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Title: Mad Season 5/?
Rating: NC-17
Pairing(s): Matt Stone/Eric Stough
Word Count: 10,354
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 to insane hours to write this even when sleep calls my name. ♥

"Hello," Doctor Bright says as he walks into the examination room. "Which one of you is Eric?"

"Me," Eric says, shaking hands with him. "This is my partner, Matt."

"All right," the doctor says, sitting down on his stool and jotting a few things down. "Now, Eric, since this is your first visit, I want to ask you some questions about your health and your lifestyle. The more you can tell me, the better we'll be, because it helps me decide what's the best way to keep you healthy, all right?"

Eric nods. "Sure. Ask away."

"Okay, first off, are you sexually active on a regular basis, and if so, is it within the confines of a monogamous relationship?"

"Yes," Eric answers. "And yes. With Matt."

"All right, and Matt, are you positive, as well?"

"No," Matt tells him. "I'm not the one who gave it to him. It was another guy before we got together."

Doctor Bright jots a few things down at that, then moves on into Eric's medical history. "And would you say you eat right and exercise regularly, Eric?"

"I didn't before," Eric says. "But I have since I got diagnosed. They said it would help with the levels or whatever. I...I got kind of confused, to be honest. They kept telling me one was high, and that was good and the other was low, and that was good, too, and I couldn't figure out which was which."

The doctor gives him a smile. "All right. I'll explain it to you, then. We test for two things. The first is your viral load, or how much of the HIV is in your system. If it's low, which yours is, that's good. The second is your T-cell count, and that's part of your immune system, which the virus can destroy, so we want it to be high. And so far, Eric, your viral load and T-cell count are both at good numbers. I'm actually not going to start you on the anti-virals today."

"You're not?"

"No. I'm going to prescribe some medications to boost your immune system, and I want you to keep active and maintain a healthy lifestyle."

"All right."

"Now, do you have any questions?"

"Yeah," Eric says. "Um. know, Matt's negative, and all, and...and we kind of want to keep it that way, you know? Advice on that?"

"Sure," the doctor says. "Well, first off, the obvious: use condoms. That's for either of you, now, not just Eric. Oral sex is a safer method of making love than anal sex, of course, but make sure there aren't any cuts or recent dental work in the giver's mouth. For extra protection, you can, of course, use a condom there, too, and there are plenty of flavored lubricants on the market to kill the latex taste. And that goes for anal sex, as well. The more lubricant you use, the less likely it is that the condom will tear, which is safer for everyone. Avoid exchanging bodily fluids, by which I mean taking each other's fluids into your body. For instance, if you get one drop of Eric's blood on an unbroken patch of skin, as long as you wash it off quickly with soap and water, you'll be fine. The risk is if Eric's blood actually gets into you, you see?"

"Yeah," Matt says. "That makes sense."

"Now, as for oral, again...there are very few cases of people contracting it from oral sex and most of them involved the giver having cuts in their mouths, so though I wouldn't actually recommend you do it as a doctor, as a person I can tell you if you want to swallow, it's pretty safe. Mutual masturbation is always a good bet, as is kissing, touching, erotic massage...all those things. As long as there isn't an exchange of fluids, pretty much anything is fair game. As I said, wear condoms, use lube, and you're pretty much free to have a normal, active sex life. Oh, and it's safer if the negative person is the top in anal sex, but if you want to do it the other way every now and then, just be sure to follow the condom-and-lube rule, and it's still reasonably safe. You can have a normal life, Eric. You really can."

"I know," Eric answers. "Thanks."

"Reach out to those around you for support when you need it, as well, and there are support groups available to you. I'm sure I can find one in Colorado near you. Speaking of which, one last question. While I'm happy to be your specialist here in L.A., you do need to have a doctor near you who knows about your situation to treat you when I'm not there. Do you have someone like that? A family doctor perhaps?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I've got a doctor."

"Fantastic. If you could just leave their information with the front desk so that I can get into contact with them, that would be great. So, do you have any other questions? Concerns? Comments?"

"No," Eric says. "I think I'm good."

"All right. Then I'll see you again in three months."

Eric smiles and starts leading Matt along the hallway back to the front desk. They stop there so that Eric can pay for the visit and receive his prescriptions, and Matt spots Doctor Bright down the hallway.

"I'll be right back," he whispers to Eric, and catches up to the doctor.

"Oh, hello, Matt. Something I can help you with?"

"Yeah. I just...I was wondering if you had any information about...about couples like us. You know, where I'm negative and he's positive? 'Cause I get all the safe sex and stuff, but there's like...other stuff, too, you know? Like...guilt and...and worry and...and stuff."

"Well..." Doctor Bright says thoughtfully, "I'm not a psychologist, and this would really be more their area. However, I do have a few pamphlets I can give you, and if you do decide to seek therapy, I can make recommendations."

"I—I don't think we need therapy. Just...can I have the pamphlets?"

Doctor Bright smiles. "Of course. One moment."

He returns a minute later with a small pile of papers and hands them over. "This is all I have on-hand, but if you ever do decide you need someone to talk to, I'm happy to give you a list of good psychologists who can handle your situation. All you need to do is call the office."

"Thanks," Matt says gratefully, then rejoins Eric at the desk.

"What was that about?"

"Nothing," Matt says, touching Eric's hair softly. "Just wanted to say thanks."

"Oh. Okay. Well, I can go now."


Matt tucks the papers into his pocket discreetly and threads his fingers through Eric's. "Home?" he asks, and Eric laughs.

"Yeah. To the apartment. Home."


"I don't want to sound like a queer or nothing, but I'd kinda like to make love to you tonight," Matt murmurs over the phone.

"What?" Eric asks. "Matt, I'm in Colorado."

"I know. Trey wants me to say it."

"To me?"

"No, to him."


"It's a line from the movie," Matt says. "Didn't you even read the script we sent you? You're driving out here tomorrow."

"I don't have any lines," Eric says. "Why would I read it? All Trey said I had to do was stand there and let Chris pat me down and then kiss me."

"I really don't like that part," Matt says.

Eric chuckles in his ear. "Jealous?"

"Fuck yes."

"And just think. Tomorrow we're going to be in a car together for hours. We might decide to pull off to the side of the road and rehearse."

"Rehearse with me."

