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Title: Mad Season 9/?
Rating: NC-17
Pairing(s): Matt Stone/Eric Stough
Word Count: 7,476
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. Oh, and...yes, I'm warning for this: het.
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. ♥



When the escrow finally closes, Matt finds himself the co-owner of a four-bedroom house in Venice close to the water so Eric can surf in the mornings but back far enough from the Boardwalk so that they don't have to deal with all the skater punk kids.

It's a nice enough house, the most expensive one Eric would let him buy before he absolutely put his foot down and insisted Matt was being ridiculous, and after claiming one bedroom as their own and making another into a guest room, they're left with two empty bedrooms that make Matt shiver in anticipation every time he walks by them.

They're having a party because Trey just got back in town from his vacation with Toddy and decided to use their new house as an excuse to have a party and get all their friends together.

They all invited friends from Colorado, as well as some of the people who worked on the show, movie, or both, and Matt spends the first twenty minutes of the party trying not to be jealous when he spots Dave Goodman talking to his friend Stan from high school.

Eric keeps laughing and poking him in the side, teasing him about being jealous, but still. It's weird.

"Baby, it was more than ten years ago," Eric murmurs. "Just let it go, okay?"

Matt sighs. "I can't help it. I don't like it when other people touch you."

"Good thing he's not touching me, then, isn't it?"

"Well, but—"

"And he didn't touch me back then, either. I gave him one blow job that lasted all of maybe half a minute because we were fifteen, and that was it. You're jealous of thirty seconds? Because there have been other guys since Dave that lasted a lot longer—"

He's teasing and Matt knows it, but it doesn't stop him from putting his arm around Eric's shoulder and keeping it there as they mingle through the party.

"Hey," Trey says happily, bounding up to them like some kind of insane golden retriever. He's been like this since he got back from Italy, refreshed and happy instead of work-worn and tired. It's a good change, if a little annoying.

"Hey."

"Are you having fun at your party? I've been having people pile all the gifts into one of those empty bedrooms. Why'd you get so many, anyway? There's only two of you, for God's sake, and presumably you both sleep in the same room. Why do you need three extras?"

Matt makes the universal sign for shut up at Trey, but Trey either doesn't see it or ignores it.

"You planning on taking in roommates or—" He stops. Stares at them. His jaw falls open. Then he breathes, "No way."

"Trey—" Matt starts, but Trey nearly knocks them both over hugging them, bouncing up and down excitedly.

"Who did you knock up? Tell me. I'm dying. Who did you get pregnant? When's the baby due?"

"Trey, calm down," Matt says. "No one is pregnant."

"You're adopting? That's awesome, too."

"No, and would you shut up? People are staring."

"Don't you want them to know—"

"We're not adopting," Eric says.

"Well, don't tell me you're going to try to make one on your own. Because I love you guys and all, but...you're stupid if you think that's going to happen."

"We're not trying to make one, either," Eric hisses. "It's just in case. For like...the future."

There's an unspoken but definitely heard if I make it that long hanging in the air, and Trey clears his throat trying to diffuse it.

"Oh. Well. Okay. That's cool, I guess. I just thought...never mind. Anyway. Happy for you. Future babies and all. Have you seen Dave?"

"Yeah. He's talking to Stan."

"Aww. Someone's jealous. You two are hilarious."

He bounces off, leaving them staring at each other in awkward bewilderment until Eric finally asks, "Okay. What ball of sunshine and rainbows crawled up his ass and died?"

"No idea," Matt answers. "He must've had the best vacation in the history of the world or something."

Eric shrugs. "At least we got a party out of it."

"Yeah. Really. And presents."

"Presents are important," Eric agrees. "Speaking of which, I'm gonna run upstairs real quick and check on Richie."

"Okay. Tell him Daddy Matt says, 'Hi.'"

"I will," Eric promises, then squirms out of his grip.

Left alone, Matt glances around the room, looking for someone to talk to, and spots Dian alone with a drink in his hand, looking wary.

"Hey, bud," he says when he gets close enough. "What's with the worry lines?"

"Nothing," Dian says, giving him an obviously forced smile. "How's the big gay married life?"

Matt laughs. "Good. What about you?"

"I'm not big gay married."

"I meant are you seeing anyone?"

"Oh." The fake smile falls off Dian's face. Well, mystery solved there. "Yeah. Sort of."

"Well?"

"Well, what?"

"Tell me about her. Is it someone I know?"

"Kind of," Dian sighs.

"And does this someone I kind of know have a name?"

"Yeah."

"And...is it one I can hear now, please?"

"No," Dian says flatly.

"What? Why?"

"Because you talk. You're my friend, but you tell Eric and Trey everything."

"Well, who the fuck cares if they know?"

"I do. She does."

"Why?"

