Chapter 23

January 16th, 2010

The plane landed at JFK, and Jack's mother was there to greet them, looking happy to see them but pained at what was going on.

"Jack, sweetheart..." She enveloped him in a hug and he held onto her, the way he'd once done as a child. Ennis watched the bittersweet reunion and felt his heart yearn for Jack. He wasn't entirely sure what this trip might bring for them.

Karen greeted him in the same way and they headed for baggage claim. "So how have you boys been, apart from this?" she asked them, and Ennis felt Jack's hand slipping into his.

"Okay," Jack replied, forcing a smile. "Doing good at the clinic, with the talks and everything." Karen nodded.

"Good. remember our family lawyer, Peter Thompson?" Jack nodded. "Well, your father and I were talking to him this morning, about all this, and he said that if you want to press charges against your attacker, he'd be happy to represent you, handle everything. What do you say?"

Jack thought it over as they waited for the luggage to appear. He remembered their lawyer; he was good at what he did and had tried to help Jack five years ago. It made more sense than trying to get his own lawyer; neither he nor Ennis had that kind of money.

"I guess we could talk to him, see what he says," he finally conceded. The luggage then appeared and they collected it, heading for the exit.

Once in Karen's car and on their way to the house, Jack spoke again. "So how's dad?"

"Best as can be expected, I reckon," his mother replied, sighing. "He's not as strong as he used to be, and I think he'll have to give up work soon."

"Couldn't he get a disability allowance? I know I would if I didn't have a job," Jack told her, remembering his conversation with Ennis on the topic. It seemed like a lifetime ago now.

"Peter reckons so; we asked him earlier when he was at the house. Listen...he's due back at home any time to talk to you, and you need to go to the station. I know you were planning to go to a game with your dad..."

Jack shook his head. "It's okay. I'll just...I'll pay him back for the tickets," he offered.

"He won't take it, Jack," she told him. "He knows you need your money to look after yourself."

"I can afford a couple hundred bucks," Jack said to her.

"I'd be happy to pay him back for mine," Ennis jumped in, wanting to help Jack as much as he could.

Karen sighed. "Well, you can try. But don't be surprised if he won't let you." They finally reached the house and saw that only John's car was there. "I guess Peter isn't back yet. Come on in, you two."

They entered the house and found John in his armchair, smiling a little as they walked in. "Hey there, son."

"Hey dad," Jack replied, accepting the awkward hug he was given. They all sat down while Karen got them some drinks.

"So how've you been?" John asked, looking at his son. "Sure am sorry about what's going on."

Jack nodded, feeling Ennis take his hand in support. "Sure wasn't easy to hear all that. I still can't believe they caught him. I mean, there was a witness this time. Whoever he is, he sure wasn't as careful this time."

"But it doesn't matter that you couldn't identify him," Karen said as she walked back in with the drinks. "They've got him now." Jack nodded, still feeling the knots in his stomach from nerves.

"I know. Anyway...I've done a lot of thinking, and we've been talking...I've decided that I'm gonna do this. I'll talk to Peter, and to the whatever it takes to get him behind bars."

His parents nodded their approval of his decision. "Good. We know it won't be easy..." Karen started and then trailed off, uncertain of what to say next.

"That's why he's got me," Ennis broke in, squeezing Jack's hand. "I'm gonna be by his side through all of this."

"You mean that?" Jack asked, eyes shining. Ennis nodded, meaning every word he said of his promise.

"Yep. Talking to Peter, talking to the police if they'll let me. The trial, whatever happens..." He smiled. "I'll be here, Jack."

Jack grinned and looked down, feeling a little choked up by this declaration. Sensing they needed a moment alone, Karen cleared her throat.

"Why don't you two take your luggage upstairs?" she suggested. "Get settled in." They nodded and grabbed their luggage, heading up and knowing that she'd sensed their need for some privacy.

When they were alone in the guest room, Ennis opened up his arms and Jack moved into them, exhaling and relaxing against him. Ennis rubbed his back and swayed him a little.

