Matt was on his way back from retrieving a ballistics report for his and Emily's latest case. This guy had an arsenal at his house, though he chose only a few of his best pieces to bring. These included a classic Colt 45, a 50 caliber semi-automatic that had been converted to full automatic, extremely dangerous, and a shotgun with the barrel sawed off, so he could hide it when he went into the office where he took his hostages.
This report was the last piece of documentation he needed to finish his report on the case. This way he could attack his other three cases, currently wallowing in the stew of paperwork that had been his desk, a long, long time ago. He checked his watch, 12:23, less than forty minutes till he abandoned his paperwork for one blissful hour, with the girlfriend he hadn't seen in days.
That wasn't totally true, he'd seen Emily in the parking garage, at their desks, when she came to pick up her paperwork, and very briefly talked to her last night. They'd been hit with case after case, the last few weeks, and that left a lot of paperwork for this week, when they hadn't had a single case. Unfortunately, this week also had him testifying in two trials, a chore that was usually left up to him, since Emily taught her classes. It left Emily finishing up her classes and preparing them for exams. Yes, they were forced to take exams to prove they'd learned something from the class. Which meant that she had to be available for questions all day, so she'd been in her classroom all day, alternately teaching, and seeing students with questions.
So they had barely seen each other, and gone home alone all week because they were too tired and too cranky to bother with anything more than sleeping an eating. Rather than risk fighting in their cranky moods, they decided to take advantage of the fact that they both had apartments. However, on the phone last night they had mutually agreed this not seeing each other for days wasn't working, so they had a lunch date for one o'clock.
It was not two seconds after checking his watch that Matt heard it.
"Matty! Matty!" It had been a long time Matt had heard that shriek, and he never missed it, not even a tiny bit. He turned around to see his ex, Tracy Mae, running down the hall, trying to catch up with him.
What the hell could she possibly want?
She would remain at the top of his pantheon of bad relationships. This was the woman who Cheryl liked to refer to as the 'rabid harpy', and Frank had taken to calling the Barbie doll. She was a mistake in every sense of the word, yet for some unfathomable reason, he dated her for four months, four excruciating long months.
When he actually bothered to go to his apartment, she would show up very shortly after and strut in, speaking like she was two seconds away from oding on speed. Gossiping, giggling, shrieking her awful, "oh my gods!", clicking her outrageously bright, often pink fingernails, and smacking her glossy red lips. And to add insult to injury, she insisted on calling him Matty. He detested being called Matty. Now said harpy was back, wearing a violently purple suit, and four inch stilettos to match, that also seemed to have something dead square in the middle of each toe. Her bleached blonde hair was curled tightly to her head, and her makeup and nails were as loud as ever. She was the polar opposite of Emily.
God help me!
"Tracy, what brings you here?" He made his best attempt at being polite, praying that Emily would round the bend any minute and save his sorry ass.
"Matty, I need to talk to you, it's important. Is there anywhere we can go that's private?" She looked hopefully at him, looking up and down the hallway she found him in. Matt was about to tell he to shove off, but there was something in her eyes that made him give in.
"Yeah, right over here." He escorted her a few feet down the hall to an interrogation room.
Once inside, She sat in the chair usually reserved for suspects, and went silent, studying the bare walls, table, floor, mirror, her ugly shows, anything but Matt. Her knees were angle, pressing against each other nervously, under the table, her hands moved almost rhythmically from her hair, to her arms, to just being clasped in front of each other, forming a triangle, as her elbows rested below them on the table.
Matt chose to stand, opposite Tracy, leaning back against the mirror, his butt not quite touching, and his legs stretched out slightly in front of him. He crossed his arms over his chest, waiting for her to explain her sudden reappearance in his life.
"Tracy what's going on, I have work to do." He was having second thoughts about humoring her, and rapidly loosing his patience.
"Matt, uh, there is no easy way to say this." She continued looking nervously around the room.
"Say what Tracy?" He asked annoyed.
She was silent for a few minutes longer, then suddenly blurted, "I'm HIV positive."
Matt stared at her trying to process what she had told him. He clumsily fumbled for the chair opposite Tracy, sitting down before the shock overwhelmed him, still staring at her. While he stared, she continued speaking.
"I was tested twice a month ago. They did a quick test on the spot and had me come in the next day to do another that they sent out. Both were positive." She waited for him to say something, feeling agony as he remained silent.
"My last test before that was almost three years ago." She explained quietly. They'd dated almost two years ago. Her implication was clear. She could have been HIV positive when she was dating Matt, meaning Matt could now be HIV positive.
Matt began to feel sick, and could feel the sweat begin to pour off him. Oh Christ, this was not happening. This could not be happening. Matt could not possibly have HIV. It was a ridiculous thought. Prostitutes got HIV, gay men got HIV, sluts got HIV, not your average Joe with somewhat liberal dating habits. Matt thought, his suddenly being handed a possible death sentence making him drop all politically correct thoughts, and begin running on emotion.
She was nuts thinking he had HIV. He couldn't, could he? God, he was responsible, always responsible. How could this happen? How could this be happening to him? What the hell was he going to do now? He ran a hand through his hair, rivers of sweat raining from him, betraying the racing thoughts in his head, and rampant beat of his heart.
"Matt say something please." Tracy begged him, clearly upset be his continued silence.
