Chapter 9

October 5th - 11th, 2009

When Ennis and Jack woke up together in Jack's bed on Monday morning, they both had grins on their faces. What happened on Sunday would never be forgotten by either of them, no matter what else might come their way.

Ennis was confused and a little hurt by his parents practically throwing them out of the house, but he tried to focus instead on himself and Jack. Having blurted out his true feelings, the words now came easier to him, and he'd made full use of this last night when they got back. It was some of the best sex they'd ever had.

Jack, for his part, could recall how his heart had exploded with intense love around the same time as last night's orgasm. Ennis's words at the house, saying that he loved him...he was still on cloud nine. It wasn't how he'd initially imagined them saying the words for the first time, but it was somehow perfect. Ennis had stood up against his parents (and Jack knew the kind of guts that took) and told them flat out that he wasn't going to break up with Jack, no matter what they might say or do. Jack knew that he'd found someone very special in Ennis, and was determined to keep them together.

As they lay together one morning, slowly kissing, Ennis pulled away and looked down at Jack, trailing one finger along Jack's jawline and smiling softly to himself. Jack grinned a little.

"What's on your mind, bud?" he asked, rubbing Ennis's arm as he gazed up at him. Ennis paused, thinking it over.

"Just feels like...we've turned some kind of corner, ever since Sunday. I mean...I had a feeling that you loved me, and I hoped you knew that I loved you, but to actually say it..."

Jack took Ennis's hand, squeezing his fingers. "I know. I was talking to Lureen about it a little while ago. I told her that I loved you, but that I was scared to say it in case you...weren't quite there yet. You know?" Ennis nuzzled Jack's neck, making him smile. " know that drives me nuts...cut it out..." he tried to protest, laughing softly. Ennis pulled up and kissed the tip of his nose.

"I know you were nervous to tell me, Jack. Knowing what I know about those five years before we met...kind of makes sense."

"Nobody ever stood up for me the way you do," Jack whispered, eyes large and soulful. "Never got far enough with anyone for that..." A lump grew in his throat and he let out a shaky breath. "I love you so much, Ennis..."

Ennis smiled and kissed him warmly, stroking his cheek. When he pulled away, he kept his face close. "I love you too, Jack." He straddled his lover and leaned down, pressing his full weight onto Jack and settling his face in Jack's collarbone, just resting there. Jack weaved his arms around Ennis's back and sighed contentedly. He was more in love with Ennis than ever now.

After talking it over with Jack, Ennis left a message on his parents' answering machine. He told them that he was standing by Jack, and that nothing they said or did would change his mind, because he loved Jack and was willing to take those risks. He finished the message by telling them that if they could ever accept it and welcome Jack to the family, then he would always be there, willing to listen, but that if they couldn't, it was just the way things were. Ennis hoped that he could reconcile with them, but if he couldn't, then at least he would still have Jack. That much was certain.

They had noticed that their workmates were discreetly talking about them, seeing that they were a lot happier than they'd ever seen them. Ennis and Jack finally agreed to say something. Ennis was also out at work, and the pair of them told their workmates that they were seeing someone and were very happy, and left it at that. The girls that Jack had overheard told him that they'd suspected, and that they were happy for him. And they'd long since stopped trying to get his attention. Jack liked the girls; they were fun and pleasant. He would just never like them in anything other than a platonic way.

Jack entered the coffeehouse on Friday, waiting for Ennis and looking for Lureen. He'd told her what had happened on the previous Sunday, and she was relieved that he and Ennis had finally expressed their love for one another.

"Hey, Lu," he greeted as he sat at the counter. She turned and smiled.

"Jack, hey. The usual?" He nodded and she set about making it, noting how he was practically glowing. "You look good," she said to him with a smile. "You know...content."

"Try drunk on love," he replied with a grin. "Been up on cloud nine ever since Sunday."

"I'll bet. I've never seen you this happy, Jack. And I'm really glad that things are working out for you and Ennis."

He smiled. "Thanks, Lu. I think...I've finally found the one. The guy I'm supposed to be with. I know it's a cliché, but..."

"But nothing," she interjected. "I believe in love and soulmates and all that...and I can say that I think you and Ennis are perfect for each other." Her eyes travelled to the doorway. "Speak of the devil..." Jack turned in time to see Ennis walking through the door, and he grinned, heart soaring to see the man he loved.

Ennis walked over, smiling widely, and kissed him full on the mouth before sitting down. Lureen set about getting him some coffee and he took Jack's hand, interlacing their fingers.

"Hey, darlin'. Everything alright?" Jack nodded.

"Yep, just fine. Especially since you walked through the door." Ennis kissed his hand and they started to talk about their morning, swapping tales and laughing together, hands never once breaking free from each other.

After lunch, they went back to work and thought of each other as the day progressed, wondering what they might have for dinner. Ennis knew the kinds of foods that were the most beneficial to Jack, and he had been pleased to learn that he liked all of it. They'd developed a taste for Oriental food and trashy TV late at night; he figured that it was probably because they were two young guys and loved nothing more than lounging about.