"I know it won't be easy, darlin'...but I meant what I said down there. I'm gonna be here for you, through all of it. Won't ever let you deal with it on your own."

Jack smiled and burrowed his head in the crook of Ennis's shoulder, in the hollow space that seemed to have been created just for him. "Thanks, bud. I'm sure I can do it...I'm just gonna need help."

He didn't say the exact words he was thinking, for he figured they would cause him to break down there and then, but Ennis heard them anyway. Dealing with this whole situation would be very draining for Jack, and he would no doubt be forced to remember what had happened. As a result, he would need Ennis there to hold him and calm him down afterwards; to hold him through the night and chase the nightmares away. Ennis knew that it was what Jack would need from him during these next few days, and he silently vowed that he would do his best to help in whatever way he could.

Peter Thompson, the family lawyer, came to the house about half an hour later, wanting to speak to Jack. The four of them agreed that they would all be present during this talk, but that Jack would speak to the police with just Ennis by his side.

When Peter arrived, he greeted Jack and was introduced to Ennis, and they all took a seat in the living room, Jack feeling apprehensive.

"So," he started, looking over at Jack with his notes in hand. "I went to the station and got the details we need for you to be able to press charges. Are you sure you're ready for this?"

Jack nodded and took Ennis's hand, lacing their fingers together. "Yeah, I am."

" seems that the name of the man who attacked you and the most recent victim was Daniel Waters. He's just a few years older than you, just turned thirty." He rifled through his notes. "Lifelong resident of Manhattan, New York...went to the university. He'd not long since graduated when he attacked you. Parents both died when he was six. He was living with his aunt until college, and then lived on his own. Certainly has reasons for what he's done, but I realise it's no excuse for hurting two innocent people."

"How did he get HIV?" Jack asked, wanting to know everything.

"Fooled around without protection, in college. He'd been positive for a year when he attacked you," Peter replied, shaking his head. "Man should be in some kind of institution, really...but since he's broken the law, he should be punished accordingly."

Jack nodded. "Okay. So what should I do?"

"Well, you need to go over to the station, first off. You have to make a statement against him so that they can start to arrange a trial. They won't be able to do anything without statements from both of his victims." Peter hesitated. "You know, one of the victims that are pressing have the right to go and see him, at the station. But only if you want to."

Jack looked at Ennis, wondering what to do. He'd never seen his attacker's face and had wondered for a long time what he looked like. A part of him was saying that he should stay away; what if this man mocked him, or made him feel like shit? He wasn't sure he would be able to handle it, even with Ennis by his side. It would rip open those old wounds and make him feel terrible.

But another part of him was saying that he should go, and take Ennis with him. He'd been afraid of this faceless, nameless stranger for so long, and justice was imminent. This man had already given him a disease that he would never recover from; to shy away now would be like saying he was letting this man win. He couldn't lose what he had left of his pride.

He slowly nodded, thinking it over. "I might be a good idea." Ennis turned to look at him.

"You sure, bud?" he asked gently, squeezing his hand. He somehow knew the inner battle Jack was having in his head, and wondered if it was a smart idea to go and see the man who had done such an awful thing to Jack.

"Yeah, I..." Jack cleared his throat. "The thing is...I've never seen this guy before. And...whenever I have a nightmare, it's always exactly how it happened. I've had this image in my head of some...faceless figure. And...I just..." He sighed. "I need to look him in the eye, and know that he's the one who did this. I want to put a face and a name to it all. He's the reason I'm positive, and...I just need to see who he is." Jack felt Ennis running a thumb over his knuckles as he spoke, and appreciated the support.

Peter nodded, understanding Jack's need to talk to the man who had stolen a precious part of himself; not only his virginity, but the notion that he would have a long, happy and healthy life. Everybody thought that when they were young, but Jack had had the possibility taken away from him on that cold morning in the park. Jack may very well live a long and happy life, but he would never be truly healthy, not after what happened.

