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Title: Mad Season 4/?
Rating: NC-17
Pairing(s): Matt Stone/Eric Stough
Word Count: 9,818
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 [livejournal.com profile] dancinbutterfly for keeping me up to insane hours to write this even when sleep calls my name. ♥



"Yeah," Matt says into the phone. "I miss you, too."

Trey taps his foot impatiently and holds his wrist out towards Matt's face, showing him his watch.

"I know," Eric answers. "But my appointment with the specialist is next week. I'm coming out then."

"Yeah. Did you take your medicine today?"

"Yeah."

"Work out? Follow the food pyramid?"

"Yes, mother," Eric teases.

"How is your mom?"

Trey sighs. "Isn't your quarter run out yet?" he asks.

"Better," Eric says. "She's...you know, dealing. She doesn't cry every time she looks at me now."

"I'm sorry," Matt says softly.

"It's okay. I can't blame her."

"Love you," Matt says, leaning his hip against the pay phone box.

"Love you, too."

"And I love you both but we have to get to the set," Trey snaps.

"Is that Trey?" Eric asks. "Tell him I said, 'Hi.'"

"Eric says, 'Hi,'" Matt relates, and without waiting for Trey's answer, adds, "He says, 'Hi,' back."

Eric laughs. "You're driving him crazy, aren't you? Keeping him away from the set this long?"

"Yeah. I told him it was just a quick call to make sure you were okay."

"I'm fine. Missing you like crazy, but...fine."

"Same here."

Eric sighs. "Go. Go hang out on your porn sets with your glamorous naked people. Try to keep Trey off of the chicks and don't vomit when you see their vaginas. Apparently some guys are into that sort of thing, so...you know. Be respectful."

Matt laughs. "You're not going to say anything about all the hot porn actor guys?"

"What, do you want me to get all jealous and shit?"

"It'd be nice."

"Matt?"

"Yeah?"

"Don't you so much as look at one of those other guys or I'll have your balls for breakfast."

Matt laughs. "Nice. I almost believed that."

"Yeah. Go have fun. Seriously. You deserve it."

"You deserve it too," Matt says softly.

"Seriously. Go. Trey really will have your balls for breakfast."

"Yeah. Okay. Love you."

"Love you, too. Bye."

The line goes dead and Matt hangs the phone up morosely. He already misses Eric's voice. Just hearing it lets him know that Eric is okay and the second he can't hear it anymore, he worries.

"Come on, dude," Trey urges. "Porn set, man. And it's not lesbian stuff so there's guys for you to look at, too. How are you not more excited?"

"Um, I'm in a monogamous relationship?"

"You can still look, dude. Geez. I'm with Toddy but I'm sure as hell gonna look today."

"And Toddy's all right with that?"

"She told me to study them. Get new ideas."

Matt rolls his eyes. "Yeah, well, I doubt I'm gonna be picking up any new ideas from straight porn."

"Just come on, okay? We're late. Farrell was nice enough to let us observe the set and we're late."

"Okay, okay. Jesus," Matt mutters, following Trey up the street until they get to Farrell's house.

Apparently he doesn't usually shoot his films there but they needed a pool for a certain scene and the one in his back yard was the only one he could get at on the cheap, so his wife had finally agreed to let her home be invaded by naked people.

They step inside quietly in case Farrell has the cameras going, but apparently they're "waiting on wood," or that's what Farrell calls it anyway, when he spots them and drags them into the fray.

"Hey, boys."

"Sorry we're late, Farrell," Trey says. "Matt wouldn't get off the phone."

"Oh, sure, blame me," Matt huffs.

"Well, it's fine," Farrell says. "We haven't started yet."

"Something wrong?"

"Yeah. Waiting on wood. We've got a fluffer on it."

"A..." Trey says, then glances at Matt. "A what?"

"It's someone who gets the actor hard," Farrell explains. "Are you taking notes on this?"

Trey pulls a small notebook out of his pocket and jots it down, then asks, "Are you hiring? 'Cause Matt hates working at 7-11, but sounds like he'd love that job."

Matt elbows him in the ribs. "Dick."

"We're not hiring, but if you want to volunteer," Farrell says, shrugging. "I don't know. Some of these guys do gay porn too, I think. Some of them wouldn't mind. Have at it."

"No thanks," Matt says. "Really, I'm good."

"Shy?"

"Taken."

"Ah. Well, all right. The offer's on the table, though. Anyway, did you want to meet some of the actors? Juli's not in this scene, so she'd let you interview her if you wanted."

"Yeah, I'll do that," Trey says, then hands Matt a sheet of paper and a second pencil. "You go watch when they actually start fucking. Take notes."

"Notes on what? How to be a breeder?"

"No, on how it is. You know. Just...notes."

"You just want to go be one-on-one with the naked chick," Matt mutters.

"Yes. Yes, I do. And I've seen her movies before and she's fucking hot. And you don't want to see her naked anyway, so go. Let me have this, man."

Matt sighs but heads back out into the main part of the set and tries to stay out of everyone's way as he watches.

"Hi," the lighting guy says to him after he's been standing around for a moment. "I'm Dave."

"Matt."

"Are you a sketch artist or something?" Dave asks, indicating Matt's pencil and paper.

"Huh? Oh. No." Matt shoves them both into his pocket. "I'm supposed to be taking notes, but...nothing's happening."

"Notes on what? The action?"

"I guess."

"Fuckin' hot," Dave says casually, holding up his camera. "I don't just use this for official production stills, you know?" He makes a face and Matt immediately has the urge to copy it, but doesn't.

"Uh, how much longer before they actually do something?"

"Depends on how long it takes Jake to get hard. Don't know why he's having trouble, though. Man, just look at her."

"Maybe he's gay."

"What? Naw. Even a queer would get hard over that babe."

Matt's about to say that he's a queer and he's not hard over her, but finally the actor returns to set ready to work.

