A/N- This is for AllsBack, without whom it would not have been written. I hope it's satisfactory. : )
"I have what?" Andy said disbelievingly.
"You have AIDS." The nurse looked disgusted.
"But…I just came in because of the fever." Andy felt like he was going to vomit.
"The fever is a symptom of AIDS," she said shortly.
Miguel. "I need to call…I need to call my…"He pressed his hand to his head, wondering if nausea and dizziness were also symptoms. I need Miguel. Then a horrible thought occurred to him. What if Miguel has it, too?
"How did I get it?" He asked, throat making his voice raspy. The nurse did not offer him water.
"Have you ever had a blood transfusion?" she asked.
"No," he gasped.
"Then the disease was probably transmitted sexually."
Miguel. Oh, gosh, Miguel. "I need to call Miguel."
The nurse sniffed derisively and said, "There's a phone in the lobby." He stumbled out the door, barely managing to stay on his feet. The nurse did not offer assistance.
He found the phone and waited while the young woman ahead of him finished talking to what seemed to be her boyfriend. Apparently they were having a boy. How nice for them. Andy was dying. Finally it was his turn. It took him two tries to dial Miguel's work number. The secretary greeted him cheerfully and put him on hold while she went to get Miguel. Andy tried very hard to breathe.
"Andrew? Are you all right?" Miguel asked worriedly. Andy never called him at work.
"No," was all Andy could force past his lips.
"What happened? Where are you?" Andy could hear him whisper to the secretary to call a substitute, as he would be out the rest of the day.
"Oh, wow. I'll be there in five minutes, I swear." Andy could hear Miguel putting on his coat. He was relieved that he wouldn't have to explain over the phone. Breathing got a little easier.
When Andy went back to the exam room, there was a different nurse there. She smiled at him sympathetically. "Poor dear. Is someone coming for you? A parent, or a friend?"
"That's probably for the best. We'll need to test him, too." Andy was having trouble breathing again.
The nurse questioned him extensively on how he'd been feeling until Miguel arrived. She seemed pleased, and said they'd caught it early enough that he could have several years left.
Miguel was shown to the exam room by the sour faced nurse. She was glaring at them both, but he looked like he hadn't noticed. The new nurse gave her a look that boded ill and she walked away in a huff.
"Andrew? Are you alright? What's going on?" Miguel asked quickly, coming over to stand next to Andy and look at him with worried eyes. Andy almost felt better, just having him there.
"I see you haven't told him yet," the nurse said. Miguel turned to look at her as if he hadn't noticed before.
"I thought…not on the phone." Andy reached down to lace his fingers through Miguel's and held on tight.
"Would you liked to tell him now, or should I?"
"Of course." She gazed at them sympathetically. "I'm afraid Mr. Beckett has AIDS."
Miguel frowned. "AIDS? The gay plague? What…what does that mean, exactly?" He sounded calm, but Andy felt him stiffen and clutch his hand tighter. Miguel knew what that meant.
"AIDS is a disease that attacks the immune system, leaving the victim open to viruses and tumors. It usually causes the patient to slowly become weaker and eventually…die." The nurse sighed. The only thing worse than telling a person they were going to die was telling someone who loved them they were going to die.
"He'll…what? That's not possible. Andrew…Andrew doesn't…Andrew can't have that." Miguel shook his head over and over, a useless denial.
"I'm sorry sir. He does. We'll need to test your blood as well, I'm afraid. The disease is usually transmitted through sexual intercourse, so if Mr. Beckett has it, it's likely you do as well."
"A…blood…test?" Miguel sat down heavily on the exam table. He blinked several times, then shook his head, hard. "Can it be treated? How can we help Andy?" Andy knew he was upset then. Miguel never called him by his nickname.
The nurse smiled sadly. "Let me draw some blood, and we'll talk about treatment when the lab results come back."
Miguel, who hated the sight of blood, didn't even turn away when the needle went in. He just stared at their joined hands unseeingly.
"Andrew?" he asked desperately when the nurse left. "How did this happen?"
Andy hung his head. He squeezed his eyes shut in shame. "I'm so sorry. That night we fought…"
"You told me about that. I already forgave you. That wasn't what I meant, anyway."
"You forgave infidelity. But if I gave you the disease…"
"We don't know who got it first. Maybe I gave it to you."
"No. You haven't been with anyone else."
"That's true. But maybe I don't even have it. Don't borrow trouble, Andrew. We need to talk about you, anyway. What will you do?"
The sound of the smack was loud in the quiet room. "You don't talk that way! Don't ever talk that way!"
Andy held his jaw in shock. "But didn't you hear her? I'm dying."
"Not yet you aren't. We're going to do everything we can to make sure you don't, not for a long time." Miguel swallowed hard. "I won't let you. I love you."
Andy blinked, eyes watering. "I love you, too."
Miguel stepped forward, wrapped his arms around his partner, and just held him for what seemed like a very long time.
When the nurse came back with the results, she was smiling. It was surprising enough that Andy, who was facing the door, let go of Miguel to ask, "Is there good news, then?"
"Yes. Mr. Alvarez, I'm pleased to inform you that you have not been infected."
"Thank goodness." Andy nearly collapsed with relief, falling back on the exam table. "Miguel. Did you hear? You're going to be ok."
Miguel smiled at him, squeezing his hand. "I am. But you're not." He turned to the nurse. "How can we treat this?"
The nurse gave them a long list of things they could do, everything from diet to exercise, as well as regular visits for antiretroviral treatment. She also advised them to either abstain from sex or always take precautionary measures. Preferably abstinence, since protection didn't always work. Andy agreed. He would do anything to protect Miguel.
The car was silent on the way home. Miguel was shaking when they got up to their apartment.
"Are you ok?" Andy asked with trepidation.
"How could you do this to me, Andrew?" Miguel collapsed into a chair, letting his face fall into his hands. He didn't feel like being rational right now.
"But…you're ok. I didn't…I didn't give it to you. You're alright." said Andy, honestly confused.
"Don't you get it, Andrew? You're not ok! You're going to die! I'm going to lose you!" Miguel's shoulders were shaking. "How…how could you?"
Andy, feeling very worn out, dropped to his knees in front of Miguel. He pulled Miguel's fingers away from his face. They just stared at each other for long moments. "I'm sorry, Miguel. I'm so, so sorry," was all Andy could manage.
Miguel nodded silently. He slid out of the chair and onto the floor, into Andy's arms. They kissed desperately, urgently, each needing reassurance that, for that moment, they were together, and safe, and alright.
And for that moment, they were.