Chapter 21

January 7th, 2010

Jack was in Ennis's apartment, keeping an eye on the lunch he was preparing for the two of them. Ennis was home and currently in the bathroom, and Jack was browsing through the newspaper for job openings.

They'd been back for three days and while he'd applied for a few jobs, he hadn't heard anything back from any of them. He'd had some experience of retail, but he knew it probably wasn't enough to get him into the business world.

Still, he was happy. He and Ennis were together and moving forward in their relationship, already talking about moving in together. That was reason enough for him to be happy.

He flipped a page over and paused as he saw the advert. It was at the local clinic, and was an opening especially for people with HIV and AIDS. He could hardly believe his eyes. The job was simply to go down there every other day, and donate fluids for tests to be run on. He would have to have a jab in the arm for blood, and would have to jerk off to provide a sperm sample. It was simple enough, and the money was good, more than he'd been making at the store.

It was as though a light bulb had been switched on in his head. Ennis had advised him to look inside himself and figure out what he was passionate about, and then use this knowledge to seek an appropriate job. As he looked down at the advert, everything seemed to fall into place. He was passionate about wanting a cure for the deadly virus, having to live with it every day. And he knew that he didn't like the idea of so many other people suffering from it; he wouldn't wish it on anyone. It seemed like a perfect job; he would be helping to try and find a cure, and would be getting paid for it, too.

"Ennis!" he yelled, jumping off the sofa. Ennis rushed out of the bathroom, alarmed by Jack's voice.

"What's wrong?" he asked in concern, putting his hands on Jack's shoulders. Jack shook his head and held out the paper.

"Nothing, but look at this." Ennis took the paper and read the advert, realising what Jack was so excited about.

" is this...?"

Jack nodded. "Yeah. I think I've found the perfect job for me, Ennis. I can do this..."

Ennis saw the light in his eyes; the one that he hadn't seen for weeks, not since before Jack's HIV status had been exposed to his workmates. He smiled and nodded back.

"This really what you wanna do, darlin'?" he asked, rubbing Jack's shoulder.

"Yeah, it is. I'd be helping to find a cure for this thing. And who knows...if it works...I might be able to get cured. And I could help others."

Ennis felt his heart melt at how caring Jack was. Sure, they would be paying him for his help, but Ennis knew that it was more about the principle. Jack wanted to do something good with his life, something that would help others. Ennis knew what a wonderful man he'd found himself.

"If this is what you want, darlin' know I'll support you. I told you to figure out what you're passionate about, and then use that knowledge to find a job you could do well. So...if this is the job for you...I'm right behind you all the way."

Jack grinned widely and hugged him, happier than he had been in weeks. "Ennis...thank you. It means a lot to me that you're supporting me for this." He pulled away slightly but remained in Ennis's arms. "I know I can do this...I just have to go down there every other day and donate. We can still have sex, I reckon. I think we'll just have to do it on nights where I don't have to go down there the next day."

"Sounds fair. I think we can both go a day without doing it," Ennis replied, smirking.

"There's just one other thing...apart from having to jerk off, they also want me to donate blood for tests. So...I'm gonna be having jabs. Obviously, they'll cover the marks up afterwards, like with a Band-Aid or something, but...I thought you should know."

"We'll be okay, Jack. Anyway...we gonna have lunch?"

"Yeah, it should be ready by now." Just as Jack was about to prise himself away, Ennis pulled him back and kissed him deeply, tongue pushing into his mouth. Jack made a surprised sound and then kissed back, melting into his lover's embrace.

Ennis didn't say so, but seeing Jack so passionate about something for the first time since he'd known him was a powerful aphrodisiac, and he couldn't deny that he was turned on to see his lover like this.

All the way through lunch, they ate one-handed, clasping their free hands across the table. Ennis was glad that Jack had finally found something he would like to do, and when he thought about it, he realised that it was a good idea. Jack knew exactly what people with HIV went through on a daily basis, and it made some kind of sense for him to help with finding a cure. Ennis trusted that Jack knew what he was doing.

