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Title: Mad Season 11/?
Rating: NC-17
Pairing(s): Matt Stone/Eric Stough
Word Count: 6,907
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. ♥



When they get back to L.A., the first thing Matt does is start researching. They have six months before they have to be back at work and if he can get things started quick enough, they'll be able to get through at least the paperwork before they have to go back to the show.

A lot of countries won't let gay couples adopt kids from them so he puts that on the back burner as an absolutely last resort and researches surrogacy. Not only do they need a woman to carry the baby to term, but they also need an egg, which makes things a bit more complicated.

It's not like he can ask any of his friends or anything and besides, he kind of doesn't want it to come from someone he knows. If it does, then it'll have to be the baby he had with her instead of the baby he had with Eric and he doesn't want that at all. He doesn't want to have to deal with a mother and all the baggage that comes with that, anyway.

Finally he decides to see if he can find a surrogate willing to donate one of her own eggs and sign an agreement saying she'll leave them alone once the baby is born. He feels harsh just thinking about it, but this is his and Eric's baby, damn it, and he's not sharing it with anyone else.

He gets a lawyer, too, one that Kevin, his and Trey's entertainment lawyer, went to law school with and swears knows what she's doing when it comes to this stuff, so they let her worry about the legal stuff while they worry about finding a surrogate.

It's weird to be inspecting these women, asking them questions about their family's health history and sizing up their hair color and everything else. It's like they're deciding who their baby will be before it's even created and it's awkward as hell.

"Ugh," Matt groans as yet another candidate leaves. "Why can't we just do it the old fashioned way?"

"Because vaginas scare you?" Eric suggests.

"I meant me and you."

"Exactly. Vaginas scare you and luckily, I don't have one."

"I just...feel weird. Like...that girl's mom had diabetes and it's like, 'Nope. Take her off the list,' but if we were just doing this like normal and I was in love with her, then I'd just have to deal with a potentially diabetic baby. It's very weird."

"We can have a potentially diabetic baby if you want to pick her, Matt."

"I don't. I just...it's like, how do you know when the mother of your child walks in the room, you know?"

"I guess we'll just...know or something. I don't know, baby. I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry. Let's just...think before the next one comes in."

"About what?"

"What we want."

"In a baby? Isn't that a little...creepy?"

"No creepier than what we're already doing."

"Good point."

"So...what do you want?"

"I don't know. What do you want?"

Matt sighs. "I don't know either."

"Then hopefully when she walks in here, we'll just...know. Or something." Eric runs his fingers through Matt's hair soothingly. "You're so stressed out over this."

"Kind of, yeah. It's a big deal."

"I know. But you should be happy-stressed right now. Not...four-weeks-into-a-new-season stressed."

Matt laughs. "I promise, I'm fine. I just want to make sure we pick the right person to make our baby with."

Eric nods. "Who's the next one?"

"Christina Richards." He hands Eric the picture of her, then flips to his application sheet to read her stats. "She's unemployed, grew up in Wisconsin, considers herself to be an artist, and she has no family history of any of the diseases we put on the sheet, so..."

"She's pretty," Eric comments. "Dark hair, blue eyes...I bet her genes would look cute with yours."

Matt laughs. "That is the weirdest sentence you've ever said."

"It's true," Eric insists. "I mean, put her blue eyes with your hazel ones...gonna be pretty. And her hair is straight so it might balance out you with all the curliness. And she's average height so the baby won't be so tall, and...yeah, the two of you would make a very pretty baby."

"We'll see," Matt says just as there's another knock at the door.

He answers it to find Christina looking more or less exactly as her picture showed her to be and he leads her into the living room and into the chair they set across from the couch for the interviews.

"Nice house," she comments.

"Thank you," Eric answers. "So...tell us about yourself."

"Um...well, I have a uterus and an egg I'm willing to donate, so..."

"We meant you as a person," Matt says. Your childhood and stuff."

"Oh," she says thoughtfully, tucking a strand of her long, dark hair behind her ear and revealing several piercings. "Well, I grew up in Wisconsin, and there's really not much to tell there. It's Wisconsin, you know? But like, my mom and dad are really nice people and my brothers are all cool. I went to Sarah Lawrence for college because it seemed like a good idea at the time and then I moved out here to paint. But there's really not much of a demand for artists here. Or...you know, anywhere. But then I heard about this and I thought, 'Hey, I can have a baby,' so...here I am."