Okay. He's hot. He's very hot and Matt can't deny that. But instead of feeling like he maybe wants to fuck around on Eric, Matt's imagining that Jake's muscles have been transplanted onto Eric's body. Eric has to work out more and he says he's already getting more muscle definition. A tiny part of Matt can't wait to see him just so he can see that.

But it's hard to have a homoerotic fantasy when he's surrounded by the noises of the girl's heavy porno moaning and Dave all but panting beside him, so Matt snaps out of it and tries to pay attention.

It takes awhile to film because they keep calling cut and having the actors change positions and things, but Farrell really seems to know what he's doing and Matt can sort of see how it's all going to cut together in the end.

"All right," Farrell says. "We just need to film the come shot now and we're good for this scene."

Jake obligingly withdrawals his dick and Matt allows himself to watch for, obviously, research-related reasons. He hadn't been paying attention earlier and then all through the scene he was at a bad angle to tell, but now that he's looking, he can see that Jake wasn't wearing a condom during the scene.

He wonders if anyone else realizes this and hisses something about it to Dave, but Dave just says, "Yeah. Hot, right? Man, I wish we shot more creampie scenes. But no, always gotta come on their face or their tits. It's cool. Still fuckin' hot action."

Matt's horrified on behalf of the actors and wants to ask Farrell what the fuck is wrong with him, that he would make movies like that, but then it gets worse because the girl blows Jake until he comes all over her face, and then she licks it off.

Farrell calls cut, and Matt uses the opportunity to step outside and throw up. He feels bad 'cause it's Farrell's front lawn, but he's still so pissed off that he doesn't let himself feel guilty.

He can't believe that those people, those actors who don't even know each other, are fucking like that. He's never fucked like that in his life, not even with Eric. And fuck, he's never going to get to, either. They love each other and they're always going to have a layer of rubber between them but those fucking actors who never met before today don't.

They should, though, and Matt knows that. Just because he's in a monogamous relationship and they should be able to be bare if they want—and it's not even that he wants it that badly; he just wants to not have the restriction—doesn't mean that these people should be. In general, Matt thinks condoms are a really good thing and all people should wear them, even when in a relationship. But the idea that strangers get to have what he can't, even at their own risk, it drives him crazy.

And the come shot, thing? Fuck. That's kind of shitty, too.

Eric lets Matt come in his mouth and that's really great and all, but...Matt kind of wants to taste him, too. Matt wants to know what Eric's come feels like in his mouth or what he tastes like. Sure, he had that before, back in college, but it's been a long fucking time and he's starting to forget.

He's forgetting what Eric tastes like and it's fucking horrible because he'll probably never know again, either.

He wipes his mouth against his sleeve and tries to breathe, making himself calm down. When he can deal again, he goes back inside and finds Trey.

"Trey?"

"Yeah?" Trey asks, looking up from where he's jotting down something on his notepad.

"I—can we go?"

"Go? Dude, we've only been here for like...an hour."

"I just...need...to not be here."

"Dude...are you all right?"

"No," Matt admits. "They're...they're fucking without condoms, dude."

Trey frowns. "Fuck."

"What's the matter?" Juli asks.

"His...his boyfriend is positive," Trey explains. "Dude, are you okay?"

Matt shakes his head. "I threw up."

"I'm sorry," Juli says. "That's the way it is in this business, baby. Bare sells."

"It's...it's not right," Matt tells her. "It's...horrible."

"I know," she says. "If it makes you feel better, Farrell requires us all to get tested."

"You could still be positive and not know it."

"Most companies don't even do that," Juli says. "Farrell treats us really well. Better than most."

"It's still so fucked up," Matt says. "If they don't want the viewers to know you're using condoms, then fucking shoot it differently."

"Well, they need to show penetration—"

"It's still fucking terrible."

"Okay," Trey says. "Calm down. We'll...okay. It's...we'll deal with it."

"Deal with it? What, you want to go out there and demand that they start using condoms? Can we just go? Please? I can't be here."

"We need the research."

"Then you stay. You do it. I can't be here."

"Maybe you should go call Eric. Would that help?"

"I don't know. I just need out of here."

"All right. Um...maybe Farrell will let me come back tomorrow on my own."

Matt shrugs. He doesn't really care about the stupid movie anymore. It's too much to be thinking about this and that at the same time.

"Um, thanks, Juli. I'll talk to you later."

"Sure," she says, and then to Matt, "and I'm sorry about your partner."

Matt waits outside while Trey talks to Farrell, and then they walk the two blocks down the street to where they parked Trey's car.

"He's going to let me come back," Trey says. "And he gave me some speech about how he wishes they could use condoms and blah, blah, blah. Are you okay?"

"I just...I don't know. It's hard to watch. It's not safe. And...and they get to have that and I don't and I'm in a serious relationship. It's not fair."

"They get to have what?"

"I...he...he came on her face."

"Uh."

"Eric can't do that to me."

"Um...did you want him to?"

"Yes. No. Maybe. I...I would just like to have the option, is all."

"Er."

"Oh, stop acting all uncomfortable."

"Well...it's...you know. I am. Uncomfortable."

"Well, just...just think about it. If suddenly every time you went down on Toddy, you had to use protection? If you could never really touch her?"

"That would...that would suck," Trey admits.

"Well, that's what this is like. For a year, I had him any way I wanted him and now that we're serious, I don't. It fucking sucks, man. Those people in there just do whatever they want and they don't even love each other. But me? I love Eric and I can't."

"Okay," Trey says. "I guess I get that. But that's the way it is in porn, you know? And Juli said they all get tested before they start a shoot."

"That doesn't matter, Trey. It takes up to six months to show up. They could've gotten it last week and they'd show up negative. It's still fucking dangerous."

"I know. But all you can worry about is you, you know? You can't make everyone wear condoms."

"It's just fucking stupid. And...and the first time we were together, I let him come in my mouth. I let him do that when I didn't even love him, when we were just hooking up because I had just gotten out of that huge-ass fucking river and we were both horny, and now that I love him, I can't do that. He likes that, Trey. He really fucking likes that and I can't do it for him."