"I'm real glad you've found something you wanna do, Jack," he said to him, smiling. Jack squeezed his hand.

"Thanks, bud." His eyes then glittered with lust. "I can think of something else I wanna do, preferably tonight." He ran his foot up Ennis' leg, leaving Ennis in no doubt as to what it was.

"Really? Sounds good to me." They carried on eating, enjoying the food and the company. Neither of them could wait to move in together.

When it was time for Ennis to go back to work, Jack kissed him goodbye and then went down to the clinic. He dropped his résumé off and decided to spend the afternoon on the phone to his mom.

That night after dinner, Jack was on cloud nine. He'd received a call from the clinic just a few hours after dropping in, and they had invited him to an interview. They had said that since he was positive but otherwise healthy, he was an ideal candidate for the programme and that he had a good chance of getting the job.

Ennis made them dinner and then they sat down on the sofa together, kissing and completely oblivious to what was on the TV. Jack was pressing himself against Ennis and kissing him deeply, as if trying to push his tongue all the way down Ennis's throat.

"Mmm," he moaned, hand drifting down Ennis's stomach to stroke him through his jeans. "Look what I found..."

"Yep, you found it," Ennis replied breathlessly, bucking into Jack's hand. "But I wanted to fuck me?"

"I sure do, but I'll take care of you, too." Jack kissed him again and pulled him off the sofa, dragging him through the room towards the bedroom.

Once inside, they fell onto the bed and Jack immediately went for Ennis's buttons. "C'mere...wanna be inside you..."

Ennis nodded and allowed himself to be stripped, having no desire to slow down right now. They were both soon naked and lying down properly, kissing heavily and rubbing their smooth, sweaty bodies together. Jack was rock hard and wanted Ennis very badly.

"Can I?" he panted, looking down at Ennis. His dark hair was in his eyes, which were clouded with lust. Ennis nodded again, desire for Jack building up.

" it, come on..." Jack kissed him again and reached for a condom and the lube, rearing up onto his knees and looking down at his lover. He ran his hands over Ennis's chest and grinned seductively.

"Gonna fuck you good," he murmured, causing Ennis to grow even harder. He put the rubber on and coated it with the lube, pushing Ennis's legs up and settling in between his thighs. Ennis wrapped his legs around Jack's waist and grabbed his ass, urging him on. Jack started to push in, remembering even in his lust to take this part slowly for Ennis.

When he was fully inside his lover, he started off slow, knowing that it was better to build up a pace. He thrust slowly and deeply, kissing Ennis's neck and hearing him give a soft moan, knowing that he was doing exactly what Ennis needed.

"Oh, Jack...oh God..." He let his head drop to the side, so that Jack had further access to his neck. Jack kissed the spot over and over, biting gently. He then started to pick up the pace, going faster and even deeper. Ennis groaned.

"You like that, baby?" Jack breathed in his ear, knowing he was driving Ennis crazy. Ennis could only nod in reply, and eagerly met his thrusts, raising his hips in time to Jack's movements. He pushed back with every thrust and was now painfully hard.

"Jack...jerk me off," he moaned, needing release. Jack's hand wandered down and grabbed hold of him, stroking him in time to his thrusts. It only took a few strokes until Ennis shot in between them with a loud groan, muscles clamping up until he was done. The feeling of Ennis clenching around him sent Jack into oblivion, coming harder than he ever had before and shuddering all over.

They collapsed together, seeing stars before their eyes. It was starting to feel to both of them that every time they had sex was the best time ever. This time was certainly one they would remember for a long while.

"Fuck," Jack breathed, nuzzling into the damp blonde curls and slipping out of Ennis.

" did say you were gonna fuck me good..." Ennis replied, grinning breathlessly. Jack started laughing, shaking against him.

