January 18th, 2010
Ennis and Jack woke up together on Monday morning, happy to be back home where they were far away from the trouble back in New York. They had arranged to meet up with the girls during their lunch break and were glad to return to work. Jack enjoyed being back at work and knew that it had been a good idea to apply for the job. He liked contributing to the research and talking to others about his experience.
When it was finally time for them to meet Lureen and Alma, they met up at the park and walked down the street, hand in hand. Jack was a lot happier than he'd been over the weekend, and he smiled at Ennis.
"Sure am glad to be back home," he said to him, squeezing his hand. Ennis smiled back.
"I know...me too. And at least we've got work to take our minds off things. If we just concentrate on that, it'll keep us calm for next Saturday. Are you sure you're gonna be okay with telling the jury what happened?"
Jack shrugged. "I guess. But you know what I was thinking? Maybe I could put it in my talk this afternoon, you know?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well...they've been coming to hear me talk for a little while now. And I've told them about my experiences. Maybe it'll help them to know that guys like Daniel Waters don't get away with things like that. Especially if one of them got infected the way I did."
Ennis considered this. "Yeah, maybe. If you really want to do it, darlin'...you know I'll support you. And if it'll help with talking about it at the trial..."
"Yep. I know I'll be able to do it, Ennis...I just...I'm gonna need some help with it." He stopped and they turned to each other. "I can do the talking...I'll just need you there when we're alone afterwards, okay?"
"I'll be there," Ennis promised without hesitation. "Through everything...I'll be there when you need me." He smiled and kissed Jack before tugging at his hand and leading him to the coffeehouse.
Sure enough, when they got there they were greeted by their friends. "Hey, you guys!" Lureen said with a grin on her face, hugging them both in turn. Alma did the same and they all sat down, Lureen now on her break.
"So how did it go?" Alma asked, looking sympathetically at Jack. "What happened over there?"
"Well, our family lawyer came over, and told us the name of my attacker; Daniel Waters. He attacked another young guy recently and now he's awaiting trial. I made a statement at the station, and..." He hesitated. "I went to see him, with Ennis."
"You did?" Lureen asked in surprise. "That was brave...was it bad?"
Jack swallowed. "Yeah. He didn't have any remorse for what he did...just sneered at me. Not much point in talking to him, to be honest..."
"Oh, Jack...at least you went," Lureen replied encouragingly. "That took guts..."
"It did," Ennis replied, smiling at Jack. "He tried his best. But that guy...I wanted to slug him one for the way he spoke to Jack."
"I bet," Lureen said with a smile. "So what...what happens on Saturday?"
"There'll be a trial...and I have to tell the jury what happened to me. That won't be easy, but...if it gets him locked up where he belongs..."
"It'll be worth it." The girls nodded and Lureen went to grab the coffeepot, pouring for Ennis and Jack and bringing over a pair of paninis for the four of them.
"On the house," she said with a wink. "Just don't tell." They thanked her and began to eat, Jack particularly ravenous after everything he'd been through. He and Ennis split one, and the girls split the other.
"So did we miss anything while we were gone?" Ennis asked, looking at them both.
"Not really. There's always scandals going on with celebrities and such, but...that stuff doesn't seem to matter these days...not since you got diagnosed," Lureen told him. "All that stuff we were into as kids, Jack...just seems so childish now. Guess we grew up quickly."
"Yeah," he lamented, running a finger over the rim of his mug. "It's okay, though. I got to meet Ennis." He smiled at the girls. "Hey...you guys found anybody yet? I mean...Alma, I..." He bit his lip, remembering that she was Ennis's ex. She shook her head.
"It's fine, really. But no, I...I haven't met anybody yet. Saw Lureen flirting with some guy, though." She smiled at Lureen, who blushed. Jack, firmly back in his playful mode, pounced on this.
"Really?" he asked, sounding intrigued. "Who?"
"Guy in our building," she replied. "Lives on the floor above us. His name's Sam Brightman. Do you know him? Brunette, green eyes...really cute." She grinned. "I like him a lot."