"Okay, and I'm uncomfortable again."

"Trey..."

"All right. I get it, Matt. I get that it sucks. But every relationship has its baggage and this is yours. Some people have to deal with jealous exes, and you have to deal with not being able to let Eric come on your face."

Matt frowns. "I...okay. Whatever. Talking about it isn't helping."

"Sorry, dude. I'm trying."

"I know. It's just...hard to understand unless it's...you know. Happening to you."

Trey nods. "Look...I've got a shift at the Hut tonight, so I'll just drop you off at the apartment and go in early, see if they'll let me go ahead and clock in. Call Eric, okay? Talk to him. It might help."

Matt nods.

It doesn't help in the sense of making him feel better about the issue at hand, but just hearing Eric's voice again helps in another way altogether.

***


"Stop twitching," Trey says. "You look ridiculous."

"I can't help it," Matt answers, and bounces on his heels. "What time is it?"

"Two-thirty. He said he thought he'd get in at three."

"Then only half an hour," Matt says happily.

"Dude, save some for him, you know? You blow your wad now, you won't have any left for Eric."

"Oh, ha ha. Very funny."

"Yeah, just don't blow it on my futon. I have to sleep there."

"We're not gonna fuck on your futon. My pile of clothes is quite sufficient."

Trey shrugs. "I have to go to work. Seriously, don't fuck on my futon."

"For Christ's sake, Trey. I swear my right hand to Terry Gilliam, I am not going to have sex on your futon."

"Not even a blow job?"

"No, Trey."

"All right. Tell Eric I said, 'Hi.'"

Matt waves him out of the apartment, then paces by the door before finally forcing himself to sit down in one of the lawn chairs they bought for ten bucks at the dollar store down the street.

He checks his watch, drums his fingers, and checks his watch again. Every second that ticks by is bringing Eric closer to him and he can't help but feel giddy at that. He hasn't seen him since he came back to L.A. after they finished the Christmas card and it's been so fucking hard to deal. But he doesn't have to anymore because in fifteen minutes, Eric is going to be here.

It's excruciating to wait another fifteen minutes when he's already been waiting for, quite possibly, ever, but finally he hears a soft knock that he would recognize anywhere.

He debates trying to play it cool, just sauntering over and opening the door like it's nothing at all, but he knows himself too fucking well for that to even contemplate it. And for that matter, so does Eric.

He runs to the door, throws it open, and pulls Eric inside without even saying, "Hi," then takes Eric's face in his hands and kisses every inch of it.

When he's satisfied that Eric is there, happy and healthy and whole, he lets him go and says, "Hello."

"Hi," Eric returns, glancing around the tiny apartment. "This is where you live?"

"Yep."

"With Trey?"

"Yep."

"Jesus."

"I told you it was small."

Eric shrugs. "As long as you have a roof over your head, right?"

"Right."

"I'd ask for a tour, but..."

"Yeah," Matt agrees.

"So you weren't kidding when you said you sleep on a pile of clothes on the floor?"

"Did you think I was?"

"Well, you're always making jokes I don't understand."

"I was actually being serious this time."

Eric laughs. "You'll get a bigger place soon, when you're all rich and famous and I'm just that guy from college you had a fling with."

"Never gonna happen," Matt promises him, taking Eric's bag and setting it down by his little pile of clothes. "Uh, Trey has the futon, so...I guess you have to sleep on the pile with me, but...but it should be okay. And uh, that's the kitchen, which is also the living room slash bedroom, and the bathroom is...that door, the only one inside the entire apartment, so hard to miss it. And you may have to stand in the shower when you try to take a piss 'cause there's not much room to be in there with—well, there's just not much room to be in there. We try not to stay inside unless we have to. It's better to just go sit on the beach."

Eric wraps his arms around Matt's neck and rests his head against Matt's shoulder, just standing there silently. For a moment, Matt can't do anything but watch, then he slides his arms around Eric, too and holds him right back.

"I like your tiny apartment," Eric says. "And I like your little pile of clothes. 'Cause you know what they are, Matt?"

"Smelly?"

Eric chuckles. "No. They're you trying to make something of yourself. You taking a chance on what you really want. That's...that's really good, Matt. That's more than most people have the guts to do. Look at me. I want to be an animator and I'm working in a cubicle in Conifer. You're so brave and that's what your little pile of clothes stands for."

"Actually, I think it just stands for me not doing my laundry."

Eric smacks him playfully on the chest. "Let me have my beautiful metaphor, okay?"

"All right. My pile of dirty clothes somehow equates with bravery. Sure."

"So...what time do you have to work?"

"Tonight? Never. Got today and tomorrow off so I could go with you to the specialist."

"You don't have to do that."

"I know I don't have to," Matt answers. "I want to. I want to keep you healthy for as long as possible and the more I know about how to do that, the better off we'll both be."

"All right," Eric sighs.

"Plus, we can talk to him about sex."

"What, you want to have a threesome?"

"No," Matt says slowly, "so we can know what all we can do to be safe. Maybe there are things we haven't thought of yet. More things is good, isn't it?"

"Well...yeah. Okay." Eric looks around the room suddenly, like he's just noticed something is wrong. "Hey, where's Trey?"

"At work. He says, 'Hi.'"

"So are you telling me we have two hundred and seventy-five square feet all to ourselves?"

"Except the futon. The futon is off limits. I promised. But generally speaking, yes."

Eric laughs. "All right. No fucking on the futon. Got it."

"But the rest of the place...fair game."

"Are you trying to seduce me?"

"Well, it's no dropping to my knees and offering to warm you up or anything, but...yeah, Eric. I'm trying to seduce you."

"I must be really pathetic, then, 'cause it's totally working."

Matt grins and kisses him, guiding him towards the kitchen. There's a counter right at groin height and for months, he's been picturing sitting Eric right there on it and fucking him, and now Eric is finally here.

