Chapter 16

December 19th, 2009

Ennis and Jack woke up at eight, still entwined around each other. Having missed out on sex the night before due to exhaustion, they made up for it by taking a shower together and Jack pushing into Ennis, kissing his neck and jerking him off as he thrust into him.

When they finally emerged from the room, they headed down through the hotel in search of breakfast, Jack's hand slipping easily into Ennis's without a thought. They treated themselves at the buffet, which was already paid for as long as they stayed here. As they ate, Jack examined their list of things that they wanted to do.

"What are we doing first?" he asked, and Ennis shrugged.

"Whatever you wanna do, bud. You wanna call your mom and tell her we're here?" Jack nodded.

"Yeah, I will. How about we just go for a walk somewhere, and see what we can find? I can't remember everything that's around here..." Ennis made an approving sound and they carried on eating, already excited by the prospect of exploring the city. Even Jack was looking forward to getting to know it all again.

After breakfast, they left the hotel and picked a street at random, walking around and seeing the sights of the city. Ennis wondered how Jack was feeling about being back here, but he seemed okay. Jack was remembering the good parts of living in the city; there was always something to do, and it was buzzing with life.

They found themselves at the Hell's Kitchen flea market, and strolled through, looking at the various wares. Jack found a beautiful sweater for his mother that would be perfect for Christmas. Ennis had decided to take her a bunch of flowers as a peace offering, even though Jack had reassured him that she was a lovely woman and that she wanted to meet him.

As they walked around, Jack's cell phone buzzed in his pocket, and he pulled it out. "It's my mom," he said to Ennis, who nodded. "Hey, mom."

"Hi, Jack. You're here now, aren't you?"

"Uh, yeah. We got in about midnight; just walking around now."

"Oh, that's great. So when can I see you?"

"Um...I don't know. We're still a little tired...maybe tomorrow. When's dad working?"

"He is working tomorrow, but I'm coming into the city anyway to do some shopping. I can't wait to see you, sweetie."

Jack smiled in spite of himself. "Me neither, mom. Where do you wanna meet?"

"How about Birch Coffee? You always liked it there. About twelve?"

"Sounds great. See you tomorrow, mom."

"Bye, Jack." He clicked off and turned to Ennis.

"That's it, then. We're meeting my mom at twelve tomorrow, at Birch Coffee. It's on East 27th, around midtown. I remember where it is."

Ennis nodded. "Sounds good." He looked around. "What are we doing next?"

" feel like going to a museum? The Museum of Modern Art isn't far from here."

"Okay." Ennis was a little overwhelmed at all of it; the city had a different kind of energy from San Francisco and he couldn't wait to see what else they might do while they were here.

They made their way to the museum, eager to get out of the cold. Jack pointed out that there was a café where they could have lunch when they were done, and the two of them made their way through. It was utterly silent in here except for footsteps, and they held hands as they walked, murmuring in wonder at the art around them, both paintings and sculptures. It was all very abstract; not the kind of art one would see in the usual museums.

"Look at that," Jack said suddenly, pointing at a vibrant multicoloured hanging on the wall. "A lot of work sure went into that one, huh?"

"Yeah..." Ennis leaned closer. "It's by...Alighiero Boetti. Called 'Tutto', which means 'Everything'." He looked at Jack. "Sure is something."

Jack tilted his head. "Strange...the guy made this, and called it everything. know something? I look at you, and I see my everything." His eyes sparkled at Ennis, who blushed.

"Same here, Jack.'re my everything too."

They had lunch in one of the cafés after walking around a little more, eating from a small tray of sandwiches and chips, with a side salad. Jack smiled across at Ennis as they ate.

"I'm really enjoying this so far, Ennis," he said sincerely. "I mean...even though I love living in San Francisco...I like being back here. Apart from Central Park and everything that happened, I always liked living here."

"Yeah, I can tell." Ennis tilted his head. "Do you still think of here as home?"

Jack thought for a moment. "Not really. Not after everything. I think of San Francisco as home now. Where I met you. Where we live..."

Ennis smiled. "Right. What the future? Are we...gonna live together someday?"