"Did I fuck your brains out?" he asked, stroking Ennis's chest, liking the soft hair and twirling it around his finger.

"Think so. I'll find them later." His deadpan tone made Jack laugh even harder, and he rose up. The sight of each other like this, in post-coital happiness, made their love for one another that little bit more intense. They had made each other look like this; that was the best part.

"I love you," Jack said when he had recovered enough to speak. He ran his hands through Ennis's hair, smiling down at him and kissing the tip of his nose.

"I love you too," Ennis replied, pulling his face down for a sweet kiss and gently curling his tongue around Jack's. They stayed like that for a few minutes, just kissing and enjoying the aftermath of their lovemaking. They loved this part just as much as the act before; it was intimate and precious, full of the trust they held for one another. Ennis was completely at ease, lying naked here with another man. Jack made him feel relaxed and safe to show vulnerability.

When they pulled apart, Jack heard his stomach rumbling and Ennis rolled his eyes.

"You still hungry? After dinner?" he asked in disbelief. Only Jack, he thought affectionately.

"Guess I worked up an appetite," Jack replied with a wink, and got up to dispose of the condom. "You want anything?"

"Sure, whatever you wanna bring in." Ennis laid there and relaxed as he heard Jack move around in the kitchen. He liked this feeling of domesticity; to hear Jack move around his apartment. They hadn't really discussed the finer points of moving in together, such as if one of them would move in with the other, or if they would find a new place together, but there was plenty of time for that. While he would always be concerned for Jack's health, he knew that there was no point in worrying too much. The men at the AIDS hospice had advised them to 'live in the now', and not worry about how many days they had left to live. He was determined to make every remaining day of Jack's life a good one.

On Friday, Jack had his interview for the job at the clinic, and Ennis walked back into the bedroom to see him pulling on his suit jacket. He gave a low whistle.

"You look good there, darlin'," he commented, feeling a little turned on by Jack looking like that. Jack turned and grinned at him.

"Thanks, bud. I'm kind of nervous..." He certainly looked like that, and Ennis came over to him, kissing him lightly.

"You're gonna be fine. They already said you'd be good for it, so...just try and have a little faith, okay?" He kissed Jack again and led him through the apartment to get a decent breakfast in him.

They reluctantly said goodbye at the entrance to the park and went their separate ways, Jack trying to calm himself as he approached the clinic. It was just a few streets away and he'd been in before, looking for information on HIV.

When he stepped inside, he went to the front desk to tell them he was here for an interview, and they told him to wait. Eventually, they called him back over and directed him down the hall to his interviewer.

He knocked on the door and waited. "Come in." Jack braced himself and entered, seeing a man who was considerably older than himself and Ennis, but looked friendly all the same.

"Uh, hi. I'm Jack Twist, and I'm here for the interview..."

"Right, come on in. Take a seat." Jack did so, taking deep, calming breaths. "Okay, Jack. So...I read your résumé and even though you don't have much experience, I know that this is irrelevant to the job opening. You are positive, correct?"

"Yeah. I've got a written copy of my test results from when I was diagnosed," Jack replied, taking them from his suit pocket. He'd asked for these five years ago, in case anybody should ever need to see them. "And I've got a copy of my meds subscription, if you need it."

"Thank you." The man, who was named Dr Joe Richardson, looked through the documents, nodding as he did so. "That all seems to be in order," he then said, handing them back. "Alright, you were told of what this job entails, right?"

"Yeah, I was. It's basically test samples, right?"

"Pretty much. You give us samples of your blood and sperm, and we use it for analysis and trying to find a cure. And you will be paid weekly, like a regular job. You'll be earning above minimum wage, not bad if I do say so. The thing is, Jack...we've had this position open for a while now, and nobody has replied until you came along. We know there must be positive men and even women in the city, and yet nobody has come forward."

"Maybe they're not convinced you'll ever find a cure," Jack suggested, hoping against hope that they would.

