'm posi—" He stops, clears his throat and tries again. "I'm positive."

"About what?"

"About...I...Trey, I have HIV."

Trey's face falls so fast Matt almost doesn't even notice. "What?"

"I...I tested positive a few weeks ago."

"Did you...did you get it from Matt?"

Matt shakes his head. "No. I just got checked. I'm negative."

" If you're together, then how?"

"I...we weren't. I mean, we had been, but we were with other people, and then Matt went to L.A.," Eric says. "And I...there was this guy from college we used to hang out with, Dan, and he was in town and...and he didn't know he had it and...anyway. Matt didn't give it to me."

"I don't...I don't understand."

"Which part?"

"If you were together, why were you with other people?"

" was college," Eric says. "That's what you're supposed to do."

"But it's not college anymore," Trey says.

"Well, you left, so..." Eric says. "I mean, we didn't know if we'd ever see each other again, and—"

"But...but you were together. liked each other?"

"Yeah," Matt says softly. "We did."

"Then why? Why would you be with other people when you wanted to be together? If Matt's negative, then you would've been fine together."

"I know that," Eric says. "Trust me, Trey. I've thought about that non-stop for weeks."

"I...okay. Not my business. I...fuck, Eric. I'm sorry."

He puts his arms around both of them and pulls them into a hug.

"You're gonna be careful, right?" he asks them. "I mean, I don't need the details, but the two of're going to be careful?"

"Yeah," Matt promises. "We will."

"I...I need some fresh air," Eric says. "Can I outside real quick? I just need a minute."

"Yeah, sure," Trey says, releasing him out of the hug. "Go."

Eric takes off up the stairs without looking back at them, and then Trey coughs and asks, "That where you're always going at night?"


"So you've been fucking around on him? He's been off getting sick and trying to deal with it alone and you've been fucking around on him?"

"No. Dude, we weren't...we weren't dating. We were fucking around in college and I tried a couple times to make it serious and he never wanted to so we fucked after graduation and said goodbye. But I missed him and I realized I was in love with him so I tried to tell him that when we first got here and he told me he was seeing someone 'cause he didn't want to tell me the real reason he couldn't sleep with me. And I just found out the truth while you were gone."

Trey sighs. "Look, just...I'm sorry. I never knew any of this."

"I didn't want you to."

"You're gonna be good to him, right? Because seriously, Matt. His life is going to suck sometimes and he's like my brother or something and if you're going to date him through all that, I have to know that you're going to be good to him even when he's sick."

"Of course I am."

"I know you say that now, but when he gets sick and you get have to still be there."

"I'm going to."

Trey nods. "All right. You're happy?"

"About this? No."

"With him. Are you happy with him?"

"Oh. Yeah. Yeah, I am."

"Okay. Good. Fine. If you want, he can some stay at the apartment sometimes in L.A. I mean, don't fuck while I'm there 'cause that place is so small I'm gonna like...see wherever I am, know. I have to work and shit and you can do it then."

Matt laughs. "We wouldn't do it in front of you anyway."

"Well, I'm just saying. I mean, I don't know how we're going to fit another person in there, but...he can. 'Cause I remember when we first got there...that wasn't homesickness, was it?"

"Yes, it was."

"Oh. I thought it was you missing Eric."

"Exactly. Homesickness."

"You big girl."

"I can't help it."

"Yeah. Okay. But I just don't think it's going to be easy for you to be in California with him here. Not after this. I mean, I know it was hard before, but now..."

"I know. He's right upstairs and I feel weird 'cause I keep wanting to make sure he's still there."

"Are you gonna be all right?"

"I...I guess. I mean...I think I have to be. I'm not allowed to break down, am I? I have to do the strong thing for him, right?"

"I don't know. I don't think there's a protocol. I think you're allowed to do whatever it is that you do 'cause...there's no way that you're supposed to react to this. You're just supposed to...react."

"I...I'm kind of...pissed off," Matt admits.

"At Eric?"

" Eric for pushing me away in college, at Dan for giving it to him—especially Dan. Fuck, Trey. I used to hook up with Dan all the time. He was my friend. And...and he got it a month after I left. A month, Trey. It's's so fucked up that Eric really didn't hook up with him much in college and I did and the second I left...this happened. It's not right. And I just...God, I kind of want to punch Dan in the face. A lot."