"We just...do."

"Okay...whatever. So do I at least get to hear what the fuck happened to make you all...frowny?"

Dian sighs and rubs at his temples. "I...I got her pregnant."

"Holy shit."

"With twins."

"Oh my God, Dian."

"Yeah," Dian says, and takes a drink. "Fuck."

"Are you...are you gonna marry her?"

"I have no idea," Dian says. "She's...she's not the kind of girl who just...goes along with whatever I say. Even if I wanted to...it'd be her decision. That's just how she is."

"Well...are you gonna ask? Do you even want to?"

"I don't know."

"You have to know," Matt says. "I've known I wanted to marry Eric for like...two years."

"Well, not everyone is Mr. In-Touch-With-His-Emotions, man. I have no fucking clue. This was never...it wasn't supposed to be this kind of thing. It was just...fucking."

"So were me and Eric."

Dian looks up at him quickly. "What?"

"Me and Eric. Back in college, we were just...friends who fucked every now and then. I mean, for fuck's sake, the first time we were together was after we filmed river scene for Packer. He gave me a ride back to the hotel and we ended up hooking up. And then from that...we fell in love. And now..." He gestures vaguely around the house. "You know. So...I mean...don't let that stop you. I did at first and that's how Eric got—you know. So...if you want to marry her, then ask. The worst she can do is say no. I wish I'd known that back then."

Dian pats him on the shoulder. "I know, man. But that's you, you know? And me and her...it's different. She doesn't...well, I'm sure she has a heart, but she keeps it hidden, if you know what I mean. I can't just walk up to her and start declaring love. She'll punch me in the face."

"You fell in love with a girl who'd hit you for saying that you love her?"

"Oh, don't even start, man. Trey told me about that stuff you and Eric get up to."

"That's different."

"Maybe. But seriously. Don't start."

"All right," Matt says, shrugging. "I still think you should at least ask her. If you want to marry her, then you should ask. Even if she turns you down, maybe some day she'll say yes."

Just then he feels a hand slide into his and he doesn't have to look to know it's Eric's. Not just because Eric is the only person likely to hold his hand, but because he knows every line and curve of Eric's hand and exactly how it fits into his.

"Hey, baby," Eric says. "Can I talk to you?"

"Something wrong with Richie?"

"No. He's fine. I just wanted to talk to you."

Dian waves him off so Matt follows Eric into the relatively quiet kitchen.

"All right. What?"

"I found out why Trey's so giddy."

"What? Why?"

"While they were in Italy, right before they left to come home...Toddy missed her period and they think she might be pregnant."

"Her, too?"

"Huh? What do you mean, 'Her, too?'"

"Dian just told me the girl he's sleeping with is pregnant with twins." Matt gasps. "You don't think Dian and Toddy are having an affair, do you?"

"She was in Italy," Eric points out. "Unless Dian's got the longest dick in the world, there's no possible way he could've been fucking her because he's been here the whole time."

"Oh," Matt admits. "Good point. I guess that's why Trey was so excited we might be having a baby, though, huh?"

"Knowing him, he probably hoped they'd grow up and get married or something."

"Do you really think she's pregnant? I mean...maybe she's just late."

"They're going to the doctor next week," Eric says with a shrug. "I don't know. Anyway. That's why Trey's so happy."

"Can't really blame him," Matt admits.

"Oh, don't you go getting all baby-crazy on me now, too. If she's pregnant then that's Dian and Trey with kids. Someone has to hold off for awhile."

"I wasn't saying right now. I'm just saying...you know I want kids with you, Eric. Or a kid. I guess one is pushing it, really, but I want a kid with you. It's not like that's a secret."

Eric sighs. "Okay. Well...later. 'Cause right now, I just want to get through settling in here and finishing this next run of shows."

"I know," Matt says. "I get that, puppy."

"Good," Eric says firmly. "Mingle-time now?"

Matt nods and follows him back out into the party. The next time he sees Trey's face, he hopes that Toddy really is pregnant, because he can't imagine the devastation it would cause him if she weren't.

***


One week later, Matt is sitting at his desk working when Trey comes in and throws a blue cigar at his head.

"What the fuck?" he asks, picking it up gingerly and sniffing at it.

"Tell me congratulations," Trey demands.

"Okay. 'Congratulations.'"

"No, Matty. Say it and mean it."

"Why, exactly, am I saying it and meaning it?"

"Because," Trey says. "I'm having a baby. Well, Toddy's having a baby, but I helped."

"Oh," Matt says. "That's great, man. Congrats."

"I know, right?" Trey says giddily. "I'm gonna teach him to play catch, just like my dad taught me. And his name has to be Randolph Severn, just like us. Oh, and I can get him one of those little baby hats that looks like a baseball cap."

