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Title: Mad Season 6/?
Rating: NC-17
Pairing(s): Matt Stone/Eric Stough
Word Count: 8,914
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. ♥



Matt can't tear his eyes away from Jay Leno's chin. He thought he'd be able to, but he just can't do it. It's all big and solid and Matt thinks that if he ever got into a fight, all Jay would have to do is take a swing at somebody with that thing and everyone would run scared.

He wrings his hands nervously on his lap, trying not to show his nerves. They're still on commercial break but they'll be back in moments and Trey keeps hissing at him to, "Chill the fuck out."

"I'm trying," he hisses back, and darts his eyes out into the audience, looking for Eric. He spots him sitting in between Toddy and Liane, looking like he's spent the evening keeping the peace, and Matt vows to smack Trey upside the head for inviting that bitch.

The stage manager begins his countdown and Matt gives Eric a small smile before snapping out of it and turning his attention back to Jay.

"And we're back with the co-creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Just before the break, we were talking about last week's episode in which George Clooney guest stars as Stan Marsh's gay dog. Guys...can I just ask, if you could get George Clooney to guest star on your show, why on earth would you just have him bark a lot?"

Trey explains about mocking celebrity and how George had been a fan of the Spirit of Christmas shorts they did, and Matt tells the story of going over to the set of E.R. with a tape recorder and directing George to bark like a dog.

"I kept having to tell him to bark gayer. Emote that homosexuality in his bark, you know? Some actors really need a lot of directing, I guess."

Jay laughs. "Now, speaking of homosexuality...are either of you gay? Because I've got to tell you, I've seen that musical the two of you made in college and...well. I have my doubts."

"Well," Trey says, glancing at Matt quickly, "I kind of have this theory that we're all a little gay. I mean, even the straightest guy on earth has that one dude he'd let fuck him up the ass." He pauses. "I'm not allowed to say that on this channel, am I?"

"Um, no," Jay says. "So, Trey, out of curiosity, who is that one guy for you?"

"John Elway," Trey answers promptly. "Without a doubt."

Jay laughs. "And what does your girlfriend think about that? Or are you single waiting for Elway?"

"I have a girlfriend," Trey says. "Her name is Toddy Walters and she's right there in the audience."

He points her out and one of the cameramen turn to get a shot of her. She waves and Eric freezes, knowing he's in the shot, too, and Matt can't help but grin.

"And how does she feel about you lusting after Elway?"

"Oh, she's cool with it," Trey says. "She's got the hots for him, too. It'll be an awesome three-way whenever he calls us so we can make it happen."

"All right," Jay says. "What about you, Matt? Do you agree with Trey's theory?"

And...well, it's not like he can lie. Eric's watching him with nervous, but kind of happy eyes, and he refuses to lie about this because who the fuck cares what other people think?

"I guess I kind of feel the opposite: that we're all a little straight. Because I'm gay but if I ever get to meet Natasha Henstridge in person instead of just over the phone, my partner's just going to have to forgive me for whatever might happen."

Jay looks momentarily stunned at Matt's answer, then recovers and asks, "Is he here tonight? Your partner?"

"Yeah," Matt answers. "His name is Eric Stough. He's our animation director at South Park and he's right there."

He points him out and the cameraman catches a shot of him. Eric smiles weakly, waving at the camera, and stares at Matt, shocked, as soon as the camera turns away.

It slowly dawns on Matt throughout the rest of the interview that the entire country is going to see this show. No, fuck that, that his family will see this. He still hasn't told his family that he's gay, much less that he's seriously dating and living with an HIV-positive man. He's not ashamed, and he really doesn't care that they won't be happy about it, but in retrospect, outing himself on national television probably wasn't the best way to go about telling them.

They'll probably bleep over Trey's declaration that he'd let John Elway fuck him, at least the graphic parts. Same thing for the comment about having a threesome. But they'll leave what Matt said intact, and he knows it.

They're not going to be able to resist a Tonight Show exclusive: Matt Stone, co-creator of South Park, is gay.

The news will pick it up, he's sure of it, and they'll investigate. They'll find out who Eric is and possibly discover that he's positive. It will be on the news and this is probably the stupidest thing Matt has ever done.

He could've said yes, he had a boyfriend, and left it at that, not gave them Eric's name and image. That's where he went wrong. Eric's going to be exposed.

When the interview is over and they're allowed back to the green room, Matt all but begs one of the security guards to let Eric back. Toddy, Liane, Jason, Andy, and Dian all come back, too, but the second Eric walks in the room, Matt pulls him off to the side and hugs him, whispering, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," over and over.

"Sorry about what?" Eric asks, pulling himself out of the hug enough to look Matt in the eye. "You shouldn't be sorry. I mean yeah, it was a little embarrassing to be on TV like that, but...no harm, no foul. Besides, it was sweet."

"No," Matt says, "Eric...don't you realize...they're..." he sighs. They're all still getting used to the sudden rush of people all actually giving a shit about who they are and what they do. "Eric, puppy, not to sound like a diva, but...I'm kind of famous now and I just outed myself on national television and showed all those reporters who I'm dating. I gave them your name. They're going to dig into our lives and write stories about us. And they're not...they won't hold back. They'll tell about you being positive and everything and that's just...that's private. But they don't care. Baby, this is...fuck, this is really, really bad and I wasn't thinking when I showed them who you were."

Eric frowns, then whispers, "Shit."