"Matt, you can't do that."

"Why not?"

"Because they have a name and a jail sentence for it. Assault and battery. 5 to 10 years in prison, and that's only if you don't actually put them in the hospital."

"Trey...he gave Eric HIV. How do you not want to kill him?"

"I do, Matt. Trust me. Eric's been my friend for longer than you've know. Doing your thing. I hate this guy and I don't even know him. But he didn't know he had it, so, and, just to reiterate: illegal."

Matt sighs, runs his fingers through his hair, and spots Trey's keys on the floor where he dropped them.

"Yeah," he says. "Okay. I'm just gonna go check on Eric, okay? He doesn't need this much air."

"All right," Trey says, patting him on the back. "Hurry though, okay? Stopping to make out is not allowed."

"Yeah, okay," Matt says.

He waits until Trey's turned back to the camera stand, then grabs the keys and runs up the stairs.

He dashes through the living room and out onto the porch, wraps his arms around Eric from behind and kisses him on the cheek. "I love you," he whispers.

"I love you, too," Eric says softly, and as soon as Matt has the answer, the sound of Eric saying those words without tears in his eyes, he lets go and runs to Trey's car. "Hey!" Eric shouts. "Where are you going?"

"Trey forgot something," Matt lies. "I'll be back soon."

He starts the ignition and drives. Dan lived at his parents' house in Boulder and Matt's not sure if he still does, but he knows it's a good place to start and if he asks nicely, they'll probably tell him where Dan is.

He tries not to think about the fact that Eric and Trey are going to put two and two together soon and come after him and that they might stop him before he gets his chance. He knows if Eric asks him to stop, he will. What right does he have to hate Dan if Eric can not? But with luck, he'll get there before they do and they won't stop him until he's already gotten at least a few punches in.

When he gets to Dan's parents' house, there's only one car parked outside: Dan's.

He can't really believe his luck, but he figures this small favor after everything else can't really qualify as "luck" and knocks on the door.

"Matt? Hey. What are you doing he—"

Matt punches him square in the nose, almost relishing the sickening crunch of it breaking.

"Ow. God damn it, what the fuck?"

"You gave it to him," Matt yells. "You fucking gave it to him, Dan."

"Who, Eric? I didn't mean—"

Matt's fist connects with his jaw this time and Dan staggers backwards into the house until Matt grabs him by the front of the shirt and pulls him out onto the porch.

"Matt, I didn't mean to. I didn't even know I was positive."

"What the fuck were you even doing sleeping with him in the first place?" Matt screams, pushing him all the way to the edge of the porch. "You knew how I felt about him and you fucked him anyway."

"Matt, it wasn't like that. We just ran into each other and got to talking—"

Matt knees him in the balls and watches as he falls backwards off the porch.

It's not a big drop and there's nothing but soft grass for him to hit, but Dan groans when he lands.

"I fucking love him," Matt shouts, feeling a little hysterical as he kicks Dan in the ribs. "I fucking love him and you know what, Dan? He loves me back. I finally got him and you know what he tells me? He tells me you gave it to him."

"I'm sorry," Dan says, and chokes, coughing blood out into his hand. "Shit, Matt, you can't get near me right now. Shit."

"What's one more person?" Matt yells. "You already gave it to the only fucking person who matters. What's one more?"

"Matt, please. Let me up. I didn't know I had it. I wouldn't have slept with fucking anyone if I knew then."

He hears a car pulling up behind him and he hopes it's just Dan's parents, but it's not.

"Stop," Trey shouts, running up and grabbing Matt's arms. "Let him go, Matt. It's not going to change anything."

"He fucking—he's going to fucking kill him, Trey. Not right now, but later. Eric's gonna fuck—" he sobs. "He's going to fucking die and it's because of him."

"I know, Matt. I know. I'm sorry. But you can't do this."

"Why not?"

And then he actually looks and sees Eric standing there, silently crying.

"Because I need you to not. Please," Eric begs, and Matt pushes Trey off of him and runs to Eric.


"Just let him go, Matt. I don't want this, either, but it's not going to change anything. And he's bleeding anyway. If that gets on you—"

Matt hugs Eric to him, lifting him straight off his feet. "I love you," he says. "Love you so fucking much, Eric."

"I know. I love you, too. So as a favor to me, please don't do this."