"Dude, how do you know it's a boy? I mean, she's like...what, a few weeks along?"

"I just know, dude. Besides, what am I gonna do with a girl? It's definitely a boy."

"Okay," Matt says, shrugging. "What about Toddy? Is she this excited?"

"She's...you know. Dealing. I mean...you know. She wants to sing and act and having a baby..." He shakes his head. "She'll get used to the idea. She just needs time is all. And we have nine months of time before Randy gets here, so. What are you going to get me for the baby shower?"

"Uh, dude. A baby shower is for the mom. You don't get anything for it."

"I don't? Well, that sucks. You have to get me a present anyway 'cause you're my best friend and I'm gonna be a daddy, though. Helpful hint? I like Scotch."

"I'll buy you a bottle of Scotch," Matt promises. "But you have to chill out and breathe, man. You can't be this excited for nine months. You'll kill yourself. Or I'll do it for you."

"You're just mad that you guys bought the big baby house but I got there first."

"We don't want a baby yet," Matt explains. "And no, I'm happy for you. You're just...too bouncy for my sanity."

Trey sighs. "Fine. I'm gonna go throw cigars at the crew. Maybe they'll be excited for me."

"I am excited for—"

"Whatever," Trey says, waving a hand vaguely. "You keep your sanity. I'm gonna go be dad-like."

"By giving everyone cigars? I hope you don't do that to your kid."

Trey doesn't answer, just heads out onto the floor and starts chucking cigars at people's heads. Matt dials Eric's extension to give him a heads up, and goes back to work.

***


"Trey? What are you doing here?" Matt asks, gesturing for Eric to pause the movie they're watching.

Trey leans against the doorway. "Had a fight with Toddy," he mutters. "Thought I'd come see you guys. Were you busy?"

"We were just watching a movie. Dude, come in."

"What'd you fight about this time?" Eric asks as he scoots over to make room for Trey to sit on the couch.

"I have no fucking clue," Trey says. "She was being weird and I said something about how I couldn't wait until she had the baby and she went off on me and yelled something about pregnancy hormones and fuck me if I couldn't understand that. So I tried to make a joke out of it and told her I'd go get her strap on and then she told me to get out."

"Trey...she's probably not feeling well. I mean, pregnancy is hard."

"How would you know, Matt?"

"Because I saw my mom pregnant with Rachel and it sucked. I mean, babies are great but the actual pregnancy part? Is pretty much hell."

"Well, why's she taking it out on me, dude?"

"Because you're the one who got her pregnant," Matt says sensibly. "You gotta just...sit back and let her be a bitch for the next eight months. Then you get to have a baby and be a family."

Trey shrugs.

"Do you want to stay here tonight?" Eric asks. "Since we have three guest rooms?"

"Yeah," Trey says. "Thanks."

Matt pats him on the shoulder. "You want a drink? Ice cream? Cookies?"

"I'm not a girl, dude."

Matt shrugs. "If you say so."

"I'm just gonna...watch your movie with you. Is that okay?"

"Yeah, sure, man. Whatever you want."

When Trey has settled himself between them and taken over the bowl of popcorn, Eric hits play and the movie starts back up.

"This is lame," Trey comments. "Why are you watching a kids' movie?"

"It's not a kids movie," Eric says. "It's Wizards."

"It's animated."

"So's your face."

"Okay, Defensive Guy."

"Just...don't make fun of Wizards."

"Did you know your partner was obsessed with lameness when you moved in with him?" Trey asks Matt.

"He's not obsessed with lameness," Matt says. "It's...been good so far."

"You two are terrible," Trey says. "Seriously. The dorkity in this room is killing me."

"You're free to go home," Eric points out. "Now shh. You're talking over the best part."

By the time the movie finishes, Trey has fallen asleep with his head on Eric's shoulder.

"Help?" Eric asks. "Get him off of me."

"What do you want me to do? Carry him upstairs?"

Eric bites his lip. "Could you?"

"No."

"Fine. Then just pull him off of me and he can crash on the couch. My shoulder's going numb."

Matt gently pries Trey off of him, trying not to wake him, but Trey's eyes blink open anyway.

"What?" he asks sleepily.

"You're kind of sleeping on my boyfriend, man. I need him. You want to go upstairs to sleep?"

Trey nods and lets Matt steer him up to one of their empty bedrooms. When he's got him in bed, he heads back to their bedroom and flops down onto the bed.

"I'm worried about him and Toddy," he says to Eric as he stares up at the ceiling.

"I know," Eric agrees. "Me, too."

"Maybe we should give them Mary's number."

Eric shrugs and leans his head against Matt's shoulder. "I'm glad we don't fight like that."

"We used to."

"Not anymore."

"No."

"Love you," Eric whispers.

"Love you, too, puppy."