He backs Eric up into the counter and works at his belt, pulling it out of his jeans and dropping it to the floor.

"What?" Eric asks. "You're not even going to tie me to one of the cabinets?"

"Nah. Thought I'd save that for tonight."

Eric laughs. "Dare I ask?"

"Mhm. I'm taking you out to a bar and we're gonna hang out with my friend Ben and Trey said he might even, 'risk being ass-raped,' for the occasion. Those are his words, not mine. I think he was kidding, but I'm honestly not sure."

"He was probably totally serious," Eric laments. "He probably honestly believes that someone would want him enough to actually do it."

Matt laughs. "Probably."

He flicks the button on Eric's jeans open, then pushes them down his hips and tugs his shirt off. There's a little more muscle there than the last time, just like he expected, and he drags his tongue across one burgeoning pectoral before helping Eric up onto the counter.

"Fuck," Eric hisses when he settles onto it. "It's cold."

"We'll warm it up, then."

"Christ, you really are trying to seduce me."

Matt laughs. "Yeah. Stay there, okay? I gotta go get something."

He runs back to his pile of clothes and digs until he comes up with the plastic bag he stashed amongst them, then returns to the kitchen and empties it out beside Eric.

"What, is that your goody bag?" Eric asks, and Matt nods proudly.

"Lube, condoms, and I even got rubber gloves so I can fuck you open."

"You did not," Eric says, but Matt holds them up and slides one on.

Eric laughs, then catches himself and rolls one of the condoms on quickly, before he can get fully hard. All the research they've done said that the virus is in pre-come, too, so they usually make sure that Eric has one on before they do anything else.

Matt slicks up a couple fingers and eases them into Eric, going slow and working him open. Eric shifts in response, scooting his ass closer to the edge of the counter to give Matt better access, and runs his fingers through Matt's hair.

"When are you gonna cut this mop?" he muses. "I don't know how you can stand this heat with that much hair."

"This," Matt says seriously, "is the hair of my mother's people and they wandered the desert for ages. So, you know. Suck on that."

"I'll suck on you," Eric counters, but Matt pushes another finger into him in retaliation. "Bully."

"Jerk."

"Yeah."

When Eric's ready, Matt carefully takes the glove off and throws it away, then rolls a condom onto himself and adds more lube. Eric wraps his arms around Matt's shoulders as he enters him and rests his head against them, almost like they're hugging instead of fucking.

He hisses at the first sting of penetration, but stays quiet and still after that, just holding onto Matt and waiting. When he's fully seated inside, Matt waits to see if Eric is okay, then moves his hips slowly, careful not to move too fast or too hard.

"I—I'm okay," Eric says after a moment. "Are you?"

"Yeah. I'm good, Eric. Really good."

"Okay. So do something, Matt. This is driving me crazy. You have to move or something."

"I am moving."

"Then move more. After that long time apart, I expected to be ravished or something."

Matt laughs. "I can ravish. I can ravish you real good."

"Then do it," Eric begs. "Please? I missed you. I want to feel you everywhere all at once and this just isn't going to cut it."

"Yeah," Matt agrees, taking a little more of Eric's weight on his arms and holding him up more. It's better this way, he thinks, when he's supporting Eric and can angle him better. It forces Eric further down on his cock, which makes him groan against Matt's neck.

He can fuck him harder and deeper like this, feel Eric tighten around him on the out stroke as he tries to keep Matt inside him. It's crazy how good this feels, better than anything ever should, but Matt knows it's because it's them. He's fucked other guys and those times all felt wonderful, but being with Eric has always had this certain edge to it, this incredible feeling of yes and right, and that's what it feels like now, only more. Maybe it's intensified because they're a couple now or maybe it's because they're trying that live-life-to-the-fullest thing. Matt doesn't know. He just knows that sex with Eric is amazing and he can't wait to go to the doctor tomorrow and find out what else they could do.

Eric bites his shoulder when he comes, not hard enough to break the skin, but hard enough to leave a mark. Matt groans and rides out his own orgasm, stilling his hips as he comes down, then carefully throws the condom away.

Eric rests, breathless and boneless, on the counter, panting heavily as he tries to catch his breath, then slides down and tugs his clothes back on.

"You're getting good at that," he murmurs.

"I've been practicing."

"Oh, really?"

"Well, in my dreams, anyway."

Eric laughs. "Yeah. I've been practicing in my dreams, too."

"Want to practice some more now?"

"What, like you're some kind of sex god who can get hard again already?"

"All right, fair enough."

"Nah. Show me L.A. Show me the infamous beach you hang out on to avoid being in this apartment. Take me to meet this Ben guy you're always talking about who I'm not jealous of at all, by the way."

"All right. I told him to meet us here before we went to the club, but...we can go to his place now. Just let me leave a note for Trey so that he knows where to meet us with Toddy when he gets off work."

Half an hour later, they get off the bus and walk the three blocks to Ben's house.

"Hey, Matty," Ben says as he opens the door. He glances at Eric. "Did you bring me a treat or something?"

"This is Eric," Matt answers.

"Eric the boyfriend, Eric?"

"Hi," Eric says. "And yes."

"Aw, he's a cute little thing, Matty. Well, come in. Any one Matt has fucked is a friend of mine or something."

They follow Ben into the house and he seats them both on his couch. "So, what brings you here so early? I thought we were meeting at that club you keep trying to drag me to?"

"We wanted to come early," Matt says with a shrug. "It okay?"

"Sure, sure," Ben says casually. "But for the record, coming early can be a bad thing. Just because I don't mind...Anyway. Tell me about yourself, Eric. Matt talks about you non-stop, of course, but I mostly tune him out when he starts comparing your hair to the soft petals of roses."

"I have never done that."

"Yes, you have," Ben counters. "Once. And you were drunk. But still. Let the boy talk."

"Actually," Eric says, "I kind of want to hear this drunken roses story."