"Well, um...okay, but...you know, we've met with a lot of women today, so...why should we pick you over them?"

"Because I need it," she says. "Look, I'm like...broke. And, you know, I've read all the stuff in the news about you and I know you know what that's like. So, you know, give me a place to sleep while I carry the baby and then when it's born, I'll be out of your hair and you won't have to worry about me. I'm not the mom type and even if I was, I'm too young to have a kid of my own anyway. So...you know. I'm not gonna want to do the whole, 'But it's my baby, too!' bullshit. Once it's out, it's yours and you can do whatever you want with it, and I know that was important to you, right?"

"Yeah, actually. It is."

"Good, so...you know. Pick me. Plus, look at us. We would make pretty babies."

"That's what I said," Eric agrees.

"See? Even your partner knows I'm right."

Matt sighs. "All right. It pays Twenty-five thousand plus medical expenses and, I guess, room and board. But you have to do all the stuff the doctor says, you know. No smoking or drinking or any of that. 'Cause I want my baby to be healthy."

"I know," she says seriously. "And I can totally do that. I can do that really well."

"All right," Matt agrees. "Um. We're hoping to get pregnant by April so that we'll be off work when the baby is born in January, so...can you be um. Ready? By then?"

"I'm ready now if you want."

"Well, we have to wait at least a month before we start or else the baby will be born while we're in the middle of a run, so...plus we have all the legal stuff to take care of and making appointments to do the donation and then the insemination, so..."

"You make baby-making sound so complicated," she says. "But all right. That's fine. What do I have to sign?"

"I don't know," Matt says, shrugging. "That's what we have the lawyer for. I can see if she'll come over tomorrow. Can you come back then?"

"I guess," she says. "But you're not going to change your mind, right? Because it would suck to agree to do this and then come back tomorrow to find out you've picked some skinny blonde bimbo."

"Um. No, we're not going to change our minds."

"Good," she says, smiling as she unfolds her legs out from under her and shakes both of their hands. "So...we'll make a baby. Soon."

"Right," Matt agrees, and a month later he finds himself pacing back and forth in a small, white room while Eric sits on the counter swinging his legs back and forth and following him with his eyes.

"You all right, baby?"

"I'm fine."

"Well, you've just...been pacing for fifteen minutes. I mean...I know we had trouble that one time with Ben, but...it usually doesn't take you this long to get an erection."

"I'm just...waiting."

"For what? Divine intervention? It's not that complicated, Matt. You take your dick out, you jerk off into the cup, and then you hand it to the nurse and try not to look embarrassed. It's really simple."

"Dude, it's...different."

"Different how?"

"This time...means something. It's not just coming, it's...you know. This is what's gonna make our baby."

"Which you really want. So...get to it already."

"I'm trying. It's hard to get turned on when you're nervous."

Eric grins. "You want some help? 'Cause I can do that."

Matt sighs. "Dunno if it would help."

"I think you're forgetting which boyfriend you're talking to here. 'Cause last time I checked? I didn't have any problems making you come."

Matt shrugs and paces in the other direction until he feels Eric's hands on his hips. He turns around and Eric presses their mouths together, sliding his hands down to Matt's ass.

"Come on, Matt," Eric murmurs against his ear. "The sooner you get hard for me, the sooner we get to make a baby."

Matt nods and tries to just think about Eric as he undoes the button on Matt's jeans and kneels down, kissing Matt's belly button before moving downwards to his hips. He bites down on Matt's inner thigh before running his tongue across the mark, then finally over to his cock.

"Eric—"

"Yeah?"

"I..."

"I know, baby. Just let me do this for you, okay?"

It's so hard to forget the clinical setting or the fact that his come is about to be used for a very different purpose from what it usually is, but Eric does his absolute damnedest and...well. Matt's only ever once not been able to get hard with Eric, and that was psychological then, too, so it doesn't take long for him to feel himself get close.

Eric replaces his mouth with his hand and holds the cup up to his cock, ready to catch it when he comes, and kisses his hipbone.

