Chapter 25

January 25th, 2010

Ennis and Jack returned to work on Monday following their eventful weekend, glad that it was all over with at last. The rest of Saturday had been spent at the house, just talking and spending time with Jack's parents. Ennis had especially wanted for Jack to spend some time with his dad, since that had been the original purpose of them taking trips to New York.

Sunday had been pretty much the same, but they did venture out to walk around the city for a while, Jack happily swinging their clasped hands between them and looking as though he'd just won a million dollars. Ennis was relieved to see a genuine smile back on his face. And when they made love on both nights, thankfully without any incident, both of them had felt so complete that it took their breath away, until all they could do was gaze at each other as their bodies became one.

Back in San Francisco, things hadn't changed much. It transpired that Lureen was now actually seeing the guy from their building, and he was okay about her friendship with Jack and Ennis. She had pointed out that if he hadn't been, she wouldn't be going out with him.

Ennis was trying to concentrate on filling out the paperwork he'd been asked to take care of, sat in a small office at the back of the building, but his thoughts kept wandering to Jack. He admired his lover's bravery during the trial, especially for being able to stand up in front of complete strangers and describe the attack. Since he knew first-hand that Jack still had nightmares of it, Ennis could appreciate how hard it must have been for Jack to do that. He wondered if he could have been that brave, and a small part of him told him no.

His phone buzzing in his pocket caught his attention.

On a little break. How you doing?

Ennis smiled to himself and replied.

Filling out paperwork, real boring. Can't wait to see you.

Me neither. See you soon xxx

Yep xxx

He put his phone back in his pocket, the small conversation working wonders on his attention span. As if he'd been given a jolt of energy, he sat up straighter and began to focus better on the work, thinking of Jack and what they might have for dinner tonight. It felt so domesticated to be thinking of things like this, and he liked the feeling.

Over at the clinic, Jack smiled to himself and put his phone back in his pocket, already missing Ennis. He couldn't seem to spend more than five minutes away from him without missing him like a lost limb. And if he ever thought of it as ridiculous or too feminine, all he had to do was think of his past and remind himself how lucky he was to have someone to miss like this.

"Hey, Jack." A voice broke into his thoughts, and he turned to see Joe walking towards him.

"Hey, doc. How's it going?"

"Everything seems fine. How was the weekend?" Joe asked, hoping that Jack's attacker was now doing time.

Jack smiled. "He's behind bars where he belongs. Got a minimum of twelve months without parole. Might even be in for longer, who knows."

"Bet it was hard, talking about it..."

"Yeah, it was. But...I'm glad I did, because it got him what he deserves. I wish he'd gotten longer, but...this is good. What gets me, though, is how he just didn't seem to care about what he'd done or how long he would be locked up for. What's that about?"

"I don't know, Jack. There are just some people out there who feel no remorse for anything they do. And they never feel guilty about the people they hurt or in your case, how they impact the rest of someone's life. I take it Ennis was there with you."

Jack smiled, the thought of Ennis banishing all negative thoughts of Daniel. "Yeah, he was. Right there with me all the way, just like he said he would be. Sat and...held my hand during the trial, let me know he was there, even if he couldn't really do anything. Well, he reckons he didn't do much, but...he was there, and that means the world to me. I mean, my parents were there, and that was great, but...he was the one I needed most right then, and he was there. That's a lot more than I thought I would ever have five years ago."

Joe nodded, seeing the adoration in Jack's eyes whenever he spoke of his boyfriend. " be sure to hold onto that one, Jack. He sounds like a hell of a guy."

"He is..." Jack rubbed the back of his neck. "He really is..."

At the lecture, before taking a break, Jack had told his audience about the trial and the outcome, and it was agreed that while Daniel Waters really should have gotten a longer sentence, it was better than having him still roaming the streets and preying on more people. Jack now pointed out that he'd had the love of his life by his side through all of it, and advised the others to never give up on finding someone of their own who would support them no matter what.