Matt doesn't answer, just strokes Eric's hair and breathes him in, reminding himself that Eric is okay, at least for now.

Another set of arms wraps around them both and Matt looks up to see that Trey is hugging them tightly.

He's not sure how long they stand there for, only that finally Eric breaks away and says, "We need to call 911. He's going to need a doctor. I think you broke his nose."

"I did," Matt answers.

"Then we need to call."

Eric disappears into the house to call 911 and Trey forcefully stuffs Matt into the passenger's seat of Eric's car.

"Give me my keys. You're riding with him. You need to talk."

When Eric finally gets in the car, he glares at Matt for a full two minutes before he slaps him across the face and puts the car into gear.

"Ow," Matt says, rubbing at his cheek.

"Bad," Eric growls.

"Oh, it's like that?"

" you even realize what you did?"

" Defended your honor?"

"You could've broken his jaw. His ribs."

"I didn't."

"You broke his nose. He was bleeding. What would've happened if some of it had gotten on you? Do you want this?"


"Then I want you to take a deep breath right now and just accept the fact that I decided to have sex with him that day. He didn't make me, and he didn't know he had it. I'm the one who made that decision, and there's no one else to blame here. Do you understand that?"

Matt glares, but answers a sullen, "Yes."

"You're in such trouble," Eric says, shaking his head.

"I am?"

"What, you think I'm not going to punish you for this?"

"I was just doing what we all wanted to do."

"But we didn't, Matt. Trey and I didn't because we know it was a stupid thing to do. You're lucky Dan feels so god damned guilty that he's not going to press charges."

"Sorry," Matt says.

"Yeah, you're going to be sorry," Eric answers. "Jesus, Matt."

"I'm sorry."

"I know," Eric sighs, reaching over and touching Matt's face softly where he hit earlier. "But you still need to be punished. You know that, right?"


They make it back to Eric's and Eric makes him sorrier than he thought he could be. He knows that he deserves it, but that doesn't make it any easier to accept and he ends up straddling Eric's lap by the end, kissing him as he begs for forgiveness.

But when it's over, after everything, it's been such a long day that they just collapse together onto Eric's bed and fall asleep, holding onto each other tight. A huge part of Matt is still angry and scared at the circumstances of the day, but the rest of him is happy about the outcome. He has Eric back and they love each other. That's definitely a good thing, even if everything else that happened around it was shit.

The next day, they're back in Trey's basement and Matt hisses every time he tries to sit down. Trey laughs, assuming it's something else entirely, but Matt would rather Trey think he got fucked last night than know what Eric actually did.

They don't actually talk about what happened the day before, at least not anything to do with Eric being positive. Trey gives them shit about being together because he's Trey and that's just what he does, but never once do any of them actually talk about it. It's weird and a little uncomfortable, but Matt reminds himself that at the end of the day, he gets to go back to Eric's again and this time he has nothing to be punished for.

"I threw all your stuff back into your bag last night, by the way," Trey says at the end of the day. "I figured you'd want to be at Eric's, so...I mean, you can totally stay here if you want. My parents don't mind. I just'd want to be there."

"Yeah. Thanks."

"Uh...and...I know it's not my business, were careful last night, right? I swear, I won't ask again, I just need to know that you were."

"Yeah," Matt lies. "We were."

"Okay. Go. Have your ass sex."

Matt makes a face but says goodbye to Trey and follows Eric out to his car.

"I'm glad we're getting to leave so early," Matt says as they make the short drive to Eric's apartment.

"Why's that?"

"More time for me and you."

"For me and you to do what?"

Matt laughs. "Do you need a diagram or something?"

"Oh," Eric says. "We...we can't do that."

"What, you a prude now?"

"No. I'm positive."

Matt swallows. "I—I know that. But we can—"

"No, we can't. How do you think I got it?"

"I think you had an accident."

"And you and me won't?"

"Eric...I thought we talked about this yesterday. How you couldn't let it rule your life."

"I'm not. But I'm not going to be stupid just to prove a point to a disease."

"It's not stupid. It's...Eric, you and me do that. We do it well."

"We did it well, Matt. Do you know what it took for me to tell you I loved you? I'm not going to fuck up and be the one to infect you now that I finally got past that."

"Eric...we can use a condom and—"

Eric shakes his head. "No."