"Good one, Lu," Jack said, nodding his approval. "Don't really know him, though..."
"Well...maybe I could introduce you guys to him sometime. Anyway...my break's gonna end soon...Alma, you can finish that if you want," she said to her friend, who nodded.
When Alma had finished, she bid goodbye to them and left Ennis and Jack alone. They smiled at each other and kissed softly, hands finding each other and clasping on the table. When they broke apart, Ennis nuzzled Jack's nose and kissed his cheek.
"You gonna be okay, baby?" he asked, and Jack nodded.
"Yeah, I will. It won't be easy, especially having to talk to the jury about it, but...I know you'll be there to help me. That's all that matters." He rested against Ennis's shoulder, smiling when he felt Ennis kiss the top of his head.
Lureen watched them, thinking about what was going on with Jack. She felt very sorry for him, having to go through everything back in New York. All she could do was hope that the jury saw sense and voted to send Daniel Waters behind bars where he belonged. Jack had been given a life sentence; it was only fair that his attacker get the same, or as close to it as possible.
When they got back to work, Jack decided that he was going to tell his audience that afternoon about the trial and what had happened back in New York. By now, the people who came to hear him talk were regulars, and he was getting to know them. They had all shared stories of their experiences and how they'd become infected. Jack had been quick to establish early on that nobody would be judged for however they caught HIV; they were all here to support each other.
He was setting up in the room when the doctor came in. "Hey, Jack."
"Oh, hey doc. What's up?"
"Just wanted to make sure you're alright, after what happened this weekend." Jack had told him on Friday that he and Ennis were going to New York and that something had happened with his attacker.
"I'm fine, thanks. They caught my attacker, and he's going to trial on Saturday. Both me and his most recent victim are gonna be testifying." He thought about that part, hoping that he would be able to talk about it. But at least Ennis would be there; one friendly face in a crowd of strangers.
"Right. Well, I hope it goes well. You ready for this afternoon?"
"Yep. I was thinking...maybe I could talk to them about all this. Maybe at least one of them got infected the same way I did, and...I think it'd help them to know that the people who do that eventually get what they deserve."
"Good idea. Let me know how it goes, okay?" Jack nodded and Joe left the room.
When his audience were sat down and ready, Jack cleared his throat.
"Well, uh...good to see you guys again. I was gonna talk to you more about the meds you'll need to take, but...something came up over the weekend." He took a breath. "The thing is...you'll remember me telling you how I was infected, right? Back in New York when I was in college. Well, my mom called on Friday night, and it turns out that my attacker got another guy, but this time there was a witness, and he was arrested. They took a DNA sample from him and the victim, and it matched the sample taken from me when I was attacked. So that guy was the one who gave me HIV."
He paused for a moment, and then pressed on. "I went over there the next day, with my boyfriend, and we went to talk to the guy. He didn't feel any remorse as far as I could see, and he did kind of seem proud of himself. But the thing is...he's going to trial on Saturday, and I'll be testifying. I just wanted to tell you guys because...I thought that maybe one of you could be going through the same thing, and I just wanted you to know that people like him eventually get what they deserve."
Jack saw a few people nodding in agreement, and he felt proud of himself for how far he'd come in such a short space of time. "Well...any questions?" A young woman named Katie raised her hand and he nodded at her.
"I just wanted to ask...does it ever get any easier, to talk about it? I was infected by my ex-boyfriend, who was into drugs, and...even my parents don't know yet. I haven't been able to tell them."
"Well...it does eventually. But I think that before you can talk about it to someone you know, you have to try and kind of make your own peace with it. You just have to accept that it happened, and try not to think about what you could have done differently or whatever. I spent so long wishing that I'd never taken that shortcut through the park that morning, or that I'd just gotten up earlier so I wasn't pressed for time. But this is how things happened, so..." He thought for a moment, Ennis flitting into his mind. "My boyfriend's got this kind of motto that I've heard him use more than once, and I think it applies here. It's 'if you can't fix it, you've gotta stand it'. I reckon it works for this. I can't change what happened to me, so I've had to learn to live with it. And you guys can, too. I think that if you can do that, you'll be able to tell other people."