"Come on, baby," he says. "Do it for me, okay? Our baby needs you to do this so he can be born. You want that, right? If you come for me now, I promise to tie you up when we get home. You know how much you like that."

Matt grunts and comes, steadying himself on the wall behind him as he pumps his cock through Eric's hand. He feels like passing out now that he's actually done it, nervous and excited at the same time, and Eric licks him clean before tucking him back in his pants and screwing the lid shut on the cup.

"I told you," he says. "Didn't I? I told you I could get you off."

"Are you really playing the I Told You So game?"

"Yes. Because I don't have to grow up and be mature for nine whole months."

"We're crazy for doing this, right? I mean...this is insane."

"Yep. It is. But...we're doing it. So let's go give the cup to the nice nurse and when we get home, I'll tie you up and do that thing you like."

"What if Chris is there moving her stuff in?"

"Then she can just start getting used to it now 'cause we like sex and I'm not giving it up just 'cause there's a girl living with us for the next nine months."

Matt laughs. "You sure about that? 'Cause as someone who had to listen to two people do it..."

"We'll buy her earplugs. Really nice ones. Now come on."

***


A week later, Matt gets home from the grocery store and pokes his head out the back door.

"Chris?" he asks. "Can you come in for a minute?"

She puts her paintbrush down reluctantly and steps away from her easel. She brushes her hands against her paint-spattered coveralls, then follows Matt into the house.

"I got you a pregnancy test," he tells her. "And I was wondering if you would take it now. That way, if it's positive, we can surprise Eric with the news when he gets back from the gym."

"I think you're the one who needs to be surprised over it," she says, taking the box from him. "You've been like, a nervous wreck since we signed the papers."

"I just..."

"Whatever. I'm not supposed to butt into your lives. I know. Going to the bathroom now."

Matt waits outside the door, pacing back and forth until Chris shouts, "I can't go if I know you're out there!"

He sighs, heads back into the living room, and flops down on the couch. He flicks the TV on, gets bored immediately, and flicks it back off. He's just about to go ask Chris what the hell is taking so long, it can't be that complicated, when Eric comes in carrying his gym bag.

"Hey, baby," he says, setting the bag down and joining Matt on the couch. He props his feet up on the table and leans back, his freshly-washed hair leaving little droplets of water on the material.

"Hey," Matt says, glancing back towards the bathroom anxiously. "How was the workout?"

"Good," Eric says, teasingly flexing his bicep at Matt. "I nearly got molested in the shower afterwards."

"Oh, you did not."

"Not physically, but this guy was definitely giving me an eye-fuck."

"Are you trying to make me jealous?"

"Is it working?"

"Hell yes."

"Wanna go upstairs and play the Claim Game?"

"Uh...I think we should hang out down here for awhile."

"Why? Sex now. You know how horny I always am when I get back from the gym."

"I know. I just think it's a good idea for us to stay here."

Eric raises his eyebrow. "What did you do?"

"Nothing. Or, hopefully, something."

"What?"

Matt sighs. "Just...give it a few minutes and then you'll understand, okay? We need to be here for a few minutes and then we can go upstairs and do whatever you want."

Eric huffs but stays and finally five minutes later, Chris comes into the living room holding the pregnancy test.

Matt moves to the edge of his set and takes Eric's hand in his almost subconsciously.

"Well? Matt demands.

She smiles. "You knocked me up. Congratulations."

Matt tries not to scream but he can't help it and he throws his arms around Eric and kisses him hard.

"It's positive?" Eric asks.

Chris nods.

"I've...never been so happy to hear that word before."

Matt laughs, unable to bite it back, and settles back against the couch comfortably. His mind is racing and it seems crazy that he's going to have a child, that he and Eric are going to be fathers, but the little stick says so and he's never before been so happy to see a little pee-covered stick.

"Chill out, dudes," Chris says. "You've still got nine months to freak out. Don't waste it all right now. You have to save something for when we find out if it's a boy or a girl."

"Let me have my moment," Matt huffs. "I'm gonna be a dad."

"Okay. You have your moment. I'm gonna get back to my painting."

"Spoilsport."

"Yep. See ya at dinner."