"I'm so sorry," Matt says. "Maybe the show's PR person can do something about it. I don't know. I'm sorry."

Eric sighs, lays his head against Matt's chest and says, "Fine."

"What?"

"Fine. If it gets out...fine. I don't care."

"Yeah, you do."

"All right, I do, because yes, that's my private business and I don't want to be treated like a leper. Who would? But...but if it happens, fine. I'll deal with it."

"You will?"

"Yeah. I...I really liked that you...I don't know. Showed me off? Does that sound weird? It just made me really happy that you pointed me out and said, 'That's him. That's my guy.' It was..."

"Let me guess. It was nice."

"It was sweet," Eric says instead.

"You want to go home?" Matt asks. "I'll try to make it up to you."

"Oh, yeah? How you gonna do that?"

"Well, it involves me dropping to my knees to beg for forgiveness. Among other things."

Eric laughs. "Yeah. We can go do that."

***


They're both jolted awake the next morning by the phone ringing loudly, pulling them out of a comfortable, post-orgasm sleep.

Matt groans, rolls over, picks the phone up off the hook, and snuggles himself against Eric's back again before answering, "Hello?"

"Please tell me," his father says without preamble, "that this is one of your jokes that I don't get."

"What's that?" Matt asks, even though he already knows.

"The stunt you pulled last night on The Tonight Show."

"You mean Eric?"

There's a long pause, then his dad answers, "Yes."

"Nope. Not a joke. I wouldn't joke about that. Actually, that's a lie, I probably would, but in this particular case, no. Not a joke. And not a very funny one, even if it was."

His dad is silent for so long Matt thinks he's hung up, then he says, "And you thought this was an appropriate way to inform your mother and I?"

"No. But really, there was never going to be a good way to tell you this," Matt says bluntly.

Eric shifts next to him, rolls over to face him and mumbles, "Mmm, baby, who is it? Come back to sleep."

"Is that him?" his dad asks angrily.

"Eric? Yeah." He pulls the phone away from his mouth, but doesn't cover the receiver. "It's just my dad, puppy. Go back to sleep."

"You," Eric says blearily.

"In a minute," Matt promises, then returns to his conversation with his father.

"Isn't it six in the morning there?" he asks.

"Yeah.

"Did he sleep there?"

"Dad, he lives here."

"You live with this boy?" his dad practically roars into the phone.

"I've lived with him for almost...um, a year now, maybe? I don't know. I forget. Dates don't really matter much."

His dad sputters angrily into the phone. "You mean to tell me that in one day, I'm learning that my only son is gay, he's dating some...some boy, and they're living together?"

"Yep," Matt says, running his fingers through Eric's hair. "And while I've got you on the phone, I might as well tell you because I'll have to eventually—and this isn't something I'm saying just to piss you off more, it's actually true—Eric is HIV-positive. No, I don't have it and I didn't give it to him, and yes, I knew he had it before we got together. We met in college and messed around together but it wasn't serious, and then we split up when I came out here. We got back together for real after he'd already gotten it. And eventually you'll need to know that, so I'm just getting it out of the way now."

"Matt—" he says, fuming. "Just what the hell do you expect me to say to this?"

"Nothing, because anything you say is just going to be mean and stupid. So I'm gonna go 'cause Eric's just waking up and I want to talk to him."

"Matt—" his dad says again, but he hangs it up and lays back down next to Eric, kissing him softly on each of his closed eyelids.

Eric blinks them open and smiles, shifting closer.

"I can't believe you said that to your dad," he murmurs.

Matt shrugs. "Like I'm gonna let him ruin this? Please. This is too good for him to get his grubby mitts on."

"His grubby mitts? Okay. The 1940's called and they want their phrase back."

"You know what I mean."

"Yeah. It's still a ridiculous phrase."

Matt pokes Eric in the side and tickles him until he begs for mercy.

"Come on," Eric says, catching his breath after laughing so much. "We have to go to work."

"I don't want to. It's warm here, isn't it? And comfortable, and sleepy, and you smell so good..."

"I smell like sweat and come."

"Yeah. Good."

"We still have to go to work."

"You're no fun."

"Nope. None at all. Now up. Up, up, up! Work."

"Oh, I'm up," Matt teases. "And we don't have to be there for three hours anyway."

"So what do you propose we do?"

Matt grins. "I can think of lots of things we can do. It just depends on which ones you'll be into."

Eric rolls his eyes, but Matt ducks down under the covers anyway, sliding to the end of the bed and kissing the head of Eric's cock.

Eric shifts, opening his legs wider, which Matt takes as a signal to do it, so he sucks Eric between his lips, bobbing his head as he takes him in deeper each time.

Eric groans, lifting his hips to make Matt take him in all the way, and Matt lets him stay there, holding him in as long as he can before finally pulling away for breath.

"Matt," Eric says, voice deep and thick.

"Yeah?" he asks, and slides his tongue up the vein on Eric's cock.

"Nghn," Eric says, then groans. "Matt, come up here."

"Your dick is down here."

"I know, but the rest of me isn't."

"But this is the only part I'm interested in right now," Matt teases, complete with a mock pout that Eric can't see.

"Just get up here," Eric says, exasperated, and Matt gives Eric's cock one last lick before emerging from the covers.

"What's up? Besides the obvious."

Eric laughs. "It's just not fair when you do that."

"What would you rather I do? Never blow you? I like blowing you. You have a nice cock for blowing."

