I’d sort of made up with Cayden a little over what happened. I still couldn’t forgive him for giving Maxxie HIV and I knew he still held it against himself, so I never voiced my opinions on the matter. I think he could tell, though.
He still didn’t want Mom to know, and hadn’t been anywhere near home for months. So I made a deal with him. I wouldn’t say anything if he told her within three months. Cheeky fucker told her at the very last possible moment of those three months. And needless to say Mom cycled through rage disbelief and sadness a few times. Dad took it a little better, I have to admit. Offered to help pay for Cayden’s meds and everything. It was when Mom was busy coddling my brother that Dad pulled me over to one side, this serious look on his face.
“Does this mean Maxxie has it too?” he asked quietly.
“Yeah” I said sadly.
“Are you being safe?”
“Dad” I whined a little, embarrassed.
“I know you don’t like talking about this kind of stuff but promise me you’re being safe. I don’t want to lose two sons”
“Dad... Yes, we’re being safe”
He ruffled my hair. “Good”
Dad promised not to say anything to Mom. It sort of hadn’t clicked in her head yet that he might’ve given it to Maxxie. Or that it could’ve gotten passed on to me. And I wasn’t really in the mood to have her fussing over me when Cayden was the one who needed fussing over, even if he pretended to hate it.
“Me and John’ve made up” he said as I drove him home once Mom had put him down.
“He’s making me write this like autobiography thing for him”
Cayden shrugged. “Said it’s for him to remember me by”
“Kinda like the scrapbook of Maxxie for the kids, then”
“Yeah, I guess so” he chuckled.
“Are you and him back together then?”
Cayden shook his head. “It’ll be easier on him if I’m just a friend when I go”
“I wouldn’t say that” I said and he looked at me, confused. “I mean, if it was me and Maxxie, I’d rather we made the most of the time we had left instead of just staying friends. But that’s just me” I shrugged.
Cayden had a quiet funeral; just the family, Brent, John and Beau. He’d taken what I’d said into account and him and John had gotten back together. They went off and had a quickie marriage when Cayden caught the flu around four months later, just in case that was what finished him off. He spent a grand total of two months with the flu before it got the better of him.
John had helped Mom organise the funeral, and as such he’d been asked to do Cayden’s eulogy. I’d been kinda pissed at first that they hadn’t asked me what with being his brother and all, but as John spoke it kinda felt right having him do it instead. He really did love him. John even threw in a bit of what Cayden had written about the day he met John, which was sweet in its own little way.
Needless to say, Mom was in tears. Dad spent the entire time comforting her, though I could tell he was at breaking point himself. After all, Cayden was his eldest son. He was a shitty son, but he was still Dad’s first. John was keeping a brave face for Beau, who was stood with me, Maxxie and the kids. Ryan was holding Bradley, the nephew who I’d met for the first time that day, and Ava was holding Riley’s hand, her eyes staring down at the coffin in the ground. And Maxxie? I think Maxxie was crying more than Mom. Lily kept hold of his hand, hugging his leg and Danny just stood there quietly.
Mom was still crying her eyes out as we made our way to the wake, which was being held at Mom and Dad’s. Dad had given up the brave face, choosing instead to just stand next to her quietly, his eyes on the floor. John had apparently given up a little too, his eyes watering the second he stopped speaking at the funeral. Maxxie was still crying a little and I rubbed his back as Lily hugged his leg again. Ava wandered over with Bradley, the kid fast asleep in her arms.
"I s'pose these aren't exactly the best circumstances to meet your nephew under, huh?" she said, chuckling a little sadly.
Maxxie shook his head and Ava sort of smiled down at Bradley as he let out a quiet snuffling noise in his sleep.
"How's Riley?" I asked.
"You should go see him. He wanted to say hi earlier but Maxxie was crying so much he thought he'd upset him"
Maxxie smiled a little and Ava kissed his cheek, taking Bradley upstairs. Maxxie went to find Riley and me and the kids followed him. Riley was sat on Ryan’s lap and Maxxie sat next to the guy. Riley crawled onto Maxxie’s lap, hugging him.
"Did I upset you? I'm sorry” Ryan said innocently as Maxxie hugged back.
Maxxie ruffled his hair. "No, you didn't upset me. Cayden upset me by going and dying on me"
"I cared about him a lot and I miss him. But you haven't upset me" he smiled.