They fall asleep on top of the covers, tangled together and holding each other close.

***


Trey wanders into the office at four one afternoon, looking like he's gone completely numb.

"Trey?"

Trey just swallows roughly and shakes his head, like he's begging Matt not to make him speak.

"Trey...what's wrong? Are you okay?"

Trey shakes his head again, this time in answer to his question.

"What happened?"

Trey breaks out in a sob and Matt runs over to him to give him a hug. Trey doesn't cry, like...ever, so Matt's pretty sure whatever happened, it's bad.

"Trey...what's wrong?"

"Toddy—"

"Did you have another fight?"

Trey shakes his head and clenches his fingers in the fabric of Matt's shirt.

"Is it something with the baby?"

Trey nods.

"Is it...is it okay?"

He shakes his head.

"Trey...did she have a miscarriage?"

Trey nods forcefully and cries harder, clinging to Matt like that's all that's keeping him standing.

"I'm sorry," he says, because it's useless but all he can think of to say.

"And she—" Trey gasps, then shakes his head. "She...she said maybe it was for the best. She...fuck, Matt. Fuck, I can't—"

"I'm sure she didn't mean it the way you're making it sound," Matt says. "Come on. Sit down. You need to calm down."

"How the fuck am I supposed to calm down now?"

"I don't know, Trey. But you're working yourself up and that never leads to anything good."

"I just lost my kid, Matt."

"I know. I know, Trey, and I'm so sorry. But you need to sit down and try to calm down."

When he gets Trey down onto the couch on the far side of their office, he snatches up the phone, dials Eric's extension, and informs him that he'll be directing the last two episodes of the season, since it's unlikely Trey will be okay in time to seriously work on it.

Eric asks him to pass along his condolences, which he does, but Trey seems past consolation at this point.

"I just...I loved him," Trey says when Matt sits back down beside him. "I know it's stupid 'cause I never even met him, but I loved him. He was my baby. And...and he's gone."

"Did they tell you what happened?"

"Some kind of chromosomal abnormality. They said it had nothing to do with either of us, like it just happens sometimes, and that ninety-five percent of the time something like that happens, the pregnancy just...ends, but...but I'd have loved him anyway, you know? Even if it was...you know, not normal? I'd have loved him anyway. I did love him anyway."

"I know you did," Matt says softly. "But...but maybe...maybe it was something really wrong, you know? Not just something that would make it not normal, but something that would've killed it once it was born. Or something that would've made it suffer."

Trey frowns. "I...that would be bad."

"Yeah. And I know it doesn't help, but...I don't know. I'm not going to say it's for the best, 'cause it's not and I'm really sorry it happened. But that's just...something to think about."

Trey sighs. "I was gonna marry her."

"Who?"

"Toddy. I was gonna marry Toddy. We were gonna be a family."

"I know you would've."

"I've been trying for ten years to have a family and I was so close, Matt. I was so fucking close. And I just...I don't know. I need a drink. Or something."

"It's like, not even dinner time yet."

"Do I care?"

"Okay. But I'm coming with you 'cause you need someone to drive you home afterwards."

Trey shrugs. "Don't care. Just take me to a bar."

Trey's never really been a weepy drunk, but then he's never lost so much all at once before. By two beers in, he's hunched over the table crying and Matt can't do anything but pat him on the shoulder and apologize for it all.

It's horrible and he has a feeling it's the sort of soul-crushing grief that can't really be helped by anything but time.

"I was gonna buy him one of those little toy pianos when he got old enough," Trey says sadly. "And then a big, cool one like mine when he got older. He was gonna be so smart, Matt. And talented. And just...an awesome kid. And..." he sighs, hiccups, and takes another drink of his beer. "And now he's not. Anything."

"I'm sorry," Matt says again. He feels useless and stupid and inadequate saying it, but it's all he has. "Trey, I'm so sorry."

"I was gonna make you and Eric the godfathers."

"Thanks," Matt says quietly.

"I thought, I could teach him piano and you could teach him math and Eric could teach him art, and then we'd have like...one super-talented and smart kid. Toddy could've taught him to sing 'cause you know she's better than me at that, and...fuck. I mean, can you imagine the Christmases? Sitting around the piano, me and him playing, him and her singing...it'd be right out of a fucking holiday card. And...and I know it's cheesy and stupid, but I wanted that."

"I know you did, Trey."

"This fucking sucks."

"I'm sorry."

"Quit saying that. It's not helping."

"I know. I just...don't know what to do for you."

"Just...just sit there. Listen."

Matt nods and stays silent while Trey finishes his beer and orders another one.

"I don't know," Trey sighs, almost like he's answering a question. "I don't think this is helping. The talking about it."

"I know the number of a good therapist, if you want it."

"I don't need a fucking therapist."