Katie smiled and nodded, clearly thinking this over. The rest of the talk was devoted to tips on how to tell other people about the positive diagnosis, and how to cope with possible disownment. Jack shared how his father had initially reacted, but pointed out how things were better in the light of his own illness. It was important for them to remember that there were simply things out there that they couldn't change, no matter how much they might want to.
After the talk was over, Jack was packing up his bag when Katie came up to him. "Can I ask you something, Jack?"
"Well...you've mentioned having a boyfriend. Is it hard to have a relationship with a negative person? Like...sex, for example. Do you guys get worried that you'll infect him? Even with protection?"
Jack sighed. "Frequently. A part of me worries every time we do it. But you know what? He told me himself that even if I do infect him, he'll still love me and want to be with me. And if you ever find yourself a guy like that, Katie...you hold onto him. I'm really lucky to have my man, and I know that...with him on my side, I can face anything, including my attacker and the trial."
She smiled, seeing how much he meant those words. "Thanks, Jack." He nodded at her and she left, leaving him to his own thoughts about Ennis. He did feel incredibly lucky to have someone like him on his side. He loved Ennis with all his heart, and he was determined to show him tonight, when they were alone.
That night, they spent the evening at Ennis's place. Ennis made Jack a meal of chicken, potatoes and vegetables; good comfort food that he knew Jack needed. He also poured them some wine and they settled at the table, Ennis lighting the candle in the middle.
"A man could get used to this," Jack said with a smile, looking across at his lover. Ennis nodded.
"Good, because when we move in together...I promise, Jack...it's gonna be great. We'll have this every evening after work."
"I think we'll need it," Jack replied, starting to eat. "I mean, work's good these days, but it sure does take it out of me."
"How did it go today?" Ennis asked, and Jack shrugged.
"Well...it wasn't easy to talk about it...but I'm glad I did it." He smiled and told Ennis about Katie, and how he'd inspired her to keep on going. Ennis told Jack how proud he was of him.
After dinner, they spent some time in front of the TV and then Jack started giving Ennis that familiar look; the one that meant he was after sex from his man. Ennis started giving Jack looks and smirked, taking his hand. He pulled Jack up off the sofa and brought him close, planting his lips on Jack's firmly. Jack moaned into his mouth and immediately started to get hard, already looking forward to this.
"How you want it?" Ennis murmured between hard kisses. "Slow, fast, what?"
"Mmm..." Jack replied, mouth full of Ennis's tongue. "Want you inside me...hard and fast, I reckon..."
"You got it..." They banged their way through the apartment, falling onto the bed and tugging at each other's clothes. Shirts came flying off and Ennis pushed Jack down onto the bed, kissing his way down his lover's chest and making him moan with pleasure.
"Ennis..." he sighed. "That's good..." Ennis reached Jack's buckle and deftly undid it, sliding Jack's jeans down his legs until they were a heap on the floor. He then crawled back up and took off his own jeans, rubbing himself against Jack. He rose up and gazed down at his lover, eyes alight with arousal.
"You ready?" he breathed, and Jack nodded.
"Yeah...come on, fuck, me..." Ennis quickly covered them both with condoms and coated himself with the lube, pushing Jack's legs up and over his shoulders. He was hard as a rock and wanted Jack so badly, and he knew by now that Jack wanted him just as much. It was a powerful aphrodisiac, to know that Jack was sexually attracted to him; he'd never thought of himself as appealing in that way, and even though he knew his ex-girlfriends must have found him attractive, he hadn't really felt it until Jack.
He pushed in, hearing Jack gasp at the feeling. They moved quickly together, heading for the finish line and moaning each other's names. Ennis, overcome with desire for Jack, pushed in deeper and harder, and Jack felt something go wrong inside him.
"Stop," he gasped. Ennis did so immediately and looked down at him. "I...I think I'm bleeding..."