"That's good" Riley smiled. "Daddy said there was cake"
Maxxie chuckled slightly. "Somewhere, I think"
Riley’s eyes lit up and Maxxie kind of watched as the kid wandered off to try and find the cake. I sat down next to Maxxie, resting my head on his shoulder as Danny sat on my lap. Lily had abandoned us to go after the cake with Riley and I nuzzled Maxxie’s neck as he kissed the top of my head. Maxxie leant his head on top of mine and Danny sort of hugged me.
"You okay, little man?" I asked and he nodded.
Maxxie hugged the both of us.
"Is Daddy okay?" Danny asked.
"Daddy's fine" Maxxie said.
"You don't sound it"
He played with Danny’s hair. "I just miss Cay, that's all"
"Does Papa not miss him? He's not crying" Danny asked and Maxxie glanced at me.
"Yeah, I miss him, but we didn't get along as well as he did with Daddy"
Maxxie was quiet and I let out a slight sigh.
"Look at us all moping about. We should be worried about John"
Maxxie looked over at John, who was sat in a corner with Beau on his lap, his eyes on the floor as he cried silently. "I wonder how he's gonna cope"
Maxxie went over to him, and John didn’t really notice til Maxxie hugged him. John looked up, hugging back and Maxxie did his best to comfort him.
"Sorry" John sniffled.
"For being such a mess"
Maxxie kissed John’s forehead. "I think you probably cared about him the most out of all of us here. I don't blame you for being a mess"
John sighed a little and Maxxie stayed where he was, cuddling him. John sort of clung to him, still crying. Maxxie cuddled him tighter and eventually John managed to stop crying, wiping his eyes.
"Sorry" he said again.
"No, it's not fair of me to be relying on you. I know you miss him too"
Maxxie shrugged. "We can be there for each other, then" he smiled and John kind of smiled back. "Let me know if you need anything, won't you"
John nodded and Maxxie hugged him again before wandering back over to me and Danny. He flopped down on the couch and I played with his hair, kissing the top of his head as he leant in on my shoulder.
"I'm scared, Bunny" he whispered quietly so Danny wouldn’t hear.
"I'm here to talk if you ever need to"
"I know. It's just hard knowing he's gone, and then realising I'm next, but I have no idea how long I have left"
"They have a support group thing at the hospital. I could sign you up for that, if you want?" I asked and he shook his head. “Okay” I said, kissing his cheek.
"I don't wanna go, Bunny"
"I don't want you to either"
Maxxie’s eyes started to well up and I wrapped him in a hug.
"D'you wanna go home?" I asked and he nodded. "I'll go get Lily and say bye to everyone"
I got Lily and the four of us said goodbye to everyone, going upstairs to say a quiet goodbye to Bradley since I didn’t know when I’d get to see him next. I drove us home and Maxxie sat there being emo. I sent the kids up to their room to play quietly, pulling Maxxie onto my lap on the couch, smothering him in a hug. I played with his hair as he clung to me, crying a little.
"I love you" he said, still crying slightly as I kept cuddling him.
"I love you too"
"I'm gonna miss you so much when I go"
"I'll miss you more"
"Only if there's nothing that comes after this" he said, smiling faintly.
I didn’t say anything to that. He started feeling up my face and I couldn’t help being kinda amused, smiling as he traced my lips.
He snuggled up to me. "I really do love you. More than anything" he said, resting his head on my shoulder.
"I love you too" I said, kissing the top of his head. He let out a yawn. “Bedroom”
"Why?" he asked innocently.
"Because you're tired and there's something I need to do"
He got up, whining about how he shouldn’t even be tired all day all the way to the bedroom.
"I know you're probably not in the mood but something's been bugging me lately" I said a little embarrassedly, fetching a condom.
Maxxie watched curiously as I undid his pants, rolling the condom on him and sucking him off. I felt his fingers tangle in my hair and he let out a moan, leaning back against the wall. He let out a stream of moans as he came and I got rid of the condom. I couldn’t hide that I was a little sad that my plan hadn’t worked.
"What's wrong?" he asked, kissing me.
“I’ve forgotten what you taste like"
He cuddled me and I cuddled back.
"I know it's stupid to be getting worked up over it"
"If it bothers you that much, the risk of catching it from giving me head's pretty slim" he said, shrugging a little. "I'd rather you didn't risk it, but y'know"
"No, it's okay. I'm sure I can get used to it" I said, smiling a little.
The two of us snuggled up together in bed even though it was only the afternoon and I kissed the top of Maxxie’s head as he fell asleep. I’d fucking miss him so much.