"I see. In that case, you ought to get over there as soon as you can. I understand you're only here for the weekend?"

"Yeah. We both have work to get back to. So...could we maybe go over there today?"

"Sure. All you have to do is give your name at the front desk and they'll show you where to go. Do you wish to see him alone? There will be an officer present and he'll be handcuffed to the table."

Jack shook his head. "No, I want Ennis there with me. He promised to stand by me; the least I can do is let him." He smiled at his lover, who gave his hand another squeeze.

Peter nodded. "Okay. If you want, I can drive you both over there." Jack looked at his parents, who nodded at him.

"Go ahead, honey," Karen told him, standing up. "It's what you need." Jack stood up too and hugged her.

"Thanks, mom." Karen and John bid goodbye to the three of them and told him good luck, and soon enough he and Ennis were in the back of Peter's car, headed for the city.

During the drive over, Jack leaned into Ennis and sighed a little, trying to calm his raging nerves. Ennis saw that he was conflicted about the meeting, and put an arm around him, trying to comfort him.

"It'll be okay, darlin'," he murmured, squeezing Jack's fingers. Jack nodded and tried to smile at him, hoping that he was right. No matter what this guy might say to him during the meeting, Jack knew that he and Ennis could handle it together.

They got to the station and Ennis and Jack were shown to a side room, where Jack gave a statement to them about what had happened to him. He then provided his test results from when he was diagnosed and they were asked to wait.

While they waited, Ennis held Jack's hand and tried to reassure him. "It'll be okay, Jack. I'm right here."

Jack nodded. He did feel relatively safe with Ennis by his side, but a part of him was still very worried that this was a bad idea. But it was too late to back out now.

"I know. It's just...what if he says something? Treats the whole thing as a big joke or brags about how he just...did that to me? And to the other guy?" He looked scared, and all Ennis wanted to do was get him out of there and hold him close, let him know that everything was alright. But he knew that Jack needed to do this, or he might never be able to move on from what had happened to him.

"Doesn't matter," Ennis told him, rubbing Jack's arm with his free hand. "If he says anything...we'll ask to leave. And it's okay...I'm gonna be here through all of it."

Jack was about to reply to this, when the door opened and an officer came in, leading a man around thirty, just as Peter had said. He had dusty blonde hair (thankfully unlike Ennis's) and small, cold grey eyes. Jack practically shrank into his seat at the sight, knowing what this man had done to him and what he'd given him. Ennis could tell that Jack was afraid, and squeezed his hand to let him know he was there.

The officer sat the man down and handcuffed one hand to the bar on the table. He had no way of reaching Jack, at least not physically. The officer then stood by the door, keeping an eye on everything like a hawk.

The man, Daniel Waters, looked at them both. His expression was unreadable. "So...they tell me you're Jack Twist. Been a long time."

Jack took a steadying breath. "I guess. But I've had a long time to come to terms with what you did to me. I wanted to see you so I knew for sure what that piece of scum looked like. Now I know."

Daniel's lip curled in what could only be a smirk. "So tell still taking it up the ass? Did you like what I did?"

Ennis felt himself growing angry, but he held back, knowing that Jack needed to confront this man.

"You bastard," Jack hissed. "You force yourself on me like that, give me a life sentence, and then now you ask me if I liked it? How can you look me in the eye and ask that?"

"So who's this?" Daniel asked, ignoring Jack's question and turning to Ennis. "This your boyfriend?"

"Actually, it is," Jack replied, holding Ennis's hand a little tighter. "And he knows everything. About what you did..."

Daniel shrugged. "Hell, I'm not complaining. I got off in a tight little ass, and then another just recently. So tell me..." he added, eyes flashing maliciously. "You know what it's like to fuck a virgin?"

Jack blanched; Ennis had been a virgin, at least in that respect, when he had first made love to him. He did know what it was like.