Afterwards, when the lecture was over and he was packing up to meet with Ennis, Jack took a moment to think about how truly wonderful the man was. Their sexual relationship aside, Ennis would make an amazing partner when they moved in together. He loved Jack and cared about him, and Jack knew that Ennis would be good to him. Jack had the feeling that Ennis would always be there for him when needed, and he himself promised that if Ennis should ever need that from him, then he would provide. They could well end up spending the rest of their lives together, and Jack simply couldn't wait to find out what life held for them down the road.

That evening, Ennis and Jack were at Ennis's place, and when they'd finished their dinner they were now slowly making out on the sofa, Jack on top. Their long legs were rubbing together and they were smiling in between luxurious kisses, whispering to each other.

"Can't wait until you move in," Jack murmured, nuzzling their noses together. "Your first morning here, know what I'm gonna do?"

"What?" Ennis asked with a grin, kissing the mole above Jack's lip. Jack practically purred in response.

"Gonna make you breakfast in bed," he replied, running his fingers through Ennis's curls. "The full works, too. How about that?"

"Mmm, sounds good," Ennis said, smiling widely up at him. A thought then occurred to him, and he licked his lower lip. "Jack...can I ask you something?"

"Sure, baby. What's up?"

"Well...we've done a lot of stuff together...but there's one thing we've never done. Um..."

Jack nodded. "Right...we've never done rimming. Is that it?"

"Yeah. Is it safe? I'd have to be done without a rubber..."

"I know. Ennis, I...I looked it up, ages ago. And I didn't suggest it because I thought it might freak you out." He shrugged. "Anyway...I looked at a few different sites, and they all said that rimming would be safe. Saliva's no good for transmission, remember? Besides, if I rimmed you, it'd be safer than you doing it to me."

Ennis considered this; he trusted Jack to know what was and wasn't safe for them to do. "Okay, wanna?" Jack grinned and nodded.

"Sure." They got up, grabbing at each other and kissing. Jack gently pushed Ennis through the door to his bedroom and onto the bed. "Mmm..."

"Jack..." Ennis breathed as Jack started to strip him, kissing him all over until they were both naked. They crawled up to the head and Jack gazed down at Ennis, smiling to himself.

"You're so beautiful, Ennis..." he whispered, eyes roaming over Ennis's face and body. Ennis's cheeks reddened.

"Don't know about that, Jack," he replied, looking unsure. "Never thought of myself like sure are, though..."

Jack smiled and softly kissed him, running his hands over Ennis's chest and feeling his lover grow hard. "Are you ready?" Ennis nodded and slowly turned over as Jack placed a rubber on himself, looking forward to what they were about to do.

Ennis relaxed against the pillows as Jack started on his back, softly kissing his way down and hearing his lover sigh with contentment. "You like this?"

"Yeah...keep going, Jack..." A shiver ran through him as Jack reached the small of his back, nuzzling down there. Jack snaked a hand to Ennis's hip and pulled him up onto his knees. He gently prised apart Ennis's cheeks and looked at the dark entrance awaiting him. He'd never done this with anybody before, and he was looking forward to it.

He tentatively reached out with his tongue and started to explore. The taste was interesting, to say the least, and there was something about it that he liked. Jack soon got into it, swirling his tongue around and finding the sweet spot. Ennis was bucking helplessly and groaning, face pressing into the pillow, and Jack took him in hand, stroking him in even movements.

Ennis let out a low groan and shot, trembling under Jack's hand until he was done. Jack followed suit and then collapsed onto Ennis's back, still covered up. " okay?"

"Mmm...I'm fine, Jack. That sure was good...can't believe we never did that before..."

"I was just thinking of you, bud," Jack told him softly. "Don't wanna do anything to scare know that."

Ennis smiled and Jack allowed him to roll onto his back, removing his condom and tossing it to the nightstand. He then sank down to lie on Ennis's chest, straddling him and smiling. "I'd never hurt you, Ennis..."

"Me neither, darlin'." Ennis took Jack's face in his hands and pulled it down for a deep kiss, drawing a low moan out of his lover. Their tongues played together slowly and Ennis ran his hands up and down Jack's back, feeling the strong muscles underneath his hands.