"Oh, I intend to. And stuff that's not even in the script, too. I want to try out my improv skills while I'm out there being an actor and all."

"Seriously, I want to like...kill Trey for putting that in the script."

"Oh, come on. It's funny."

"I still don't want to watch some other guy kiss you."

"Then don't watch. Besides, you know I wouldn't do it in real life. You're the only one who gets to kiss me for real. And it's only like...a one-second kiss. And there's no tongue."

"Are you trying to convince me or you, here?"

"Both, I think. I just don't want you to be upset about it. 'Cause if you're upset about it then I really will feel like I'm cheating on you 'cause I'm doing something you don't want me to do. And it's just a quick little kiss and then it's over and you get to do a lot more to me than Chris does."

"All right," Matt sighs into the phone. "But I'm punching him if he gets fresh."

"You're going to punch a cop to defend my non-existent honor?"

"It's not non-existent. Don't talk about yourself like that."

"You are so jealous," Eric says lightly, with laughter in his voice.

Matt groans. "I know. How did you do this to me? How did you make me into this guy?"

"I don't know. Didn't mean to. Anyway, I need to get to bed. Chris wants to leave early tomorrow."

"All right. See you then."

"Good night, Matt."

"Night, Eric."

Eric arriving the next day is awesome, even if he does smack Matt on the arm when he notices Matt glaring at Chris.

"Stop that," he demands. "Chris is our friend."

"I know," Matt answers. "Doesn't mean I have to be happy."

"Aw. You want me to cheer you up?" Eric teases.

"Depends on how you're gonna do the cheering."

"Well, I've got a sexy little uniform—"

"Oh, you do not."

"I don't, but I could get one."

"Don't. I don't care what you're wearing. In fact, I like it better when you're not wearing anything at all."

"That could be arranged."

Matt kisses him, soft and sweet, just once, then says, "Tonight. After we're done filming, I want to fuck you."


"Think we can convince Chris to get the hell out of your hotel room?"

"I think if we can't, we should start doing it anyway, and then he'll get the hell out on his own."

Matt laughs, his forehead pressed against Eric's. "You know we got picked up for a series last week, right?"


"And we need a director of animation."


"And you know about that stuff."



"I have a job. A stable job. And an apartment."

"So come get an apartment with me. You said you wanted to be brave and try to be an animator. Well, I'm handing you the job on a silver platter here."

"Matt...I...I have a life in Colorado."

"And you have a life with me."

"And...and we've only been dating for..."

"A year, Eric. And that's not even counting college. And I'm asking you to move out here and be with me and I get that that's scary, but...this is your dream job. And more than that, there's...there's better doctors out here. Doctor Bright is here. And...and if you were here we wouldn't have to be apart so much. And...and we could live together and—"

"This is crazy," Eric mutters. "This is fucking crazy."

"What's crazy about that?"

"It''s too soon, isn't it? For us're asking me to move to California for you."

"Technically I'm asking you to move to California to take an awesome job that you've always wanted to do. The being with me part is just a bonus. And...and if living together makes you uncomfortable, then all right, I can keep rooming with Trey and Jason."

"I's a big...step."

"And it's one I told you I was ready to take a year ago when I promised you a lifetime. I did mean this one, you know. Not the next one."

"Can I think about it? I need to think about it."

"Yeah, I guess. If you need time, I get that."

Eric frowns at him, then kisses him again. "Okay."

"Okay what?"

"Okay, I thought about it."

Matt laughs. "That's it? All that arguing and two seconds of thought and—"

"No. You're right. I mean...I don't know how long—how long I have, so I should cram everything in and—"

"Jesus, Eric," Matt says, covering Eric's mouth with his hand. "Don't...don't talk like that. And don't do it if that's the only reason you have."

"It's not the only reason," Eric says. "I mean...I do love you. And I do want to be with you more. And I really want that job. But I have to be honest, Matt. If I didn't have this? I don't know that I'd be ready to move in with you yet. I don't know that I'd be ready to move away from my home to be with anyone, yet. Having makes me feel...impulsive. Like I want to make sure I don't have any regrets. I don't want to be on my deathbed thinking about how I should've taken a
chance, you know? So...yes, it is part of the reason I'm saying yes, because I don't want that regret hanging over me. But no, it's not the only reason. I love you and...and being here with you makes sense, especially with the job and the doctors and everything you said."

"And you're sure?"

"Yeah. I'm sure."

Matt nods. "I...I'm really glad you said that."

"I...I think I'm glad, too. Or I will be, once the shock wears off."

"Come on. We have to go film everyone having orgasms."

"I can make yours more realistic, if you want."

"Yeah. I'm sure Trey would like that."

"He's dedicated to his art. He just wants the best shot possible," Eric teases.

Later that night, after Matt has filmed his orgasm scene without Eric's special brand of assistance, he stands off to the side, just behind the camera, watching as Chris and Eric prepare to film their scene. He really doesn't appreciate it when Trey graphically demonstrates what he wants Chris to do to Eric, but he reminds himself that Chris and Trey are straight and his jealousy is irrational.

Still, he can't actually watch the first take.

"Stop being a baby," Trey tells him as they wait for the shot to be reset. "There's not even tongue."

"You wait until we film the scene with Dian all over Toddy. See how you like it."

Trey frowns. "Shut up." He turns back to the set and calls action, and this time Matt's able to watch the beginning, but he still has to look away when the kiss.

"You get one more take," he tells Trey. "One more, and I swear to God, that's it."

"Um, professionalism, anyone?"

"Don't care. This is hell. This is my definition of hell. I had to see him with other guys in college, I'm not doing it again now, even for a movie. One take. Period."

"'s pretend."

"Seriously, Trey. I don't care. Being with other guys is what got him sick. I don't like this."

"All right," Trey sighs. "We've almost got enough coverage of it, anyway."

"Good," Matt answers, crossing his arms across his chest and looking away as they shoot the last take.

As soon as Trey calls cut, Matt takes Eric off to the side and kisses him roughly.

"Hey," Eric says. "Come on. Don't be like that."

"Don't like it," Matt says again.

"I know. But I'm with you now, aren't I?"

"Yeah," Matt agrees. "Want to go back to your hotel room?"

"What, you don't want to stay and watch the rest of filming?"