He turned to her, his face one of shock and disbelief at her demand. "What am I supposed to say, Tracy?"
"I don't know! Say anything, just stop being so quiet, please." She begged him.
"Sorry to upset you, I'm contemplating my death." He said sarcastically.
"Don't be a dick Matt." She told him, getting upset.
"Excuse me? You waltz in here, tell me you may have given me HIV, and your telling me not to be a dick? I don't think so."
"Come off it Matt. You could have given it to me, when was the last time you were tested?"
She was right. He hadn't been tested in longer than she had. Evidently he wasn't that careful. He was tested, well, he couldn't remember exactly when, but he'd go with five years. What if he'd infected every girlfriend he'd had in the last five years. He used condoms with most of them though, only with a few women, his more serious relationships did he use birth control, like Emily.
Oh god, Emily! He thought as his stomach turned inside out, and this situation became much, much worse. If he was HIV positive, there was no chance that Emily wasn't. If he infected Emily, he would never forgive himself. She was different than any other girlfriend he'd had; he loved her. He'd pretty much confessed that in Mexico, though he realized afterward that she wasn't ready to hear it, and so played along with her. Now he might be force to tell her that she might die a few decades too early, and it was his fault.
He breathed in and rested his face in his hands, ignoring, once again, the woman in front of him. I'm so sorry Emily, he thought miserably. He dug the heels of his palms into his eyes, hoping he'd wake-up from this awful dream he was sucked into. He knew it wouldn't happen though. This wasn't one of those dreams that seems so real you feel like you're actually living it, so that when you wake up you feel nothing but relief that it was only a dream. This was reality, rather this was evidently reality biting him in the ass.
"Matt, you need to get tested." She told him seriously, suddenly stopping the blame game, perhaps the most mature thing Tracy had ever done, Matt though bitterly.
"I know that." He said abruptly, and not kindly.
"Are you going to?"
"Yeah." He answered without commitment.
"Matty?" Tracy suddenly realized what be upsetting her former boyfriend so, aside from the obvious.
"What?" He really didn't feel like talking right then.
"Do you have a girlfriend now?"
"Yeah, I do." He said, the hostility dropping from his voice, to be replaced with gloom.
"You care a lot about her?" Tracy asked coaxing him.
"Yes, very much." He answered honestly.
"I'm sorry Matty. I really am." She said softly, before she quietly left the room. She'd done what she come to do, now Matt had to deal with the rest on his own. She had her own problems at the moment, and a rather long list of former lovers to get through.
Matt remained in the room for a while longer, alternately staring blankly at a section of wall next to the mirror, and the floor as he hung his head in shame. Of course he didn't know if he even actually had HIV yet, but the very idea that he could, the very idea that he hurt Emily was a guilt trip that would make the Catholic Church envious.
He knew intellectually that political correctness dictates that people should be shamed or stigmatized for their HIV status, but emotionally it was a different story. Emotionally, he pictured a scarlet "H" pinned to his chest, and the words, "irresponsible bastard" tattooed on his forehead. Intellectually he knew he should calmly get a test done, prepare for the worst, and acknowledge that their was no rhyme or reason to who got HIV. However, being an emotional being, he wanted to scream at the top of his lungs that he couldn't have HIV, that it just wasn't possible, that he wasn't one of those people, whoever they were.
With he head still hung, chin touching his chest, Matt began to move, suddenly realizing from the slight moisture on his palms, that his eyes had begun to leak tears. Angrily wiping them away, he got up, flung the door to the interrogation room open, intent on finding Emily and coming clean about this nightmare he found them in.
Matt, of course, found her in her classroom, lecturing on the no-exactly successes that can befall crisis negotiators. Matt snuck in quietly, as he had many times before, and just as quietly took a seat in the back. Most of the time he enjoyed hearing her lecture, but now he could feel the sweat pouring off him in bullets, as he watched, knowing what he had to do.
"You don't always come out with all your hostages unharmed or even alive. There will be times that you find you simply can't negotiate with the HT, times when you know they have nothing to lose, and no matter what happens, somebody will be crying before the situation is resolved." She spoke loudly, but gently to her class, hoping not to scare them. But the final thing they needed to learn from her class was that shit happened and some situations ended very badly.
"What do you do if you find you can't negotiate with your HT?" One student asked, one of the younger ones in the class, a rookie straight out of Quantico, the home of the FBI training academy. Most of the agents with any experience could already guess the answer to that question.
"You keep trying. You do whatever you have to, because that's all you can do. Often you'll just be pulling out everything you've got to get the HT to move where HRT can get a clear shot, other times, you'll have to get creative…" She caught sight of Matt sitting in the back, and smiled at him, as she continued speaking.
Unfortunately, for Matt, her smile at seeing him, sent his already frazzled nerves and weak stomach wild, and he bolted from the room, as quietly as he could. Tearing down the hall until he found a bathroom, he hurried in, taking the first stall, hoping that it had been flushed recently, and proceeded to loose his last few meals, in what he thankfully found to be a fairly clean bowl.
How was he supposed to tell Emily that he, no…they, might have HIV?
I wasn't sure how people would respond to this story, as in if there would be any interest, so I haven't written more yet. If anybody is interested, I'll keep writing. Thank you for reading, and Happy Holidays!