"Perhaps. This is why I'm certain you'll be a valuable asset to us. So...your job would be pretty simple. You come down here every other day, except the weekend. You'll have an ID card so the people at the front desk know why you're there. Then you will be led to a side room, where a blood sample will be taken and you'll be given the privacy to produce your sperm." He gave a small smile. "You will be given the...appropriate materials to help." Jack's cheeks reddened a little.


"So then...I think that's everything I needed to say. Do you have any questions?"

"Yeah, one. The thing is...I'm seeing someone, and..."

"Say no more," Joe interrupted, understanding. "We have such a system in place for this occurrence. You will, if it is convenient, come down here Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to donate. That will give you Tuesday, Thursday and the weekend for...regular activities."

Jack nodded; that seemed fair. He and Ennis would be able to have sex on the nights where he didn't have to donate the next day. That gave them four nights a week to themselves.

"That sounds okay. I qualify for the job?"

Joe smiled. "Certainly, if you want to take it."

"I do...I wouldn't mind helping to find a cure, and help others. I've been in an AIDS's awful to think of what they've been through."

"It is. Well...I think that's everything. Can you start on Monday?"

"Yeah, that's fine," Jack replied. He was very glad that he wouldn't have to work on the weekends, with their plans to go back to New York. "What time?"

"Could you be here by ten? It won't take long, but you can stay as long as the clinic is open if you need to."

"Okay, thanks." They shook hands and Jack left, a bright grin on his face. Not only had he found himself a new job that paid well, but it was one that would actually mean something. He would be helping to try and find a cure, and he would feel like he had a purpose again.

When he was in the coffee house at lunch, he told Lureen about his new job, and she was ecstatic for him. Then Ennis walked in the door and Jack jumped up, pushing himself into Ennis's arms.

"Woah there, bud. You okay?"

Jack grinned and kissed him. "I got the job!" Ennis's face lit up.

"Oh, Jack...that's great!" They kissed again and went to sit down, Jack telling Ennis about what he would be doing. He told Ennis about the schedule and when they would be able to have sex. Ennis agreed that it was fair, and knew that it was a small price to pay for Jack's happiness. His lover looked so full of life right then that Ennis would have agreed to once a week if need be. He was glad that this wasn't the case, though. He wanted them to have a good time tonight, and they could do plenty over the weekend while they were in New York. He was looking forward to it already.

That evening, Ennis and Jack decided to celebrate Jack's new job by going out with the girls for a drink. Alma had the night off and Lureen was up for a night out with them, so the four of them decided to splash out and go to Bin 38, a wine bar up in Marina.

They all sat in a booth and Ennis ordered champagne for them, determined to make this a special night for Jack. He was so proud of Jack for finding himself a good set-up at the clinic, and for choosing a job that would help others, and possibly himself. Ennis didn't know if they would ever find a cure for HIV, but if Jack was happy to devote his time to finding one, then Ennis was happy for him.

When their glasses were full, he proposed a toast. "I just wanna say, I'm really proud of Jack for finding himself a good job like this. He's been pretty miserable these past few weeks since leaving the store and...I didn't really know how to help him. I just tried to love him and tell him it would be okay. So when he showed me the ad in the paper for the job, and I saw the look in his eyes, I knew it was the job for him. I know he won't have to do much for it, but that doesn't matter because he's happy. That's all I've ever wanted for him. So, Jack..." he finished, raising his glass. "Congratulations, bud. Hope it goes well."

Jack smiled at him as the girls raised their glasses. They made their own toasts to him and decided to go for dinner at a nearby restaurant. Ennis and Jack didn't want to be out too late; they had an early flight tomorrow. They had agreed to split the costs of their trips to New York; Ennis would initially pay whatever they were spending, and then Jack would pay him back his half as and when he could. They would have this arrangement for now, while Jack was still in between jobs, and then work it out as they went once he had more money at his disposal. Ennis figured that maybe he could pay for the flight and Jack could pay for meals; they would be staying at Jack's parents' house during their trips, so that erased the cost of hotels.