When they finally prised apart, Jack settled back down on Ennis's chest, chin on his folded arms. "So...I'm thinking we should do something special this week, to celebrate our little victory. What do you think?"

Ennis nodded. "Sure. Maybe we could do something in New York over the weekend. Remember that boat thing we did a while back? Maybe they have something like that over there."

"Yep. And, know...Valentine's is in a few weeks. Are we gonna do something for that?"

"'Course we are, bud. I wouldn't pass that up..." Ennis kissed the tip of Jack's nose. "You mean a lot to me, Jack...and Valentine's is for showing people you love how much they mean to you. I wanna do something special. It's on a Sunday, right? Maybe we could go to dinner. The restaurants are probably gonna be decorated for the day. What do you say to dinner?"

Jack smiled and nodded. "That sounds great, bud. I'd love'd be real romantic. I love you..." He kissed Ennis firmly, eventually letting him go to breathe.

"I love you too, darlin'..." Jack rolled off him to go to the bathroom, taking the used condom with him. While Ennis waited, he got under the covers and thought about Valentine's. While their dinner plans were in place, he wasn't sure about anything else. When he and Alma had been together, he'd bought her flowers and chocolates. He wasn't sure that Jack would want that kind of thing, being a man. Maybe he'd ask Lureen for advice.

Jack came back into the room, smiling softly at him and climbing under the covers. "Hey."

"Hey, darlin'." They rolled onto their sides, facing each other and just looking. After a while, they leaned in to share a goodnight kiss, and then settled down, continuing to watch each other until their eyelids drooped, sending them into a blissful sleep.

February 1st, 2010

It was Alma's birthday, and the four of them had decided to all go out for dinner together after work. Ennis had bought her some perfume, Lureen some jewellery and Jack had bought her a gift card to her favourite clothing store. Despite the fact that he and Alma were somewhat friends by now, Jack couldn't help but feel a little uneasy about being around her while with Ennis. He knew that when the three of them were in the same space, he toned down his displays of affection, for fear of hurting her feelings. Alma had assured him that she had come to terms with Ennis's sexuality long before he arrived on the scene, but he couldn't quite shake off the feeling that he was rubbing in her face the fact that Ennis preferred him to her.

Still, he tried not to think on it as he worked through the day, giving samples in the morning and talking in the afternoon. He was settling into the routine fairly well, and it was considerably more enjoyable than his old job at the store. At least here, he got paid for thinking about Ennis and doing what came naturally to him.

When it was time for them to get ready for their evening out, he and Ennis were at his place changing into smarter clothes. Jack saw Ennis's crisp white shirt and how it looked over his muscles and gave a wolf-whistle.

"You look pretty good there," he said with a grin, eyes roaming over how well Ennis filled his jeans. He saw Ennis blush and thought it was the most adorable thing he'd ever seen.

"Um, thanks. You, look good, too." He looked over Jack appreciatively, liking the red shirt he was wearing; it was a very striking colour and made his blue eyes jump out. Ennis swallowed and looked away, knowing that he had no time to be getting distracted. Jack grinned and came over to him, planting a kiss behind his ear.

"Best be going, bud...if I look at you like this much longer...we're never gonna make it." He grabbed his wallet and keys while Ennis did the same and then took his hand, leading him out of the apartment. He then locked up and they went to Lureen's place to see if she was ready yet. A few moments after knocking, she opened the door with a smile. She was wearing a pretty black cocktail dress and her auburn hair was in loose curls down to her shoulders.

"Hey, guys," she greeted them. "I'll be out in a second." They nodded and waited while she grabbed her purse and keys.

"You look great, Lu," Jack said to her, nodding appreciatively. "Real pretty."

"Thanks," she replied, looking pleased with the compliment. They walked down the building and into Jack's car, heading for Ennis's building to pick up the birthday girl. She was wearing a simple white dress very like Lureen's and her dark brown hair was hanging straight down her back.