Eric smacks him playfully on the arm and pulls him up into a kiss. "I want to fuck you, dumb ass. And if you're down there doing that to my dick, I'll come and then I can't."

"Okay," Matt says, digging through the drawer beside their bed and coming up with a condom and a bottle of lube. He puts the condom on Eric carefully and slicks him up, then lets Eric roll him over and pin him to the bed, bent in half with his ankles up by his ears.

It's a stretch because he's not the most flexible guy ever, but Eric holds him like that as he fucks into him, slow and careful at first, then faster and deeper when Matt can handle it.

It's good this way, the right angle for the curve of Eric's cock to let him brush against Matt's prostate on each thrust. He fists his dick and groans at the push-pull-drag of Eric inside him, arching his back and lifting his hips up to meet Eric's. It's been weeks since Eric fucked him and he gets why, but god damn it, he misses it sometimes.

But this is good. This is hot and fast and deep and he can't help but scream as he comes, cock spurting all over his stomach and up onto his neck.

Eric whimpers above him and pulls out of him, letting Matt's legs down. He carefully unfolds himself and watches as Eric strokes himself, coming with a shout into the condom and carefully throwing it away before flopping down, exhausted, beside Matt.

"Okay," Eric says. "Now I don't want to go to work."

Matt laughs and kisses him on the temple, runs his tongue up to his hairline.

Eric chuckles and rolls over, head on Matt's stomach, and whispers, "I bet the story broke already."

"Probably."

"So when we go out there..."

"Yeah."

"Hold my hand?"

"Yeah," Matt agrees.

Eric nods. "I'm not mad," he says.

"Thanks."

By some grace of whatever god might be out there, though the story about what he said on The Tonight Show did break, the part about Eric being positive didn't. Matt thanks the gods for it, then gets to work and finds out it was actually Debbie Liebling who did it. He thanks her, and sends her flowers at lunch instead.

***


"Hey, Eric?" Matt says one evening as they sit on the couch after dinner watching a movie. Neither of them are paying attention to it and Matt can't seem to quit playing with Eric's hair.

"Yeah?"

"Remember...remember when you were in the hospital back in August?"

"Vividly."

"And we talked about...well, I talked about and you kind of got mad at me for talking about it...um, anyway, remember when I said..."

He coughs. Fuck. What's his problem? It's not like he's proposing here, he's just trying to get the subject flowing again.

It's still scary as hell though, so he finally says, "I said the, 'M-word,' and...and that...bothered you?"

"Yes," Eric says slowly. "What about it?"

"Well...I was just thinking...you know...I mean, it's been, like, a month, and...and my family is even like, letting us visit for Christmas and everything, and I just...thought we should...talk. About it."

"What about it?" Eric repeats, turning to face Matt instead of the screen.

Matt pulls both of Eric's legs across his lap and holds them there, stroking his shin with one thumb and looking down at them instead of at Eric's face.

"I was just...you know. I mean...not right now or anything, but...would you ever want to do it? Ever?"

"I...I don't know. Um. Why? You...you want to?"

"You know I do."

"Why?"

"What?"

"Why do you want to get married? It's not even legal. It's just a ceremony and everyone rolls their eyes 'cause they know it's not real. I mean, why go through that? Why would you want to have some lame-ass wedding ceremony that's not going to matter?"

"I don't want to have a lame-ass wedding ceremony," Matt says, forcing himself to look up. "I want to be married to you."

"What's...what's the difference?"

"I...fuck, Eric. It's a big fucking difference. I mean, yeah, you're right. It's not legal. There's not even that piece of paper to make things different. But just...just standing up in front of everyone and saying, 'This is the one. I want to be with him forever,' that's...that's not fucking nothing, man. That's something."

"Matt...I just...it's not that I don't love you, baby. I do. And it's not even that I don't want to be with you forever, because I want that, too. But 'forever' means different things to you and me. And...I don't know. Part of me wonders..." He shakes his head.

"Part of you wonders what?"

"What I'm...giving up."

"Giving up? I don't understand."

"I just...I told you, Matt. I told you that I had planned on fucking around for another decade and—"

"That's what you think you're giving up?"

"Not—fuck, don't say it like that. When you say it, it sounds..."

"Insulting? Dickish? Assholey?"

"Matt...fuck. Listen. I love you. And I love being able to come home to you every night, and everything else. But I just...what am I missing while I'm doing that?"

"Are you...are you saying you think there could be someone else out there you love more than me?"

"That's not what I said," Eric says angrily. "This isn't about love."

"So it's just sex? I'm not good enough in bed?"

"That's not—fuck, why are you acting like I'm saying you're not good enough?"

"Maybe because that's exactly what you're saying. You're saying I'm not enough for you and you're worried you're sacrificing too much to waste your precious time with me."

He pushes Eric's legs off of him and makes it halfway past Eric before he grabs him and pulls him back.

"Please don't be mad at me, Matt. Please. Fuck. I love you. You know I do. I've loved you since...fuck, since college when I was too scared to just admit it. But settling down is scary, and it's even scarier for me because this is like...my only chance. If we break up..."

"Who's breaking up, god damn it? I'm all but begging you to marry me and you're talking about breaking up. How are you not getting this? This is me, two seconds from dropping to my knees and begging you to say you'll spend the rest of your life with me, even if you'll never let me have a ceremony. Which part of this feels like we might break up to you?"

"The part where you're scaring the hell out of me," Eric answers.