After dinner, the girls bid goodnight to them and retreated home, leaving the two lovers alone. They slowly walked up through Jack's building, ready to tumble into bed. Both of them knew that they wouldn't be going straight to sleep, but still.

Once through the door, Jack locked it and leaned against it, pulling Ennis close by the front of his jacket. "Come here..." Their lips met gently, kissing warmly as Ennis moved into Jack's arms, sliding his hands around his lover's waist. He gave a low, soft moan as Jack rubbed his back.

"Wanna go to bed?" Jack murmured, feeling himself becoming aroused. What he really wanted right now was an all-over massage, and he had a feeling that Ennis would be happy to oblige.

"Sure..." Ennis replied, kissing him again and taking his hand, leading him to the bedroom. They sat down on the bed together, kicking off their shoes and stretching.

"Ennis?" Jack asked, nuzzling his face in the familiar warm neck.

"Yeah, darlin'?" he replied, kissing Jack's face.

"Would you me a massage tonight? All over, with the oil?"

"Sure, bud. Don't have to ask twice." They stripped off and Jack went to lie on his stomach, looking forward to having Ennis's hands on him.

Ennis did as he was asked, massaging Jack all over and then taking him into his mouth, making him moan and writhe on the bed until he was done. Jack then returned the favour, jerking Ennis off while kissing him deeply.

They lay together afterwards, Jack resting his head on Ennis's chest and gently playing with the blonde hairs. He was happy and warm, despite being naked in January. After what they'd just done, he knew he would be warm for a while.

"Can I ask you something?" he asked in a quiet voice, not wanting to disturb the peace of the growing darkness.

"'Course you can," Ennis replied, stroking Jack's smooth back. A tingle went down Jack's spine as Ennis's hand brushed against his ass. It took him a moment to remember what he'd been about to say.

"Uh...I was wondering...when we move in together, where are we gonna live? Here? Your place? Somewhere new?"

Ennis thought it over; he'd been wondering the same thing. He liked Jack's apartment, and he knew that Jack liked his. But they both liked their own places, too. He decided that now was the time to voice his thoughts.

"Well, I was thinking...that one of us could move in with the other for now. Then later, maybe when we're like...thirty...we could leave the city and move into a house. Settle down, you know?"

Jack rose off his chest and smiled down at him. "Bud...that sounds great. You been thinking a lot about this?" It made some sort of sense; they were always talking about the future and what they might do.

"Yeah, kind of. I like thinking about the future, Jack...because I know I'll be spending it with you." He looked a little nervous at getting out his feelings like this, but he knew that Jack would never judge him. He never had.

Jack smiled and kissed him softly, cupping his cheek. "You sure will, baby. And I would love to buy a house with you one day. We'll talk more about apartment moving this weekend, okay? Maybe we'll just flip a coin for who moves."

"Yeah, I guess." Ennis set his alarm for the next day and Jack moved off him, keeping close. "Night, darlin'," he said, kissing Jack once more.

"Night, bud." He closed his eyes and settled down, somewhat aware of the fact that Ennis was watching him until he too fell asleep.

January 9 - 10th, 2010

As agreed over the week, Ennis and Jack spent the weekend in New York. Jack didn't know how much time his father had left, so they were both determined to make the most of the time they had. Ennis, for his part, was willing to support Jack in whatever he wanted to do.

On Saturday evening, the three of them went to a Knicks game and had a lot of fun. Jack could remember going to games with his father when he was younger, and he liked the feeling of reconnecting with him after all this time. He was certainly looking a lot happier these days than normal, and Ennis knew it was a combination of a new job that would give him a sense of purpose, their relationship moving forward and repairing his relationship with his father. Ennis was glad that he finally seemed truly happy. While he loved being the one who made Jack happy the most (and Jack had told him so), Ennis knew that Jack needed other things in his life to make him feel at peace, and it seemed as though he'd finally found them.

