Author's notes

Hey guys, here's the epilogue. I want to say a huge thank you for all of your support during this story. It wasn't the easiest one to write but your feedback has been great, making it all worthwhile. So thank you :)

Kathryn xxx


Two days after Jack woke up, he was allowed to go home. He was given a week off from work to recover and spent his time helping Ennis to move his things. Luckily, Ennis hadn't unpacked the boxes he'd brought back, so the process was fairly swift.

On March 8th, Ennis moved into Jack's place, and their first night together as partners was everything they had hoped it would be. Their lovemaking was tender and sweet, so full of emotion that Jack thought he would burst with how much he felt for the man making love to him, rising above him and giving him the kind of look that reminded him how much he was loved.

After the eventful month they'd just had, things calmed down a lot for them. Most of the time it was simply day-to-day stuff that every live-in couple went through, and they welcomed the lack of drama.

Jack had the idea that the pair of them go to some kind of support group, for people who were in relationships like theirs. They found one in the city and started going to weekly sessions, sharing their story and meeting other couples like them. While they had a lot of fun comparing notes on how to keep things creative in the bedroom, both of them found it very helpful to talk to others, some of which were older and had lived through the AIDS pandemic of the 80s. Ennis and Jack talked to them to get as much information and advice as they could, and it proved to be very beneficial.

In May, Jack's father died of cancer. Jack got the call from his mother late at night, and Ennis left the bedroom to find him on the sofa, visibly upset.

"He's gone," Jack choked out, shaking as Ennis pulled him into his arms. "Died about an hour ago."

"It's alright, darlin'...shh..." Ennis rocked him to calm him, and Jack eventually relaxed a little. Ennis then took him back to bed and held him from behind, spooning against him and rubbing his stomach.

They went to New York for the funeral, and Ennis held Jack's hand through the service, seeing how much of a struggle it was for him to keep it together. He had promised Jack that he would be there for him, and here he was.

In the summer, they decided to take some time off, as agreed by their bosses as a gift for everything they'd gone through, and went to Paris for a romantic two weeks together. Being in what was known as the City of Love worked its magic on them, and they loved every minute of it. Jack was extremely grateful that the people at French customs had recognised his HIV medication and hadn't confiscated it. He didn't know what he would have done if they had.

Still, they had a wonderful time. They walked through quiet, charming side streets, went up the Eiffel Tower and admired the view, taking plenty of photographs and having one taken for them by someone they met up there. They ate local delicacies and fell in love with the French bread they picked up. They'd bought baguettes back home, but those paled in comparison to the ones found here. Their hotel near the Seine had freshly baked bread every morning at breakfast, and Jack particularly liked how there was so much food there that was good for his health.

They had a lot of fun trying out the language, and managed to do okay considering neither of them had spoken French before. One night, when they were in bed and making out, Jack nuzzled Ennis's neck and sighed to himself.

"Mmm...this is good," he murmured, and Ennis rubbed his back.

"Sure's a really romantic city. And nobody's looked at us twice...I feel comfortable touching you in public, even if it is just holding your hand."

"I know, it's amazing. I wonder if they'll ever legalise gay marriage here...a lot of places are doing it now."

"Yeah...I still wanna marry you some day, Jack. More than anything. But I don't think it'll ever happen in California...not after that Proposition 8."

"Mmm...guess not..." Jack trailed a hand down Ennis's chest, indicating that he didn't want to talk anymore. "Shut up and kiss me." Ennis did so with gusto, and couldn't help but groan when Jack moved down his body, disappearing under the covers. He didn't think it was particularly fair to Jack, that he could swallow and make him feel good, when Ennis couldn't do the same for Jack without putting himself at risk. A part of him wanted to know what Jack tasted like; how it might feel to have Jack shoot into his mouth. But while he wasn't as scared of getting HIV as he used to be, he knew it wouldn't be wise to go for it on purpose. It could easily cause problems for them, and might even break them up. He couldn't risk that happening again.

His thoughts were wiped clean away when Jack started to suck eagerly, like a calf to its mother trying to get the milk. He'd once mentioned this analogy to Jack, who had laughed for a good five minutes at it before being shut up in the best way possible.

The rest of the trip went well, and they took a day out to Disneyland just for the fun of it. They'd heard it was very gay-friendly, and this showed when they were treated equally by staff, even when they were clearly holding hands. Jack couldn't stop staring at the baby items and he wondered if he and Ennis would have a child of their own one day. Obviously, they couldn't do it the regular way, but there were options. If they wanted a biological child, Ennis would have to be the father and they would need an egg donor and surrogate who wouldn't give them any trouble. Other than that, there was always adoption. But he knew that they would have to check their state laws before that could happen, being a same-sex couple.

When they finally returned home, they spent most of the weekend in bed, trying to recover from their trip. It soon turned fun as they found ways to occupy themselves and ended up making love, then falling asleep for a while, before waking up and going all over again.

In November, they had another scare. The condom broke once again and this time, Jack accidentally shot inside Ennis, both of them terrified of what had happened, and not realising it until it was too late. Ennis got himself tested and the next two weeks were agony as they waited for the results. Jack apologised over and over to him, and Ennis told him it was alright; that they would deal with it if he'd been infected and that he wasn't going anywhere.

To their immense relief, Ennis's results came back negative, and the two of them had a talk. They didn't want to break up and they didn't want to stop having sex, but something had to be done.

In an attempt to solve the problem, they came up with the idea that they double the protection. Whoever was to use the condom, especially during penetration, was to wear two instead of one. It was a bit of a squeeze for Jack to enter Ennis in this way, but they managed it and soon got used to it. He certainly felt better, knowing that they were doing everything they could to keep Ennis safe.