Jack nodded slowly, liking the idea. "Yeah, one day. I can see it happening for us...maybe this year. Things are going well for us. I'd like to live with you, bud. Maybe in a few months, we can start to talk about it properly. Make plans."

"Will we live in the city? Or maybe move?" Ennis asked.

"I don't know, bud. I think I'd like to stay a little longer, since I haven't been there long. Maybe when we...I don't know...turn thirty or something, we could move and settle down somewhere."

Ennis nodded, seeing visions before his eyes. Where would they settle and make a life together? Would they perhaps have a cosy house, in the suburbs or the country? Would they ever get married, legally or otherwise? Would they somehow have kids? Would they get pets? There were so many things he wanted to know, and so many ideas for their life together, that he couldn't wait to find out what might happen. He knew that he would be spending the rest of his life with Jack, and that was enough to tide him over for now.

The two of them walked around some more through the afternoon, Jack running into a few of his old classmates from college and introducing them to Ennis. He wanted to show off his wonderful man to everybody he used to know; he loved Ennis so much and would shout it from the rooftops if he could. But he knew that such behaviour might land him in trouble.

Still, when they returned to the hotel, they were tired but happy. Their first day in the city together had been fun, and they couldn't wait to do it all again tomorrow.

Ennis wasn't sure how he felt about the prospect of meeting Jack's mother. She was, by all accounts, a very nice woman who had struggled at first with who Jack was and what had happened to him. When he looked at it like that, he could understand it; she'd only ever wanted the best for her son. She'd wanted him to live a long, healthy and happy life, so it made some kind of sense that she had struggled to adjust to such changes.

He thought about all this as they ate dinner in the hotel restaurant, their faces glowing in the dim candlelight around them. The two of them were sharing a large plate of spaghetti and meatballs. It was a very romantic setting and if Ennis hadn't already been in love with Jack, he could see himself falling for Jack right here.

Come to think of it, he thought with a slight smile, I reckon I am falling for him a little more than I already did. With this thought, he reached across the table with his free hand and took Jack's, lacing their fingers together. Jack smiled.

"What's all this?" he asked softly, squeezing Ennis's fingers.

"Just thinking...if I hadn't already fallen for you, I could see it happening right here."

Jack nodded, looking around. "Sure is romantic."

"And then I got to thinking...maybe I am falling for you a little more than I was," Ennis continued, looking deeply into Jack's eyes. "I just...I'm really enjoying this, Jack. Being here with you."

Jack's smile widened. "I am too." They returned to their food, looking forward to the night ahead.

When they returned to their room, Jack shut and locked the door behind them and moved into Ennis's arms, kissing him.

"Mmm, alone at last..."

"Uh huh," Ennis mumbled through their kisses as Jack walked him backwards to the bed. They sank down onto it, their kisses deepening and hands wandering. Jack was quickly tugging at Ennis's clothes, pulling his jacket off and throwing it to the corner. Ennis returned the favour, removing Jack's coat and pulling at the hem of his sweater. "Mmm, c'mere..."

Jack's eyes were half-closed and his mouth open with lust as they undressed each other, the pile of clothes growing until they were naked. He wanted Ennis inside him and soon; felt as if he would burst if he didn't get it. They crawled up the bed and under the sheets, a warm cocoon surrounding them both. Ennis rolled himself on top of Jack and settled between his legs, getting comfortable. As he looked down at Jack, his gaze was filled with pure adoration for the man underneath him. Jack saw the gaze and touched Ennis's face.

"I love you," he whispered, and Ennis kissed his fingers. "I love you so much..."

"Love you too," Ennis murmured, leaning down to nuzzle Jack's neck. "You wanna?"

"Hell yeah," Jack replied, turning his head so that Ennis could reach more of his neck, now kissing it softly. "Want you inside me..." Ennis nodded and rose up, grabbing the lube from the nightstand and a condom from the drawer. He prepared himself and nudged Jack's legs wider apart, anticipation filling him up as he headed for his version of heaven. At the last minute, he remembered to put a rubber on Jack, for when he had his release. It was just good sense to cover Jack up.

He started to push in and Jack bit his lip, lifting his hips to help and wrapping his legs around Ennis' waist. They slowly connected and became one, their breath coming out in short pants.