Ben laughs. "It's about a month after he gets back from Podunk or wherever it is that you live, right? And he's been half-ecstatic and half-miserable since he got back. Won't even fuck around anymore, just says he's got himself a boyfriend or something. And hey, I guess that's more for me, you know? If Matty's going monk, then I don't have to turn down the charm anymore just so that he can get laid once in awhile."

"He's so humble," Matt murmurs. "Have you noticed?"

Ben ignores him.

"So we're at this bar, 'cause really, he can't stay in that apartment any longer than the time it takes to sleep and shower, so he has to go out—I don't want you to think he's been out fucking around on you, 'cause I've all but begged him to and he's just been a big old stick in the mud about it—and it's two-for-one night, you know? So Matty's wasted. Wasted off his fucking face, right? And he starts talking about you. 'I miss Eric,' 'Eric's so cute,' 'Eric's so funny.' And that's all fine 'cause, you know, whatever, I'm looking at you and I think he's probably right about that. But then I'm trying to get him to shut up so I can hook up with this cute blond who has this rep for giving the best head in town—after me, of course, because who the fuck is this guy kidding? And Matt's not really listening. And then he starts telling me all this stuff about you, like that your bedroom smelled, and this is a direct quote, 'Coconutty.' And I'm like, 'That's great, Matt. But there's a guy over there with a mouth like a Hoover and I need you so sober up so I can go let him see what he's missing.'"

"This is all lies, by the way," Matt interrupts. "Except possibly for the part about Ben wanting to abandon me half-drunk in a club so that he can get laid."

"It's totally not," Ben promises Eric. "So anyway, he finishes with that and then he's like, 'And his hair, Ben! It feels like roses in my fingers. Roses, Ben. Roses.' And he keeps saying it like he wants me to do something about it. So I have no fucking clue what to do at this point, and then the dumb fuck just passes out right there on my shoulder, so I have to carry him out to my car. So I put him in the backseat with a paper bag at his head 'cause we're friends and friends just don't puke on each other's upholstery. And then I go back inside, find the blond, take him to the back room, and fuck his brains out. And then you know what? Then he blew me. And he wasn't even that good. It was so funny in that ironic sort of way, you know? So then I get back to the car and Matt's still passed out and the whole way to his place, he's back there muttering about how big your dick is or something. I think he was still trying to convince me how awesome you are or something, I don't really know. I just dropped him off with Trey and let him deal with it. I'm a good friend, but I have my limits and I really didn't want to be around for the hangover, if you know what I mean."

"I swear on all that is Python, it's a lie," Matt insists.

"Actually, that sounds about right," Eric teases.

"Oh, fuck you."

"Again?"

Matt sticks his tongue out at Eric and resists the urge to tackle him to the couch and tickle him.

"Anyway," Ben says. "It's totally true. He's all swoony over you, I swear."

"Ugh, stop giving away all my secrets," Matt mutters.

"That one's not so much of a secret," Eric says. "I kind of knew that one already."

"You're cute," Ben observes suddenly, and Matt narrows his eyes.

"Ben, don't you dare."

"What? It was an observation. Jesus, Matt. Can't a guy compliment your little partner over there without you getting jealous?"

"When was the last time you just complimented a guy?" Matt counters.

"Oh, all right. Fair enough. But seriously, threesome? I have condoms." He glances at Eric as he says it, just for a second, but it's enough for them both to notice.

"No thanks," Eric answers. "I...I really don't want to...um. Be with anyone else."

"Oh, all right," Ben huffs. "I guess I get that. But seriously, think about it, kid. I've fucked my share of positive people and it's totally doable. But no pressure. It's not like I'm hard up or anything."

"Okay," Eric answers, but Matt has a feeling that his answer is going to stay the same, at least for a while. "Um, what else has Matt been up to while I was in Conifer?"

"Mostly drinking and dancing and driving me home when I get too wasted to walk. That's pretty much all we do at night. Oh, except every now and then, he tries to drag me to this straight bar on Saturdays that goes kinky on the weekends. I told him if I wanted to see pussy—in any sort of context—I'd go to the pet store."

Matt rolls his eyes. "It's like where we used to go in Colorado Springs and Denver, remember? I—I never do anything, I just...I watch."

"You do?"

"Well, you know...I need ideas."

Eric laughs. "Oh, hell. Why did I get scared when you just said that?"

"Because you're a bad boy," Matt teases.

"Seriously," Ben interjects. "I kind of want to thank you for showing up. He hasn't smiled this much since...since I met him."

"Aw, shucks," Eric jokes, taking Matt's hand in his. "I guess he just loves me or something. Crazy boy."

"Yeah," Matt agrees. He wants to kiss Eric, but he doesn't because he kind of figures if he does, Ben will do something wildly inappropriate like take his dick out. It's seriously entirely possible.

"You two are such freaks," Ben says. "All this love and whip-cracking. Honestly."

"I prefer, 'Delightfully eccentric,'" Eric says. "Unless your name is Mistress Anastasia."

"You have a mistress? What kind of gay homosexual are you?"

"No, I have a Mistress," Eric says. "And she's not really mine. I just see her some times in Colorado Springs at fetish night. And it's not really...a sex thing. Anyway. No, I don't have a mistress and I'm a very gay homosexual. A serious credit to my orientation."

"Yeah, okay," Ben says disbelievingly.

"What, you want me to prove it?"

"If it involves any combination of the three of us engaged in nakedness, then I'm all for it."

Eric rolls his eyes. "On second thought, just trust me."

"But...but my way is funner."

"My way is safer," Eric counters.

Ben asks twice more if they can have a threesome, and Eric says no both times. But finally it's time to head to the club so Ben changes into the outfit Matt made him buy and he drives them back to the apartment so they can change, too.

They're still there when Trey shows up with Toddy so the five of them form a sort of kinky caravan as they make their way to the bar.