"None of your business," he said firmly, determined not to let this man get to him. He was here to try and let go of the past, and that would never happen if he let this man take what was left of his pride. "The difference between what you did to me and my sex life with that we love each other." Ennis was nodding his agreement. "What we've'll never understand it. What you did was about power and control, and it's nothing like that with us."

"How sweet," Daniel sneered, and Ennis was getting very close to slugging this man. "So then...what happens when you infect him? Will he still love you then?"

He'd crossed a line, and Ennis could see it in Jack's eyes; the fear that if he did infect Ennis, it would drive Ennis away from him. As he looked at Jack's fearful expression, Ennis knew there and then that even if it did happen, he would always love Jack.

He nodded to the officer, who led Daniel out of the room, and then turned to Jack. "Are you okay?" he asked, unsure of how Jack would have taken Daniel's last remark. Jack nodded, lips tightly pressed together, and they left the room hand in hand.

Ennis, who sensed that Jack needed some comforting right now, declined Peter's offer to drive them back to the house, stating that they would get a cab later on. He then pulled Jack into an alleyway out of sight and pulled him close, wrapping his arms around him.

Jack melted into the embrace, his walls of defence crumbling as Ennis held him, and he burrowed closer. "Ennis...tell me something..."

"Sure, bud," Ennis replied, willing to do anything to calm Jack down.

"If I do infect you...will you still love me?" He sounded so lost and in need of reassurance that Ennis felt the pain himself. He kissed the side of Jack's head and nodded.

"I will, Jack. I swear I will...that guy doesn't know what he's talking about. He'll never understand what we've got. People like him never do." He pulled back and turned Jack to face him, wiping the tears with his thumb. "It's gonna be okay, darlin'."

Jack nodded and tried to smile, glad to be out of the station and in Ennis's arms. "I love you," he choked out, breath shaky. "Sure am glad I'm not going through this alone."

Ennis leaned in and kissed him, slow and soft. They then held each other close again, until they were finally ready to move, back into the bright sunlight where things were always a little clearer.

When Ennis and Jack retired to the guest bedroom that night, they were both weary. The talk with Daniel had drained Jack and he was in need of a lot of comfort right now from his other half. Ennis, for his part, wanted to do whatever he could to make Jack feel better.

Upon their return to the house, Jack had gone for a lie down while Ennis relayed to Karen and John what had happened. It hadn't been easy, but he'd done it for Jack. The pair of them had managed to wolf down some dinner and now they were getting undressed on either side of the bed. They were upstairs a little earlier than normal, but Ennis knew that Jack needed to be alone with him, away from everything else.

Ennis watched Jack as they crawled into bed, heart yearning for him. He had never liked seeing Jack upset, and just wanted to make him feel loved and appreciated.

When they were under the warm covers, Ennis rolled onto his side, facing Jack. His lover was lying on his back, staring at the ceiling. Ennis reached out and placed a hand on his chest, gently stroking it over his skin. He could feel Jack's strong muscles and smiled a little at how good they felt.

"Darlin'?" he asked softly, and Jack turned to look at him. He continued to stroke Jack's chest. "You wanna talk about it?"

Jack shook his head. "Not now. Sorry, Ennis...just..." He bit his lip and Ennis stroked his cheek. It was okay if Jack couldn't talk right now; there would be plenty of time for that.

"It's okay. Whenever you're ready. You just wanna...?" He trailed off, the question hanging between them. Jack smiled a little.

"Sure..." They leaned in, Jack turning onto his side, and began to kiss softly, Ennis tangling his hand in Jack's dark hair. Jack was kissing him back, desperate for the comfort that Ennis was offering. He was soon tugging at Ennis's hip; an indication for him to roll on top of him, that he was ready. Ennis took the hint and did so, straddling Jack and covering him with his warmth.

They broke apart, faced just inches from each other. Jack was breathing a little heavily, becoming aroused despite his feelings at the moment. Ennis nuzzled their noses together.