They went to Café Claude, a French restaurant that played Jazz music throughout the evening. It was a little pricey but Jack had read some great reviews online and they had all decided that it was a good choice for a special occasion. The four of them were shown to a corner booth table and were handed menus, already enjoying the atmosphere around them. Ennis was already earmarking this place as somewhere to bring Jack on a date sometime; it was a very romantic place.

Dinner was well worth the price; it was of a great quality and unlike a lot of upscale places, there was a decent amount on their plates. They ordered a glass of wine each and a bottle of champagne for toasting, feeling like they weren't just celebrating Alma's birthday, but also the victories they'd had lately. Jack, for one, felt much more relaxed about things since the trial, like he'd received some closure on the whole thing. Ennis could see this and reached for his hand under the table, giving it a squeeze. Jack smiled at him, understanding even though nothing had been said.

When they were finished eating, the other three brought out their cards and birthday presents for Alma. Jack hoped that as time went on, he would feel more relaxed about showing Ennis affection while Alma was present. But he knew it might take a long time before he would stop worrying about offending her.

"Thanks, you guys," she said as she unwrapped her presents, moving around the table to thank them. More champagne was consumed by everybody except Jack, who was driving. Two glasses of alcohol were his absolute limit when he was supposed to drive, and he didn't want to risk the lives of himself and his friends. It helped that he wasn't a lightweight; at least he could hold his liquor. When they had had dessert and were finished for the evening, they slowly made their way out of the restaurant and to Jack's car.

Ennis was spending the night at Jack's place, so they dropped Alma off at her building and made their way back with Lureen, who was drowsy from the champagne. She made her way up to her apartment while the remaining two lingered, having decided to make out in the shadows for a few moments.

"Mmm..." Jack purred as they pulled apart. "That was a great place, wasn't it?"

"Sure was. I was thinking, wanna go back there sometime? Just us?"

"You mean like a date?" Jack asked with a grin, twirling a curl around his finger. "I'd like that. wanna come up...for a nightcap?" he continued, raising an eyebrow. Ennis smirked.

"Is that what you're calling it now? Guess I can do that..." He leaned in for one more kiss, feeling Jack smiling against his lips.

"Great..." Jack took his hand and led him up through the building, his fatigue melting away. He was alert enough to have some fun with his lover before going to sleep.

"That was great," Jack commented as he and Ennis walked into his apartment, switching the light on and stretching. "Nice place."

"Yep, sure was." Ennis grabbed Jack from behind and kissed his neck. "Mmm..." Jack smiled and relaxed into the embrace.

"You ready for some action?" he asked lightly, reaching a hand back to pull Ennis closer to him.

"You bet." He walked Jack through the apartment to the bedroom, and soon enough clothes were flying about and two bodies were becoming one.

A little later, they were both lying on their fronts, talking softly as their bodies cooled down. Ennis looked at Jack, eyes narrowing a little.

"You seemed a little weird at dinner, now I think on it. Are you okay?"

Jack shrugged, thinking of his unease around Alma and showing Ennis affection around her. "Well...there is something bothering me, I guess.'s not a big thing..."

"What?" Ennis asked softly, reaching out to stroke Jack's back. "Tell me, darlin'..." Jack bit his lip and turned over, sitting up.

"The thing's Alma. I mean...don't get me wrong, she's really nice and everything...and she was good to me when my old workmates found out about my HIV. But...lately, with all the time we spend with her, I..."

Ennis's eyebrows furrowed and he too sat up, touching Jack's knee. "What is it?"

"Ennis...don't you think..." He sighed. "Look, the thing is...whenever we're with her, I just feel like I have to rein things in a little. Like even holding your hand or kissing you. I keep thinking about how it might hurt her feelings...because I got you and she didn't. Surely she must feel a little resentful?"

He looked at Ennis, hoping for some reassurance that this wasn't the case. Ennis would have laughed at the absurdity of it all if Jack hadn't had that look on his face. "Oh, darlin'..." he sighed, shuffling closer and putting an arm around Jack. "You wanna know something?" Jack nodded. "Well...before I met you, remember how I spent about two months just watching you in the coffeehouse? Well, the morning before we talked, I told Alma about you. How I liked you but wasn't sure if you were gay, or if you might be interested. She told me it was worth a try. And she said she just wants me to be happy. Okay?"