"Couldn't hurt."

"Yes, it could because I don't want to talk about it anymore."

"Talking is good for you."

"Shut up."

"Trey—"

"I said shut up or I swear to God, I will punch you square in the face."

Matt falls silent until Trey finishes his beer and gestures for another one.

"Don't you think you've had enough?"

"My fist. Your face. Connect the dots."

Matt sighs.

When Trey finally decides he's drank enough, Matt herds him into the car and drives him home. He debated about taking Trey back to his place instead, but Trey insisted he be left alone in his own house, so Matt reluctantly drops him off before heading home, where Eric is waiting for him with a hot cup of tea and a back massage that lulls him to sleep.

***


When it becomes clear that Trey and Toddy are having trouble readjusting to life without the baby, Matt decides to invite them over for a game night like Trey did with him and Eric when they were on the rocks.

Unfortunately, he makes the mistake of serving wine with dinner and both of them drink it like it's water, so by the time they move on to the game portion of the evening, Matt's just praying no one vomits on their carpet.

"Um," Eric says, "what game did you guys want to play? We have Monopoly and Yahtzee and—"

Trey hiccups loudly. "Can I have another bottle of wine?" he asks, and Matt frowns at the request for a bottle instead of a glass.

"Um...maybe...you should have some water," Matt suggests.

"Just let him have it," Toddy says bitterly. "That's all he's done for the last month. He just drinks and mopes."

"Well, at least I'm not a heartless bitch," Trey snaps back. "She hasn't cried once."

"That you've seen," she counters. "I'm not happy about what happened, but it was probably for the—"

"Don't say it," Trey yells. "Don't you dare fucking say it."

"The best," she says. "You work all the time and I can't sing or act if I've got a baby to take care of, and fuck, for that matter...Trey we've been together for eight years and you still haven't proposed to me. So either we don't love each other that much or we're not ready for that kind of commitment, but either way, we're not ready to have a kid together."

"We'd have gotten ready," he says. "And I've been...I've been making movies and TV shows for the last eight years. It just hasn't been the right time to propose."

"That's not the reason," she says quietly, "and you know it."

"Toddy—"

"Look, it's just...come on. We're the last two people on earth who should have a kid together, Trey."

"If you really feel that way," he says angrily, "then what the fuck are you even still with me for? If you think I don't love you and I'm never going to marry you and all that, then why are you still here?"

She sighs. "Because I still love you."

Silence hangs in the air until Eric clears his throat and says, "So, um. Water for everybody. I'll go get that."

"I'll come with you," Matt says. "For...um. Moral support."

They can hear Toddy and Trey fighting from their hideout in the kitchen no matter how hard they try not to and Eric sticks close to Matt's side, holding his hand like he needs to remember this is another couple's fight and not their own.

"Did she just call herself a glorified rebound fuck?" Eric asks quietly.

"Yeah. Fuck. This is gonna destroy him. He's having a hard enough time coping with losing the baby. I don't know how he'll deal with losing her, too."

"I suspect it'll involve more drinking."

"He needs help," Matt says, sighing. "The kind that comes from professionals with degrees and shit."

They hear a door slam and then Trey wanders into the kitchen with fresh tears running down his face. He opens their cabinets wordlessly until he finds the small stash of liquor they keep in the house, grabs an entire bottle of scotch, and wanders back into the living room.

They glance at each other before following him, finding him slouched on the couch singing, "When I Was on Top of You" under his breath.

"Trey?" Eric says tentatively. "Um...do you...is there anything we can do?"

"I hate women," Trey says. "I'm gonna go gay."

"You can't just go gay," Matt points out.

"Like you guys said," Trey sniffles. "I already write musicals and take it up the ass."

"That was a joke, Trey. You're straight. And you're gonna find the right woman soon."

"Where is she?" Trey asks. "Where is she hiding and why? Why can't she just...get here already? I want to find her."

"She's just...you know. Out there. You'll find her when you're ready to find her."

"I'm ready," Trey insists. "I'm fucking ready. It's not fair. Why do I have to wait when you two have been together since college?"

"Trey...what we had in college isn't...it's not what we have now."

"It doesn't matter. You've still been together for four years and you're happy and I want that and I don't have it and it just kind of...fell into your laps."

"Well, yeah, but it's not like we're problem-free, man."

"Fine, okay, Eric's positive, but he's not even on anti-virals yet. In the last two months, I've lost my baby and the girl I've been with for eight years and where is this 'right girl' and why can't I find her?"

"Because she's just...not here yet. But she will be soon, okay? Look. You need to get some sleep. Go upstairs and crash in one of the guest rooms, all right?"

"You mean the ones you're saving for your babies?"

Matt sighs. "Yeah. Those ones. Just go get some sleep and tomorrow you can...you know. Deal."