Toddy's in some kind of bustier that makes her tits look like they're going to take over her whole body and Trey's in a purple form-fitting outfit that he stole from the wardrobe department of the movie they're shooting in a few months. Ben's in a little leather number Matt helped him pick out because really, he's the only one of them that can actually afford to wear that kind of stuff, so Matt really went gung-ho on it. Matt is shirtless and in a pair of tight pants, with the collar Eric bought him just before he left Colorado locked securely around his neck. And Eric...Jesus. Every time Matt thinks he's got Eric figured out, he does something to surprise him and Matt kind of goes back to that awkward, drooling teenager he once was and wants to flail around all over him as Eric leads him along on a leash into the club.

He feels kind of naked walking in with his shirt off, but inside he feels right at home because there are plenty of people in various states of undress.

"Jesus," Trey whispers. "Matt—is it...is it even safe to be here?"

"Course it is. Why wouldn't it be?"

"Well, they're all kind of...hitting each other. Back in Colorado, we called that spousal abuse."

"This goes on in Colorado, too," Matt tells him. "Just not as...much as here."

"I don't believe that."

"It does. Eric and I used to go all the time."

Trey glances over at them and frowns. "Fuck, will you take him off that leash, now, Eric? He's not your fucking pet."

"Yeah, he is," Eric says, stroking Matt's hair just as Matt says, "Yes, I am."

"No, you're not."

"Bark, puppy," Eric orders, and Matt does.

"Fucking insane," Trey mutters. "Right, Toddy?"

"Bark, puppy," she counters, like she's curious, testing to see if Trey will do it. Trey does nothing. "I said, 'Bark, puppy,' or I'll make you bark."

"Okay, who are you and what did you do with my normally sane girlfriend?"

"This stuff looks fun," she says. "Can't hurt to try, can it?"

"Actually, yes. This stuff looks very painful."

"Oh, come on. Don't be a baby. Matt and Eric do it all the time."

Trey frowns and Matt can tell that one was a blow to his pride.

"Well..."

"Come on. If you really don't like it, we don't have to keep at it. Just a test?"

Trey waivers but when he sees that Matt is letting Eric lead him along into the fray, he frowns and Matt hears him say, "All right."

Matt loses track of Ben as Eric leads him over to a place where there are a lot of ropes laying on the ground underneath a large winch. They've done the tying each other up thing and there was that one time that Mistress Anastasia put Eric in suspension from the ceiling, but Matt's never done it himself.

It takes a lot of messing around and advice from a couple of nice people who know more than the two of them do about it, but they finally get Matt hooked up in a complicated mess of ropes that leave him hanging four feet in the air staring up at the ceiling with his legs up in the air. Eric made him take his pants off, too, so he's just in those dumb little underwear things that Matt thinks of as Speedos even though they're not but that Eric insisted he wear tonight.

Matt can kind of see why, too, because even though he can't see...well, anything, at this angle, he bets his ass looks amazing in them, all stuck out and just waiting for whatever Eric decides to do to it later, whenever he's done with putting the nipple clamps on him.

He hisses as the first one closes, making his nipple throb with all the best kinds of ache, and he squirms unwillingly against his bondage.

"Stop it," Eric says warningly, moving around him to do the other nipple. "Do it again and I'll have to punish you before we even start having fun."

"Sorry," Matt gasps, forcing himself to stay still as the other clamp closes around him. He manages to stay still this time until Eric tugs at the chain connecting them and he wiggles again.

"Bad boy," Eric says harshly. "I told you not to do that, didn't I?"

"Yes, sir," Matt gasps.

Eric tugs on the clamps again and Matt forces himself to remain still.

"Say you're sorry," Eric demands.

"I'm sorry, sir."

He feels something hard poke at his back and trail down his spine, then up the crease of his ass to the back of his thighs. He knows better than to ask what it is, so he tries to remain still and obedient while he waits to find out.

Something delivers a blow to the backs of his thighs, just under the curve of his ass. He gasps, feeling oversensitive, but doesn't move. He doesn't have much room to, anyway, not with all the ropes in his way.

Four more times the unknown object strikes him and each time, he tries and fails to guess what it might be. Things just feel different against that spot, one that Eric usually ignores, so he has no frame of reference to guess what it might be.

He finds out soon enough, however, when Eric brings it up to his face and whispers, "Kiss it," holding the handle out to him.

Matt obeys, kissing the handle, and Eric pets his hair affectionately.

"Have you been a good boy while I was in Colorado?" he asks softly.

"Yeah. Yes."

"You haven't been with other guys?"

"No," Matt insists. "Not even once, sir. I swear."

"I believe you," Eric says. "You're such a good boy for me, Matt."

"Thank you, sir."

Eric kisses him softly, just once, then takes a step back and pushes on Matt's leg, hard.

For a split second, he doesn't know what the hell Eric is doing, and then he goes spinning, hard, around and around in circles until he has to close his eyes to keep from getting dizzy.

He feels a little overwhelmed, not being able to open his eyes and too dizzy to sense where Eric is in relation to his own suspended body. There's also the added element of pain from the nipple clamps and a little soreness from where the rope rubs against his bare skin. And as if all that weren't enough, part of him is convinced that Trey is going to come over and watch this. The horror at that thought alone is enough to make him whimper, but he bites his lip and keeps it in as he finally stops spinning.

He finally feels Eric touch him again, which is good, except he digs his fingers in under the tightness of Matt's underwear and pulls them down enough so that they rest around his thighs. He opens his eyes and tries to look around him, just to see who, if anyone, is watching, but he can't see anyone he knows in his small window of vision, so at least that's a comfort.

He feels something cold and wet press at his entrance and he tries to open his legs wider, but he can't. It pushes inside him and he identifies it as Eric's finger, then wonders if Eric thought to make sure he didn't have any cuts on his hand first. But that thought disappears from his mind quickly because he knows in his gut that Eric did. Eric's more careful than he is most days, and at any rate, this entire thing is based on trust.