"You sure you're ready?" he murmured, and Jack nodded.

"Yeah...wanna feel you inside me..." He rose up a little and kissed Ennis again, ready to make love with him. Ennis nodded and reared up onto his knees, reaching for the lube and a condom. He pushed away the reminder of Daniel's sneering face and instead concentrated on Jack, who needed him right now.

When he was ready and Jack was sufficiently covered up, he shifted so that Jack could open up his legs and allow him to settle between them. Ennis then lifted Jack's legs and wrapped them around his waist, kissing Jack firmly and yearning to be inside him.

He slowly pushed into his lover, watching his face for signs of how he was feeling. It was odd; whenever he was on top, there seemed to be a pattern to Jack's facial expressions. Initial discomfort from penetration, but then the look of bliss as he relaxed and got used to it. Ennis liked how he could make Jack feel good like this; he lived for it.

They slowly moved together, Ennis rocking into Jack and kissing him, determined to push away thoughts of what had transpired.

"Love you," he panted, nuzzling into Jack's neck as he thrust into him. "Don't worry about anything,'s gonna be okay..."

Jack nodded, unable to speak. He had fixed his lips on the hollow spot of Ennis's shoulder, raising his hips in time to Ennis's thrusts and shaking as his orgasm started to rip through him. He trembled and let loose, groaning in Ennis's ear as he crossed the finish line. Ennis thrust a few more times and followed suit, shaking and then collapsing onto Jack.

"Oof," Jack groaned at the sudden weight. He could normally take it, but he was feeling a little weaker than usual right now. Ennis immediately rolled off him, onto his side.

"Shit, sorry darlin' okay?" he asked, alarmed that he had hurt Jack.

"Yeah, I'm alright," he replied, now able to breathe. He sighed and pulled off the rubber, tying it and placing it on the nightstand. Ennis did the same and shuffled closer, sliding one arm over Jack's stomach and kissing his cheek. "Mmm..."

"Love you, Jack," Ennis said softly, nuzzling into his damp hair.

"I love you too," he replied, smiling at him. "Thanks for coming with me today."

"Said I would," Ennis told him, rubbing his stomach. "I promised I would be there for you. And I was." He shifted and settled his left leg in between Jack's. "Try not to think on it, bud. That guy...he's just an asshole. Not worth worrying over..."

"I know he isn't," Jack agreed, nodding and covering Ennis's arm with his own. "I'm...kind of glad I went today. I've had this image of a faceless stranger in my head for so long whenever I thought about it, finally see who he is...maybe now I can move on from it. I got that from today if nothing else." He then smiled. "And you were right by my side, being a part of it. I can't thank you enough for being there."

"It's okay, darlin'," Ennis told him, kissing him gently. "I'm glad I could help you. wanna get some sleep? We'll go out to the city tomorrow...have some fun together. What do you say?"

"Alright," Jack replied, smiling at the thought. "We can go to a game with my dad another time, right?"

"Yep. Come on, get some sleep." He nudged at Jack and rolled him onto his side, spooning up behind him. Jack settled down and closed his eyes, smiling when Ennis pulled him close and nuzzled the back of his neck. "Night, darlin'."

"Night, Ennis."

Ennis and Jack spent most of the next day together as agreed, just the two of them. They strolled around the city and in the park, talking about everything but what had happened the day before.

As they walked by the lake, Ennis looked at Jack sadly. He'd had a nightmare around one in the morning, undoubtedly a memory. He had confessed to Ennis that in this latest variation, his attacker now had a face, and it made the whole memory even worse. It had taken a while to calm Jack down, but he seemed okay this morning. At any rate, he was at least smiling and looked to be relaxed.

They sat down on a bench and Ennis instinctively put his arm around Jack protectively, and Jack settled next to him, head against his shoulder.

"You doing okay, bud?" Ennis asked him, rubbing his arm. Jack nodded.