"Oh God..." Jack sighed, falling back to the pillow and closing his eyes. Ennis leaned over him and rested his top half on Jack's chest.

"You ready, darlin'?" Jack could only nod, and Ennis began to slowly move inside him, slow yet steady strokes that he knew drove Jack crazy. Jack was making soft moans underneath him, and Ennis couldn't help but kiss him, drawing his tongue out and curling it around his own.

They moved together in a steady rhythm, kissing and trying to hold each other even closer, as if they were trying to meld themselves into one. Ennis pushed in deeper, changing the angle to try and find the sweet spot. Jack was in heaven, pure bliss flowing through him as it always did whenever they did this. It felt good, to be doing this with Ennis just a short distance away from where he'd been attacked; like he was somehow saying 'fuck you' to the guy and the memories of the day. It proved that he hadn't been beaten; that he'd bounced back and survived with the love of a good man. Ennis was here, inside him and all around him, and that was the most important thing right now.

He pulled Ennis onto his lips, kissing him fervently as if trying to tell him without words how much it meant that he was here. Ennis seemed to understand, thrusting deeper and quicker until Jack was shooting, shaking and moaning until Ennis followed suit, groaning. Ennis collapsed onto him, seeing stars and a little dizzy.

"God, Jack...darlin'..."

"Hmm..." Jack smiled and rubbed Ennis's back. "Better take those off..."

"Yeah..." They removed the rubbers and, unable to get up right now, they tied them shut and tossed them onto the nightstand. Ennis sank back down onto Jack and they were soon sound asleep.

The next day, Ennis and Jack ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant once more, talking over their plans for the day. They would be meeting Jack's mother at twelve, but had the rest of the day to themselves.

Ennis was nervous about meeting Jack's mother, as her son's boyfriend. Jack had reassured him that everything would be okay; she was a wonderful woman who was trying her best to adjust to the major changes in Jack's life.

"It'll be okay, you know," Jack told him, smiling encouragingly as they walked through the city, hand in hand. "She'll be fine."

"I know," Ennis replied, trying to relax. They looked around some stores for a while, and did some more shopping, until it was time to prepare for meeting Jack's mom. When they were in their room, they had time for a quick tumble under the sheets, laughing and rolling around.

They gathered their presents and flowers for Jack's mother. Ennis had bought her a silver bracelet that Jack had told him she would love. He was still nervous, but tried not to dwell on it too much as they headed for Bistro Coffee on East 27th, to meet Jack's mother for lunch.

When they got there, Jack spied his mother waiting for them in the corner, smiling when she saw her son. "Jack..."

Jack grinned, heading for her with Ennis right behind him, and he hugged her warmly. "Hey, mom..."

She was very pretty; in her forties by the look of it, with short red hair at her shoulders and the blue eyes that she had clearly passed onto Jack. "Hey, sweetie..."

Jack moved to the side and gestured to Ennis. "Mom...this is Ennis Del Mar."

"Oh, the famous boyfriend," she said, smiling and extending a hand. "Hi, I'm Karen Twist."

"Nice to meet you, ma'am," Ennis replied, smiling and relieved that she was being so welcoming. "Um...these are for you," he said, holding out the flowers, and she smiled wider.

"Oh, thank you, Ennis. Come on, have a seat..." They sat down and she looked at the packages curiously. "What are those?"

"Um, they're for you, mom," Jack said, passing them to her. "For Christmas."

She nodded. "Thank you. So, how are things on the West Coast?"

"Alright. Friday was my last day; I'm gonna look for something else when we get back. I just couldn't take it any longer...they were driving me mad."

"I can understand that." A waitress came over and took their orders, and then she carried on talking. "So, work at a vet's office, right?"

"Yep. Been there since I graduated. So...just over four years now."

She smiled. "I'm really glad that you and Jack got together. I was worried about him for the longest time." She turned to her son. "Jack...when you came back here a few months were so broken. I wondered if I'd ever see you smile again. So when you told me that you were seeing someone, and that he was really good to you and made you happy...I was so relieved."