Ennis knew that Jack loved his muscles, brought about by so many summers on his uncle's ranch, but Ennis thought that Jack's muscles were just as enticing. Jack's many sessions to the gym were clearly paying off; he knew that it was necessary for Jack to build up muscle, but Ennis found that he could reap the benefits, too.

They met up after work in the park and started to slowly walk through towards Jack's place, hand in hand. Ennis was busy telling Jack about a particularly difficult incident involving a dog that needed a shot, when Jack heard his cell phone ringing in his pocket. They stopped and he pulled it out. "It's my mom," he said to Ennis, who nodded. They moved to the nearby bench and Jack opened up his phone. "Hey, mom."

"Hi, Jack. How's it going over there?" She sounded friendly enough, but he often wondered what she really thought of everything that had happened, including what he now had inside his body. The reaction of Ennis's parents was making him a little paranoid.

"Um, fine. Everything's okay."

"How's Ennis?" she asked, sounding curious. Jack glanced at him.

"He's fine; we both are," he answered, hoping that she wouldn't interrogate about Ennis too much.

"That's good. So, um...are you going to bring him over here?" she asked hopefully. Jack sighed. He should have expected this. Part of him knew that she simply wanted to remain close to him, metaphorically if not physically, and that she wanted to get to know Ennis, but he was still very hesitant about going back to New York.

"Mom...I don't know. We've talked about this before..." He closed his eyes and Ennis put one arm around him, holding him close. Jack appreciated the comforting gesture. "You know I'd love to come and see you, and I want you to meet Ennis. But..."

"You could come when your dad's working, or I could meet you in the city..." she suggested. Truth was, she wanted to be part of her son's life, and wanted to know the man he was seeing. Jack had spoken highly of him and she at least knew that he was happy.

Jack screwed his eyes shut. " dad's not the only reason why it's difficult for me to think about going back there." Ennis rested his head against Jack's, sympathy running through him as he remembered the morning when Jack had been sick with flashbacks.

No wonder he's scared, Ennis thought. Considering what happened...

"You were fine when you came back before leaving for the city..." she replied, sounding woeful. Jack started to get angry.

"Was I, mom? You've no idea...the only thing making me happy was the fact that I'd be getting away, making a fresh start. I haven't been fine in five years; it's only since I met Ennis that I've been really happy. Did you know that on every anniversary of that day, I've been sick with flashbacks, remembering every little detail?" He was breathing heavily and Ennis was rubbing his shoulders, trying to calm him. He'd never seen Jack's temper before, but he figured that Jack had good reason to show it now.

"I'm sorry, Jack," she said in a soft voice. "I didn't know that you're suffering so bad. I'm glad that you're happy now, sweetheart. I just want to see you."

Jack placed his hand over his eyes. "I know. I'm sorry, too...didn't mean to go off like that. I'd better go, okay? I'll talk to you soon."

"Alright. Bye, Jack," she replied, now sounding defeated. She just didn't know how to deal with all of this. Her son being gay was one thing; having something like HIV was a huge deal and not easy to get used to.

"Bye, mom..." He hung up and found himself in Ennis's arms, being held tightly. He briefly considered fighting Ennis off and dealing with the mess himself, but he couldn't muster the energy. He gave in, melting into the embrace and resting his head on Ennis's shoulder. Ennis rubbed his back, waiting for him to speak. "I shouldn't have said all that..."

"Shh, darlin''s alright. After everything you've been through, I think you have the right to be like that. And I'm sure she understands."

Jack tried not to sniffle, but his emotions were getting the better of him. " know how hard I try to stay upbeat, but..." He couldn't go on.

"Sometimes it's not easy," Ennis finished for him, rubbing his back. "I know, Jack." He pulled away and thumbed away the tears in Jack's eyes, looking right at him. "You're very brave, considering what you've been through. Not many others would have such high spirits after that...I've always admired that about you." Jack gave a watery smile.

"Really?" Ennis nodded, smiling back.

"I do, darlin'. I know it's not always easy for you, but...don't forget...I'm right here for when you can't handle it by yourself. I'm here," he repeated, holding Jack's face. Jack nodded.

"Thanks, Ennis..." They kissed a few times and then got up, Ennis squeezing Jack's hand.

"Let's go and get something to eat," he said, tugging Jack forwards. They continued walking through the park towards Jack's apartment, and Jack felt warmth flooding through him as he looked at Ennis every now and then.

"I love you," he said as they were walking down the street, smiling at Ennis. He smiled back.

"Love you too, Jack," he replied, kissing Jack's cheek. They reached Jack's apartment building, passing a smiling Lureen on the way up; she was heading out for a date. Ennis settled Jack onto the sofa and made himself at home in Jack's kitchen, preparing dinner for them both.

When they went to bed that night, Ennis held Jack close and kissed him as they rubbed their hips and groins together, reaching a climax of dizzying heights and then collapsing. They whispered words of love and Ennis promised Jack that everything would be alright.