"Not even a little bit, no."

"You do realize that I didn't get jealous when you went to a porn set, right?"

Okay. Fair point. Eric is far less jealous than Matt is, and really, good for him. But honestly, how can Matt not be upset when the last time Eric was with someone other than him, he got HIV?

"I know," he answers. "I just...don't like it."

"Okay," Eric soothes. "We can go back to the room if you really want."

"I really want."

"Want me?"

"Always," Matt answers, and twenty minutes later, they fall onto Eric's bed, Matt straddling him and rubbing their groins together. Eric barely got his clothes off before Matt couldn't take it anymore and had to have him, and the delicious slide of Eric's cock against his stomach is enough to make Matt groan.

"Chris is going to be back soon," Eric murmurs as he threads his fingers into Matt's hair. Matt sucks at his collarbone, leaving a mark, and thrusts his cock along Eric's hip.

"He can wait in the hall," he answers.

"Yeah," Eric laughs, pulling Matt's head up to his and kissing him. "But we need to slow down, okay? Condoms, lube, any of this ringing a bell?"

Matt groans and rolls off of him, hand automatically going to touch himself. Eric smacks it away and says, "That's mine. Don't touch it."

Matt whimpers. "Tell me you brought stuff."

"I did. But you're not asking for it very nicely."


Eric tosses him a condom and watches as he rolls it on, then slicks him up as he straddles Matt's lap.

Matt watches as Eric fucks himself open with first one, then two fingers, bouncing slightly on his lap as he rides them. He kisses Eric's shoulder and runs one hand down Eric's back, holding it there to keep him balanced.

"He kiss better than me?"

"Huh?" Eric asks. "Who, Chris?"


"That wasn't a kiss, that was like...a peck or something."

"Fine, he peck better than me?"

"Yeah. He's a real pecker, all right."

"I'm serious."

"Baby, it wouldn't matter if he was the best kisser in the world, I'm with you."

"I know, but..."

"Do you see me asking about Ben? Or any of the other guys you were with out here in L.A. before we started dating? No. Because you're with me and that must mean you like me more than those other guys. Well, I'm with you. So what does that mean?"

"I know, but—"

"Matt, Chris is one of my oldest friends and I love him to death, I really do. But he's not you."

Matt can't really come up with words to answer that so he kisses Eric instead and groans as Eric sinks down onto him, trying to keep them both balanced.

He's not sure why he feels jealous because Eric hasn't given him any reason to be since they got together, but he does and a part of him thinks of it as reclaiming Eric as his own.

He can't taste anything different in Eric's kiss, but he imagines that he can, and runs his tongue along Eric's lips, cleaning away every last trace of Chris's kiss before wrapping his hand around Eric's dick and letting Eric fuck his hand.

"Mine," he says, feeling stupid.

"Yeah," Eric agrees. "Yours. Matt...Matt, come on. Harder."

He fucks harder, tightens his grip on Eric's cock, and kisses his neck.

"When we have our own place, we won't have to worry about getting interrupted," he murmurs.


"And we can do this whenever we want. Where ever we want."


"And I can come up with ways to make you scream, can't I?"

"Yeah, Matt. Yeah. Jesus, please...I need—"

"Tell me what you need."

"Need more," Eric begs. "Please? Need..." He groans and pushes Matt backwards, then rolls them over so that Matt is on top of him. "Fuck me," he begs. "I can't—I can't get it right like that."

"Shh," Matt tells him, fucking into him slow and deep. "It's okay, Eric. Just breathe, okay? You're gonna stroke out if you keep panting like that."

Eric smacks at his arm helplessly. "God, Matt. I just..."

"I know. It's all right. I know what you need."

He knows he can't last much longer like this so he jerks Eric off faster, trying to bring him off first, trying to give him what he wants. Eric gasps and lifts his hips to meet Matt, both of them not knowing how much longer they might have.

Eric buries his face against Matt's neck and comes on their stomachs, gasping and chanting Matt's name. Matt doesn't make it much longer and then they have to clean themselves up and get dressed before Chris gets back.

When they're dressed, they settle back on the bed and Eric asks, "So when do we start production?"

"Well, we wrap Orgazmo at the end of November, and then we go into production on South Park. And I have no fucking clue how we're going to do it and film BASEketball come January, but..."

"Yeah, speaking of which, I'm not the only one who has to kiss other guys around here."

"Oh, come on. It's Trey."

"Oh, come on. It was Chris."


"But nothing. Your kiss has tongue in it and everything."


"See? Exactly."

"But it's Trey. I haven't wanted him since...since or something."

"I never wanted Chris at all."

"Well...Trey has a girlfriend."

"So does Chris."


"You're really not getting out of this one, Matt. Face it: I win."

"Actually, I think, 'Lose,' would be more accurate."

"Fair enough," Eric admits. "But yours is way worse than mine."

"It's not like I want to do it."

"And I didn't want to kiss Chris. You're just too jealous for your own good is all."

"Well, sorry if it's hard for me to watch someone else dry hump you."

Eric laughs. "Don't be sorry. It's cute."

"It is not."

"Yes, it is," Eric assures him. "Well, as long as you don't go all domestic violence with it. That would suck. But as long as you don't do that, it's fucking adorable."

"What happened to sexy? I used to be sexy."

"And now you're just cute. Poor thing."

"I know, right?"

Eric pets his hair and kisses him again, and Matt's just about to try to find out if he can possibly get it up again this soon when the door opens and Chris walks in.

Eric rolls off of him, wipes the back of his mouth, and says, "Hi, Chris."

"Hey. Uh...sorry. Didn't mean to interrupt."

"Oh, it's fine. You didn't. We weren't—"

"Now," Matt interrupts, "don't lie to the man. We were. We absolutely were."

Eric smacks him softly on the arm. "Don't be a dick."

"Excuse me for being honest."

"Uh, I can crash at Trey and Jason's," Chris says. "If you two want the room."

"That's really not necessary," Eric says.

"Sure it's not," Matt chimes in. "As long as you don't mind watching, that is."

"Yeah, I'm going to Trey's. Just let me grab my bag from the bathroom."

"Matt," Eric says, "we can't kick Chris out of the room. It's his room, too."

"You kiss my boyfriend, you get kicked out of the room that night so I can have sex with him. That's just the way it is."