"I don't want to deal," Trey whines. "I want to drink and forget."

"I don't think that's gonna happen," Matt points out. "Come on. Go to bed."

After they finally get Trey into bed and pry the bottle of scotch out of his hands, they head back downstairs to clean up. Richie "helps" by running circles around their feet and tripping them until finally they give up and go to bed, letting him lay between them under the covers.

It's quiet and it's peaceful for all of ten minutes, and then comes the loud, horrifying sound of Trey vomiting.

Eric groans. "Go take care of your best friend."

"Oh, so he gets sick and suddenly he's my best friend?"

"Yes. Exactly."

"Bully."

"Mhm. There's an extra toothbrush in the sink."

Matt sighs and makes his way down the hallway to take care of Trey, vowing to force him to meet with Mary at least once.

***


When Trey finally goes two entire days without drinking or crying, Matt asks him if he wants to get out of the house and do something. He says yes and for reasons Matt still can't figure out, he says he wants to go to one of the bars Matt used to hang out at with Ben before he got together with Eric.

Which is how he, Ben, Eric, and Trey end up sitting at a table in MJ's drinking the fruitiest drinks they could find on the menu and watching men dance.

Ben keeps glancing at Trey like he can't resist the allure of fresh meat, then eyeing the dance floor and all the cute guys on it who are watching him.

Finally, he just explodes, "Are you going gay or not? Because if you are, then okay, I'm in, but if you're not, there are cute boys over there looking at me like they want to eat me alive and I'm not entirely opposed to that idea. Which side are you on, man?"

"I'm not fucking you," Trey says glumly.

Ben huffs and makes his way into the crowd, dancing with an entire group of boys.

"Why did you want to come here?" Matt asks. "I mean...this isn't exactly your...orientation."

Trey shrugs. "I don't know. At least I can be here without feeling like I'm waiting around for someone to break my heart."

"Don't be so dramatic," Eric says. He leans his head against Matt's shoulder and sighs.

"I'm not," Trey says. "You know it's the truth."

Matt shrugs. "Trey, come on, don't be—"

"Hi."

All at once, the three of them look up in unison at the man standing at the end of their table. He's tall and lithe with small flecks of gray dotting his black hair, and he's smiling like the entire world is made of puppies and sunshine or something.

"Hi," Matt says. "Um...can we...help you?"

"I was just wondering if your friend here," he gestures towards Trey, "wanted to dance."

Trey glances back and forth between Matt and the man wildly, mouth hanging open.

"Trey," Matt prompts. "Answer the man. Do you want to dance with him?"

"Trey?" the man says. "I like that. I'm Adam. So...Trey. Do you want to dance with me?"

"I...um. I'm not—"

"I didn't ask you if you wanted to fuck, baby. I asked you if you wanted to dance."

Trey looks helpless as he lets Adam take his hand and pull him onto the dance floor, but there's something there, like a hint of a smile or something. It's weird and it takes Matt a minute to realize that what Trey really wanted when he came here was probably just anonymous sex with no emotions attached, and he knew that letting some guy fuck him was the best way to get that since he's straight. It's a clever plan, Matt has to admit, if you're into using people and everything, but Matt's not so mostly he just feels bad for the guy.

"You know what he's doing, right?" Matt asks Eric.

Eric snorts. "I've known what he was doing since he asked us to bring him here. But...it's his...you know. Choice or whatever. He wants to hook up with a guy, we can't stop him."

Matt sighs. "Even if we know he's making a mistake?"

"Yep," Eric says. "Besides, that guy's gotta be like...thirty-five or something. He knows what he's doing. Probably better than Toddy did. If anything, they'll have one night of good, if bizarre, sex and then Trey will feel a little better."

"If you say so."

"I do. I do say so."

Matt laughs, but it's cut short when Ben throws himself into a seat at their table and smacks it.

"Um. Ben?"

"He's dancing with that old dude," Ben says plaintively.

"What?"

"Trey. He's dancing with that old dude. I asked him to hook up with me but is he? No. He's with an old dude. I'm hotter than that guy, right? You'd rather fuck me than him?"

"Dude, are you jealous?"

"I just think that if someone's going for dick, I should get first dibs."

"Well...Trey wants to dance with that guy. So...chill."

"Maybe they'll make it a three-way," Ben says thoughtfully.

"Leave them alone," Matt says sternly. "There are plenty of guys here. Go hook up with one of them."

"But..." Ben whines. "But..."

"No, Ben. Go. Dance. Leave Trey and Adam alone."

Ben stomps off unhappily, right into the middle of the dance floor and Matt wonders if there will always be a part of him that is nine years old. He petulantly begins dancing with a couple of guys, but after a minute or so, he gets more into it and seems to forget all about Trey and Adam.