He waits for Eric to add another finger, but he doesn't, just fucks him with that one single digit over and over. Matt wonders why for a moment, then realizes that oh, right, there are people watching who he can't see because his window of vision consists mostly of ceiling. His best guess is that Eric's doing it simply because he can, to show himself and whoever his audience may be that Matt will let him do this right here, right now.

He tries to remain still and just let Eric do it, clearing his mind and pretending that it's just the two of them and no, there is no audience and Ben, Toddy, and Trey are definitely not a part of it. It's easier to take it that way, and really, that's all that should matter. Like Mistress Anastasia had told them that first time, it doesn't matter who's watching, only that it pleases Eric.

The finger withdrawals and then Eric moves up to his head, right into his vision.

"How you doing?" he asks, like he's afraid Matt somehow said his safe word and Eric just didn't hear.

"Green," Matt promises him, and Eric nods, back to the Dom instead of just the boyfriend.

He hangs there for a long moment, just suspended and waiting, before Eric brings a riding crop down on his stomach, just above his groin. He moves up Matt's body in quick succession, then around his shoulder and down his back, up his legs as high as he can reach. It brings new sting to the soreness of the ropes and Matt cries out when it touches the spot where Eric used the flogger on him earlier.

He doesn't want to, bites his lip to hold it in, but it's sore and tender there anyway and he's pretty sure Eric did it extra-hard, just to get a rise out of him.

A moment later, there's the sensation of being dropped as he's lowered a few feet down by the winch. He wonders exactly what he needs lowered for, but then something is pressing at him again insistently and it's bigger than a finger.

In his mind's eye, he sees himself very clearly, hanging there with Eric pressing into him. He sees a few people milling around watching, some with more interest than others, and amongst them he sees his friends. Ben looks excited, like now that the fucking part has started, he wants to join in. Toddy looks intrigued, not necessarily because of what they're doing, but because it amazes her that he and Eric are this comfortable with each other. He wonders briefly if Trey let her do anything to him or if he just pussed out, but now's not the time to ask questions. And Trey. Trey looks horrified at the proceedings, like he can't believe he's watching Eric fuck his best friend, much less the situation it's occurring in. He asks Toddy if they can leave, but she says no, so Trey covers his eyes.

He sees is all very clearly in his mind, a crystal picture of his surroundings. And then he erases everything except himself and Eric at the center of the image, and suddenly he doesn't feel nervous anymore.

Eric's fingers dig into his hips, leaving marks and indentations that he knows will last long after Eric leaves for Colorado. He hisses at the pain of Eric's grip and at his intrusion, but wills himself to be good. If he's good, he gets to come at the end of this and he really wants that reward.

Eric uses his grip on Matt's hips to pull him forward, further onto his dick, then push him away, pulling him off it. It makes Matt rock back and forth gently in his ropes, like he's fucking himself on Eric's cock instead of Eric fucking him with it.

The momentum of swinging back towards Eric after being pushed away makes him sink all the way down on it, deeper than he really thought he could handle, and he groans at the feeling, wishing he could do something, could touch or kiss or fucking something other than lie there and take it.

"Are you my little bitch?" Eric asks him, panting with the effort of it all.

"Yes, sir," Matt answers, and he knows that this, too, is for show. It's to prove that he can make Matt admit it in public with people watching, can make Matt acknowledge who they are and what they have.

"Good boy," Eric says. "Such a good boy. So good and hot and tight for me. Yeah. Try to keep me inside you, baby. I know you want me inside you all the time."

"Yes," Matt gasps. "Yes, sir. Yes."

"Do you want to come, boy?"

"Yes, sir. Please, sir?"

"Not yet. I get to come first, don't I?"

"Yes," Matt answers. "Yes, sir."

If Eric was trying to make Matt work harder to get him off, it works, because Matt's all but begging Eric to come, only he's doing it nonverbally. Eric pants and kisses Matt's calf, then bites down onto it and pulls out of him very, very quickly. Matt's pretty sure that means he's coming because that's what he's done the few times they've had sex with Eric on top. After that first time, they were both too freaked out to try it again with him still inside.

He wonders if anyone noticed and if they did, if they wonder why Eric had to pull out of him just to come inside the condom, but he tries not to envision the other people at all.

Eric moves back up to where Matt can see him, then winches him back up another foot and asks, "Do you want to come now?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then ask me to suck your cock. Politely."

"Please suck my cock, sir," Matt shamelessly begs. "Please, sir, please, I need—"

"I know what you need," Eric murmurs. "I always know what you need, don't I?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good boy," Eric says, and disappears out of his vision again.

Eric's mouth wraps around him and he's lucky Matt's in all this bondage because it's really the only thing keeping him from fucking Eric's mouth—no, fuck that, fucking his throat—at this point. He wishes he could say he was good enough that he had that much restraint, but he doesn't. It's just the ropes that keep him from doing it, and he feels ashamed at not being able to do it on his own. He vows to apologize when he can talk to Eric again and take whatever kind of punishment Eric decides to give him, because he just can't stand the knowledge that he's being bad and Eric doesn't realize it.

He comes in Eric's mouth and when Eric returns to his head again, he opens his mouth to tell Eric what he did or, rather, tried to do, but Eric opens his mouth and his own come drizzles down from Eric's mouth into his.

Eric's mouth closes over his own, kissing him and forcing him to take his own come into his mouth. It's not like it's the first time he's tasted his own come before, but once again, Matt knows it's mostly for show.

When they pull apart, mouths still connected by a thin strand of come and spit, he whispers, "I did something bad."

"What? No, you didn't, baby. You've been really good."

"No," Matt insists. "I tried to fuck your mouth when you were blowing me. I couldn't 'cause of the ropes, but I tried."

Eric stares at him for a minute, then touches the side of his face. "And you think you should be punished for that?"

"Yes. I'm not allowed to do that and I tried to and if it hadn't been for the ropes, I would've."

"Okay," Eric says thoughtfully. "What do you think a fitting punishment would be?"

"I—I don't know. You're...you're the boss. You decide."

