I wanted to see Cay. That was among my first thoughts the next morning. I wasn’t having a great time, but he was on his own. I didn’t hate him for giving me this or anything. I hated that we were too over confident to use condoms and that I was so stupid as to fuck anyone other than Hadley in the first place. So yeah, I wanted to see how he was doing.
Hadley had taken the day off and pulled the kids out of kindergarten. I wanted to stay with them, but I told them I wouldn’t be long, and Hadley didn’t put up a fight about me going to see his brother.
Cay was... dealing with this the same way he always seems to deal with shit. Badly. He looked terrible when I got there, and both he and his apartment stank of booze. I hugged him, receiving a small hug back.
“I guess we’re in this together then, huh?” I said, not wanting to have to tell him directly that my test had come back positive. He sort of nodded. I wondered how I was gonna tell Alex. He probably wouldn’t take the news very well. Especially not after fucking me at Christmas. “I dunno how Hadley feels about it, but I’ll always be here if you need me, yeah?”
"He's fucking ruined my life." I tilted my head a little, not quite sure if he meant Hadley or Tom. "It's alright for you. You've got someone. You've got someone who's still willing to fuck you. The second I get a fucking condom out, people start asking questions, and I have to tell them I've got this . I mean, how do I know he didn't fucking give it to me in high school?" I steered him over to the sofa, making him a coffee. He kept rambling about how Tom was a cunt, and called him pretty much every name under the sun. I let him get on with it, figuring he wouldn’t have had anyone to talk to about it since he got the result through. Eventually he tired himself out. Or ran out of things to call Tom.
“Mind if I smoke?” I asked when he was done. He shook his head. It wasn’t like it’d smell all that out of place here anyway, given the smell of alcohol that seemed to have been ingrained into everything there. "I figure cancer and HIV can have a race and see which finishes me off first,” I joked, lighting up. Cayden didn’t laugh. I know it’s not one of my best, but c’mon, Cay, work with me here. I sighed a little, making him look up at me. “Sorry,” I mumbled. “You know I start making bad jokes when I’m in a shitty situation.”
He shrugged, “s’okay.”
“How about we swap? I’ll take dealing with it on my own, and you can have the husband who cries every time you have to get a condom out to fuck him and the realisation every day that it’s totally your fault you’re hurting your family.” He can explain to the kids that he’ll never get better and force himself to eat everything when he feels sick just because he can’t bear to watch his husband cry any more than he already does.
"At least you have a family," he mumbled.
“Well, like I said, I’ll be here for you as long as I can be. You’re never totally alone, ‘kay?”
"It's not fair on you for me to rely on you."
“I wouldn’t have offered if I minded, Cay.”
"You need to be around for the brats, though. I'll be fine." I wanted to tell him not to call them that, but I figured it probably wasn’t the best idea in the world to upset him or piss him off.
“It’s as much for me as for you, y’know. It’s not like I know anyone else that’s got it.”
He looked kinda hopeful at that. "Does that mean John didn't get it?"
“I have no idea. I haven’t spoken to him. Sorry.”
"Oh,” the hope on his face vanished and was instantly replaced with sadness. "He won't speak to me."
“I’ll drop by in my way back and text you if he tells me, yeah?”
“No problem, gorgeous.” He flashed me a little smile. In return, I gave him a baby of a kiss. He kissed back and we snuggled up. "Please don't shut yourself off because of this. I don't see you enough as it is." He didn’t say anything. I put my head on his shoulder. I came over here to try and give him some kind of comfort, but if I wasn’t careful, I’d end up crying and needing him to be strong for me when he clearly wasn’t going to be able to be. He put his head on mine and I snuggled him a little tighter to stop myself from being a total baby. The fact I’d only found out the day before was totally irrelevant.
“Did you tell Mom about any of this?” I shook my head. I hadn’t even told my mum. And it was hardly my place to tell his mum about it. “Don’t tell her.”
“’Kay,” I mumbled.
"She'd have a field day if she knew her failure of a son got HIV."
“My dad would too. They could form a little club.” That one made him laugh a little. “I’m sure she wouldn’t, Cay. She’s your mum. Unless she was as much of a cunt as my dad is, which I don’t think is possible.” He sighed, letting out a hum when I kissed his shoulder. Apparently he noticed that I wasn’t feeling so great about it all. I was doing my best to be supportive for him, ‘cause like he said, I’ve got someone, and I don’t want him to be alone. I think the sniffle gave it away.
He offered me a hug and I took it gratefully, doing my best not to cry, even though I could feel Cay’s silent tears dripping onto me. We stayed like that, just hugging for ages. I might’ve ended up crying. Just a little bit.
"I'm so fucking sorry, Max," he said.
“Shh,” I told him.
"This is all my fault."
“No it’s not. You can’t help it that Tom had it and never mentioned it before.”
"I shouldn't have fucked you in the first place, though.”
“I could’ve said no, Cayden. This is not your fault.”
"It is," he insisted and I put a finger over his lips. He looked at me all wide eyed and innocent.
“It’s not. Even if it was your fault, there’s no point in going over all the should haves and whatever. HIV can take years to actually do anything. We could both be fine well into our forties.”
"Or we could be on death's door in a few months."
“Either way, it’s no reason to try and find someone other than Tom to blame. He should’ve told you and that’s beyond your control.” He was quiet. “It’s not your fault or mine. It just is, and we have to deal with it.”