Chapter 22

January 11th, 2010

On Monday, Jack started his new job. Ennis had made him breakfast in bed that morning, as a good luck send-off on his first day. Jack was both excited and nervous about this, and he felt good about making a contribution to research into a cure. It turned out that the reason he had to contribute every other day was because the samples wouldn't last long while being tested; they needed a fresh supply all the time, especially since nobody else had come forward to help out.

When he got to the clinic, he was shown to a side room where a sample of his blood was taken. Then he was given a cup to jerk off into and was left to his own devices. He looked through the magazines; at least they'd given him some that appealed to gay men. While the pictures weren't anything to sneeze at, they didn't strike his fancy so much.

Instead, he sat down and opened up his jeans, thinking of Ennis. He was the one who could get Jack's blood pressure up. Jack knew that just thinking of his lover would do the job.

He relaxed in the chair and took hold of himself, starting off slowly and letting thoughts of Ennis fill his head. He thought of Ennis's body; how it was well-defined and that he could see every muscle when Ennis was naked. When he ran his hands over Ennis's body, he could feel every one of the muscles underneath them.

He thought about Ennis's strong arms and how it felt when they were holding him close. Ennis was a real man, and made Jack feel good when they were making love together.

As he picked up the pace on himself, now hard, and thought of having sex with Ennis. It was an experience unlike any other he'd ever had. Ennis knew exactly what to do with his body, and knew how to make him feel good.

He remembered what he and Ennis had done last night, in the shower. Ennis had gone down on him and then fucked him from behind, making him feel like his head was splitting in two. Then Ennis had taken him to bed and given him a massage to relax him. He had fallen asleep under Ennis's administrations.

Jack felt his orgasm coming closer and grabbed the cup, holding it in place and bucking his hips, ready for the explosion. He knew that thinking of Ennis would do the trick.

He came with a short cry and spurted into the cup, thoughts of Ennis on his mind. He then sat back in the chair and put the cup down, cleaning himself up with the tissues. He smiled to himself and zipped up, getting up and screwing the cap on the cup.

When he exited, he handed the cup to the front desk and was invited to stay as long as he wanted, since he was taking part in studies.

There was another hour to go until he was due to meet Ennis for lunch, so he picked up a few leaflets and settled down to read, hoping to kill the time.

After a few minutes, the doctor that had interviewed him came strolling along. "Hey, Jack."

"Oh, hey doc. Everything okay?"

"Yeah, fine. How did the first day go?"

"Okay. Getting kind of bored now that it's over, though," he admitted, hoping that he didn't sound ungrateful.

Joe nodded and stuck his hands in his pockets. "I thought that might be the case. So I had an idea for when you're done here. Perhaps you could do some part-time counselling here."

"What do you mean?" Jack asked, looking confused.

"Well...we get a lot of young men and women coming in here asking for HIV tests, and whenever they turn out to be positive, we don't really have much of a support system in place for them here. Maybe we could set something up so that when you're done donating, you can hold a talk with whoever's interested. Give some advice, you know?"

Jack slowly nodded, liking the idea. "That sounds good. I think I could do that. So you'd tell them about the talks once they're diagnosed?"

"Yeah. We can arrange a time with you, probably in the afternoons, and then tell anybody who's interested." He smiled a little, hoping that it would give Jack some confidence.

"I think that'd be fine. Thanks, doc." Joe nodded and went on his way, leaving Jack to think. It sure would be a way of filling his afternoons, and he would still only have to go down every other day as he was now. As for the days when he wasn't required to go in, he could start going back to the gym. The time had gotten away from him lately, and he knew that he needed to start building his muscle back up.

He smiled to himself, knowing that Ennis and his parents would be proud of him for doing so well at this new job. He would be helping to find a cure for HIV, and also giving advice to those who had recently been infected. Nobody had been there to counsel him like that when he'd been diagnosed. His doctor back in New York had done his best, but Jack had felt very alone during that time.