2011 came with more happiness for them. They had a romantic Valentine's picnic in the park and went out on another boat trip ride over the weekend. They fell more and more in love with each other all the time, and were now adjusted to the changes in their lives.

Ennis's parents were really the only dark spots in their life together. They had never really been able to make their peace with Ennis's choice of Jack as a partner, and when Ennis had had the second scare in November they visibly struggled to be even civil towards Jack.

It all came to a head during the summer of 2011, when Ennis and Jack visited the house for Mother's Day. His father lost it when he saw the two of them holding hands, and started spouting hate at his son for allowing himself to be at risk like that. The words he spoke to Jack were particularly vicious, and Ennis walked out of his parents' house with Jack in tow for a second time.

That night, Ennis told Jack he didn't want to have any more contact with his parents.

"Are you sure?" Jack asked, rubbing his back as they sat on their bed. Ennis nodded.

"Being with you, even though you're positive and could pass it on to me, is my decision. And they can't respect that. I'll never forgive them for the things they've said, especially to you."

Jack nodded. "Well...if that's really what you want...then that's it." He pulled Ennis close and kissed his temple, a part of him thankful that Ennis had never caved under the pressure from his parents, and had never taken their advice to cut off all ties with him.

When Daniel Waters' sentence was finished, the case was reviewed at their request by another judge. It was found that his deliberate attack on Jack and the other man, paired with the fact that he'd known he was likely to pass on HIV to his victims, was a form of attempted murder and as such, warranted a longer sentence. To Ennis and Jack's euphoria, the judge decided to extend the sentence to twenty years per victim, which meant that Waters would be a pensioner by the time he was let out, and hopefully no longer able to hurt anybody.

With justice finally done, Jack was able to truly move on with his life, with a wonderful man by his side.

On July 24th, 2011, Ennis and Jack heard that same-sex marriage had been legalised in the state of New York. Jack's mother Karen called them with the great news, and they both knew it was time for a talk.

They would turn twenty-nine in the fall, and were ready for marriage by this point. It was very unlikely that California would have its ban repealed anytime soon, so they would have to make a decision.

"What do you think?" Jack asked as they sat on the sofa, about an hour after the phone call. "You think we should do it?"

Ennis nodded and took his hand, picturing some kind of ring on it. The thought made him happy; he would love to marry Jack. "Yeah, I think we should."

With it decided, they called Karen back and asked her to start looking at properties around the city that they might be able to afford, informing her that they were moving in light of the recent change in the law. She found them a beautiful apartment in Brooklyn Heights that was within their price range and they got in touch with the landlord as they started to pack up their things.

The landlord got back to them a few days later and told them they were welcome to move in. They sent him a deposit and packed in their jobs, Jack hoping to find something similar in New York.

They moved into the new apartment in October, just after Jack's birthday. Now that Daniel Waters was safely behind bars for a long time, Jack was no longer scared of being around Central Park. He and Ennis loved living here and weren't far from Jack's mother. They spoke to the girls at least once a week and went back to San Francisco for their birthdays.

Both of them found jobs similar to what they'd had in San Francisco. Ennis became a vet's assistant and Jack started working at a counselling centre, hoping to become a therapist specialising in sexually-transmitted infections and the implications they had on a person's life. He wanted to help other HIV-positive people as they adjusted to this huge change in their lives.

In the meantime, they started planning their wedding. Karen got them in touch with a wedding planner, who turned out to be an old friend of Jack's from high school. She was more than happy to help them plan their nuptials and invitations were sent out. They invited Karen, Lureen, Alma, Jack's old doctor from San Francisco and the doctor he knew from the clinic back there, friends from their old life, Ennis's old workmate Sarah and a few friends they'd made from work here. There were twenty people in total, which suited them because they only wanted a small wedding.

They also invited Ennis's parents, because even though they were on the outs he still wanted them there when he got married. The invitation wasn't even acknowledged, and no RSVP was sent back. Jack could tell that it had upset his future husband, and did his best to comfort him.

"It'll be okay," he told Ennis softly as he held him in bed, a few weeks before the wedding. "We're still gonna get married and have a life together. If they don't wanna be a part of it, it's their choice. They're the ones losing out, not us."

"I know," Ennis replied, holding onto Jack. "I love you, bud..."

"Love you too."

The day of the wedding dawned in Spring 2012, and they had chosen to have it in the Central Park Boathouse. It was a beautiful building near the lake, and perfect for a wedding.

The ceremony was held under an arbour out on the grass, and in the view of their friends and Jack's mother, Ennis and Jack solidified their commitment to one another.

"I love you, Ennis. It hasn't always been easy,'ve made me a lot happier than I ever thought I would be. I didn't let myself believe that I would find someone who would love me no matter what, but I did. You're the only one I'll ever love, and the only one I'll ever need. And I can't wait to find out what the rest of our lives is gonna bring us." Jack smiled and squeezed Ennis's hands.

"Jack, you're my soul mate. I don't have the words that'll do justice to how I feel about you, but I try every day to show you what you mean to me. We're gonna have a good life, and I know we'll be together for the rest of our lives."

The minister nodded and they swapped rings, agreeing to take each other as their husband. They had chosen simple silver bands, not needing much else. They already had everything they needed.

"Ennis and Jack have made their vows to one another and have swapped rings. By the power vested in me by the State of New York, I declare that they are legally married, as husbands. You may seal your union with a kiss."

The two of them were drawn like magnets to each other, and shared their first kiss as a married couple, euphoria running through them and their hearts bursting with love. Everything was complete now, and they had moved on to a new chapter of their lives; one that they would be facing together, no matter what.