Jack smiled back and took Ennis's hand on the table. "He does make me happy, mom. I know it wasn't easy when I was diagnosed..."

Karen shook her head. "I won't lie to you, Jack. It wasn't easy to accept that you're gay as it is. But when you were infected...I think a lot of my reaction came from fear. I assumed the worst, which I shouldn't have. And I know your father didn't react so well..."

"I remember what he said to me, mom," Jack replied. "Told me it was my punishment for being gay." Karen sighed.

"I know. I really gave him a dressing-down for that one. He seemed a little remorseful for it after you left, but he doesn't really know how to talk to you. He...I think he wants to talk to you, Jack."

Jack thought for a moment, and looked at Ennis. "I don't know, mom. He hasn't spoken to me in five years. And what about Ennis? I don't wanna face my dad without him by my side."

"I'm sure it'd be fine. Your dad doesn't hate you...he's just struggling. Look...we were born in the sixties...and men were expected to marry a woman and have children. You went against all of that. You're with a man, and you'll never be able to have kids. It's not easy for a man like your dad to see his son going against everything he expected of him. I mean...when we were born, a relationship like yours was highly frowned upon, not to mention illegal."

Sodomy, Jack thought to himself. All the stuff Ennis and I do...

"I know. I guess it only makes sense that he's struggling with it. But I just can't go forgetting what he said to me. It was horrible."

"I'm sorry, Jack. But, um...would you consider coming to the house, at least? Maybe show Ennis your old room and where you grew up?"

Jack shrugged. "I don't know, maybe. But only if my dad isn't there. I don't really want to see him, mom."

She nodded. "Okay. I'll make sure he's out. I'm pretty sure he's working on Tuesday."

"Alright." Their food arrived and they started to eat. Karen had a chicken salad and Ennis and Jack shared a sandwich platter between them. One thing about the food here, Ennis had discovered, was that it was delicious.

They talked about life in San Francisco, and about Alma and Lureen. Karen gave Jack news of his family and what was going on over here. The lunch went very well and Jack felt a little sad at leaving her so soon. They confirmed that Ennis and Jack would go over to the house on Long Island on Tuesday at noon, hopefully when Jack's father was out. But before they did, Jack knew that he and Ennis would have to talk this over; he needed some comfort and support from his lover if he was going to do this.

That night, after some more walking around and then dinner, Ennis and Jack returned to their room and Jack flopped down on the bed, one arm flung over his eyes. Ennis looked at him sympathetically, knowing that the prospect of going to his childhood home was making him apprehensive. And Karen's suggestion that Jack and his father should try to reconcile had clearly brought back the bad memories from when Jack had told them about his diagnosis.

He sighed and sat beside Jack, rubbing his stomach to try and relax him. "Darlin' to me."

Jack lifted his arm and looked up at Ennis. "I just...talking to my mom before...kind of wore me out. What she said about my dad..."

"I know. Not easy to think about building bridges after what he said. But...are you considering it at all?" Ennis asked gently, and Jack shrugged.

"I don't know. It's like you said before...they're our parents, and we'll always want their approval no matter how old we get. I know I'll never get that from him, but...I'd be happy with an apology from him. For what he said and how he practically disowned me. If he could just say he was sorry..." He trailed off, flinging his arm back over his eyes. Ennis rubbed his forehead and looked around, spying the bottle of massage oil they'd brought. He smiled to himself.

"Hey, bud? You want a backrub?" Jack looked at him from under his arm.

"Huh? Where'd that come from?"

Ennis shrugged. "Figured it might help you relax. You want one?" Jack smiled.

"Okay." They stripped off and crawled up the bed, Jack resting on his stomach with his arms crossed over the pillow, chin on them. Ennis straddled him and grabbed the bottle, squirting a generous amount and warming it between his hands.

"Just relax, darlin'...I'm here..." Jack nodded and turned his head so that his cheek was now on his arms. He let out a contented purr as Ennis's hands started rubbing over his back, a strong cinnamon scent filling the air.

"Mmm..." Ennis worked the tension out of Jack's muscles until he was relaxed, and then allowed Jack to turn over, now rubbing his stomach. Jack smiled as Ennis worked, pleased with the attention. Ennis finished with Jack's legs and feet, noticing that he was hard.