Eric rolls his eyes. "Really. We can't do this."

"We can," Matt promises him. "And if you won't do it, then I will."

"Yeah, I see you doing it already."

"Well, I wanted you to do it, but—"

"Would you stop? Chris is coming back."

Matt sighs. "You're no fun, Eric. No fun at all."

"I'm fun," Eric says, sticking out his lower lip in a half-pout that makes Matt want to bite it. "I'm incredibly fun. But this is Chris's room, too, and it's just rude to kick him out."

"It's also rude to interrupt other people during sex."

"We weren't having sex. We were making out."

"Fine, whatever. Still rude."

When Chris waves an awkward goodbye to them and leaves, Matt all but tackles Eric to the bed.



"You don't think we should get some sleep? You have an early call tomorrow and I have to drive back to Colorado."



"This is me not caring about that."

Eric laughs, giving in, and finally lets Matt make love to him again.


Matt sighs sleepily and rolls over, groping blindly for Eric and coming up empty.

He grunts, angry that Eric went surfing—again—even though Matt has begged him countless times not to.

Sure, Eric has a fair point about it getting him in good shape and it's not like Matt doesn't appreciate the muscles forming from the work out, but it's dangerous and it bothers him that Eric does it more than it should.

He sits up, rubs at his eyes, and pushes the covers off, heading towards the shower. They have to be at work in an hour and a half and Eric will need to wash the salt off his skin before they go, so he might as well get his shower over with now while he can.

He's threatened more than once to tie Eric up overnight so that he couldn't leave in the morning to go surfing, but he's never actually done it yet and part of him truly thinks he should.

He gets the whole, "I'm only going to live once," philosophy Eric has adopted since testing positive, but there's a difference between seizing the day and just being stupid, and Matt's pretty sure Eric is doing the second one.

He hears the phone ring just as he's finishing his shower, so he wraps a towel around his waist and snatches up the extension they keep in the bedroom.


"Mister...Matt Stone?"

"Uh, yes."

"This is Doctor Field at Cedars Sinai hospital. I'm calling about Eric Stough. He has you listed as his next of kin and we've just admitted him. If you could come down to fill out some paper work and—"

Matt drops the phone and throws on the closest shirt he can find, then tugs on a pair of jeans without stopping to look for underwear. He doesn't even bother with shoes and socks, either, just grabs the pair of sandals Eric insisted made him look Californian but which he actually hates.

He grabs his keys and is out the door and into Eric's car, speeding along towards—fuck, what hospital was it? Oh, right—Eric, trying not to vomit.

It can't be happening already. It's only been two years since Eric became positive. He was prepared for this, sure, but in the future. Doctor Bright still says that Eric's viral load and T-cell count are good and hasn't even put him on anti-virals yet. They've been doing so fucking good and now that filming for BASEketball is over and they can just concentrate on the show and each other, life has been so much easier on them both. So it can't happen now, it just can't, because Matt's really not ready for it to.

Tears well up in his eyes and he brushes them away angrily because he can't do this now. He can't cry because when he walks into that room and the doctors tell him that Eric is sick and it's turned into full-blown AIDS, he has to be strong and hold Eric's hand and tell him it's okay. He has to be that guy, the one who stays stoic and optimistic, and he can't do that if he's crying like a fucking baby.

He slams the car into a parking spot and takes off into the entrance as fast as he can go, following the signs to the emergency room. When he gets there, he explains to the desk clerk who he is and is directed to a room on the fourth floor instead. Cursing under his breath, he runs up the stairs and down the corridor, slowing to a halt outside the room with a little marker on it claiming, "Stough, E."

He throws the door open without knocking and runs to the far side of the room, throwing back the curtain and staring down at Eric, lying in the bed with his eyes closed and a large gash with stitches in it across his head.

"Eric?" he says, shaking him gently. ", wake up. Come on. Wake up for me. Please?"

Eric's eyes slowly blink open, and he smiles dazedly. "Matt?"

"Yeah, Eric. Yeah. What happened?"

"I hit my head," Eric answers, then winces. "Ow. It hurts."

"Do you want me to go find a nurse? See if we can get you some pain meds?"

"No. They should be back any time now. I guess I just drifted off."

"You probably shouldn't. Have they checked you for a concussion yet? How'd you hurt your head? Did you fall off your board or something?"

"One question at a time," Eric moans. "I can't keep up with all that."

"Sorry," Matt says, grabbing a chair and sitting down, taking one of Eric's hands in his. He's got an IV in and Matt's careful not to disturb it as he kisses the back of Eric's hand. "Start with how you got hurt."

"Fell off my board. Got stupid. Hit my head on it as I went down. They said I don't have a concussion, but they won't let me go home 'cause they're afraid I might get an infection and...and you know."

"Eric, I told you not to surf."

"It's not the surfing's fault. I just got cocky and careless."

Matt sighs. "Eric—"

"Look, we can have this argument some other time when I'm not hooked up to a tube. For now can you just go fill out the paperwork and stuff? I did the best I could but I'm a little...frazzled or something. I can't really concentrate long enough to do it."

"Yeah, I can do it. Are you sure you don't want me to see about getting you some pain meds?"

"Yeah. I'll be fine."

"All right," Matt answers, then kisses him, careful not to disturb the tubes. He tastes like salt water and Matt makes a face at the bitterness as he pulls away, then heads back into the hallway to find the nurses' station.

They hand him a stack of paperwork but let him go back to Eric's room to do it, so he props his feet up on Eric's bed and uses his knees as a desk while he writes, occasionally asking Eric questions he doesn't know the answer to yet.

When he's finished, he takes the papers back to the station, calls Trey to let him know what's going on, and an hour or so later, Eric's doctor drops in to check on him.

"Hello," she says kindly. "How are you feeling, Eric?"

"His head hurts," Matt answers.

"Well," she says thoughtfully, "we can up your dosage slightly and still be within a good range. Now, I've talked to Doctor Bright because I'm not a specialist in your condition, so I want you to know that he's approved the medicines we have you on as safe for your immune system, okay?"

"Thanks," Eric says. "Um, what about my other medicine? I usually take them at breakfast so I hadn't taken them when I got hurt."