"What if we did it the other way around? With me on top? Or if you pulled out before you came?"

"Matt, it's not just in that. It's in blood and pre-come and all kinds of stuff and if the condom breaks on you or me, one drop and just...bam."

"Well...well we can—"

"I said, 'No,'" Eric says firmly, a little more Dom than Eric, but he's not the only one who can play at that game.

"I said, 'Yes,'" he says back, using the voice he uses when, once in a blue moon, Eric decides he wants to sub.

Eric raises his eyebrow at him, parks the car, and turns the engine off. "No," he repeats.

"Yes," Matt counters.

"Matt...are you crazy?"

"Maybe. I don't know. I know I want to be with you and I want to make love to you and I know the risk I'm taking and I want those things anyway. And if you respect me at all, you'll respect that this is my decision to make and you'll take me upstairs and you'll be with me the way we both want to be. Okay?"

"I—are you sure?"

"Yes," Matt promises, reaching over and taking his hand. "I've had a year to think about how much I wanted that, Eric. That's what you don't get. Maybe you wanted to fuck me first, but I'm the one who first wanted to make love. And after a year of wanting it, I'm damn fucking sure. Respect my decision."

Eric looks like it's against his better judgement and he really doesn't want to say yes, but he finally nods and whispers, "All right."

Matt can't stop the grin that spreads across his face as they climb the stairs to Eric's fifth-floor apartment.

It's not as tiny as his and Trey's is, but it's smaller than most. Not that it matters because Matt couldn't care less if they were doing this in a barn or on top of his pile of dirty clothes back in L.A., as long as they're doing it, and Eric said that they could.

"I—" Eric says, waving a hand around helplessly. "You can put your stuff in the bedroom if you want. I...I guess you'll sleep there?"

"As long as you're okay with it."

"Yeah. Sure. you want anything to drink?"

"No," Matt says, setting his bag down on the floor and holding out his hand for Eric to take. "Why are you so nervous?"

"Because it''s like playing Russian roulette, Matt. Every time you pull the don't know."

" is like that. It was like that when we were together in college. That's just how it is. Fuck, life is like that. But here's the thing, Eric. I would much rather live a lifetime with you in a decade than sit around never really living at all."

" do?"

"Do what?"

"Want to...want to live a lifetime with me," Eric says quietly.

"Of course I do. What, did you think I just wanted to fuck around until I went back to L.A. and got too famous to remember the little people or something? I love you, Eric. And that means I want to keep loving you until...until our lifetime is over."

Eric crosses the room and kisses him again. "Thank you," he whispers. "God. Thank you."

Matt carries Eric into his bedroom and kicks the door shut behind them, then lays Eric out on his bed and kisses him again.

"I—" Eric says as he watches Matt undress. "Fuck."

"In a minute," Matt says softly. "Where do you keep your stuff?"

Eric shows him and he gets out a condom and the bottle of lube, handing them to Eric.

"You decide," he says softly. "However you want to do it."

He lets Eric ponder the decision while he undoes his jeans and pulls them off of Eric's small frame. He's thin and Matt can feel his hip bones jutting out slightly, and it reinforces the scary image he has in his head of Eric wasting away. He vows to get Eric to start eating better and exercising more and kisses the two sharp points, then pulls Eric's shirt off, too.

"I can't do it," Eric says, handing him the condom.

"Why not?"

"I...I don't know if I can even...fuck, I feel so god damn nervous."

"Okay," Matt says. "That's fine. I can ride you, if you want."


"Yeah. Just...put the condom on and I'll get myself ready and then we can, okay?"

Eric nods and when Matt's ready, he kisses Eric and sinks down onto him carefully.

It's a little scary and there's no way to deny that. He'd be lying if he said a part of him wasn't terrified. But it's a small part, a part that he can ignore because it's not enough to take over the rest of him, the bigger, louder part of him that loves Eric and wants to be with him and doesn't care what the risks are because love just does that. And they're being safe, he reminds the smaller part; they're taking precautions and if something happens...well, Matt doesn't believe in fate or anything, but if it happens, then it happens.

"You okay?" he asks when he's gotten adjusted.

"I—I think so."

"Don't be scared, Eric. Please don't be scared of this."

"I'm not. I'm scared of what's inside me."

"Funny. I'm not scared of what's inside me." He smiles at his bad joke, at his lie, trying to reassure Eric that this is okay.