"You want to dance?" Eric asks.

"Ha ha. Very funny, puppy."

"I was serious."

"You have seen me dance before, haven't you?"

"Yeah. And I'm willing to be publicly humiliated anyway. So dance with me."

Matt lets Eric lead him onto the floor and away from the crowd, dancing close together. Eric's hands slip into Matt's back pockets as they move together, awkward but in tandem, and Matt laughs at the picture they must make with him so much taller and Eric leading the dance.

Eric looks up at him curiously, but Matt kisses him in answer.

When they finally break apart three songs later to get something to drink, Matt realizes that Trey is gone.

"You don't think he left with that guy, do you?" he asks Eric.

"Yeah. I do."

"Shit."

"Let him do it. He'll figure out that he needs to stop trying to hide from what happened and just deal with it and then he'll meet some hot chick and bang the fuck out of her and it'll all be back to normal."

"You're so..."

"What? Tell me I'm wrong, Matt. Seriously. Just let him try it once and then he'll figure out he still wants to try with girls and then he'll find one."

"I guess," Matt says, shrugging. "I just worry about him."

"I know, baby. Wanna go home so I can take your mind off of it?"

Matt laughs. "Yeah. Sure. But only if you do that thing."

"The thing or the other thing?"

"The other thing."

"Ah," Eric says knowingly. "Yeah. I'll do that."

But they've barely finished when there's a knock at the door and Matt forces himself downstairs to answer it.

"Hey, Trey," he says, pulling the bathrobe he threw on tighter around him.

"Hey," Trey answers nervously. "Um. Can I have a beer?"

"Do you really think it's smart to go back to the drinking?"

"Trust me. I need a drink."

Matt grabs a beer out of the kitchen then sits down on the couch to wait while Trey paces around, sipping it, and wringing his hands together.

"Uh. Trey?"

Trey clears his throat. "So...that Adam guy. Um. We danced."

"Yeah, I saw."

"And then he kissed me."

"Not the first guy you've kissed, speaking from personal experience."

Trey huffs. "Anyway, then he asked me if I wanted to go somewhere and I said okay 'cause...'cause fuck if I know why and then he kissed me again and we ended up at his place and we uh...he..."

"You let him fuck you?"

Trey nods.

"Okay."

"Okay? That's all you've got?"

"Dude, it was obvious what you were trying to do."

"How did you know if I didn't even know?"

"Because I have a brain. Also, again. I say: obvious."

Trey groans. "I can't believe I just did that."

"Well, if you didn't like it, then just don't do it again. That's always an option."

"No, I did," Trey says. "That's the problem."

"What?"

"It was...it was good. I mean...not...I don't...it was..." He sighs. "It was like...like it was good. The sex. It was good and it was what I wanted and everything, but I wasn't...thinking about him. I was thinking about girls."

"Well, yeah, dude. You're straight."

"But it...felt good. I mean...it was like...he wasn't...soft. Which I usually like, but he knew like...exactly what to do. You know?"

"I know. That's kind of a benefit of sleeping with guys. They know how everything feels."

"Well...it felt good. And...nice. And he was a really nice guy. But I wasn't thinking about him when I got off."

"Because you're straight, dude. And you just got out of an eight-year relationship. I mean, fuck. If I had to, right now I could go have sex with a girl. I really could. And I could get off and it would probably feel all right. But I'd be thinking about guys and she'd feel too soft because I'm gay. That's just how it is. I mean...you can fuck a dude and still be straight. Just like us kissing didn't make you gay."

"Okay, well, how's this for making me gay? He asked me out next Friday and I said yes."

Matt stares at him. Okay. Yeah. That one...well. That one isn't something he can just brush away.

"Um...why?"

Trey frowns. "I don't...know. Because he's...nice. And he's...good in bed? And I don't know, Matt. It was just...it was the first time in months that I haven't felt...hollow. And not just because of the sex, but like...the way he looked at me. The things he said. He just...made me feel good. I don't know. I sound ridiculous."

"No," Matt says thoughtfully. "You sound...like someone's who's been sad for a really long time and finally got a break from it for awhile. And there's nothing...wrong with wanting to hold onto that."

"But it's weird, right? It's weird? 'Cause like...there's this. And then there's...remember that night in the limo?"

Matt blushes. "Yeah."

"I was turned on then, too. And...and I don't like the way he feels against me, 'cause it's like...'Where's the tits? What's with the muscles?' But I like him. Does that make sense?"

"I guess," Matt says. "Um, did you say any of this to him? 'Cause you should tell him. I mean...otherwise you're just being a dick and using him."

"Some of it," Trey says. He drops down into the chair and tucks his feet underneath him. "I told him I was straight and that I'd lost my girlfriend and our baby and stuff while we were dancing. But then he kissed me and I don't know. I just went with it. It was nice."