"Do you realize how irrational you are?" Matt asks. "Seriously. You're pushing me away so we won't break up. Fuck, Eric. I just...what can I do? What can I do to show you that you're not missing jack shit? That I'm all you need? What can I do to prove to you that no guy out there can give you what I'm ready to give you?"

"I...I don't know."

"Do you want to sleep with someone else? Is that what it'll take? Me giving you permission to cheat?"

"I don't—fuck, I don't want to cheat on you, Matt."

"Then what? Tell me what I can possibly do to help you because fuck, Eric. That's all I'm trying to do. That's all I've been trying to do since college and you just won't let me do it. So you tell me how and that's what I'll do."

Eric pulls him down onto the couch and leans his head against Matt's shoulder, like that's okay to do when they're having an argument. He pulls away and shifts to the far side, where Eric can't reach him, and glares.

After a moment of silence, Eric finally says, "Remember when I first came out to visit you and Ben kept saying we should hook up? All three of us?"

"Yeah," Matt says warily. "And you turned him down and told him you only wanted to sleep with me."

"I know," Eric says quietly. "But...but maybe..."

"I was kidding when I said the whole permission to cheat thing, you know. I wasn't actually going to give it to you."

"I'm not asking for permission to cheat, I'm saying we should take Ben up on the offer. Both of us."

"What? No, Eric. No fucking way. I couldn't even watch Chris kiss you for a movie. You expect me to watch another guy fuck you?"

"Well, you'd be there, too. You'd be doing stuff."

"I'd still have to see it, Eric. I...why do you want this? Are you just...are you trying to leave me without telling me or something? Because if you're breaking up with me, I'd really rather you just said it now instead of making me watch another guy fuck you first."

"I'm not breaking up with you," Eric says. "I just...the last guy I slept with outside of you was Dan. I just...if I'm going to be with you, I want...I want my last time with someone else to be...better."

"Why?"

"Because, Matt. I just do. And...and come on, like I would leave you for Ben? Ben doesn't date. I couldn't leave him for you because there's no him to leave you for."

"You're scared of commitment," Matt says quietly. "So...actually. Yeah. You and Ben would get along really fucking well. And...and your last time? I'm the someone else, Eric. Your last time before me was Dan and I get that that sucked, but everything with me has been good, hasn't it? Why can't I just be...fuck." He sighs, wraps his arms around himself, and shakes his head. "Okay."

"What?"

"Okay."

"I...Matt."

"I really hate this," Matt says. "I fucking can't stand it and I want you to know that. But if you need it that god damned badly, then okay. But I don't like it, it bothers me, and I get to set the rules, and...that's the deal. Take it or leave it, I don't care, but that's how it is."

"Okay," Eric agrees, and Matt nods, moving past Eric grimly. "Where are you going?" Eric asks, touching his arm lightly as he passes.

"I'm going to bed," Matt says. "And...and you can come if you want, or...or you can sleep out here. I don't care."

And he doesn't. He's so pissed off he really doesn't care.

"Good night," Eric says, recoiling, and Matt pushes past him silently, making his way to the bedroom.

Eric never joins him in bed that night and he sleeps curled up in a ball, alone.

***


"Right," Matt says, nervously pacing the room and staring down at Eric and Ben, both already naked and sitting side-by-side on Ben's stupid purple satin sheets. "Right," he says again, and stops. "No kissing. Is that a stupid rule? Fuck. I'm Julia Roberts. Okay. You can kiss." He pauses. "No, wait. I don't care. I get to set the rules and I don't want you to kiss." He puts his hands on his hips and stares them down, almost like he expects them to challenge this, but they just keep watching him, so he goes back to pacing.

"And...and Eric, I don't want you fucking Ben. You barely fuck me—I'm not watching you do it to someone else."

"All right," Eric says. "Baby, you need to calm down. That vein on your forehead looks like it's about to pop."

"Well, I'm pissed off," Matt says bluntly. "And if it pops, it's your fault. So...you know. I hope this is worth it."

"Oh, I'm worth it, Matty," Ben says, leaning back on the bed casually, resting his weight on his palms, flat on the bed behind him. "You know I'm worth it. We had fun that time we hooked up, didn't we? That one time in almost four years of knowing you." He sighs dramatically. "Once in four years," he mutters under his breath. "Honestly."

"Boyfriend," Matt says, pointing at Eric. "Committed relationship."

"Yeah. Real committed," Ben mutters, and it takes every ounce of willpower in Matt's body not to slap him right across the face.

"What are you going to do?" Eric asks, changing the subject. "If Ben's fucking me, what are you going to do?"

"I'm going to try not to vomit," Matt says. "I'm going to try my damnedest not to pull him off of you and knee him in the balls and you seriously don't even want to fucking know what I wish I could do to you, Eric. You really don't."

Eric stares at him, then reaches out and takes his hand, pulls him close.

"Please calm down," Eric says. "Please."

"No," Matt says. "You don't get to ask me to do this and then act hurt when I get mad. So just...do it and then it'll be over and I can bleach it right out of my brain."

Eric kisses his palm, almost like a surrender to Matt's anger, and lets go, then turns to Ben.

"Um. We should...yeah. We should just do this now."

"No kissing," Matt reminds them, crossing his arms and trying to look away. "I swear to God, either of you kiss each other and it's over."

Ben hesitates for just a second, and it's the first time Matt's ever seen him hesitate when it comes to sex, having had the misfortune of witnessing countless numbers of Ben's escapades first hand.