She heads back out into the backyard to work on her painting and Eric stares at Matt with his jaw hanging open.

"Maybe it was a false positive?" he suggests.

"I hope not. We'll make a doctor's appointment tomorrow to check."

Eric nods. "You really think we can handle this?"

"Maybe," Matt says. "I think we'll learn."

Eric shrugs. "I guess."

"We will," Matt promises him. "You want to go upstairs now?"

Eric shakes his head. "No. I...kinda don't feel like it."

"What?"

"I just...don't."

Matt sighs. "Why is it every time we do something about the baby, one of us doesn't want to have sex?"

"I don't know. Just...parent's don't...do the stuff we do."

"Yes, they do."

"Ugh. I hope not."

"They do, Eric. Every parent in the world fucks. It's how they made us. Sorry. Deal with it."

"You couldn't get it up for the cup."

"That was different."

"How was that different?"

"That was...performance anxiety. That was like...me wanting to make sure it was good sperm to make a good baby. This is you just...being stubborn. Parents fuck."

"Not often."

"Which is why we should get in as much as we can now before the baby is born and we don't have the chance anymore."

Eric sighs. "I just worry that we'll fuck up their life."

"We won't. And besides that, I can take your mind off of it."

Eric doesn't really look like he believes that, but he reluctantly lets Matt drag him up to the bedroom and tie him to the headboard.

And yes, as it turns out, Matt can take his mind off of it.

***


By the time the eighteen-week ultrasound comes around, Matt's finally feeling ready to tell people about the baby. He's not exactly superstitious, but that whole thing about not talking about it during the first trimester...he'd just rather be safe than sorry when it comes to his baby, that's all.

So he and Eric agree to start telling people as soon as they know if it's a boy or a girl, which is how they end up huddled into an examination room at Chris's OBGYN together while they wait for the nurse to come do the ultrasound.

"Relax," Chris tells them for the fiftieth time. "It's not that big of a deal. All you're finding out today is if it's an innie or an outie."

"It's important," Matt insists. "But it's going to be an outie. I mean a boy."

"Because your sperm is just that manly?" Chris asks. "Because really, 'Fuck me harder, Eric. Oh, yes, fuck, God,' sounds so masculine."

"It's very manly," Matt says, crossing his arms across the chest. "And also? Quit listening to us having sex."

"Quit screaming about it so loud you wake the neighbors, and I might."

Matt flushes. "We're not that loud."

"Yes. You are. And your sperm isn't nearly as manly as you think, so...you know. Could be a girl."

"It won't be."

"It might."

"But it isn't."

"But it could be."

"All right, you two," Eric interrupts. "Stop fighting or I'm turning this ultrasound machine around and we're all going home without ice cream."

"Bully," Matt huffs.

Chris rolls her eyes as the nurse comes in to do the ultrasound.

"Oh, yay. Now I get to be covered in goo. Because the process thus far hasn't been disgusting enough. Not at all."

The tech chuckles under her breath, then turns her attention on Matt and Eric while she rubs the gel on Chris's stomach.

"Now, which one of you is the father and why is the other one here?"

"We both are," Matt says, then clears his throat. "I mean, it's my sperm but it's our baby."

Recognition flashes in her eyes, then she nods once before picking up the ultrasound wand and running it across Chris's stomach while she stares at a screen hidden from their view.

The sound of their baby's heartbeat fills the room and Matt smiles. By no means a familiar sound, despite the number of times he's heard it, every time he hears it, it sounds more beautiful than the time before.

Eric takes his hand like it's almost unconscious, holding it tightly in his own. The sound filling the room is intoxicating and Matt tries to remember to keep breathing as he listens.

"Do you want to know the sex?" the nurse asks.

"Yeah," Matt answers. "Right? Yeah, we do."

She turns the screen around to let them see, and the first thing Matt notices is the little spot of his baby's heart beating.

The picture changes as the nurse moves the wand around, finally resting as the nurse carefully studies the picture.

"All right," she says after a moment. "Congratulations. You're having a girl."

"A...a girl?"

"Ha!" Chris says, raising her arms in victory. "In your face, Matt! My girlie genes beat yours!"

The nurse stares at them in bewilderment.