At last, it was time for him to go and meet Ennis for lunch. On his way out, he ran into Joe again, who promised to keep in touch about the counselling sessions. Even though it was raining outside and quite cold, Jack felt happy. It might as well have been bright and sunny.

When he reached the coffee place, he sat at the counter to wait for his lover. He filled Lureen in on what had been going on, and she was very happy for him and what he was accomplishing these days. And it was only a matter of time before Ennis would be walking through the door, to make his morning complete.


Jack moved to their usual booth a little later and drank his coffee, rifling through a magazine he'd picked up on the way here. Ennis was due to walk through the door at any minute and he couldn't wait to see him. He still felt like a teenager in love whenever he thought of Ennis, despite approaching thirty.

Sure enough, he looked up in time to see the love of his life enter the coffeehouse, looking around for him. Their eyes met and both grinned, happy to see one another. It felt like days since they had last seen each other, even though it had only been a few hours.

"Hey, bud," Ennis said to him, leaning down and kissing him warmly. Jack kissed back eagerly, one hand finding its way to Ennis's. When they broke apart, Jack saw Lureen hovering nearby with the coffeepots.

"Get a room, guys," she said with a smirk on her face as Ennis sat down. They both blushed and she poured Ennis some coffee. She then winked at them and walked off to attend to other customers.

When they were left alone, Ennis reached out and took Jack's hand again. "So...how'd the first day go?" he asked, face alight with interest for Jack had fared so far.

Jack nodded and smiled. "Pretty well. I've got a Band-Aid on my arm from the blood and it's a little bruised, but I'll be okay. And, um...the other part went well." He leaned in close. "Thought of you while I was jerking off," he murmured, and Ennis's cheeks reddened.

"You were?"

"Uh huh. They left me some magazines, and the guys in there weren't half bad, but...I preferred thinking of you. Thought about your body, and what we did last night..."

"Was pretty good," Ennis agreed, eyes going hazy with lust as he remembered. Every time felt like the best ever as far as he was concerned. And he knew that it was their love for each other that made the sex so good.

"And I was thinking..." Jack started, trailing a finger along Ennis's jaw. "About tonight...would it be okay if...I was on top?"

Ennis nodded, wondering why Jack was asking like this. Usually, they didn't really discuss the finer points until they were in the moment, and decided between them what they were in the mood for. Not planning the sex beforehand made it as great as it was, because they could truly give in to their desire for each other.

"Sure, but...why are you asking? We don't usually..."

"I know. And don't get me wrong, I like it when we wait until we're actually about to do it before we decide who does what. It's just...I'd really like to do it that way tonight."

"Okay, bud. Whatever you want. So what are you doing this afternoon? Are you done now?"

Jack remembered the offer he'd been made this morning, and he grinned. "Sure, for today. But guess what? I might just have something to fill up my afternoons with." At Ennis's inquiring look, Jack relayed what the doctor had said to him.

"So basically, I'd be giving advice to people that have just been diagnosed. I can talk to them, answer questions...and I could do it on the afternoons when I've been down there already, so I still have Tuesdays, Thursdays and the weekend to myself. I'm thinking I'll go back to the gym, start working out again."

The image of Jack in exercise gear and working out did funny things to Ennis's insides, and he shifted to ease the pressure down below. "Good idea." He cleared his throat. "You know...I'm really proud of you, bud. Helping to find a cure, and now talking and giving advice to others...it's a pretty big thing."

Jack nodded. "Yeah. And this is so much better for me than staying at the store, even if they'd never found out that I'm positive. It was a dead-end job that was never gonna make me happy, and I'm glad I left." He played with Ennis's fingers for a few seconds, and then started to speak again. "You know...I can't believe how much my life's changed since June. Coming here, settling into the city. Then meeting you in August...us getting together, trying to patch things up with my dad...getting a job that actually means something...and now we're planning to move in together."

Ennis kissed his hand. "Darlin'...I know it's been a lot, but...I've enjoyed every minute of being with you. Never thought I'd get to be this happy. I love you so much..."