Instead of kissing, he mouths his way along Eric's shoulder, leaving a wet trail down to Eric's nipples as his hand rubs Eric's thigh before moving up to wrap around his dick.

It hurts to watch it in the same way it hurt to watch Eric with Chris, but then Eric holds his hand out again and Matt reluctantly lets him take it.

Ben leans down and wraps his lips around just the head of Eric's cock and that's when Eric tugs Matt forward and crushes their mouths together. His fingers tangle in Matt's thick hair and he uses his grip there to keep Matt's mouth on his.

Matt struggles for a moment but then Ben's free hand palms him through his jeans and shit, like he's supposed to not get hard or something.

He tries to push Ben's hand off of him twice but when Ben wants someone's cock, he usually ends up getting it and fine, Eric wanted him to participate in this stupid thing anyway. He'll let Ben blow him and then watch them fuck, and then he can go home and forget it ever happened.

Eric pulls him around Ben to sit on his other side and pushes him onto his back. He lays down beside him, pulling Matt onto his side, and kisses him again, with renewed force. Matt can't really figure out why Eric would want this whole threesome thing if all he plans on doing is just kissing Matt the whole time, but in a way, it helps him feel better about the whole thing. Not great; he still doesn't want to be doing this, but it's good, in a way, that even when another man has his lips around Eric's cock, Eric still wants to be kissing him. That's something, at least, but he wonders if Eric would kiss Ben instead if he hadn't given him that rule.

When Eric pulls away from him for air, he presses his forehead to Matt's. "Love you," he gasps, bucking his hips up into Ben's mouth.

"Yeah," Matt says, a little more disbelievingly than he intends.

"I do," Eric says, sliding his hand down Matt's chest and undoing his jeans enough to push his hand inside. "I love you, baby," he says. "Wanna suck you dry, Matt. Want to fuck you 'til you scream."

And the thing is, under other circumstances, hearing that might make Matt hard as a rock, might make him scramble onto his knees to offer his ass for Eric to take. But with Ben there...it's just weird.

Ben's a hot guy and the one time they hooked up was nothing short of amazing, so it's not necessarily that Matt's not attracted. He's very attracted. Ben? Hot. Eric? Hot. Separately, they have both blown his mind on different occasions. But together...he just can't quite go from half-hard to fully-hard and he can't understand why, unless it really is just his resentment and anger that's holding him back.

Eric strokes him, frowning in disappointment. "Matt—" he says softly, and kisses him on the corner of his mouth. "Matt...come on, baby. Get hard for me."

"I'm trying," he answers.

Eric sighs. "Would it help if I blew you?"

"Dunno," he answers honestly, and rolls onto his back, away from Eric.

"Matt," Eric sigh as he splays his fingers out on Matt's stomach. He pulls his shirt up enough to expose his abdomen and presses a kiss to it, then pushes Matt's jeans down enough to take his cock out. "Try for me, okay? Please? Just...just pretend it's me and you?"

He can't, though. That's the thing. Pretending would be great if he could actually do it. If he could just forget about Ben for a while, he's pretty sure Eric could give him an amazing orgasm, especially with how desperate he seems to please tonight. But he can't do that. He can't do that because someone else's mouth is on Eric's cock and yes, he said it was okay, but it's not.

"Eric—"

"Shh," Eric says. He licks a trail from the base of Matt's cock to the tip and rolls his balls in one hand. It helps, a little, the more intimate contact of it all, but he still can't get over the fact that Ben is down there sucking Eric's dick, possibly mirroring Eric's movements on his own.

"Eric—" he sighs again, but Eric cuts him off.

"Matt?"

"What?"

"Do you see this genuinely gorgeous man we're in bed with?"

"Yeah," he says, trying not to sound bitter. He's not mad at Ben and he doesn't want Ben to get that impression, but he can't help the fact that it probably sounds like he is.

"And whose dick am I sucking?"

"Mine."

"Well...you know. Doesn't that mean anything to you?"

"Yeah, Eric, it does, but I'm not sucking yours."

"Well...that can be arranged."

"You're not taking my lollipop away," Ben says, like the mere thought horrifies him. "I got my mouth on it first. No tradesies."

"Baby...you said you'd do this," Eric says, smoothing his hands down Matt's arms. "Since...since I need it?"

"I just don't get why you need it," Matt says angrily, then sighs. "This is so not the place to be having this conversation."

"No," Eric agrees, and takes Matt's chin in his hand. "But at this point, I'm kind of scared for whichever of us you end up fucking 'cause the term 'angry sex' isn't really going to cover it. So...if you're doing this for me, what can I do for you that'll make you ease up for now?"

Eric probably expects him to say something like, That thing you do to my nipples that I love so much, or something, but instead he clears his throat and says, "Therapy."

"W—what?"

"Doctor Bright told me that he could recommend some shrinks that deal with positive-negative couples, and I thought he was crazy and we wouldn't need one, but we do. So you agree to do that, and I'll...I'll really work on the relaxing now thing."

Eric blanches. "Matt, we don't need—"

"Yes, we do," he says bluntly. "We need a therapist because if this keeps going...I'm not thinking about that because I won't be able to relax at all once I get that idea in my head. We need therapy and Doctor Bright says there are therapists who know about this stuff, so...you agree to go with me and I'll...I'll try this."

