A/N: I never thought I'd write this story, but I've always been curious about this aspect of M/R, and I can't remember it ever being explored before. I'm sorry! Especially to Mark, but to everyone who reads it as well. I'll have the next chapter of SFAS up soon, and that should be more cheerful than this. Actually, no, it won't. But the ending of it will be, I promise!--Larissa

Dying in America

By Larissa

I got the test results back today. I knew what they'd be before the doctor even opened his mouth. I could kiss my fortieth birthday goodbye, and probably my thirtieth as well. The drugs are better these days, but HIV is still a death sentence. What did I expect? Did I really think I could go into something like this and emerge unscathed?

I'd like to say it was all worth it. That those nights with Roger's arms around me, the pillow fights after sex, the simple feeling of companionship as I'd rest my head against his shoulder while we watched TV make everything seem all right. Loving Roger was the best thing that ever happened to me. Was it worth the agony he put me through when we fought? Absolutely. Was it worth the disapproval of my family? Without a doubt? Was it worth losing the rest of my life? No chance in hell.

Was I really that naïve? Did I honestly think I could have a sexual relationship with a man who was HIV positive, and manage to escape contracting the virus myself? Of course we'd taken precautions--I'd insisted on them--but nothing was a hundred percent safe. I knew that, but I'd chosen to ignore it, hoping that love would be enough to keep me safe.

Let this be a lesson to you, Mark Cohen, I told myself. Love isn't everything. Love doesn't conquer all. At least, it doesn't conquer AIDS. Not for me.

Roger's long gone by now. We broke up two months ago, when he regrouped his band and traveled out west. They're in Las Vegas now, playing at some casino. I get an occasional postcard from him, but I know we're through, even though it hasn't been said in so many words. He's found what he's looking for, and I'm happy for him. I honestly am.

Which is great for him, but doesn't do much for me. It's my own stupid fault, I tell myself. I knew what I was getting into. I knew I was practically committing suicide the first time I went to bed with Roger. But no one made me do it. You're a big boy, Mark, I tell myself. You made those choices, and now you live with the consequences.

If I had any guts at all, I'd take the same route that April did. But I'm a coward, so I'll remain here behind my camera, recording the last months of my life and playing them back on film. When you're dying in America, you're all alone.