Ennis's eyes widened and he pulled out as gently as he could, thankful that he was wearing a rubber. "Shit...you okay?" he asked, moving off to the side and on his knees. Jack nodded and sat up, wincing.
"Yeah, I'll be fine. I've just gotta clean myself up...you should change the sheets, too. And wash them good or maybe throw them out." Ennis nodded and when Jack left the room, he set to changing the sheets, rolling up the bloody ones into a ball and dumping them in the hamper.
When he was done, he went into the bathroom, where Jack was just washing his hands. Ennis's heart felt heavy; he knew that when Jack had been assaulted, he'd bled then. He was terrified that he'd hurt Jack.
"Bud?" he asked unsurely, watching as Jack turned around. "Are you okay? I'm so sorry..."
Jack smiled and nodded, moving close to him. "I'm fine, baby. This happens all the time to guys like us. Just a case of tissue and muscle tearing back there; no big deal. It'll heal after a few days." He saw Ennis looking off to the side, unable to look him in the eye. Jack sighed, knowing what was bothering him. "Ennis, look at me..."
Ennis did so, fear in his eyes. "Jack...the last time you bled...it was..."
"I know, I know," Jack said softly, cupping his cheeks. "Don't think about that, okay?" He kissed Ennis gently, hoping to calm him down. "Shh...it's okay..."
"You mean that?" Ennis asked fearfully. "You gonna be okay?"
"I'll be fine..." Jack promised him. "Come here..." He took Ennis by the hand and led him back to the bedroom, sitting him down on the changed bed. "Baby...calm down. It's alright...you don't have to worry about it. I know you were thinking of what happened to me, but...the truth is...you're so much better than that guy. You love me, and care about me. That's all I need to know. This was just...a setback. That's all. It happens all the time to guys, and it's nothing to worry about. What did you do with the sheets?" Ennis pointed to the hamper and Jack nodded. "Okay. Be careful with them, alright? Maybe wash them with hot water."
"Alright," Ennis replied, feeling tired. He'd been so aroused fifteen minutes ago, and now he was scared and a little ashamed of himself. He just wanted to go to sleep right now, and try to forget about the connotations of what had happened. Jack kissed him and crawled up the bed.
"Come on, bud. Let's just get some sleep, okay?" Ennis followed him and they got under the sheets, Jack spooning up around him and pulling him close. "It's alright, Ennis...it's alright," he murmured, rubbing his lover's stomach. "Please don't worry, okay? I love you..."
"Love you too, Jack," Ennis choked out, throat feeling tight as he tried to relax. He soon felt Jack falling asleep behind him, but it was a long time before he too could relax enough to drop off into an uneasy sleep.
A couple of days later, things were more or less back to normal. Ennis had stopped panicking about the other night and soon relaxed around Jack again. But it was the longest they'd gone without having sex, and both were a little frustrated. Jack was healing up, but it might be another few days before he could handle penetration again. He'd offered to jerk Ennis off and even top him, which he could deal with, but Ennis had told him that he wanted to wait until he was back to normal.
Still, in spite of what was going on, they were happy. The trial was in a few days and Peter had called to say that there was a very good chance Daniel Waters would be sent down, thanks to the statements given and the fact that Jack would be testifying.
On Wednesday, Ennis and Jack were sitting on Jack's sofa during their lunch break. They had just finished eating and were now sitting quietly together, talking about the impending move and their forthcoming life together.
"So is there any changes you'll wanna make when you move in?" Jack asked, head resting on the back of the sofa as he looked at Ennis.
"Don't think so," Ennis replied, looking around. "I mean, there's some stuff I wanna bring over, but...no real big changes. I could sell most stuff, like my TV and stereo. Won't need them here."
Jack nodded. "Fair enough. When you move in, all my stuff will be yours, too. We'll be partners, for real." He smirked. "You're more than welcome to share my bed with me."
"I'll keep that in mind, darlin'," Ennis replied, a smile playing around his lips. "What do we do about rent?"
