“Like what? Are you serious? This is major. Big time major. Ethan, you’re free of it. You don’t have to worry if you cut yourself on tools. You can’t infect anyone anymore. You no longer have that hanging over your head.”
“Like I said earlier, why me? Why not someone else?”
“Why can’t it be you? Listen, we’ve just gone over this. Why can’t you just accept it once and for all?” Ethan shrugged. “Another thing… you don’t have to take any more of those meds that still make you sick or loopy sometimes.”
A thoughtful look crossed Ethan’s face as he suddenly tore up the stairs. “Ethan? What the hell?” Chris ran after him and barged into the bathroom just in time to see him dumping all his pills down the toilet.
He turned to face Chris with an accomplished look on his face. “Damn that felt good.”
“You whack job! You scared the shit outta me.”
Ethan giggled. “Sorry. You know, we should get everyone together and celebrate! I never even thought that this day might come.” He suddenly became very quiet as thoughts raced through his mind. “I never told anyone outside of the family and Jordan about my HIV. I was afraid it would cost me my customers. Now I don’t have to worry about it, which a big relief.”
“I don’t think you would have lost any customers. You have a great reputation, and I know for a fact ‘cause you’ve told me that a couple of your customers came all the way from the other side of the state.”
“Maybe not, but it was still a concern, now it’s gone. Come on, we’ve a party to plan.”
Alicia and Jordan arrived and the party planning was in full swing. Ethan was relatively quiet during the planning, which did not go unnoticed.
Alicia stood up and gestured for Ethan to follow. In the living room away from the ruckus in the kitchen, she said to him, “you seem preoccupied. What’s going on?”
“I’m still trying to get my head around the facts. One, I’m no longer HIV positive, and two, they were able to make a vaccine against HIV and other STDs.”
“You, little brother, are a medical miracle.”
“So everyone keeps telling me, but how did it happen, and why me?”
“I have no answer as to the how, but as far as the why, why not you?”
Ethan shrugged, not having an answer for that. “You know; I keep going back to a dream I had. I was sleeping one night when I woke up to a noise in the room. When I turned over there was this really hot guy standing over me. He put two of his fingers on my lips, then whispered something to the fact that he’ll always take care of me. Next thing I know there was a sharp pain in my shoulder then the guy disappeared. The next morning my shoulder was sore as hell, and when I looked at it in the mirror there was a puncture mark.”
“That’s certainly weird.”
Ethan suddenly remembered something. He rushed over to the bookcase taking up one wall and pulled out his sketch pad then thumbed through it until he found the sketch he wanted. “This is him.”
“Wow, you really know how to dream them up. This guy is gorgeous. Any idea who he might be?”
“Yeah, he came into the shop a couple of times. Said he was just passing through and wanted to know what type of woodworking I did. He was interested in having an old-fashioned china cabinet restored. I haven’t seen him since, except in my dreams.”
“This just gets weirder and weirder. We should get back to the kitchen before everyone starts wondering where we went.” Alicia said.
The party was in full swing and everyone was having a great time. All of Ethan’s friends were there, as were some of his regular customers, who couldn’t stop telling everyone how awesome Ethan was. Conversations were flowing so much that it took Ethan a few minutes to get everyone’s attention.
“First I’d like to thank everybody for coming. It means a lot to me. I have unbelievable news. My family and Jordan know what I’m about to tell you, but none of the rest of you know.” He took a deep breath. “I’ve never hid my sexuality, but I’ve never flaunted it either. As some of you may have guessed, I’m gay.”
This pronouncement drew shocked looks from everyone. “Please, please. I’m still the same person I was five minutes ago. I haven’t changed. Well, actually I have. I used to be HIV positive.”
“Used to be,” asked one of his friends.
“Yep, used to be. Now I’m not. I’ve been cured.”
“How is that possible?”
“That’s what the scientists and the Life Sciences Center are trying to figure out, but it has been confirmed. There’s more. From my blood, they were able to synthesize a vaccine and cure for HIV and all other STDs. What was it they said? Oh yeah. They said something about a strange protein marker in my blood which no one ever saw and that was the catalyst. Anyhoo, that’s all I had to say. Enjoy the party!”
Everyone came up and hugged him and congratulated him. Not one person asked why he didn’t say anything before.
Suddenly Ryan appeared at the foot of the stairs. Ethan grabbed Alicia and Jordan and pointed Ryan out to them. “That’s him.” He walked over to where Ryan was standing. “It’s you, isn’t it? The man in my dreams.” Ryan nodded. “What did you do to me?”
Do I tell him or not? If I do, I’ll be violating the temporal prime directive. Ryan let out a self-depreciating chuckle. Shit, I’ve already done that many times over. Hell, even being here is a violation. “Ethan, can I talk to you in private? I have something to tell you.”
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