"We've administered a dosage of that to you since it's so important that you keep on schedule with that, but tomorrow we'd like for you to go back to your normal prescription, so can your partner bring that in for you?"

"Yeah, sure," Matt says. "Um, how long is he going to be in here?"

"Well, we want to make sure that wound doesn't get infected, so we're going to be keeping him for a few days, but you should know that it's mostly as a precaution. We got it sewn up quick and we have him on some antibiotics now to prevent it."

"He worries," Eric says with a slight smile.

"Someone has to," Matt huffs. "Without me worrying about you, you'd just surf all the time and we see where that got you."

"I hit my head. Once."

"So far."

Eric rolls eyes. "Seriously, just ignore him. He's a big worry wart."

The doctor chuckles, then glances over Eric's chart. "Well, unless you have any questions, all we have to do now is wait to make sure you don't get an infection. I'll have a nurse come by and up your pain meds dosage."

"Thanks," Eric answers and she waves them goodbye.

"I'm not a worry wart," Matt says under his breath, but Eric hears him anyway.

"Yeah you are, baby. But it's cute."

Matt swallows. "Eric...I was so scared. The entire drive here I kept picturing—" He shakes his head. "It doesn't matter. Point is, hell yeah, I worry. I want to keep you around, you know."

"I know," Eric says, more serious now. "You should go to work."

"What? No, it's fine."

"They need you."

"You need me more."

"Matt, I'm just sitting here waiting to be released in a few days. I'm not sick, I'm not even in that much pain, and most likely I'm not going to develop an infection. So go on, okay? Do your job."

"My job is to be with you."

"Matt—I'm just going to be sitting here for days. It'll be boring."

"Don't care. I told Trey I wasn't coming in today, anyway. I'm staying with you."

"What are you going to do, sleep in that chair?"

"If I have to."

"Now you're just being stubborn."

"Says the guy who wouldn't listen to me about how dangerous surfing was."

Eric huffs but Matt kisses the frown off his face and gets a washcloth from the bathroom, using it to wipe the salt away from the parts of him that he can reach.

"You really don't need to—" Eric says.

"Do you want one of those nurses to come in here and do it? 'Cause they won't be as gentle as I am."

"I think I could handle a rough scrubbing."

"I think you need a rough scrubbing," Matt says, raising his eyebrow at Eric. "Seriously. Someone's pissy and it's not me."

"Well, I'm in pain and the nurse still hasn't came in and upped my dosage."

"Fine, but that's no reason to be grumpy with me and try to throw me out. You got another live-in boyfriend coming to visit you in an hour or something?"

"Nope. Just a sexy Latin lover."

"Ugh, don't even joke about that."

"Who's joking?"

"You better be."

"I love the jealous thing. Seriously, it's so cute."

"Yeah, well. It's not my fault I love you so damn much."

"I take full blame," Eric agrees, taking Matt's hand in his. "I'm sorry I was being a dick. I just...don't want you to feel like you have to take care of me. You're my partner, not my parent."

"I don't feel like I have to," Matt promises. "I feel like I want to."

Eric nods. "Okay. If you're really sure."

"I am, Eric. You know me. When was the last time I did something because I had to?"

Eric smiles. "Yeah, okay. Fair point."

"Exactly. So will you relax and just...let me worry and let me sit here with you all day for no reason other than I want to? Please?"

Eric sighs. "Yeah. Okay. But don't try to do everything for me. I can, believe it or not, do things like sit up by myself."

"All right. Fair enough."

"I do like that you love me enough to, though," Eric adds after a moment. "It's...nice."


"Yeah. Nice. I mean...I don't know what I'm saying."

"You're so funny."

"How am I funny?"

"You can never just say, 'Gee, thanks, Matt. Thanks for taking care of me.' You have to be all cranky about it."

"I'm not cranky."

"You are. But it's cute."

Eric huffs. "So what are we going to do all day? Besides make fun of each other, obviously."

"Well...the gift shop probably has a deck of cards."

"We're going to play cards all day?"

"Unless you had a better idea."

Eric shakes his head. "No. Nothing better."

So that's what they do. Matt sits at Eric's bedside all day playing cards, then runs home to get Eric's medicines and some clean clothes when Eric drifts off to sleep at around ten. He sleeps in the chair by the bed that night, and reluctantly allows Trey to drag him to work when he swings by in the morning to see Eric.


Matt calls Eric's parents from his office that day to let them know what happened. It's weird how he's never met them in person, but they know him so well. He's that crazy, wonderful boy who loves their son no matter what and who dragged him out to California and got him the best medical treatment he could find.

"Hi, Dorothy," he says into the phone, waving off Trey's shouts of, "Hi, Mrs. Stough!"

"Oh, Matt, hello. This is a nice surprise. What's got you calling me? Is everything okay?"

"Well, yes and no. Eric's fine, there's no need to worry about that, but yesterday morning, he was out surfing—"

"Again? I thought we all decided that was too dangerous?"

"Believe me, I know. I've begged him not to go. And anyway, he fell off his board and hit his head on it as he went down and had to be hospitalized. He's completely fine—didn't even get a concussion—but because it was an open wound and they had to sew it back together and...and with him being positive, and all, they decided to keep him as a precaution to make sure it doesn't get infected. I spent all day with him yesterday and he's talking and playing cards and everything, but I had to come back to work today so he's alone. And he's going to be in there for at least three more days, so I was wondering if you and Phil wanted to come in to see him? I'll pay for your plane tickets and everything. I just don't want him there alone all day. He's got to be bored out of his mind."

"He's in the hospital?" she asks.

"Yeah. He's totally fine, though. But yeah."

"That's scary," she says softly. "And...and everything else is fine? It's just that they don't want him to get an infection? His T-cells and his viral load? They're good?"

"Yeah. They checked it yesterday and Doctor Bright stopped by after he left his office to check on him. He's really good about stuff like that."

"Okay," she says thoughtfully. "Yes. I—if you're sure, I really do think Phil and I should be there."

"Of course I'm sure."

She tells him what a good boy he is then, how thoughtful and kind, and how she "just doesn't know" what Eric would've done in the last two years without him.