"But that was then," Jack protested, clearly still worried. "What about now? God, Ennis...if we ever broke up, and I saw you with someone else...kissing them...I'd feel like someone ripped my heart out. Surely she must feel like that to see us?"

Ennis thought about this, and his conversation with Alma on the very topic; he'd spoken to her about this just a few weeks before. She had reassured him that she had no problem in seeing him with Jack.

"Look, Jack...I asked her about it a while back. Wanna know what she said? She told me that it was okay. And she confessed that it hadn't been easy at first, to see me kissing you, but she got used to it. She's a smart girl, Jack...she knows that it wasn't a problem with her that made me break up with her. It's just a case of me being gay. I couldn't stay with her when I was attracted to guys. Wouldn't be fair to her. And we made our peace with each other before I met you. So...don't go worrying about censoring yourself around her. She's learning to not let it bother her so much. And I bet that when she finds a man of her own, she won't look twice at us."

"You mean that?" Jack asked sceptically. "Or are you just saying it to make me feel better?"

"Can't it be both?" Ennis said softly, rubbing his back. "If this really bothers you...maybe you should ask her. I'm sure she wouldn't mind reassuring you. She's a good person and I know she likes you...she wouldn't want you worrying about this. Just talk to her, okay?"

Jack shrugged and nodded. "Yeah, I guess. I know it's not real nice of me, just feels like I'm shoving it in her face that you're my man and not hers. And there's...a really small part of me that likes that. I know it's wrong, and a little mean...but I can't help it. I'm proud that you're my boyfriend, and that you're gonna be my partner when you move in." He stood up and sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. "I don't know..."

"It's not a bad thing, Jack," Ennis told him, also standing and walking up to him. "I know they say pride's a sin, but...guess it's a little late to be worrying about that." This drew a reluctant grin out of Jack. "I like sinning with you," Ennis said in a low voice, and Jack laughed, putting his arms around Ennis, who pulled him close. "It's okay to be proud of what you have, especially with what you've been through. So...don't go worrying, okay?" He leaned in to kiss Jack, who finally started to relax.

When they pulled apart, Ennis resumed rubbing Jack's back. "Darlin'...I'm real proud of what we've got. More than I ever thought I'd have. I love you so much..."

"I love you too," Jack replied, nuzzling their noses together. "Sorry I got all freaky before..." Ennis shook his head.

"Don't worry about it. We've got a lot to work out and...we will, when I move in. We'll have all the time in the world to figure this stuff out. And you know what? I can't wait to live with you. I know we practically do already, spending all our spare time together,'ll be official. We'll be partners...a real couple with a real life together. You and me..."

Jack grinned. "I like the sound of that." His hands lowered to Ennis's ass. "You ready for another go?" Ennis kissed him hard in response and they fell back onto the bed, ready to seal their promises to each other.

February 5th, 2010

Valentine's was approaching swiftly, and both Ennis and Jack were wondering about presents. With them both being male, neither of them were too sure that the other would want chocolates or flowers, as they used to buy for girls. While they were looking forward to their dinner together in New York, they both also wanted to buy a gift for each other.

Jack thought about this as he was stretched out on Ennis's sofa, reading the newspaper. Ennis was making lunch for them both during their break from work and listening to the radio.

He hadn't yet spoken to Alma about his concerns, and truth be told wasn't too sure how she might react. Ennis had said that she was perfectly fine with talking to him, but Jack was still wary. He still couldn't shake off the feeling that he was shoving it in her face whenever he even looked at Ennis, knowing that she had lost him because she wasn't male.

"Jack? It's ready," Ennis called from the kitchen, and Jack got up, sighing and wishing that things could be a little simpler for them. It certainly wasn't easy to be in a same-sex relationship, especially a magnetic one (as it was called).

"You look miles away," Ennis commented as Jack walked in. "What's up?"