"You're such a dick," Eric answers.

"I know," Matt admits. "I know, Eric. I'm a dick and that was horrible and we're both scared of this but we were scared before, right? Scared to say we wanted to be together? And we got through that, didn't we?"

"That couldn't have killed one of us. Fuck, both of us."

"I know. I know, Eric, but I meant what I said. If...if we only have ten, twenty years...who knows, but however long we have, if that's all we have, then I want to live them with you and be with you the way I would be if it didn't matter. I want to be normal with you, even if we're not. Please don't think this is a bad thing because this is good. It's really, really good, Eric."

Eric takes one of Matt's hands in his and touches it to his chest, right above his heart. He doesn't actually say a word, but it speaks volumes as Matt starts to ride him.

It hurts a little because he's still sore from the night before and having his ass press up against Eric's thighs on every stroke isn't helping, but he ignores it. He can do that because his eyes are locked on Eric's and Eric is watching him, looking helpless and scared and underneath those things, pure love.

Eric comes first, whimpering and biting his lip. Matt can feel him swell and then twitch inside him and he tries so fucking hard to keep his face straight, to not show the flash of fear that wells up inside him.

He's not sure if he manages it, but he makes himself keep moving, keep fucking until Eric softens and slides out of him. He's still hard so Eric guides him up to his lips and sucks him in, letting Matt fuck his mouth instead. He tries to be gentle but Eric's always been good at this and he ends up being a little rougher than he intended.

But then it's over and Eric swallows and they clean up wordlessly. Matt's terrified that Eric's going to pull away again, but he doesn't, he lays close with his head on Matt's shoulder and whispers, "What if we just...what if I just gave it to you?"

"You didn't."

"Maybe not," Eric answers. "But...but if we're going to do this...we should talk about that. What if I give it to you? Will you hate me like I hate Dan? What if your dad wants to kill me like you wanted to kill him?"

"That's different. Dan didn't tell you he had it first. But I know going into it. So if it's not like it's something you did to me. It's something I did to myself."

"You're still going to resent me. At least for a while. Everything is different when you suddenly know you've only got a little while left to live."

"You didn't love Dan, either. I love you."

"And what if your dad wants to kill me? Or fuck, what if one of our friends do? They wouldn't be happy about it, either."

"Then I'll tell them what you told me. That I need them to stop."

"Matt...I'm serious. were right. I have to respect your choices. But you have to actually think before you make them. You're getting yourself in deep here and you're not the only one who's going to be affected. If you get it, then your parents have to watch you be sick. Your sister has to bury her big brother. And that won't be for a long time, probably, but it'll happen. So...we need to talk about this. Seriously."

Matt sighs. "I know. I know that. But, Eric...the way I feel about you...even if my head was telling me to run away, I couldn't. 'Cause my gut and my heart...they're saying something else. They're saying stay close and be with you and that's what I want to do. That's my choice."

"All right," Eric says resignedly. "I just...I really hope you're sure, deep down in your gut, that this is what you want to do."

"It is."

"Okay," Eric says, nodding against his skin. "Then...okay."

"Are you mad at me?"

"No. Why?"

"I don't know. For...for making this choice when you didn't get to have the option."

"I don't know," Eric echoes. "I think...I think a part of me is. It's why would you choose to risk your life, Matt? I didn't make that choice, it was made for me, and I regret it. But you're...still here. And I know you love me and the rest of me can't believe I'm lucky enough to find someone who does, who wants to be with me despite this and up to the end, but that part of me thinks you're stupid. Being where I am now...I wouldn't sleep with me if I were you. But you did, Matt. And...and I think that's crazy. But you love me. And I love you. So..."

"So here we are."


"As long as the part that thinks you're lucky is the biggest part, then we're okay."

"It is."


"Just...just promise me one thing," Eric says.


"Please don't...don't try to get it on purpose. Don't be one of those people who are like, 'Without my partner, I have no reason to live.' Because I don't want that. When...when the time comes, I have to know that you're still here, Matt. Because...because that's going to mean a lot to me. Knowing that part of me is still with you I'm not gone."

Matt nods wordlessly and presses his face against Eric's neck. "I promise," he breathes. "You'll always be with me."

"Okay," Eric answers, and that's it, talk over, and he falls asleep.

[ Part Four ]
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