To be honest, Matt's not sure how he'd have gotten through the last two years without Eric, either. Maybe he's helped Eric with his illness, but all the time he spent miserable in L.A. was made better by knowing that he had a boyfriend to eventually come home to, whenever they could manage to meet up. He needs Eric just as much or possibly more than Eric needs him, and he knows it because the moment he got the phone call yesterday, the entire world seemed to stop spinning until he saw Eric again and knew that he was okay.

He books them the first flight out of Denver and by the time he gets to Eric's hospital room that evening after work, they're already there.

He hesitates in the doorway for a moment before clearing his throat and stepping inside.

"Hey," Eric says, smiling and holding out a hand to Matt.

"Hey," Matt replies, threading his fingers through Eric's. "How are you feeling?"

"Same as yesterday," Eric says with a shrug. "Little better mood, though. I can't believe you flew my parents out here." He pauses. "Oh. This is my mom and dad. Dorothy and Phil."

"You don't need to introduce us," Dorothy says, and pulls Matt into a hug.

"Hi," he says weakly.

"How's the show?" Eric asks.

"It's good," Matt says, wiggling out of Dorothy's arms. "Uh, me and Trey are covering for you and everyone's really nervous 'cause we premier next week, you know? But yeah, it's good."

"I hate that I'm stuck here over a stupid fictional infection. I'm fine."

"Now, Eric," Phil says. "If the doctors think you should be here, then you should be here."

"Even Doctor Bright says you need to be here," Matt points out.

"Doesn't mean I like being cooped up," Eric says.

"At least you've got company," Dorothy says, and that gets a small smile from Eric.

"Yeah. That's true, I guess."

Even though he doesn't want to, Matt agrees to sleep at home. It's mostly to give Dorothy and Phil time alone with their son, but also because he's trying to not smother Eric like he seems to think Matt wants to do.

Except then the next day he stops in on his way to work and Eric keeps trying to get him to leave before the doctor comes.

"What's wrong?" he asks. "What, she gonna give you some kind of embarrassing exam that you'd rather I not witness or something? 'Cause wherever she's gonna stick her finger, I've probably already had mine there—"

"No," Eric says, eyes darting to the door. "Just go on, you need to get to work. Premier next week and um. Go."

"Eric...what's wrong?"

Eric looks over his shoulder, panicked, and Matt turns to find one of the nurses coming in with a bag of medicine that she quickly starts attaching to his IV.

"Um, excuse me," he asks. "What is that?"

"Oh," she says kindly as she attaches the bag to the pole, "it's for the infection."

"You mean to prevent it?"

She looks at him, confused, "No, for the one that just developed."

Eric buries his face in his hands.

"He...he got an infection?"

"Just a small one," she assures him, and Matt realizes that either this nurse hasn't read Eric's chart and doesn't know he's positive, or has and just doesn't fucking get it.

"Eric," he says, angry now that he realizes this is why Eric wanted him to leave.

The nurse looks back and forth between them, then seems to decide she doesn't want to be in the middle of this and leaves.

"It's just a little one," Eric says.

"There's not such thing with little when it comes"

"Oh, say it. When it comes to HIV."

"Fine," Matt says. "When it comes to HIV. You don't think I needed to know this?"


"Eric...come on. I'm your partner. I deserve to know."

"You worry too much."

"Because I love you so damn much," Matt shouts. "God, can't you get that? I worry because I have to. Because I love you so much that I promised you a lifetime. Because I want that lifetime to be for all of mine, too, and not just yours. And that means keeping you safe and whole and god fucking damn it, Eric. Why do I have to fight you every step of the way? It's been like this since fucking college and...and I thought things would be different now."

Eric swallows and twists his hands together without looking at Matt. "I'm sorry. I just...I don't want this to stop your life, too."


"You should be at work, Matt. You really should, and I'm not saying that to push you away. I'm saying it because most people our age should be at work right now. Well, all right, I'm sick and I can't do my job right now, and that really fucking sucks. But when this stupid...this fucking illness...when my mistake holds you back from having a normal life, from going to work and going out and having fun, and you have to spend it sitting in the hospital with me...don't you get how that hurts me? How I feel like I'm holding you back? And you can say that you want to take care of me all you want, but it doesn't change the fact that I'm holding you back. It just doesn't."

Matt stands, stunned, for a moment, before grabbing one of the chairs and pulling it up to Eric's bedside, dropping into it and taking Eric's hand in his.

"'re're not holding me back."

"Yes, I am."

"No, you're not. Don't you see? In pushed me away. You told me to go out and have fun. But what you didn't get was that being with you was what was fun to me. It's the same way now. I hate that you're sick, you know that I do, but if my choices are going out drinking with Trey and sitting here in a hospital room with you all night, I'm picking you every time. Not because I feel guilty or pity you or anything like that, but because if we were locked in a padded room together for the rest of eternity, as long as I was with you, I'd be happy. You make me happy, Eric. You are what I call having a fun, happy life. Don't you get that? It's always been like this and I keep trying to make you see it, and you don't."

"I know you say that, but—"

"Eric," Matt says, almost begging Eric to believe him now, " you even realize our two-year anniversary is in two months?"

"It is?"

"Yes. And you've been positive that entire time, and not for one second have I felt like you were holding me back. Have I done something to make you think you were? Because you're not. You''re doing the opposite, Eric. I feel like I'm living when I'm with you, not the other way around."

Eric squeezes Matt's hand and pulls it into his lap, running his fingers over each of Matt's.

"What are you thinking?" Matt asks after Eric's been silent for too long.

"I..." Eric starts, then sighs. "I'm thinking...that this medicine is making me sleepy."

"I meant about what I said."

Eric swallows. "I think you're either a really good liar or I don't have as much shit luck as I thought."

Matt stands and leans close, kissing Eric softly and taking both sides of his face in his hands.

"I'm not much of an actor, Eric. I couldn't have pretended for this long and still have people buying it."

"I know," Eric admits. "But...doesn't that scare you? Ever?"

Matt frowns thoughtfully as he sinks back into his seat. "What do you mean scare me? Why would it scare me?"

"Because...because you're twenty-six years old and I'm twenty-eight and...and you're already talking about lifetimes."

"My parents were married before they turned twenty-five," Matt answers. "So were Trey's. And Trey would've married Liane when he was twenty if he hadn't caught her cheating."

"Yeah, my parents married young, too, but—"

"But what? Just because we've both got dicks, we can't be committed?"