Ben groans, pulls off of Eric's dick and says, "For God's sake, kid, just say, 'Yes,' so we can get to the fucking already."

Eric looks panicked for a moment, but finally says, "Okay. God. Fuck. Okay."

Matt nods.

"But you better be...good," Eric says. "Like...hard? Hard would be good. Can we get you hard?"

"Okay," Matt says. "I'll try. I promise."

Eric kisses him. "So can I fuck you?"

"I think the question," Ben interjects, "is can I fuck anyone? Because I didn't come here just for the lollipop. Not that it's not tasty and all and I'm sure the gooey center is even yummier, but my dick came to party and no one has touched it and it's fucking tragic."

"Can he?" Eric asks quietly.

"Yeah," Matt answers. "Yeah. Um...Ben...you should fuck Eric and he can fuck me."

"Finally!" Ben says. "Someone's talking sense. Yes. Awesome. Okay. Condoms."

He pulls open the top drawer of his dresser, pulls out a box of condoms and then digs around through more dildos than Matt can count until he comes up with a bottle of lube.

When Eric finally fucks into him, slow and careful as he gets used to it, Matt shifts and braces his arms on the bed more while he waits for Ben to enter Eric. He's sure they make a ridiculous picture, six-foot tall Ben on the very top, five-seven Eric in the middle, and Matt, at six-two, on the very bottom, and the tiny part of him that can think about shit like that almost wishes he had a picture.

He can feel it when Ben starts fucking, the motion transferring to Eric and making Matt groan and wish he'd let Eric drag him to the gym with him more often so that his arms might be stronger.

Eric, on the other hand...fuck. Matt's never been that into muscles but he can feel every ripple of Eric's against his back and fuck if it's not stupidly sexy.

He's not sure how long he makes it before he finally just can't do it anymore and Eric turns him over on his back, ass hanging off the end of the bed, and pushes back into him.

He can reach his cock better this way and it's a better angle, anyway, and then he looks up at Eric's face.

And maybe he's pissed at Eric for needing this, maybe it makes him feel like he's not enough, but the look on Eric's face as he watches Matt jerk himself off as he fucks into him...it says that he is.

He comes staring at that face, the one that says he's plenty for Eric and he just doesn't really know it. He can tell Eric's getting close and he tries to pull out, but Ben's not giving him much room and he's still mostly inside when he comes. It's the first time since the very first time they made love that Eric's come inside him, and Eric looks half-panicked and half-more turned on than usual, exactly what Matt feels.

He's not sure when Ben comes because Eric straddles him after that and kisses him until he forgets his own name, but when he finally comes out of his sex-fogged haze, Ben's laying on the bed beside them, watching them kiss and idly stroking his softening cock.

"You two are hot."

Eric laughs and rests his head on Matt's chest, still straddling his body. "Yeah," he says.

Matt pets Eric's hair, smiling at him, and then he feels something cold touching his entrance.

"What—" he says, but then it breaches him and he realizes it's Ben's finger. "Ben, what the hell are you doing?"

"Playing," Ben says off-handedly, stroking his finger in and out. "You sore?"

"I—no, not really."

"You look it," Ben says. He pushes a second finger in beside the second and twists them, touching Matt's prostate.

"Okay, Ben. Enough playing. Get your fingers out of me."

"Actually," Eric says, lifting his head and looking down at Ben, "it's kinda hot."

"It's really not," Matt insists. "Seriously, Ben. My ass is not your toy. Stop playing."

"Nope," Eric agrees. "It's mine. And I want him to keep playing with it."

"See?" Ben says, tilting his head to the side and squinting. "Seriously, I've never really looked at someone after they've been fucked before. It's all...weird."

"Okay, seriously, can we not talk about it?" Matt says. "Like, wow. Embarrassing."

"It really doesn't hurt, though?" Ben asks, touching it tentatively again. "It looks like it does."

"It really doesn't," Matt promises. "Now stop it."

"Kiss it and make it better," Eric encourages Ben.

"No—" Matt starts, but fuck, Ben's doing more than kissing it and his back arches, even under Eric's weight. "Ben, stop it," he says. "Come on, just...just...fuck."

Ben chuckles and the vibrations go straight to his dick. "Ben—" he gasps, but Eric kisses him on the corner of the mouth to shut him up.

"Baby, just let him do it. Let us make you feel good."

"I—I already came."

"You can come again. You've come twice with me before."

"Yeah, but—"

"Shh. Just relax and let him do it."

"I—come on, the deal was for once."

"Once for me. And I got my chance. But now I want you to be the gooey center, so just let us do that for you, baby."

Matt whimpers, writhing underneath Eric and unintentionally grinding his cock up against Eric's.

He can feel Ben's tongue inside him and it's so fucking weird, but hot in all the dirtybadwrong ways. No one's ever done this to him before and he kind of wants to scream a little bit, but Eric's mouth is covering his own and he can't.

"Fuck," he manages to get out, and Eric chuckles against his lips.

"Yeah. You want him to, baby?"

He nods, doesn't even care which one of them fucks him as long as one of them does.

He hears the crinkle of first one, then two condom wrappers, then one is being rolled onto his cock and Eric is sinking down onto him and Ben is pushing inside.

He groans, drops his head back against the bed, and curls his fists into the sheets. "Fuck," he pants. "Fuck, Eric—Ben—fucking fuck."