"What...what are we going to do with a girl?" Matt asks no one in particular.

"Give her to Trey and hope for the best?" Eric suggests, poking him lightly in the side.

"Holy shit, I'm gonna have a little girl. Do you know what little boys do to little girls when they're not so little anymore?"

"Um, having never done that, no."

"Well, I have, and it's not good, Eric! Holy crap."

"Maybe she'll be a lesbian."

"Great, because we're good at giving advice about girls? I knocked up a twenty-five year old starving artist for fuck's sake."

"Do you need to lie down?"

"Yes. No. Maybe."

"Are you gonna be okay?"

Matt sighs and takes slow, deliberate breaths. "Yeah. Yeah. I'm good. I just...don't know how to raise a little girl. I want to but I have no idea how."

"Well, you'll learn. Supposedly it's a learn-on-the-job kind of deal."

"Lots of parents are nervous before the baby is born," the nurse puts in. "But most of them do all right."

"And some of them raise little John Wayne Gacys."

"I highly doubt our daughter is going to be a serial killer, baby," Eric says, petting his hair even in public. "An accountant, maybe, but we could deal with that."

"Because an artist and a writer totally equals accountant," Chris says.

"Well, I'm talking worst-case scenario," Eric points out. "And like I said, Trey's going to be the godfather, so...he's a big girl himself, isn't he?"

Matt laughs. "Yeah. Totally."

"And our moms will probably offer advice. And our sisters. We'll be fine, baby."

"And I'm just invisible or something," Chris huffs. "Hi, Chris Richards. Current incubator of your child. Also, a woman."

"Well, yeah, but you're not...I mean...you said you didn't want—"

Chris shrugs. "I just meant if it was an emergency...you could call."

"Oh. Thanks."

"We need to call our parents when we get home," Eric says. "Finally tell them that they're having a granddaughter."

"Yeah," Matt mutters. "You do that. You tell your parents and I'll tell my mom and let her pass it along to Dad. Much safer that way."

"Matt, you have to tell him. Besides, parents go nuts over grandkids. If there was one thing you could do to make him okay with this, it was having a baby."

"You did meet my dad, yes? Because he's not the kind to change his mind."

The nurse starts cleaning Chris's stomach off, then lets her step into the bathroom to get re-dressed while she leaves, so it's just the two of them alone in the room.

"Baby...if nothing else, then just be a man and tell him yourself. You already got through telling him that you were gay and in love with a guy who's positive. I mean, how much worse can his reaction to, '...and we're having a kid together,' be?"

"Well, let's see. I could be treated to a rant on how fags aren't fit to raise a child, or he could call the cops and tell them I'm planning on molesting my unborn baby at some point, or, you know, he could continue to hate me. He's got options, Eric, and if you think he's afraid to use any of them, you're wrong."

"But...but it's a baby. His grandbaby."

"And he's not going to care. That's just...how it is, puppy. He's not going to change any time soon."

"Well...well my dad's going to be happy for us. So...you can give him a hug if you want. I'll share him."

Matt laughs. "That's cute. Thanks. But...doesn't really...help."

Eric squeezes his hand and leans his head against Matt's shoulder. "I love you, you know that? I love you enough for me and him, too."

"I know. Thank you."

Chris emerges from the bathroom in her favorite pair of baggy—or rather, they'd started out baggy but are starting to get tight—coveralls and stares at them for a moment before rolling her eyes.

"You don't need a woman's help to raise the baby," she says. "You've got the two of you."

"We were talking about telling our parents," Eric explains.

"Yeah. Eric's gonna call his later this evening."

"Call? You're going to tell your parents that you're having a baby over the phone? Are you crazy? You're on vacation from the show until November, for crying out loud. Fly out to Colorado for the weekend and tell them in person. Jesus, you boys are pussies."

"You haven't met my father."

"You think it was fun telling mine that I was basically turning my body into an incubator for the next few months and giving up my first born for two guys to raise? For crying out loud, he nearly yelled my ear off. But at least I'm woman enough to be honest."

Matt sighs. "I hate going to Colorado. My sister's got this boyfriend who lives with her now and it's creepy staying at their place."