Jack thought for a moment. "Might be easier if you give me your half and then I pay it to the landlord, along with my half. He's a good guy, so it shouldn't be too much trouble. I already told him that you were moving in with me and he said it's fine. When I first came here, Lureen told me that he's cool with gay people, so that was part of the reason why I decided to live here. I figured...that if I ever did meet someone, they might wanna move in with me one day. So I thought I'd plan ahead and find a place where it'd be possible."
Ennis watched him as he spoke, remembering how Jack had described feeling lonely and always thinking that he would never find anyone who would love him in spite of what he had. Most of the time, Ennis was able to push aside the thought about Jack being positive; that he had something which was so dangerous inside him. He loved Jack, regardless of what he had, and he knew how much Jack appreciated this.
"Guess you never really lost hope, then?" he asked softly, taking Jack's hand in his own. Jack shrugged.
"I don't know. I never stopped hoping, I guess. But at the same time, I kind of stopped believing that it would happen; that I would find someone to love me."
"You've got one now," Ennis murmured, leaning over to kiss him. Jack immediately opened his mouth, welcoming the warm kiss that was given. He slowly sank back down to the sofa, bringing Ennis with him. The kisses turned urgent and passionate, and both were soon hard, panting heavily.
"Are you sure?" Ennis asked, still fearful that Jack wasn't yet healed up enough. What if he did it again? Jack nodded, kissing his neck.
"Yeah...think I can take it..." They kissed again and Ennis got up, quickly heading for the bedroom with Jack in tow.
Once on the bed, they stripped off and got under the covers, Ennis preparing himself in between soul-searing kisses and whispered endearments. He entered Jack very slowly, biting his lip.
"Keep going," Jack instructed, holding onto him around the neck and wrapping his legs around Ennis's waist. "I'll let you know if I want you to stop, okay?" Ennis nodded and pushed in deeper until he was fully inside Jack, right to the hilt.
They gazed at each other for several moments before Ennis started moving, careful not to do it too hard or too deep. He didn't thrust in all the way, just enough to do the job and make it good for Jack.
Jack moaned softly in his ear and moved along with him. "Ennis...God, I love you..."
"Love you too, darlin'...so much..." He kissed Jack on the mouth and found his tongue, sliding his own against it and trailing one hand down Jack's stomach. He took his lover in hand, slipping a little against the rubber on him, and began to jerk him off in time to his thrusts. Jack bucked and gasped, unable to hold back. All it took was a few strokes and he shot, groaning and pushing his head back to the pillow. Ennis followed suit and collapsed onto him, panting.
"Are you okay?" he breathed, hoping that Jack hadn't started bleeding again. He pulled out and looked down at Jack, who was smiling.
"I'm fine. Everything feels normal...just a little sore, that's all. Gonna be okay." Ennis kissed him and rolled off onto his own side, not even stirring when Jack removed both condoms and went to dispose of them. He checked himself in the bathroom, and there was no blood, so he figured that everything was okay back there. What had happened a few days ago didn't bother him so much, but he knew it had freaked Ennis out because of what Daniel had done all those years ago.
Jack promised himself there and then that he wouldn't let Daniel take anything else away from him, especially his relationship with Ennis. So much had already been taken, but he had this left, and when he stopped at the bedroom doorway and looked at his dozing lover, Jack knew that he would never give this up without a fight.
January 23rd, 2010
On Saturday, Ennis and Jack were back in New York, and were currently at the courthouse where Daniel's trial was being held. They were stood outside the chamber, waiting to be called in and talking to Jack's parents and Peter, Jack thanking him for his help through all of it.
"No problem, Jack," Peter said with a smile. "It's what I'm here for." Jack nodded and felt Ennis squeezing his hand. This show of support was very much appreciated right now, and he thanked his lucky stars that he had decided to move to San Francisco last summer.
They were soon shown into the room and took their seats, glancing at the jury; there was nobody there that any of them recognised. Jack had been introduced to Daniel's other victim, Sam Brookes, and told him that he ever needed any advice for dealing with becoming positive, he would be happy to help. Sam thanked him and sat by them, not having anybody here but his own lawyer.