"You want something else now?" he asked lightly, and Jack grinned.

"Sure wouldn't say no." Ennis nodded and now grabbed the lube and a condom, preparing himself while looking down into Jack's eyes, and then putting a condom on Jack to be on the safe side. He shifted forward and lifted Jack's legs, wrapping them around his waist. At Jack's nod, he slowly pushed in, letting Jack get used to every inch and hearing him sigh as he was completed. "Ennis..."

Ennis didn't move at first, but cupped Jack's face. "Jack...just want you to doesn't matter if you dad still won't talk to you. And it doesn't matter if...he tries to hurt you just for being who you are. I swear...I'll protect you. Nobody will hurt you ever again, okay?"

Jack gulped and lay there, looking up at Ennis and feeling him inside his body. He'd never felt as complete as he did when Ennis was within him, nestled between his legs. He felt safe, and truly believed the words Ennis was saying to him. He knew that he could drop his defences around Ennis; it was safe to let go. He nodded.

"Okay." Ennis leaned down to kiss him as he started to move, thrusting slowly and deeply into him, every stroke sending shockwaves throughout Jack's body, making him moan. "Oh..."

They were mostly silent as they made love, save for intakes of breath and the occasional disjointed word, such as each other's names or endearments. Ennis did his best to distract Jack from his feelings about his father and gave him everything he could. It worked; Jack was groaning and lifting his hips, as if he was trying to take more of Ennis inside him. Sweat was dampening his dark hair and Ennis could see the veins in Jack's neck as his head pressed back into the pillow. A few more thrusts and Ennis was tipping over the edge, crying out and screwing his eyes shut. Jack followed suit and came between them, protected by the rubber.

Ennis rolled off Jack and collapsed onto his back, sighing. When he looked over, Jack hadn't moved, but was panting and staring up at the ceiling. He rolled onto his side. "Bud, you okay?"

Jack smiled at him. "Yeah, I'm fine." Ennis nodded and kissed him before sitting up, removing both condoms and going to dispose of them, bringing back a towel to clean them both up with. He cleaned himself and then Jack, seeing the gentle smile on his lover's face.

Ennis got back into bed and moved up close against Jack, the two of them warming up under the covers. "You need anything else, darlin'?" he asked softly, rubbing Jack's arm.

"Could you, um...hold me?" Jack replied, looking hopeful. Ennis wordlessly drew Jack into his arms, rubbing his back. They lay there for a while, until Jack spoke again. "Ennis?"


"I don't know what's gonna happen with my dad," he confessed, head tucked against Ennis's chest. "I don't really know what I want from him. I think, more than anything, I want an apology for what he said. But after that...I don't know."

"Could you ever have any kind of relationship with him after all that?" Ennis asked.

"I don't know..." Jack repeated, not having any other response. "I don't know anything..."

"You'll figure it out," Ennis told him gently, kissing his forehead. "I know you will, baby."

Jack smiled at the endearment. "I guess. I think better when I'm around you, anyway. We'll figure it out together."

Ennis nodded and could feel Jack starting to get drowsy. "Okay. Get some sleep, Jack. I'm here..." Jack kissed his shoulder and closed his eyes, trying to lose himself in dreams. Ennis followed soon after, holding Jack close and wondering what might happen for Jack and his father.

December 22nd, 2009

Ennis looked over at Jack as they rode on the train to Long Island, wondering what he was thinking. Karen had called that morning to tell them that his father was indeed at work, so it was safe for them to visit. Ennis found this reassuring, but he wasn't sure how Jack might be feeling.

They'd spent the day before doing some more shopping, buying gifts for Lureen and Alma, and sampling local cuisine. They had also taken a walk to the riverside and eaten fish and fries for dinner at a restaurant, which had been very romantic and relaxing. And the night before, Ennis had tried his best to push away all of Jack's negative thoughts, to make him feel better about today. His efforts had paid off; Jack had slept well and throughout the night.

So now they were here, on their way to Jack's old house in Rosedale. They'd seen a little of the area after leaving JFK for their hotel, but not much since it had been so dark. Now Ennis could appreciate how beautiful it was here.