"I love you too..." They leaned across, overcome by emotion, and kissed once more over the table, hands still holding tight. Jack's tongue gently pushed its way into Ennis's mouth, where it was more than welcome. The pair of them kissed slowly and lazily, not needing to rush at all; time was on their side. Lureen glanced at them now and then as she worked, feeling for the first time in five years that Jack would truly be okay now.

Ennis and Jack eventually broke apart and had lunch together, discussing what Jack would do with his day now that he was left to his own devices. Alma's birthday was coming up and he was talking about buying her a present, which would keep him occupied for the rest of the day.

He walked Ennis to the entrance of the park so he could return to work, holding hands between them. When they reached the open entrance, Jack turned to him and smiled.

"Guess I'll see you later then," he said, unwilling to let Ennis go but knowing he had to unless he wanted to get him fired. It would only be a few hours, and then they would be together again.

"Yeah, you bet," Ennis replied, smiling down at him. They leaned in and kissed one last time, holding each other close until they were ready to break apart. They then said their goodbyes and Jack watched Ennis leave through the park, already counting down the hours.


January 14th, 2010

Ennis and Jack were eating lunch at Jack's place, talking about their week so far and their plans for the weekend. Jack had given his first talk the day before to a group of people who had just been diagnosed. He'd been a little nervous, talking about his own experiences, but they had listened and appeared to take an interest in what he was saying. Jack had soon gotten into it, giving advice and tips on how to deal with being positive. He had also pointed out that he was in a relationship with a wonderful man, so having HIV didn't mean that they couldn't be happy.

He was starting to enjoy this new job, and was getting back to the gym during his days off. Things were getting better for him and Ennis all the time, and he was happy.

"So," he started as they ate their soup. It was a chilly day and the warm food was very welcome. "How's work going?"

"Pretty good," Ennis answered, nodding. "My boss likes the work I've been doing, and you know Sarah, the receptionist? She reckons I could be up for a promotion soon."

Jack smiled. "That's great, Ennis. I'm sure you'll do great...I know you love animals. And I...I kind of owe my job to you, bud."

"Why's that?" Ennis asked curiously. Jack shrugged.

"Well...you're the one who told me to find a job I'd love, based on what I'm passionate about. That's why I went for the job at the clinic." He smiled. "I wanna thank you for that, Ennis."

Ennis smiled back. "Well...you're welcome, darlin'." He squeezed Jack's hand and they continued eating. The sound of Ennis's cell phone ringing interrupted the meal, and he answered it. "Hey, mom."

"Hi, Ennis. How are you?"

"Okay. Just eating lunch at Jack's place. What's up?"

"Not much. Your dad's gone over to your uncle's place for a visit. I wanted to stay here. Is everything okay with you two?"

"Yeah, we're fine. Jack got himself a new job. He's donating at the local clinic to try and find a cure for HIV. And he's started giving talks to people that have just been diagnosed, giving them advice, you know?"

"Oh...that sounds interesting." She sounded a little cautious, not really knowing how to talk to Ennis about Jack and his HIV status. She so wanted to know her son and this new life of his, but after what had happened at dinner, she wasn't sure how to respond. It would be a long time before Ennis could trust her and his father enough to bring Jack up there once more. "So...is he enjoying it?"

"Yeah, he is. Look, mom...I know things haven't been easy lately, but...there's one thing you have to understand. I love Jack, and I've promised to support him no matter what. And...I'm sorry, but...I have to put him first. He means a lot to me and..." He sighed. "The thing is...we're planning to move in together."

"You are?" she asked, clearly taken aback. "That...that's wonderful, honey. Congratulations. Do you know when?"

"Not exactly, but we reckon in the next few months. We're both looking forward to it."

"Great. Anyway...I'd better get back to my own lunch. Speak soon?"

"Yeah, okay. Bye, mom."

"Bye, Ennis." They clicked off and Ennis sighed, rubbing his free hand over his eyes. Jack squeezed his other one.