Daniel was led in by an officer and taken to a table on the lowest level, again showing no remorse for what he'd done. When the judge had entered and was seated, Jack clasped Ennis's hand tightly, hoping that justice would be done for what both he and Sam had suffered through.
"Daniel Waters, of Manhattan, New York, you are charged with two counts of sexual assault. One of September 20th, 2004, and the other of January 14th, 2010. Your victims were John C. Twist, Jr and Samuel Brookes, both of Long Island, New York. How do you plead?"
"Guilty, I guess," Daniel replied, not seeming to care at all. "It's what happened." The judge pursed her lips at his attitude but carried on.
"You have caused psychological trauma and the transmission of the HIV virus to these two young men, altering their entire lives. I for one am disappointed in the lack of remorse you seem to have for this, not to mention the pure contempt you seem to be showing. Therefore, I hope the jury sees fit to punish you severely."
Jack was then called to the witness stand. He started off shaky as he described what had happened all those years ago, but his voice became stronger when he looked at Ennis and saw the encouraging look on his face. He described how he still had nightmares of the attack and how it had been very difficult for him to adjust. His HIV test results were then handed in as evidence and he was permitted to sit back down. Ennis put an arm around him.
"Proud of you, bud," he murmured, making Jack smile. The trial continued, with Sam making his own statement and the judge calling a break so she and the jury could examine all the evidence.
Back out in the corridor, Jack leaned against the wall and sighed. "Well...I guess things are going okay. At least the judge is on our side. She noticed how he doesn't seem to care..."
Ennis nodded and stood beside him, hands in his pockets. Jack's parents went over to the vending machines and Peter stood talking to Sam and his lawyer. The minutes ticked by, Jack wondering what might happen when they were called back in. He hoped that the jury saw sense and gave Daniel what he deserved.
When they were called back in, they resumed their seats and the judge cleared her throat. "Having taken all evidence and testimonies into account, have the jury reached a verdict?" A young woman stood up.
"We have, your Honour," she replied. Ennis squeezed Jack's fingers.
"Do you find Daniel Waters guilty or not guilty of the sexual assault of both John C. Twist Jr and Samuel Brookes?"
"Guilty," she said firmly, and Jack sighed in relief. The asshole was going to get what he deserved.
"Very well." The judge turned back to Daniel, who looked unaffected. "Mr Waters, while it has been proven that you passed on the HIV virus to Mr Twist, we are as of yet uncertain of this for Mr Brookes. However, the fact remains that you assaulted these two young men, which cannot be tolerated. You have given at least one of them a life sentence, and I would prefer to give you the same, but this is not possible for this charge. Instead, I am sentencing you to a minimum of twelve months' incarceration, effective immediately and without parole. That counts as six months per victim and charge. I only hope that it gives some peace of mind to these young men." She banged the gavel and Daniel was led away, barely glancing up as he passed Jack's group. The judge left and the jury started to file out, and after a few minutes, Jack stood up.
"You know what? I'm thinking we should celebrate this. Who wants to get some lunch? Guys?" he asked, looking at Ennis and his parents. They nodded and stood up. He then extended the invitation to Peter, Sam and his lawyer, who all accepted.
They ended up at the Plaza, where a bottle of champagne was ordered with their lunch. Everybody filled their glasses and held them up.
"To justice," Jack toasted, smiling. "To the truth emerging and to victory." He then looked at Sam. "To making friends..." He smiled widely at Ennis. "And to love and unwavering support."
"Hear, hear," they all chorused, sipping the champagne and starting to eat.
Ennis, Jack and Jack's parents bid goodbye to the others and headed back to Long Island, weary and ready for some rest after this stressful day. When Jack was alone in his old room with Ennis, he smiled and moved in close, sharing a long, sweet kiss with his lover.
"Glad that's over with," he murmured, gazing up into Ennis's eyes. Ennis nodded and rubbed his back.
"Me too, darlin'," he replied, hoping now that Jack would get some closure from this, and would finally be able to move on.