They took a cab to 145th Avenue, where there was a row of stunning houses. They weren't sprawling, but looked very nice nonetheless. The one that Jack pointed out had an awning over the front steps, and it was made of white brick.

"There it is," he said to Ennis, letting him take it in. "The house where I grew up."

Ennis nodded. "Sure is nice. Can see your mom's had an influence," he said, pointing at the rosebushes. Jack laughed.

"Yeah. wanna go in?" Ennis nodded again and Jack took his hand, leading him up to the house. He knocked and they didn't have to wait long before Karen answered, looking pleased to see them.

"Hey, sweetie...glad you could come." She embraced her son warmly and then, to their surprise, pulled Ennis into a hug. "Ennis, good to see you."

" too, ma'am," he managed, looking over her shoulder at Jack's grinning face. She stepped back and gestured inside.

"Come on, then. Got some soup and rolls for lunch, hope you like it." They followed her inside and Jack led Ennis into the living room while she went into the kitchen. The two of them sat down and Ennis looked around.

"Nice place," he commented, smiling at Jack.

"Thanks...I always liked living here, but when I was a kid I used to love going into the city; couldn't wait to get out and live there." He lowered his eyes. "So I did...and look what happened."

"Hey..." Ennis said softly, putting an arm around him. "Don't think on that right now." He rubbed Jack's back until Karen called them into the kitchen/dining room.

Lunch went well; they talked more about life in San Francisco and how it compared to life in New York. They agreed that things were very similar between the two, but were still vastly different.

"You know...I kept his room like it was when he was a boy," Karen said to Ennis, nodding at a blushing Jack. "I think he appreciates that."

"Mom..." Jack replied, looking embarrassed.

"Take him up there, Jack; I'm sure he'd want to see it." Jack nodded and after lunch, took Ennis up.

Jack's room was at the top of the stairs and to the right. It was a fairly large room, with a window overlooking the front street. Ennis looked around with interest. "Nice space..."

"Yeah...spent many a time up here, on my own, looking out of that window and wondering when I'd get to see the city on my own. Couldn't wait to get out."

"You ever have a girl up here?" Ennis asked, genuinely curious. Jack shook his head.

"No; my dad would've pitched a fit if I'd tried. Never had any guys, either. Well...until now." He smiled at Ennis and kissed him lightly. "You're the first guest I've ever had up here...sure wish we could make the most of it."

"Not with your mom here," Ennis replied, shaking his head. "That's not right..."

"I know, I know...still...a nice thought. We'll save it for tonight at the hotel." His smile widened, until he heard the nearby sound of a car door slamming. "What the...?" He went over to the window and looked out. "Shit!"

"What is it?" Ennis asked in concern, joining him at the window. In the driveway, a silvery-blue car was parked, and a man was approaching the house. "Is that your dad?" Ennis asked, touching Jack's arm.

"Yeah...what the hell's going on?" Jack raced to the door with Ennis at his heels, and they thundered down the stairs.

In the living room, Jack froze. His father was stood there, looking at him in shock. Karen looked apprehensive.

"I'm sorry, Jack...I don't..."

"What the hell are you doing back at this time?" Jack demanded of his father. "I thought you were at work."

"Boss let us go early for the holidays," he replied. "Jack,'s good to see you."

Jack felt anger bubbling inside him. "Pity I can't say the same about you." He then turned to Ennis. "Come on, bud." Taking Ennis's hand, he gave his father one last defiant look and made to leave.

"Jack..." Karen started, hoping to get him to stay. "Please, honey..." He shook his head.

"I don't wanna be near him, mom. And I don't want him near Ennis. We're leaving. I...I'll call you later." He tugged at Ennis's hand and they left, hearing Karen starting to yell at his father.

When they got outside, Jack let out a sigh and turned to Ennis, moving into his arms and breaking down, as if it had been building up inside him. Ennis held him as he shook and rubbed his back, murmuring that everything was alright, and that he was here. Jack leaned into him and tried to forget the hateful words his father had once spoken; they had all come flooding back in a matter of seconds back there. He concentrated on where he was now, and on who was holding him, keeping him safe and loved.