"Huh? Oh...just thinking about talking to Alma. Dunno what I'm gonna say, to be honest..." Ennis sighed and pulled Jack close, kissing his temple.

"It'll be fine, bud. Really...she won't bite your head off." Jack laughed in spite of himself and they sat down to lunch; tomato soup with plenty of bread.

"I know, but...still can't help it. It's like...if I go up to her and ask her if she's okay with seeing us's kind of like I'm complaining that not everything's perfect. just strikes me as ungrateful to complain to her considering that you're my boyfriend and not hers. Just makes me think I'm shoving it in her face."

Ennis sighed. "I know. have to talk to her. I know her...and I bet she'd be unhappy to hear that you're thinking like this. Tell you about I mention it to her, and she finds you to ask if you're okay? Would that be better?"

Jack considered this. "I guess. Maybe it's a good idea...I just don't think I can go up to her..."

"You don't have to," Ennis told him gently, covering Jack's hand with his own. "Stop worrying, okay? Let's...let's just talk about something else. What are we doing for Valentine's gifts? I didn't think you'd want flowers..."

"Yeah, me neither. Why don't we just buy each other something? A little gift that means know?"

Ennis nodded. "Yeah, I see what you mean. Good idea, bud. We can swap them over dinner while we're in New York."

"Yep. Speaking of which...I meant to tell you; my dad got us Knicks tickets for this weekend, since we've missed out the last couple of weekends with him."

"Sounds great, bud. Are you all packed for tonight?"

"Yeah, all done. What time's the flight?"

"Five," Ennis answered. "Should be there around ten...just enough time to say hi to your parents before we fall asleep."

"Great...but who says we're gonna be falling asleep when we get into bed?" Jack asked, his eyes alight. Ennis shook his head.

"Don't ever get enough, do you?"

Jack ran his foot up and down Ennis's leg. "Of you? Nope. Always want you, baby." He grinned as he saw Ennis's cheeks reddening and left him alone to eat in peace.

Afterwards, they retreated to the sofa and started making out, Jack pulling Ennis further down onto him. "Mmm..."

"Mmm...Jack..." Ennis breathed into his lover's mouth, already lost in his desire. He moved down Jack's body, lifting his shirt up to expose his chest with the fine dark hair, nuzzling and kissing. Jack sighed and let his head fall back to the arm, enjoying Ennis's lips on his skin.

Ennis reached Jack's pants and quickly undid them, revealing his tumescence. Jack put a hand on his shoulder. "Wait, bud. You need a rubber if you're gonna do that. I left some of the flavoured ones in the nightstand..." Ennis nodded and quickly got up, staggering with his erection straining his jeans. Jack laid there with his shirt up near his neck and pants around his ankles, breathing heavily.

His lover soon came back, holding a pair of condoms and clearly eager to get back to Jack. He removed his own clothes and stripped Jack completely. "Come on...the floor..." Seeing what Ennis was up to, Jack joined him and grabbed one of the rubbers, smoothing it on himself and laying down. They both shuffled until their crotches were in each other's faces, and with a quick nod went to work. Jack could taste cherry and Ennis tasted orange, the zingy taste and hardness in his mouth sending volts through his body.

Jack's hand found its way around to Ennis's ass, and he pushed a finger in, making Ennis gasp and buck into his mouth, moving his hips uncontrollably. He came with a groan and felt Jack do the same. Even though Jack was covered by the rubber, he could certainly smell plenty, and he would have gladly swallowed if Jack hadn't been positive.

But that was a moot point. Jack was positive, but Ennis still loved him and knew that he always would no matter what happened. When they were done, he moved around until he could take Jack in his arms and kiss him, buck naked on the floor without a care in the world.

"That was good," Jack murmured tiredly, stretching and settling in his lover's arms.

"Sure was...come on, darlin'...don't wanna be late back to work..."

"Hmm..." Jack reluctantly got up and they redressed, now ready to face the afternoon and the flight to New York. "Nothing like a quickie in the middle of the day," he commented as they left the apartment.

"You got it, bud," Ennis replied with a smile.