"You okay, baby?" he asked softly, touched at how Ennis put him first all the time, but feeling guilty that it was creating tension between Ennis and his parents. He knew that there wasn't anything they could do about it; Ennis had made the choice to be with him in spite of his parents' disapproval. Jack was very grateful to him; he wasn't sure if he could get through everything in his own life without Ennis by his side.

"I don't know," Ennis replied, picking up his spoon and trying to resume eating. He managed a few more mouthfuls before losing his appetite, and he looked at Jack apologetically. "Sorry, bud...can't eat anymore..."

Jack shook his head. "It's okay. Don't worry about it." He finished his own lunch and then put the bowls in the sink to clean up later. Ennis went into the living room and stood in front of the window, looking out across the city. Jack came up behind him and slid his hands around Ennis's stomach, pulling him close. Ennis smiled and leaned back into the embrace, covering Jack's arms with his own.

"Mmm...hey, darlin'."

"Hey, bud," Jack replied, kissing the side of Ennis's neck and resting his head on Ennis's shoulder, looking out. The apartment was quite high up, and the window faced most of the city, giving them a wonderful view. Ennis looked out, felt Jack stood behind him, and then felt something clicking into place. This was where he wanted to be; here with Jack.

"Jack...?" he started, hoping that his request would be accepted.

"Yeah?"

"When we move in together...if it's okay with you...can I move in here? I like your place a lot, and...I could get used to this view. Don't get it back at my place."

Jack released him and turned him around, smiling. "Of course you can move in here with me. I'd love to have you here. Don't get me wrong; I love your place. But if it's what you want...it's fine by me." Jack wasn't too concerned about where they lived, as long as they were together. If Ennis wanted to move in here, he was all for it.

They kissed and embraced again, Ennis burying his face in Jack's shoulder and holding onto him, feeling a little choked up by everything he felt for Jack. He was so happy, and knew that Jack made him happy.

"Gonna make you happy, darlin'...I swear..." he mumbled, running his hands up and down Jack's back.

"Me too," Jack replied, kissing his hair and swaying them both a little, just enjoying the moment between them.


A few hours later, Jack was finished at the clinic and was heading for the coffeehouse to wait for Ennis to finish work. It was still cold, but he was wrapped up in warm clothes. He had promised Ennis that he would wrap up when it was cold, to protect himself mainly. He knew that Ennis didn't want him to get sick.

The coffeehouse was a little steamed up on the inside, and he saw that Lureen was busy serving customers, so he sat down in their usual booth to wait, rubbing his hands together and blowing into them.

"Hey," Lureen greeted him, pouring him some coffee. He thanked her and eagerly wrapped his hands around the mug. "Everything okay?"

"Yeah, fine. I'm really getting into those talks at the clinic."

"That's great," she said to him, smiling and clapping him on the shoulder. "Sure am glad you left that store..."

"Yeah, me too," he agreed, drinking his coffee. "And guess what? Me and Ennis have been talking more about the moving in...come to a decision."

She raised her eyebrows. "Yeah?"

He nodded. "Yep. Ennis said he wants to move into my place. Says he likes it there, especially the view from the living room. I mean, I like his place a lot, but...if he wants to move in with me, I'm all for it."

Lureen smiled. "That's great, Jack. I'm really happy for you guys. How's your dad?"

"Hanging in there," he replied, heart sinking a little at the thought of his father. Just then, his phone went off in his pocket, and he saw it was his father. "Speaking of which..." Lureen went off and he answered the phone. "Hey, dad."

"Hey, son. Just wanted to ask if you and Ennis wanted to come to a Rangers game on Saturday evening. Have you booked the flight yet?"

"Uh, yeah. Ennis does it around Tuesdays, says it's cheaper than last-minute. It's at eight in the morning, so we'll get there around one in the afternoon."

"Well, the game starts at six, so I guess you'll be coming straight to the house, right?"

"Yeah, we will. How...how are you doing, dad?"