"No, baby. If you think you need me to punish you to get rid of the guilt, then you have to tell me how you want me to make it go away."

"I—" Matt starts, then stops. A fitting punishment, he thinks, is equal exchange, so he should let Eric fuck his mouth. Except Eric just came so that's not going to work, and even if it did, they'd have to break out another condom and it'd be complicated at this angle just hanging there, so that's pretty much out. "I don't know. Something. I feel bad. Please, sir?"

"I know, Matt. But the thing is, you didn't do anything bad. You didn't fuck my mouth. You just tried. If you hadn't told me this, I wouldn't have even known that."

"But I would've, and I feel so guilty. Please, just...just flog me again? Or...or...I don't know. Something. Use something on me, please? I don't want to feel guilty about it anymore."

"All right," Eric soothes, stroking his thumb across Matt's temple. "But after this, we have to give you a break, all right? You can't stay in the ropes much longer. And I think you need a break from the scene, too."

Matt whimpers as Eric disappears out of his line of sight and prepares himself for the harsh sting of punishment.

Eric doesn't use the flogger very hard this time, or for very long, but he does it right on his sore upper thighs where Matt knows he'll feel it for a long time, then Eric kisses him softly and lowers the winch back to the ground.

He tries to lay still as Eric and a few other people untie him from the ropes, and has to actually be helped to his feet as he stands, unsteady, for a few moments before letting Eric help him into his pants.

They're so tight they hurt against his sore, swollen flesh, but after a few moments of reorienting himself to being vertical, he manages to follow Eric through the crowd to a less populated area.

"You okay?" Eric asks, smoothing his fingers down Matt's bare arms. "What was that there at the end? Something bothering you?"

"No," Matt lies, looking down at the ground between them instead of at Eric. "Just...just felt guilty. Got lost in the scene, that's all."

"You don't usually. I've never even gotten you into subspace before, Matt. And God knows I've tried. So what was that?"

"I...I just...I wanted to fuck your mouth, Eric."

"But you didn't."

"What if those ropes hadn't been there?" Matt asks. "I would've and what if I did it too hard and I did something to the membrane or whatever the fuck it is and then bam, I got it? I keep—fuck, I keep wanting things that are dangerous and I don't get why."

"What kind of things?"

"I...I want...I want to be with you without rubber between us. I want you to fuck me and I want to feel you instead of latex. I want you to come on my face and I want to taste you again. And all those things are stuff we agreed not to do because it's risky, and I really don't want it, Eric. I swear I don't. But I want those things, anyway, and...and I feel guilty for wanting them, like I've got some kind of...some kind of unconscious desire to have it or something, except I don't. But if it's unconscious, then I wouldn't know I had it, and—"

Eric puts his hand over Matt's mouth.

"Matt? Listen to me, okay? I don't want you to feel guilty about wanting that. I want that, too. Does that mean I want to give you this? No, of course not. Because I'm betting that right next to all that stuff is also a want for me not to have this, right?"

Matt nods.

"Well, same here. We both want me not to have it so that we could do those things, if we ever wanted. But wanting to do them now doesn't mean either of us want you to get it, it just means we wish circumstances were different, okay? Do you understand that?"

"I—I guess."

"Then please don't ever ask me to punish you for wanting to be with me again, okay? It makes me uncomfortable, and it's wrong. The only reason I did it just now was because you really, really needed it. But I'm asking you to do whatever it is that you need to do so that you don't need it anymore, all right? Because I won't do it again. I'm not punishing you for wanting me to be healthy. Because that's what this is, Matt. It's not you wanting to be sick, it's you wanting me to be healthy."

"You are healthy," Matt murmurs. "You work out now."

Eric smiles. "You know what I mean."

"Yeah, I know."

"So please don't ask me to punish you for that, okay?"

"Okay."

"Good. Now. Did you want a turn? You can, if you want. I know I went a little overboard with the spectacle in there."

"Yeah, why did you do that?"

Eric's face flushes. "That Ben guy was watching. I guess I was a little jealous that he gets to hang out with you so much and that you had sex with him."

"That was before we were together."

"I know. I just wanted to...claim you in front of him. Stupid, I guess."

"No, it was nice."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. I like being yours."

Eric smiles. "You want to claim me? Or are you too sore?"

"I don't know. Can we watch for awhile and maybe later after I've walked some of it off?"

"Yeah. Sure. What'd you want to watch?"

"Honestly? I'm kind of curious to see what happened to Trey and Toddy."

Eric laughs. "All right. We can go find them." He threads their fingers together and leads Matt through the crowd until they get to a bench with a small crowd around it. They push through towards the front and Matt almost can't believe his eyes.

Trey is naked from the waist down, strapped to a bench on his belly, and his ass has a bright-reddish hue to it. But more than that, it's what Toddy's doing that makes him gasp.

Toddy is finger-fucking Trey and he's actually begging her to be allowed to come from it.

"What kind of bizarro world did I cross into?" he asks Eric. "Or are you seeing the same thing I am?"

"No, I'm seeing it, too," Eric says, sounding astonished. "So we must have crossed into it together."

"Well...as long as we're together," Matt says lightly. "Jesus."

"I don't know if we should be watching this," Eric mutters. "This is beyond..."

"Creepy?"

"Kinda, yeah. I mean...it's Trey. It'd have been like if he and Toddy watched us."

They wander around the club for awhile after that, watching other people play. They find Ben in the back room engaged in a threesome with two beefy leather daddies and leave him be, because honestly, he'd probably cut their dicks off if they disturbed him from that.

Matt never really recovers from the ropes enough to do much to Eric, so he just lets Eric lead him around on the leash for the rest of the night and sticks close.

Finally, they have to get back to the apartment to get some sleep before Eric's appointment in the morning, so they say awkward goodbyes to Toddy and leave Ben to his boys. Trey never comes back to the apartment that night, but Matt has a feeling he's having a good time at Toddy's anyway.




[ Part 5 ]

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