"Well...you need to tell him everything you just told me. Seriously. It's just fair."

Trey nods and picks at the label on his beer bottle. "Do you think I'm a dick? For sleeping with him and agreeing to go out with him when I know it can never go anywhere?"

"No," Matt answers honestly. "As long as you tell him that before you go out with him."

"He's a director," Trey says after a moment. "And a choreographer. And a dancer."

"Um...cool?"

"He...he knows stuff, Matt. I talked to him for like...I don't even know. Two hours before we even had sex. And then when we did...he's a dancer."

Matt laughs. "Okay."

"I'm serious. He's just...he's nice. And cute. He's cute, right?"

"Uh, Trey?"

"Well, I didn't say he was sexy, I said he was cute. He's got a nice smile, you know?"

"Trey?"

"Yeah?"

"You have a man-crush."

"I do not."

"Yes, you so do."

"No, I don't."

"You're calling him cute and going out with him on a date. That's a man-crush."

"Dude, the only guy I have a man-crush on is John Elway."

"And, clearly, Adam."

"You're such a dick, man. I'm confiding in you here. I just let a guy fuck me up the ass and all you can do is tease me about the fact that I like him as a human being."

"What did you want me to say?"

"I don't know. I just...wanted to talk to you about it."

"You are such a girl."

"I am not."

"Yes, you are. You a girl with man-crushes on Adam and John Elway."

"I am not!" Trey insists.

Matt rolls his eyes. "Whatever. Anyway, why are you here?"

Trey shrugs and looks down. "I was...hoping you'd give me advice."

"On what?"

"Dating a dude."

"I...I don't know, Trey. The only guy I ever really dated was Eric, and you have to admit that's not exactly the normal pattern."

"I just...I like being around him. He makes me feel...something. I don't want to lose that over something stupid."

"Well...just...I don't know, Trey. I mean...it's different. Me dating Eric was like...leading somewhere. This is different. Talk to Adam, man. Not me."

Trey sighs. "You're so helpful, Matt. Really. You keep bailing me out of my problems like this and I'll never learn."

"Trey, look. You...got yourself into this. He's a guy, you're a guy. You're the one who went home with him and you're the one who said yes to going out with him. So you have to figure out if you're even okay with that, and if you are, then you have to figure out how to make it work. This isn't something I can give you an answer to and magically fix it."

"Why not?"

"Because you like pussy, Trey. You're straight. Enjoying taking it up the ass doesn't mean you can date a man, it means you have a prostate, just like every other man on the planet, and it feels good when something stimulates it. That's it. This isn't like having a girl fuck you with a strap on, this is dating a man and the two things are very, very different."

"How?"

"It just is, Trey. I mean, honestly, are you sexually attracted to him? In more than a man-crushy kind of way?"

"Well...no."

"Then you need to talk to him and make sure he knows that because honestly, you're so far in over your head here that you're two seconds from drowning. If all you wanted was a dick up your ass, then for fuck's sake, you should've just let Ben do it. Much less complicated."

"I don't like Ben."

"And you don't even know Adam."

"I know that I was happy around him."

Matt groans. "I swear to God, it's like talking to a brick wall."

"Look, I get what you're saying, but I like hanging out with him. Doesn't that count for anything?"

"Of course it does. Friendship. Friendship which does not involve sex unless both people know it has nothing to do with attraction or emotions and is just to get off. Which is what I'm saying. Tell Adam how you feel. You can be friends with him and he might even fuck you sometimes, but you have to tell him that you can't date him."

"I told him I was straight."

"Yeah, and then you had sex with him. Kind of a mixed message. You need to explain things to him. It's not fair to him. Seriously. As someone who did the cliché falling for a straight boy thing, it sucks and you need to tell him that before that happens."

"What? What straight boy did you fall for?"

"You, dumb ass."

Trey stares at him. "Me?"

"Yeah."

"When?"

"College. Pretty much from the moment I met you until a few months after we finished filming Packer."

"You never told me that."

"It didn't matter."

Trey snickers. "You liked me."

"Shut up."

"Yeah. Okay. Whatever. I assume you got over it?"

"Of course I did."

"Fine," Trey says. "I'll talk to him. Happy now?"

"No. You totally killed our post-sex buzz and now when I get back upstairs, Eric's gonna already be asleep so I don't get to tell him good night. So...no. Not happy."

Trey rolls his eyes. "All right, all right. I'm leaving. Don't get your panties in a twist."

"Good night, Trey."

When Trey is finally outside, Matt locks the door and runs back upstairs, just in case Eric is still awake. No such luck, unfortunately, so he has to settle for carefully arranging himself around Eric's sleeping form and trying not to wake him as he drifts off to sleep.




[ Part 10 ]
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