"Then stay with Eric's sister or at a hotel. But be a man and tell him face to face."

Which is how three days later they find themselves on Diana's couch as she paces back in forth in front of them repeating, "Baby? Baby? Baby?!" in a high-pitched squeaky voice.

"Dee, calm down," Eric says. "It's fine."

"It is not! You're having a baby, for fuck's sake."

"Well, yeah, but...you know, that's no reason for you to be upset."

"I'm not upset, I'm flabbergasted. I don't even know what that word really means, but I am it."

"Well...you know. Chill."

"If you wanted to take care of something, why didn't you just get a puppy?"

"We have one. His name is Richie. We wanted a person."

"Then take care of Trey or something. God knows that boy needs it."

"We know. But we wanted another baby. In addition to Trey."

"Don't you have any other incompetent friends?"

Eric sighs. "Diana...we're having a baby and you get to be the super-cool aunt who doesn't have to babysit because she lives in another state and only has to send presents twice a year on birthdays and at Christmas. Seriously, there's no reason for this to be upsetting you."

"I'm older, I'm a woman, and I'm straight, and my gay little brother is having a baby before me. No, no reason at all."

"Oh," Eric says, then stares down at his hands. "I hadn't thought about that. If it helps, she's not really a Stough. I mean, she's Matt's baby. I didn't have anything—"

"Shut up," Matt says. "She's ours and you know it. So it's my sperm. Who the fuck cares? It's Chris's baby but she's not going to be around at all. You are. The baby is yours. Not that...um. You know. Sorry, Diana and all. But you know."

"Well, at any rate," Eric says, ignoring him, "you get to be an awesome aunt, so...try to be happy for us? Please? We already know Matt's dad is going to be pissed and we can't take much more hate surrounding the baby. We just can't."

"I don't hate you," Diana says. "Or the baby. I'm just...I'm jealous."

"I'm sorry," Eric says, but Diana shrugs and flops down gracelessly into an empty chair.

"It's not your fault you're the luckiest boy in the world."

"I'd hardly call this lucky," Eric says. "I mean, hello, raise your hand if you're HIV-positive. Oh, just me?"

"You know what I mean," Diana says. "You've got a great partner, a great job, a great life, and now you're going to have a great family, too. I mean...pardon me for sounding bitter, but you can't be that fucking awesome. Some of it has to be luck. At least a little bit."

"Could be karma for the oh-my-God-shitty thing of, again, hate to keep bringing it up, but HIV."

"I know," she says. "I'm sorry. I'm trying to be happy for you, I really am."

"You'll get there," Eric says, shrugging. "Just like Matt's dad will get there with the not hating us."

"No," Matt says. "See, Diana being happy for us? Totally doable. My dad being happy for us? That's like Loch Ness Monster impossible. That's Bermuda Triangle impossible. Bigfoot impossible. Aliens landing on our doorstep—"

"Okay, okay. We get it, Matt. But maybe he will."

"Aliens landing on our doorstep."

Eric laughs and laces their fingers together, squeezing his hand reassuringly. "Where's your faith, Matt?"

"Says the man who thinks I'm crazy for being agnostic."

"Well, that whole god thing is just silly."

"We are not having this argument again."

"You two are weird," Diana says. "Go see Mom and Dad. I need to not look at you two for a while."

And Matt gets that, so they head out to the rental car and drive the ten minutes to Phil and Dorothy's. Then he's being hugged within an inch of his life by both of them and herded into the living room while Dorothy shoves a plate of cookies in front of them and insists they each take at least one.

"Now," she says as she settles in next to her husband, "what was this news you wanted to tell us? Did you finally decide to make an honest man out of my son?"

Matt laughs. "I keep trying, Dorothy. He's stubborn."

"I just said it was pointless if it wasn't legal—"

"And I said it was for us."

"We already know we're together," Eric argues.

"All right, no bickering," Phil teases. "Don't make me put you in opposite corners with your noses against the wall."

Eric smiles, then says, "Actually...that's kind of the news we have for you."

"You're redecorating?"

"No, um...we're having a baby."

There's total silence for a good twenty seconds before Dorothy asks, "How?"

"Um, we kinda met this girl," Matt explains, "and we paid her to carry it, so we just took my stuff and put it in her and now she's pregnant."

