I was about to give up on the idea of seeing how John was when he opened the door.
"Sorry, I was cleaning. Oh, hey Maxxie,” he seemed a little awkward when he realised it was me. Well, that didn’t make it any easier to ask him if he had HIV too.
“S’okay,” I muttered, “how’re you doing?”
"I'm good. You?"
“Fine. I just thought I’d drop by and see how you were.”
"D'you wanna come in?"
“If you’re not busy or anything,” I said. He let me in and I wandered over to his sofa, feeling kinda weird. I guess I was still getting used to the fact I hadit, and I didn’t know if I really wanted to talk about it much more, but I did promise Cay I’d find out of John was okay or not. That and a part of me kinda wanted to know, too.
"I'm guessing Smithy gave you the bad news," he said, sitting himself down on the other sofa. I nodded. "Do you...?"
I nodded a little, not really wanting to have to say it out loud. “You?”
He shook his head. Lucky cunt. "I've got to have another test in three months, though. Is Hadley okay?"
“Yeah, he’s fine, if you ignore all the tears,” I laughed a little.
"I'm... I'm guessing Smithy got a positive."
“Well I didn’t catch it from thin air, put it that way.”
"Yeah, I know, I just... I guess I just kinda hoped he was okay, y'know?"
“Sorry. At least you and Hadley have managed to escape it, at any rate. Tom’s gonna have an angry mob after him soon enough,” I smiled slightly, “he should’ve used a condom if he knew.” John nodded. I was starting to want to go home. I wanted my family. I could only imagine how fucking hard it must be for Cay dealing with this alone. “Anyway, I literally only wanted to make sure you were clean, so I’ll leave you to whatever you were doing.”
"Maxxie, can I ask a favour of you and Hadley?" John asked quietly before I could get up. I gave him a questioning look and his gaze fell to the floor. "You don't have to give me answer like right now but... When I get tested again, if it comes back positive would... Would you and Hadley look after Beau for me when I... y'know."
"Of course," I answered without hesitating. I was surprised he even felt the need to ask, really. He looked relieved, either way.
"Thanks," he said. I flashed him a smile, getting up as he smiled back. He saw me out and after letting Cayden know John was okay, I headed home.
By the time the kids’ birthday had rolled around, I’d spent so much time sorting out what was gonna happen after I bit the dust that I’d almost forgotten about it completely. When I woke up and realised it was their birthday at four in the morning as I was puking what I’d eaten for dinner up, I made a mental note to think of a way to sneakily buy them some presents.
Hadley had apparently woken up and followed me into the bathroom. He rubbed my back and I bumped my head down on the toilet seat, cursing myself.
"I'm a shit dad. I'm a really shit, shit-" I was cut off by my own body betraying me again.
"No you're not, gorgeous."
I shuddered a little, getting up to stick my head under the tap and rinse my mouth out. “I am,” I said, spitting the water out, “I forgot about their birthday.”
"It's okay, you've had other stuff on your mind."
“That shouldn’t make a difference,” I whined slightly, feeling kinda upset at myself. I was still alive for fuck’s sake, but I’d been acting like I was already dead. He kissed me on the forehead and I sighed a little. "I'll have to go out to get them something while you make them breakfast or something."
"I already got them something from you. I had a feeling you'd forget, but it's not your fault." I mumbled a ‘thanks’ through a yawn and he wrapped his arms around my waist. “Back to bed?” I put my head on top of his, feeling the will to stay on my feet quickly leaving me.
“I s’pose so.” We snuggled up in bed, my hand tangling in his hair sleepily as he kissed my chest.
The next morning, I made myself busy with the kids, wondering what Hadley had bought them from me and helping them get into the shrunk on heat sealed plastic packages from hell. Fuck me, what do manufacturers think when they design these packages? We’re not all Edward Scissorhands, y’know.
I’d been avoiding breakfast as long as I could, given the early morning trip to the toilet that was still leaving a nasty taste in my mouth. I s’pose playing with the kids had been partially guilt that I’d mostly been a total hermit recently, and partially to get away from breakfast. Unfortunately, Hadley cornered me with food while the kids were distracted long enough for me to get myself a drink.
"I know you don't want o, but you need to eat," he said. I gave him the puppy eyes.
“I’m not hungry,” I told him.
"Please just have some of it."
“Can’t I just have you?” I asked with a small grin in an attempt to distract him.
"You can have me if you have something to eat,” he told me with a wider grin on his face. I pouted and got the puppy eyes from him in return. That’s not fair. You know I have zero resistance against the cute face. "Just one little bite.” I whined. My stomach turned just at the thought of even one little bite. “Pwease,” he pleaded, turning the cute eyes up to the max.Fuck you, Bunny boy, I could practically hear my stomach crying as I forced a little down my throat. “Thank you,” he smiled.
"I'll have more to eat when I stop feeling so sick, 'kay?" I asked, doing a brilliant job of not rushing straight to the toilet.
"'Kay. Did you remember to take your meds?"
I nodded, "Did you remember to take your iron pill?" I stuck out my tongue, watching with amusement as Hadley nodded and snuck off to go take it.
"You're gonna have to stick a note on the fridge or something to remind me when you're not here," he laughed a little, and I forced a smile, pretending he meant I was going on holiday or something.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I told him, earning myself a kiss. He hummed as I kissed back, his arms snaking around my waist. I hugged back, watching the kids playing with each other, apparently content enough with what Hadley had bought them. I got the feeling Hadley was watching me more than the kids most of the time.
He took a few photos, too. That kinda got me a little curious, because instead of them all being of the kids enjoying themselves, quite a lot of them were of me as well.
“What’re the photos for?” I asked eventually.
"I want to make them something to remember you by,” he told me with this gorgeous little embarrassed smile.
“Thank you,” I smiled. It was... I dunno. Nice isn’t the right word, but I dunno what else to use. I guess it just felt good to know that they’d all remember me.
"We didn't take enough photos when we were going out," he said, looking a little sad about that. I kissed his forehead, wishing I could go back and get those photos for him.
"I'll see if I can find some old embarrassing photos of me from when I was younger. That way, someone can still humiliate me even when I'm dead," I chuckled, making Hadley laugh. "I can't remember if I have those photos or if Cay's still got them now,” I tried to remember, but my brain wasn’t gonna cooperate.
"Ask him?" I nodded, and before we could say anything else about it, the kids dragged us both over to go play with them.