"That's not what I'm saying," Eric says. "I just..."

"You just what?"

"Do you even realize that until you, I'd never had a serious relationship? I was all about fucking around and I figured one day when I hit forty or something and got too old to hang out in bars sleeping with whoever all the time, then I'd figure out the settling down thing. But then...but then I got hit by a curve ball, Matt."

"Testing positive?"

"No. Meeting you. And it scares the shit out of me sometimes that you make me want to be committed when I'm this young. I had planned on another twelve years of screwing around and then...then there was you. And it scares me, Matt. It fucking terrifies me that in like...two years or something, you took me from that guy to this one."

"All right," Matt says. "So you're scared. Fine. I get that, Eric. I really do. But settling down isn't a bad thing. What's bad about knowing you have someone to come home to? About knowing that there's always someone waiting for you who loves you and wants to share his life with you? And if it comes down to sex, then what the hell's wrong with knowing where your next orgasm is coming from, either?"

"It's—it's not bad, it's just...terrifying. It's like I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, or for you to push me past my limits and I don't want that to happen."

"What limits?"

"Okay, fine, a for instance. I say I'm scared that you talk about a lifetime together, and the first thing out of your mouth is marriage. I mean, Christ, Matt. We've only been together two years and you're throwing the M-word around."

"I wasn't saying we should, I was just saying—"

"I know what you're saying, but it's scary, Matt. It's scary to think that you have those kinds of thoughts already."

Matt sighs. "Eric...two years as a couple and a year before that sleeping together isn't, 'already.' It's me loving you. It's me loving you so much that I want to spend our lives together and wanting those lives to start as soon as possible. And...and Eric...what, do you want me to wait ten years? In ten years, you—"

"Might not be here," Eric supplies angrily. "Yeah. I know. I'm a ticking time bomb. Fine. But maybe it's been two years for you, but to me, it seems like it's hardly been a day. Everything is happening so fast, Matt. I keep trying to hold onto time because I know I don't have much left, and it's gone by so fast that I look back and I can't believe it all. It's scary, Matt. It's scary to have time fly by me this fast when all I want to do is stop and savor it. And now you're trying to push it past faster and that's terrifying to me."

"I don't want time to go faster. I want to savor it, too. But I want to do that with you. I want to know you're my partner and you're happy to be with me. If you never want to get married, then...okay, I guess I can live with that, but I need you to be my partner, Eric. And some days, it really does feel like you are. It's like you're right there with me and you love me back just as much as I love you, and then some days, like today, and it's usually when you're sick or we're talking about your illness, you pull away and it's like you're not with me at all. And...and I'm trying to be supportive, Eric. I really am. Half the time I'm in the office at work and I'm not busy, I'm looking up stuff about positive-negative couples and why you push me away like that. But I just...I need to know that even when you're pushing me away, you still love me. I do, right?"

"Of course I do," Eric says. "That's not even a question."

"Then just...let me love you. Fuck, I've been saying that since day one and you still don't get it. Let me love you, Eric. Please."

"I'm trying."

"Then try harder."

Eric sighs. "Do you know what my mom said to me last night after you left?"


"She said I was lucky. And I laughed because really? Me? Lucky? And she shook her head and said that I was lucky to have found you, and that maybe the bad things that happened to me were to wake me up and make me realize what a mistake I had made by pushing you away. And at first, I thought that was kind of mean, like she was saying I'd been punished for what I did. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought...I don't know. I don't know if what happened lead me to you. I really don't. But...she was right about me being lucky to have you. I just get scared sometimes, Matt. I get terrified of how you make me feel. It's if someone gave you...I don't know, a puppy. And they let you love that puppy and treat it like your own for a week, and then they took it away. You almost wish you'd never had the puppy to begin with, even though you loved it and had fun with it, because the pain of saying goodbye to it is almost...too much to take. And you're like that puppy, only a lot more. And I know that I'm just biding my time loving you and playing with you and in the end I have to say goodbye, and it's almost like...why bother? It's going to make it harder to go."

"And you don't think I feel the same way? Except I still have to be here, Eric. I have to look around at the puppy's leashes and his food bowls, and I have to see what's left and be reminded of what I had. And you don't think that's going to hurt? But I still want to be with you. Because you're worth it to me, Eric. A life with you is worth those shitty years in the end where I have to miss you and be sad."

One tear runs down Eric's face, and he hurriedly brushes it away.

He seems lost for words for a moment, then he finally says, "I love you."

"I love you, too."

"Can you...can you stay for awhile?" Eric asks, like Matt hasn't been begging to be allowed to stay since he got there.

"Yeah. I was about to call Trey and tell him I wasn't coming in today, anyway."

"I just...don't want to tell my parents alone. They're going to worry. Especially mom. But for some reason, she really listens to you. So if you're here...maybe you can calm her down."

"I'll try. You can't blame us for worrying about you, though."

The next day, Matt is standing outside the hospital smoking a Marlboro from the pack he bought from the hospital gift shop when Trey shows up to visit Eric. He takes the pack out of Matt's hand, pulls one out for himself, and lights it off the end of Matt's, stepping to the side and leaning against the wall next to him.

"Thought you quit," he says after a moment, his voice thick with the sound of smoke-filled lungs.

"I did," Matt murmurs. "Just...needed one."

"Something happen?"

"The infection got a little worse today."

"Shit," Trey mutters, and takes another draw on his cigarette.

"It's not...they still say he's doing fine, but like...I don't know. I can just feel a difference in him or something. Doctor Bright's supposed to come around again this evening to make sure everything's okay and they already started another T-cell count and viral load test so that he'll have it to look at when he gets here, but...fuck, Trey. I just...this wasn't supposed to happen yet. We were supposed to have like...ten years before he actually got hospitalized over this."

"Well, technically he's in for the head wound, not—okay, that doesn't matter, I get it. Sorry."

Matt stubs out the butt of his cigarette with his shoe, then takes his pack back from Trey and lights another one.

"You all right?" Trey asks.

"I don't know. I'm still standing. That's something, right?"

"Yeah," Trey agrees, leaning his head back against the wall. "I still can't believe it's really...real. I keep waiting for someone to say, 'April fools!' and tell me this has all been a big joke. Or a nightmare. Or something."