"Yeah...better than yesterday, anyway. And especially last night. Don't know what that was. I mean...seeing his face isn't how it happened. I've never seen his face until yesterday. Not really sure why he was in that nightmare."

"Because you know what he looks like now," Ennis replied, holding him close. "So...I reckon it makes sense that he's kind of...forced himself in." Jack recoiled at his word choice, and Ennis could have kicked himself for his tactlessness. "Sorry, darlin'..."

"It's okay," Jack said, shaking his head. "'s not like it isn't true. That's what he did..."

"Doesn't mean I should've said it like that," Ennis told him, still feeling ashamed of himself. "Really am sorry..." Jack pushed away a little to look into his eyes.

"It's alright," he said earnestly, touching Ennis's cheek. "Don't worry about it, okay?" Ennis nodded and leaned in; Jack met his kiss eagerly and found one of his hands, lacing their fingers together as they kissed.

This is what it's all about, he thought to himself. Me and him. We're in love, and have so much to look forward to together. Daniel Waters can't take this away from us, no matter what he says or does. He could get off, and be back on the streets, and attack me again and it wouldn't matter. I'd still have Ennis, holding me and kissing me like he is now. Nothing can tear us apart.

The kiss ended and they smiled their soft, secret smiles at each other. Ennis nuzzled their noses together, making Jack grin, and then they relaxed once more, Jack leaning against his lover.

After a while, they got up and left the park, seeking lunch and choosing a small café they'd been to before. Halfway through the meal, Jack's phone rang. "It's Peter," he told Ennis, and answered it. "Hello?"

"Hey, Jack. Just wanted to know how you're doing."

"I'm fine, thanks. Just having lunch with Ennis in the city."

"Good. Listen...I've got some great news for you. Just spoke to the detective in charge of your case. He says that Daniel Waters is going to go to trial next Saturday, and he would like both victims there to repeat their statements to a jury, as well as the witness from the recent attack."

"Oh," Jack replied, surprised that it had been sorted out so quickly. "Well, that's great. Do I need to bring anything?"

"Yes. We need a copy of your record from when you were tested for HIV, the proof that you were infected. should hand it in before next week, because it's going to be used as evidence against him. We can't get that from the other victim because it's too soon to tell if he was infected. I mean, it would only be a week by the time this goes to trial. You're really the only one with evidence, Jack."

"Well...I did bring my test results with me. Maybe I could make a copy at the library or something," Jack suggested, picking at his food with the fork.

"That would be fine; just make sure you can get it to me before Saturday. You remember where my office is, right?"

"Yeah, I do. And...I'll be there later today."

"Alright. Bye, Jack."

"Yep, bye." He clicked off and sighed. "Well...things are happening quickly."

"What did he say?" Ennis asked, searching Jack's face.

"Daniel's going to trial next Saturday, and they want both victims there. I need to bring Peter a record of my HIV test results; they'll be used as evidence in my favour. I should get those to him today, before we leave."

"Alright. Are they at the house?"

"Yeah, in my carry-on. We'll have to go and get them and then come back, get them copied and get them to Peter."

"Come on then, let's eat up and get this sorted," Ennis told him, nodding. Jack smiled at how Ennis was taking charge of the situation; it helped him to keep a cool head and not panic about anything.

When they finished their lunch, they went back to the house and got the test results, and then did as Peter had asked, copying them and handing them in to him. Jack felt a little relieved that he didn't have to do too much right now, but he was dreading having to tell a room full of strangers what had happened to him.

Soon enough, it was time for them to pack their things and catch their flight. Jack was saddened that he and his father hadn't spent much time together, but John told him firmly that these other issues came first, and Jack reluctantly agreed.

On the flight back, they mirrored their positions from the bench, Ennis with an arm around Jack, who leaned against him. Jack soon dropped off, but Ennis stayed awake a little longer, thinking about what had happened this weekend and what might happen during the next one. He knew one thing for sure; no matter what might happen at this trial, he would stand by Jack and help him through it. That was what he was there for, and that was what he would do.