"I'm coping, I guess. Just taking one day at a time. How's Ennis?"

"He's okay. We're still making plans for moving in together. Ennis says he wants to move in with me, live at my place." He smiled to himself, still on cloud nine from what Ennis had said to him.

"Well...hope it all goes okay, son. You know, Jack...I'm trying. It's not easy for me, but...I do want to try and salvage whatever I can with you before I go."

Jack felt a lump grow in his throat. "I know. I want that, too. So...we'll come to the house when we get there, and go to that game with you."

"Sounds good. See you soon, son."

"Yep, bye." Jack clicked off and put his phone down, sighing. Every time he talked to his father, he felt drained afterwards, worn out with the effort. He folded his arms on top of the table and rested his head on them, blocking out the world around him.

He remained like that for a while, until he felt a familiar warm hand shake him gently. "Jack?"

Jack looked up to see Ennis, who was gazing at him in concern. "Oh...hey, bud."

"What's wrong?" Ennis asked, sitting down opposite him and taking his hand. "Are you okay?"

Jack nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine. It's just...my dad just called."

"What did he say?" Ennis asked uneasily, not at all sure what might have transpired. Jack saw his fear and shook his head.

"It's not that. He was perfectly nice, asking us to a Rangers game on Saturday."

"So then, what...?"

"Well...he told me that while it's not easy for him, he's trying his best. Said he wants to salvage whatever he can with me before he goes..." Jack rubbed his forehead. "Just drains me, talking to him..."

"I'll bet," Ennis said in a quiet voice, now seeing why Jack was like this. "Are you okay?"

"I will be," Jack replied, smiling a little. "Are we ready to go?"

"Sure. Your place or mine?"

"Well...since we won't be seeing much more of your place, I reckon we can spend some time there," Jack replied, a genuine smile now on his face. Ennis nodded, leaning in to kiss him tenderly. Jack felt warmth in his stomach, unfurling and spreading out throughout his entire body at Ennis's kiss.

They left the coffeehouse, hand in hand as they walked down the street, heading for the park so they could walk through to Ennis's place. They stopped briefly by Jack's place so he could pick up a change of clothes and his meds for the next morning, and then set off. While it was cold, both of them hardly noticed as their gloved hands clasped together between them. They ended up having an impromptu snowball fight while walking through, making the most of the snow while it lasted, and were both shivering and wet by the time they reached their destination. They changed into clean clothes, Jack borrowing some of Ennis's so he could save his own clean set for the morning, and then settled down to a hot dinner of baked potatoes and chilli.

Afterwards, as they were lying in bed on their sides and letting their heartbeats return to normal after some very satisfying sex, they looked at each other. Jack traced Ennis's jawline with his finger, smiling to himself as his body cooled down. Ennis kissed Jack's finger when it reached his lips, and then kissed Jack's soft lips, cupping his cheek. After a few sweet kisses, Jack rolled onto his other side and motioned back to Ennis, who spooned up behind him and pulled the covers over them, kissing the back of Jack's neck before murmuring a goodnight to him.

"Night, baby," Jack whispered in response, pulling Ennis's arm tighter over himself and closing his eyes, feeling that here, in Ennis's arms, was exactly where he was supposed to be.


January 15th, 2010

It started off as an ordinary day. Ennis and Jack were watching TV at Jack's place during their lunch break, Jack leaning against Ennis and playing with his fingers.

He was due to give another talk that afternoon, and was looking forward to it. It made him feel good; to give advice to those who had just been diagnosed, and who were probably terrified of what they should do next.

His phone started ringing and he pulled it out of his pocket, Ennis turning the TV down so he could hear. "Hey, mom."

"Jack..." She sounded worried and a little shaken up. His brow furrowed.

"Mom, what's wrong?" he asked, sitting up. Ennis was watching him closely.

"There's something you have to know. Is Ennis there? He should hear this, too."

"Uh, sure..." He switched on the speakerphone so that Ennis could hear her, and held the phone out between them. "What's going on? Is it dad?" Fear lurched in his stomach.