"Tell me about it," Matt says, sighing and rubbing at his temple with his free hand. "He's gonna be so pissed at me for smoking. He hates it when I smoke. Says I'm choosing to kill myself and he doesn't have the option."


He throws his cigarette, still mostly whole, to the ground, and steps on it, grinding his shoe against the pavement. He feels a little like crying and a little like throwing up, but instead he just leans back against the wall and closes his eyes.

"Matty," Trey says again. "He's gonna be fine. You know that, right? I mean...he doesn't even have AIDS yet. And he's only been positive for two years."

"I know that," Matt says. "But it's not's not like when you and me get an infection, Trey. It's's shaving years off his life. Years that I want back."

"I know," Trey says. "We all love Eric, man. None of us are happy about this."

"It's just different for me," Matt says. "When he...when he goes, you've still got Toddy, and that's great. Really, she's awesome and I'm totally happy for you. But when Eric goes...that's it for me. I have no one. And by that time...dude, I'm going to be so fuckin' old. Do you know how shallow the boys in the clubs are? Do you? They don't want wrinkly dick, Trey. They just don't."


"And that's beside the point because...honestly. I don't know...I don't know how I could even want to be with someone else after he goes, so I'm just going to be alone. And him having this infection is more time I have to be without him and I just...I can't stand this."

"Dude, you won't be alone. There's me and Toddy and Jason and Dian and I'm probably leaving people out, but you get the picture."

"You don't, though. Eric' partner, Trey. I mean...think about it. If Toddy left you, would hanging out with me be the same? No."

Trey sighs. "I know, Matt. I get that. But you won't be alone."

Matt shrugs. "I need to get back in there. See how he's doing."

"That wasn't really an answer to what I said," Trey points out, tossing his own cigarette to the ground and stubbing it out.

"Well, what you said was stupid," Matt says, irrationally angry at Trey. He knows he was just trying to help but he can't help feeling hurt that Trey would think that he and Jason and Dian could possibly compare to what he has with Eric. He knows Trey doesn't really think it, but he feels like Trey is trying to say the only difference between him and Eric is that Matt has sex with Eric, and it pisses him off.

"I was just—" Trey starts, but Matt shoots him a look that makes him stop. "Let's...let's just go visit him," he says instead, and even though Matt doesn't want him to come, he grudgingly leads Trey to Eric's room.

"Hey, puppy," he says, softening as he reaches Eric's bedside. Eric laughs at their private, somewhat morbid joke, touching the side of Matt's face with the hand that still has an IV strapped into it.

Dorothy and Phil are at the foot of the bed and when Matt manages to look away from Eric's eyes long enough to look, he sees that Trey is giving them both a hug. It's weird to know that Trey used to sleep over at Eric's house and has known Eric's parents for longer than he has. He feels, in a way, that they are like his in-laws, even though Eric is afraid of "the M-word," and seeing Trey, who he's still mad at, hugging them makes him want to ask him not-so-politely to leave.

"You smell like smoke," Eric says after a moment. "I thought you went to get some dinner from the cafeteria?"

"I was smoking," Trey lies. "We met downstairs and he talked to me while I finished my cigarette. The smell must've got on him."

"Oh," Eric says, either believing it or choosing to pretend he does. "You need to stop, you know. That stuff's—"

"Yeah, I know," Trey says. "Maybe I can get the patch."

Matt shoots him a reluctantly grateful look, then pulls up his usual chair and rests his forehead against the railing of Eric's bed.

"You tired, baby? Maybe you should go home and get some rest."

"I'm fine," Matt promises him, and stifles a yawn.

"You're not fine, you're tired."

"Want to stay here with you," he mumbles, looking up and resting his chin on the railing.

"I know. But that chair can't be comfortable to crash in. Hence why you're falling asleep at seven-thirty."

"Did you really just say, 'Hence?' Who says, 'Hence?'"

"I take it back. Clearly you're not tired at all if you can mock me," Eric says, sticking his tongue out at Matt.

Phil chuckles, a laugh that says, Ah, young love, and puts his arm around his wife, smiling.

"I don't want to go to that apartment," Matt says, putting down the railing between them and laying his head against Eric's sheet-covered knee.

"Why don't you want to go home?"

"It's not home," he murmurs. "It's empty. Home is with you. Here."

Eric sighs. "You still need a bed to sleep in."

"I'll squeeze in yours."

"Like hell you will," Eric teases. "I'm recovering from a head injury."

"Then the chair will have to do," Matt says firmly.

Matt sees Eric give Trey a look, a look that begs for some kind of support or something, but Trey shrugs, seemingly acknowledging that nothing he can say will help. So finally that night after Trey has left and Dorothy and Phil have gone back to the hotel, Matt slides into one side of Eric's bed and even though it's cramped and Eric ends up laying more on him than off, they make it work and Eric gives him a mock-stern warning about not hogging the sheet, like they haven't shared a bed every night for more than half a year and countless times before that.

Matt Scout's-honors his way through it and even though the nurses and doctors are none-too-happy with him the next morning, Eric finally beats the infection and is allowed to come home four days later.

[ Part 6 ]

Date: 2008-10-02 09:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Omg the jealousy! Haha it's so cute.

Mmmm this is too hot for me to be reading during my programming class. *thinks old grandma thoughts to make it go down* Ngh I think I need a cig after that...

Ooooh, pushy.

Matt cares so much for his Eric! *wibble* Though he should have at least listened on the phone long enough to figure out it was just a head wound, not the AIDS, but he probably didn't care...

Mmm a rough scrubbing sounds good to me... >D

Eeeeeee they are just so cute!!

Date: 2008-10-02 10:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Matt loves Eric for reals. *draws hearts* Why won't they just admit it in public?

Yeah, he heard, "Eric's in the hospital," and it didn't really matter why. Poor baby! He needs his Eric, dang it!

Date: 2008-10-02 11:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That is. Quite possibly. The Dorkiest. Picture. Of them. Ever.

Date: 2008-10-02 11:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I know, right? It's so, "This is us on our honeymoon..." "During the whole five minutes we left the hotel room, obviously." "Right. Obviously."


I swear, sometimes I think I'm going crazy writing this stuff and then I look at pictures like that and go, "Oh. Wait. No, I'm not."


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