He thought about all of this as they sat at the table in Jack's parents' house. John and Karen had welcomed them with open arms, even allowing them to share a bedroom. He'd half-expected them to keep them apart. Still, as he and Jack made love that night, keeping quiet so as to not attract attention, he figured that in the light of John's illness, he and Karen had made their peace with the relationship, accepting that Ennis and Jack were together and that they were serious.

"What are you thinking about?" Jack murmured as he rested his head on Ennis's chest, basking in the afterglow on Saturday night. Ennis was threading his fingers lazily through Jack's hair.

" lucky we are," he replied, liking the feeling of Jack's warm body next to his. "I know things aren't perfect for us, Jack. But...they're still pretty good."

"Yeah," Jack agreed, stroking Ennis's chest and feeling the strong muscles there. He loved everything about Ennis's body, and told him so often enough. "Guess they are." He rose up to kiss Ennis softly. "I love you, baby."

"Love you too, darlin'." They kissed again and Jack rolled on top of Ennis, straddling him and sinking down, head nestled in Ennis's shoulder.

"Not too heavy, am I?" Jack asked, now settled on top of Ennis. He wanted to sleep like this but would have moved if Ennis wanted him to.

"No, it's fine," Ennis replied, wrapping his arms around Jack and kissing his head. "Feels good..." He welcomed Jack's warm weight on top of him, buried under the covers together in a warm cocoon.

Jack made a contented purring sound and sighed, feeling so relaxed and knowing that he was about to fall asleep.

"Night, Ennis..." he murmured tiredly.

"Night, bud."

The next day, they spent most of their time in the city, just walking around and talking. This was one aspect of their relationship that they both loved; that they could talk to each other about everything. It showed that as well as being lovers, they were best friends. Jack had never felt so close to anyone in his life before Ennis.

They had lunch together, during which time Ennis's mother called to ask how they were both doing, and then spent the rest of the afternoon in the park, sitting on a bench together and enjoying the quiet away from the noise and crowds.

The two of them returned to the house for dinner, and Jack told his parents about his new job. They were pleased that Jack had found something that wasn't too strenuous, but would be a wonderful contribution to finding a cure for HIV.

Ennis and Jack hadn't yet told either set of parents about their plans for moving in together, but as they sat at the table, waiting for Karen to bring out dessert, they made a silent agreement to tell the elder Twists.

" Dad?" Jack started when everybody was sat down. "There's something that Ennis and I wanna tell you. About us..."

They looked at their son and his boyfriend, wondering what might be going on. The two of them held hands tightly and Jack took a deep breath.

"Well, we've been talking it over for a while now. And...this is something that we both really want. It makes sense for us." He licked his lower lip before continuing. "The thing is...we're planning on moving in together."

Karen's face lit up, clearly happy for them. John looked surprised and then slowly nodded; Ennis could tell he was doing his best, and appreciated the effort he was making.

"Oh, you two...that's wonderful!" Karen said, smiling and coming around the table to hug them both. "Congratulations!"

"Uh, yeah...good on you both," John told them. He was happy that they were moving forward and making a real commitment to one another, and he just had to push down that last smidgeon of homophobia. He didn't feel any hatred towards his son anymore, but it wasn't easy to let go of what he'd been taught by his own father.

Still, when he saw the looks on their faces as their eyes met, he knew it was true love, and it wasn't his place to judge their feelings for one another.

When Ennis and Jack left and were making their way home on the plane, they were tired but happy. Coming out here had been a good idea, and they couldn't wait to do it again next weekend.

Jack rested his head on Ennis's shoulder as the flight wore on, falling asleep and dreaming of what the future might hold for them. He felt as if his life had finally started to come together, with a good job, accepting parents and a loving partner by his side. For the first time in five years, he felt good about the future.