"No, it's not him. Something happened last night over here, and the police want to talk to you."

"They do? Why?"

"Last night, a young man was attacked in Central Park, just like you were. He was only twenty, and..."

"Oh God..." Jack breathed, unsure of what to say to this. "Did he...?"

"He got infected, Jack. But the thing is, the attacker was caught. There was an eyewitness and the man who did it was arrested. Jack, he...his DNA was taken from the victim. And...it matches the sample taken from you when you were attacked."

Jack felt a pounding in his ears, and Ennis cautiously put a hand on his back, his own head buzzing with thoughts. "Are they sure? Because...that stuff don't last long. Hell, that's why I have to go down to the clinic so often. It's been five years..."

"They're pretty sure. Besides, when they got that, they showed the guy a picture of you, and he confessed to attacking you. They didn't have a number for you, so they called us. I promised I'd get in touch with you. Jack...are you still coming here tomorrow?"

"Yeah. Guess they wanna see me, huh?"

"Yeah, sweetie. I'm sorry about this, Jack...are you gonna be okay?"

"I'll be fine. Um...we'll be there in the afternoon, mom."

"Alright. Try not to worry too much, honey. The guy's in custody, and he can't hurt you anymore."

Jack nodded. "Bye, mom." He didn't want to talk anymore; he wanted to be alone with Ennis and try to digest this new information.

"Bye, honey..."

He clicked off and sat there, staring at the TV with unseeing eyes. Ennis shut it off and turned to him. "Baby...talk to me..."

Jack bit his lip. "I don't know what to say. All this time...and now...he's been caught. He even 'fessed up."

Ennis moved closer and put his arm around Jack, shaking him a little. "I know. But at least...you can press charges, now you know who he is. And they have that other guy, and the witness...I reckon you could get him sent down." Jack considered this, and Ennis pressed on. "Haven't you been wanting justice all this time? I know you, Jack...you've been suffering for so long. You wanna see him get what he deserves?"

Jack looked at him, at the strong man sat next to him. The one who was standing by him no matter what. Ennis was right; he had wanted his attacker to be sent down, but because he hadn't been able to identify him, Jack had always thought that it would never happen. And now the opportunity had arisen; Jack knew that if he didn't do anything, and the guy was let off because of it, he would regret it for the rest of his life. He just had to do whatever he could to get justice.

He nodded. "Yeah, I do. I've wanted this for years. Just never thought it'd happen. And now it is..." He sighed and gave a small smile. "Guess I gotta see it through." Ennis smiled back and kissed him, rubbing his back. They lay down on the sofa together, Jack resting on Ennis's chest and letting Ennis hold him close. He knew that Ennis thought of him as a strong person, but he didn't feel that way unless Ennis was by his side. He felt complete, and knowing that Ennis would support him throughout this entire situation gave him the strength he needed.

The pair of them spent the remainder of their break just lying like this, until it was time to return to work. Jack walked with Ennis and bid him goodbye at the entrance to the park, knowing that in just a few short hours, they would be together again. It was what he lived for, and he had a feeling that Ennis thought of it like this, too.

Somehow, he managed to get through his talk, offering advice and tips to people for looking after themselves, and answered questions about this change in their lives. The phone call weighed heavily on his mind, and he wondered what might happen during their trip.

Ennis was good to him that night, slowly making love to him and helping him to relax into sleep. It had done a very good job; he'd fallen asleep just moments after Ennis had rolled off him. He had then been dimly aware of Ennis pulling him close.

They headed for the airport the next morning, trepidation filling Jack up as he thought of what might happen. He knew that going to the station and pressing charges against his attacker would be the best thing to do, but he wasn't entirely sure of how to go about it. But as they sat together on the plane, hand in hand, Jack knew that he would somehow be able to handle it.

"Gonna be okay," Ennis told him in a soft voice, squeezing his fingers. Jack smiled and nodded, looking out of the window and wondering what might be waiting for him at the other end.