Phil mutters, "That's awful complicated."

"Yeah. We thought about adopting but it's even worse, so...we just...decided to do this. So...it's a girl and she's due in January."

"A girl?"

"I'm going to have a granddaughter?" Dorothy asks.

"Yeah. And um...you know. We thought we should come tell you that in person."

"You're actually serious," Dorothy says. "This isn't a joke?"

"No," Eric says. "We just...decided we wanted a baby and we talked about it and we make good money, you know? So we thought...we want a baby, we can take care of a baby, we can love a baby, our families will love a baby, so why not? And we just found out it was a girl a few days ago."

"Does she have a name yet?"

"We were thinking Amy," Matt admits.

"And you're just paying some woman to carry her? And then give her to you when she's born?"

"Yeah, pretty much. Her name is Chris and she's twenty-five. She's like, right out of college and she's an artist, so she needs the money and she's not really in any kind of place to be a mother so she's...you know. Not looking to be involved a lot."

"It's just...I've heard things about women saying they'll do that, but then they want to keep the baby once it's born."

"I don't think Chris is like that," Matt explains. "She's kind of flaky and artsy and rude and there's not a maternal bone in her body. Eric's more maternal than she is, and last week when I asked him how hot the bottle should be when you give it to the baby, he said ninety-eight-point-six."

"In my defense," Eric says, "I was thinking that that's body temperature and breast milk must be that temperature when you give it to a baby, so...not everyone has time to read all the baby books, you know."

"Yeah, well, find time, 'cause you're not burning the baby's mouth. You can read while you're on the treadmill at the gym."

"But that's when I look at all the gym bunnies."

"I'm going to have to start coming with you, aren't I?"

Eric grins. "You used to all the time and then you stopped 'cause you're a jerk and now you're getting flabby."

"I am not."

"Yeah, you are. Believe me."

"Okay, can we not talk about this in front of your parents?"

"Fine, Flab Boy."

"Can we please go back to the woman who could potentially take my grandbaby away?" Dorothy asks.

"Well, she signed a contract. I mean, we have like, legal documents."

"But if it goes to court," Phil says, "she's the mother of the baby and you're two men. They're likely to side with her, contracts or no. It's unfortunate, but it's true, boys."

"Chris isn't that kind of girl."

"I hope not. I really do. You seem excited. Heck, I'm excited. But I really hope she doesn't do that."

"But you're excited," Matt says. "Which is good. It's better than I'm going to get out of my dad."

"Is he still upset?" Dorothy asks. "Honey, it's been four years since you came out to him."

"Yeah, I know. But he's...you know. An angry economist."

"He can't be that bad."

"He's an angry Irish-American economist. Yes. He's that bad."

"I'm sorry," Dorothy says.

"It's fine. We're going to go tell them tomorrow. Watch his head explode. Should be fun."

And then Dorothy and Phil are off on the, "But you're such a good boy, Matthew, we love having you in our family so much," routine. It's nice, but he's heard it all before and even if they're as crazy about him as they make it sound, it's still not the same as having his own dad feel that way.

He sighs, knowing that he'll never be that kind of father to Amy or whatever they eventually name her. His daughter will never have to feel this way, this feeling of inadequacy and disappointment. He knows Eric will never make her feel that way, either, and maybe that's part of the reason he wants to have a kid with him so badly. Because Eric's going to make an amazing father. Just like with everything else, he fills in Matt's shortcomings and makes him better, and that's what they're going to do for each other with this fatherhood thing, too. So they won't let Amy feel this way. They just won't.

***


At Eric's parents', he was greeted with hugs and a plate of cookies. At his own, he gets a hug from his mother, a punch on the arm from his sister, an awkward handshake from his sister's boyfriend, Aaron, and a cold glare from his dad before being all but pushed down onto the couch so they all can stare at him and Eric like they're rather boring lab specimens.

"So why are we here?" Rachel asks. "I had things to do today but you said I had to be here, so what?"

"You're going to be an aunt," Matt tells her without preamble because really, what's the point? He's going to get bad reactions so he might as well just spit it out.

"What, did you find a long-lost hetero brother I don't know about?"