Eric chuckles, low and deep, as he rolls his hips, muscles flexing around him. Ben is dragging the head of his cock right against his prostate and fuck, this is just too much. He can't breathe, much less speak in any kind of coherent way, and all he can do is groan and lift his hips to meet them both, like his entire body has boiled down to just those two nerve clusters and the rest of him might as well not exist at all.

"I think he wants to come," Eric says, looking over his shoulder at Ben.

"I'll bet he does," Ben says. "You gonna let him?"

"Thinking about it," Eric says. "Depends on how good he begs me. You gonna beg me, baby?"

"Please," Matt manages to say. "Please. Eric—fuck. Come? Please?"

"Yeah, baby. Go ahead. Come."

Matt makes a noise he wishes he could take back and comes almost violently, writhing and thrashing between the two of them and begging for he doesn't even know what.

When he comes to, Ben is still fucking him and Eric's cock is pushing at his lips and he dazedly opens his mouth and lets him inside. He barely knows what he's doing, too-fucked out to worry about technique or...well, anything, just licks and sucks as best as he can and lets Eric come in his mouth, spilling down his throat.

He chokes and coughs, swallowing most of it, and then Ben comes. It's the second time today someone has come while they were still inside him and it's the strangest feeling. He hasn't felt it in two years and now he has twice in one day and it's just too much. He begs Ben to slide out of him and whimpers, over-sensitive and nerves still on fire as he comes down off it.

"You okay, baby?" Eric asks, laying down on his right side and snuggling up to him.

He nods and swallows, whimpering when Eric's leg accidentally brushes against his cock.

"Hurts," he says. "Too—too much."

"Shh," Eric says, petting his hair. "It's over now."

"He always like this after sex?" Ben asks. "'Cause I don't remember this part."

"No," Eric says. "I think it was just too soon to do it again or something."

Matt nods.

Ben shrugs. "He'll be fine in the morning. Just let him sleep it off."

"You want to go home?" Eric asks, and Matt nods again.

"Okay. Can you get dressed?"

It turns out the answer to that is an emphatic, "No," so Eric and Ben both help him and then they half-drag him out to the car.

When Eric finally gets him home, he collapses onto the bed on his stomach and refuses to move, so Eric undresses him before getting into bed beside him, and Matt sleeps with his cheek pressed against Eric's hip, breathing him in.

***


Matt shifts uncomfortably in his chair and coughs. Beside him, Eric crosses, uncrosses, and then re-crosses his legs in the time span of thirty seconds. His hand is cold and clammy against Matt's, but Matt can't imagine his feels much better, so he says nothing.

Their therapist, a short brunette who asked them to call her Mary, and who came as a personal recommendation of Doctor Bright's, smiles kindly at the two of them and adjusts her skirt discreetly. The room smells like the vanilla-scented candle she has burning on her desk, and Matt wonders if it's possible for him to feel any more uncomfortable.

"Eric?" she prompts. "Have you come up with an answer yet?"

"I—" Eric says, and wipes the hand not entwined with Matt's against his jeans. It leaves behind wet marks from the nervous sweat and he grimaces before continuing. "I don't know," he says. "I don't know why I can't just...accept it."

"I think," Matt cuts in, then asks, "Um, can I?"

"Of course," she says.

"I think maybe it's like...like he wants to do this experiencing life to the fullest thing, which I totally get, but he thinks he can't do it if he's...um. Tied down."

"All right. Would you agree with that, Eric?"

"Well...well when he says it, it just sounds...mean. But um...kind of. Yeah. I mean, I love him, but...I don't know. It's like...maybe I'm missing something by just being with him?"

She smiles. "That's actually not that unusual. A fear of commitment isn't exclusive to HIV-positive patients, though, admittedly, your status does nothing to help with that."

"I don't..." Eric frowns. "I don't get it. It's like...like I know he's the one. I really, really do. But then some days...some days I feel like running away and just...seeing what's out there."

"And have you?"

"Have I what?"

"Run away yet?"

"I...kind of. I brought Matt with me and all, but I ran."

"Okay, can you elaborate?"

"I...I begged him to have a threesome with me and another guy, this friend of ours. Matt had hooked up with him before we got together and then he's always said he wanted to hook up with me, but we were together, so...so I said the three of us should hook up. And...and Matt was really freaked out so he said he'd only do it if I said I'd come to therapy, so..."

"All right. Let's talk about that. Matt, what about it in particular upset you?"

"Just...just that he needed it. It's like...like I wasn't enough. And that's...that's scary when you've...you love someone."

"All right. Eric, do you feel like," she pauses, considering her words, "Matt pushed you into a relationship you don't want or aren't ready for?"

Eric pales. "No. No, God. No. I don't...I don't want to just date him, I want to...I want to be with him, you know? It's good. What we have. With the living together and everything. I don't want to go back a step or anything."

"Okay," she says softly. "Then why did you ask Matt to have this threesome with you? Because, and I say this without judgement, it is a step backwards from a committed, monogamous relationship."

Erig sighs. "I...I don't know. I just...look, I know I'm not Brad Pitt or anything, but I did okay in college, you know? I...okay, I wasn't a slut, but I had my fair share of guys. And...and I liked that. You know? I mean...there was...variety. Nothing was the same. And...I guess I liked that. Learning a guy's body. Finding out what makes him—" he pauses. "I'm getting too graphic."

"It's fine," she says. "If being graphic helps us get to the root of the problem, then feel free to use whatever words you need."