"No. Eric and I are having a baby."

She stares at him for a moment, then scratches her head. "Now how the hell did you manage that one?"

"What?"

"I mean, I know you're all rich now and shit, but exactly how much money did it take to figure out a way to do that?"

"Um. That's...no. I artificially inseminated this girl named Chris and then when the baby is born, she's going to give it to us."

"So you're just...using some girl as your holding tank? That's terrible."

"What? No, it's...we're paying her."

"Oh, that's so much better. I can't believe you're going to take her kid away."

"It's not her kid. I mean, it is, but she doesn't want it so she's giving it to us and then we're going to raise it."

"So she got knocked up, then came to you and said you could have her baby?"

"What? No. Rachel. Listen. We started looking for a surrogate and she came in to interview. She's a twenty-five year old artist who just graduated from Sarah Lawrence and needed some time to get her head on straight. So we gave her some money and a place to stay and then put my sperm in her and now she's pregnant with my baby. It's due in January and it's a little girl. Understand?"

"I'm not three, you know. I hope you don't talk down to your kid like that."

"Well, you were being stupid."

"You're going to be a terrible father."

"Well, at least I'm in good company," Matt says, then covers his mouth and glances at his father in horror.

Wordlessly, his dad disappears up the stairs.

"Fuck," he says, scrambling to his feet.

"Honey, don't talk like that," his mom says.

"You hear me talk like that every week on the show, Mom."

"Yes, well. Still."

Matt shakes his head and heads upstairs, shutting his parents' bedroom door behind him.

"Dad...I didn't mean..."

"Yes, you did," his father says.

Matt sighs. "Fine. I did. I meant it. But let's take a second to deal with the fact that it's four years later and you still can't look me in the eye because I'm gay."

"Oh, I've moved beyond caring about that. The first two were that. The last two? They were on the fact that he's got HIV and you're with him anyway. I don't understand how my son is that stupid. I always thought you were brilliant. But this? This is senseless. Not only will you probably get it, but even if you don't, you have to watch the person you claim to love waste away. Now your daughter's going to have to do the same thing with a man she'll look up to as a father. I actually wish all I had to worry about was you being a homosexual."

"Dad...yes, Eric's sick, but...the medicines they've got these days are really great. He's got the best doctor in L.A., and he's healthy, and...and besides all that...I don't claim to love him, Dad. I do. I've loved him since college, since before he had this. I love him with everything I have and you never seem to have gotten that. He's my partner, Dad. My life partner. The person I want to spend my life with. He's a part of me, Dad, and if you love me, you have to love that part, too. And...and fuck, I could have a heart attack and die tomorrow. So could you. I could be in a car accident or something else. I could die long before he does. That's just how life is. And...and I'm so tired of explaining this to you. You're going to be a grandpa, don't you get that? I'm having a little girl who I want to name Amy and who has the strongest heartbeat you could ever imagine and she's real and she's coming and I want you to be a part of her life. But the thing is...you can't be unless you get past this. I'm not exposing her to hate. I can't let you see her until I know that you're okay with this. With me and Eric and him being positive and us raising her together. I'm not trying to bribe or punish you or anything like that, but I'm not putting her around that much anger, okay?"

"Matt—"

"No. I'm sorry. I just can't, okay? You're my dad and I love you and you have no fucking idea how much I want you to love me and Eric and our baby. But I just can't let you into her life until you're okay with us because kids pick up on that and I'm not forcing her to experience it."

"Is that all?"

Matt resists the urge to beat his head against the wall. "Yeah, dad. That's all."

"I think you should go back downstairs."

Matt makes it halfway towards the stairs before tears sting his eyes and he has to stop and catch his breath, inhaling slowly to calm himself down. When he's ready, he heads back downstairs, giving his family a reassuring smile. It's not okay that his dad treats him this way and he knows it deep down in his gut, but he always feels the need to put on a brave face in front of his mom and his sister.

But Eric knows. Eric can always tell, and he slides his arm around Matt's shoulders comfortingly and lets Matt lean against him.

"Love you," he whisper softy so that no one else can hear.

Matt nods and thanks God that, like Eric said, Eric loves him enough for his father, too.




To be continued...

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