Eric clears his throat. "Finding out what makes him come. And I don't want you to think Matt and I have boring sex, because we don't. We have really good sex and it's fantastic and it's never exactly the same as it was the time before, but...but I know what it takes with him. I know exactly where to touch and even if I do it in different combinations or in different places, it's still...I still know him. And...and that's not...that's not bad, but...but it's like...like I went from being the first guy to the second one really quick without...without a transition. And I get that Matt loves me and we may not have a lot of time, and all that, but I feel like...like we'd only been dating for a year when he asked me to move to California and get an apartment with him. And it's fast and I need...to adjust."

"Is that why you wanted a threesome? To re-claim part of that old life?"

"Probably," Eric says. "If that makes sense?"

"Does it make sense to you?" she counters.

"I think so."

"All right," she says evenly. "So, you had the threesome. How do you feel now? What did you learn from that experience?"

"Now? I feel...I don't know. It was a good experience. Even Matt had fun once he let himself. But..." Eric sighs and turns to face Matt. "But...with him...I didn't feel what I did with you."

Matt opens his mouth to say something to that, but no words come, so Mary says it for him.

"That's because what you have with Matt is a deep, emotional connection. What you have with this guy you had a threesome with, or the men from your past...that's sex. And sex is a beautiful, natural thing, and there is a time and a place for it. But when you care about someone like you do Matt...then you move on to making love. Do you understand the difference?"

"Yeah, I do. I guess I just didn't realize that...that the second one is..." He frowns, searching for the right word. "Better," he says finally. "That's what it is. It's better."

It's so good to hear Eric say that. It's about the closest thing Matt's ever heard to a choir of angels singing. But it still isn't what he needs to know.

"But...is it enough?" he asks.

"What?"

"Is it enough? That it's better? Am I enough? The better? Or do you need the plain old good, too?"

"I...Matt, you're—"

"I know you love me," Matt says. "But am I enough? Because you loved me before the threesome and I wasn't then, so..."

"Matt," Eric sighs. "It's never that you weren't enough. It's just..."

"Then make me understand, puppy," Matt says, then blushes when he realizes he's used their nickname in front of Mary. She just smiles serenely at him, though, so he touches Eric's face softly and says, "Help me, okay? And...you really didn't answer the question."

"You're...you're enough for me," Eric says. "You are, Matt. You're...you're more than I hoped I'd get."

"Then why?"

"I—I don't know."

"Yes, you do," Matt says. "Yes, you do, baby, and you're not telling me. No matter how bad it is, I want to hear it, okay? Please tell me. I need to know. Don't I deserve to know?"

"Y—yeah."

"Then tell me."

Eric sighs. "Matt...just...just try to put yourself in my place for a second. You're walking along with this plan in your head of what your life is going to be and then because of one night with a guy you're really not that into—because I wasn't that into Dan, you know. I just hadn't gotten laid in so long 'cause no one is gay in Conifer and he was there, and he's a nice enough guy and all and—anyway." He stops and rubs at his temples. "It's just...one night, and suddenly your entire life changes. And part of you knows that you should be happy with the guy who loves you and who wants to be with you even when things go to hell, but the other part of you is trying to hold on to that guy you were before it happened because admitting that he's gone is admitting that...that—" He cuts himself off and shakes his head. "It's admitting that yes, you're sick and you're going to die and it's going to be before you really want to. And what do you get for admitting it and being the person you became the second you heard the diagnosis? You get a few good years, but then the last ones suck. It's like it's setting you up to tear you down. So there's not even a happy ending. So...so it's hard, Matt. It's really hard. And it's me, it's not you and I know everyone says that, but it's true." He pauses. "No, fuck that. It's the HIV. It's not me. Or maybe it is. I don't know."

Matt reaches out to touch Eric, but he pulls away from the touch, then notices that their hands are still entwined and pulls that away, too.

"Puppy...you...you do realize that whether you admit it or not, you are that second guy, right?"

"I know," Eric says, almost angrily.

"And...and admitting it is good for you. Because...because then you can live your life to the fullest as this new guy."

"I know that, too."

"Then...then be that guy, Eric. Because I want to be the guy who loves you and who's there when everything goes to hell. But trying to be the old Eric is just...not conducive to that. You know?"

"I know."

Mary clears her throat. "Eric? This is good. This is good that you're getting to the root of the problem. But the next step after you admit the problem is to find ways to solve it. So what do you think you could do to work through this problem so that you can have a successful relationship with Matt?"

Eric shrugs. "I don't know. You're the shrink."

She smiles. "Yes, but I'm here to facilitate. Only you truly know what's best for you. I'm more of a guide to help get you there."

"But I don't know," Eric says. "I really don't."

"What about you, Matt? Do you have any suggestions?"

"Not...not really," Matt says. "I just want...you know. To help."

"All right," she says, discreetly glancing at the clock on her wall. "Our time is up for today, anyway, but this was a really good session, guys. We got past the hardest part. Admitting what the root of the problem is...it's just a huge step and I'm proud of you for taking it, Eric. So now I want you both to go home and do some thinking. Think about who you are and what you want from this relationship, and ways to help each other get there, all right? And things that you can do, as well. We'll meet the same time next week to see how things are going, okay?"

"Yeah," Eric says, and after they've thanked her and paid for the visit, Matt takes Eric out for ice cream. It's not much of a consolation after what Eric had to admit in Mary's office, but Matt honestly can't think of anything else to do.




[ Part 7 ]

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