October 12th, 2009

It was now Jack's birthday, and Ennis had taken him out for dinner at their favourite Chinese place, insisting that he would be paying no matter what it cost. Jack was grateful that Ennis seemed to be so devoted to making him happy, and he had already decided that he would return the favour as much as he could; doing whatever it took to make Ennis happy. He figured that they were pretty much there already, especially since the scene at Ennis's parents' house. At least one good thing had come of it; the confession of their deep feelings for one another.

Jack steadily ate his way through the sweet and sour pork and looked around; the owners of this place were Chinese, and had really gone all out to make this place authentic. It was a nice place and the food was great, but he was far more interested in the man sat across from him.

He found himself thinking of the months ahead. Christmas would be arriving soon, and while he and Ennis both had two weeks off for the holiday, he had no idea what they might be doing. He wanted to spend it with Ennis, but they hadn't voiced any suggestions for how they would spend it. Ennis had made no mention of going to his uncle's ranch, and it was clear that he didn't want to talk to his parents just yet. It was too soon and the wound from the entire debacle was too raw still.

He thought about New York; perhaps they could go there for Christmas, if Ennis wanted to. But Jack was still nervous about going back to the city; the last time he'd been there, he'd only spent a brief while in the city, going over to Long Island while his father was out so he could bid farewell to his mother. But he knew that Ennis would want to see the city, and Jack didn't want to deprive him of that just because of his issues. Before the attack, he had loved walking around the city. He'd loved walking through Central Park, but look where that had gotten him.

But perhaps it would be okay if Ennis was there with him. Maybe he would be brave enough to walk through if Ennis was by his side, protecting him. He could hold Jack's hand and reassure him that it was okay, until he started to feel braver about being there. That was something to think about.

After the first course and while they were waiting for dessert, they picked at the fortune cookies on the table, seeing what might be in store.

"We are here to love each other, serve each other and uplift each other," Jack read out, grinning a little. "Well, that's something. I think we've got that covered. You know I love you," he continued, looking up at Ennis, whose cheeks reddened. He then took his own from the basket and broke it open, eyebrows rising when he saw the fortune inside.

"Love is at your hands; be glad and hold onto it," he read aloud, glancing up at Jack. "Do these people know us or something?" he asked with a grin. Jack smiled and took Ennis's hand.

"I don't know, bud. I just know that I am glad I've got you, and that you love me." Ennis covered their hands with his free one.

"I do love you, Jack. So much..." They continued to smile and play with each other's fingers until their dessert arrived, and reluctantly broke free from each other. Ennis watched Jack eat his chocolate cake, and he noticed that every time Jack licked the spoon, he did it slowly and deliberately, eyes fixed on Ennis's face. It didn't take a genius to figure out what Jack was doing.

Little tease, he thought to himself. Gonna make him pay for that. He shook his head and tried to ignore what Jack's actions were doing to his nether regions. There would be plenty of time for that later.

After dinner, they walked around the city for a while, taking in the bright lights and energy that only seemed to appear at night when people went out. They ended up at the movie theatre, picked a movie at random and sat at the back of the half-empty room by themselves, making out in the dark. Ennis had already given Jack his present; a brand new cell phone that he'd wanted.

Ennis touched Jack's cheek, half of their faces illuminated by the light from the screen. Jack was smiling, his eyes full of love. He looked calm, peaceful and very happy. Ennis couldn't help but smile back at the sight, knowing that it was him who had put that smile there.

"You have a good birthday, darlin'?" he asked, seeing Jack lean into his touch. Jack nodded.

"Sure did. Great food, great place..." He leaned in and nuzzled Ennis's neck, kissing gently over the skin that he worshipped. "But the company was the best part." He pressed a kiss to the Adam's apple and rested his head on Ennis's shoulder, sighing contentedly. Ennis put one arm fully around Jack, pulling him close protectively as they sat there. Neither of them had any idea what was going on in the movie, but that didn't register. All they cared about was the fact that they were here, together, where they should be.

When the movie finally ended, they headed back out to Ennis's car and made out some more in the back seat, the thrill of doing this in public running through them both. They stopped short of undoing their pants, knowing that if they were caught having sex in public there would be trouble. If it had been a desolate area in the middle of nowhere, they would have gone for it. But this was a public parking lot, likely patrolled now and then. When they were calm enough and got themselves back under control, they put their seatbelts on and Ennis got the car started, heading for his place so they could resume their celebrations.

Jack was on Ennis as soon as the door was locked behind them. He started kissing Ennis's neck and letting his hands travel down the strong chest, south towards his belt. Ennis took a moment to respond, and then pulled Jack closer, fingers working at his buttons. "Mmm...Jack..." he sighed, enjoying where this was going. Jack seemed to have that kind of effect on him, and he loved it.

He felt himself being pulled backwards, through the living room towards the bedroom. Jack yelped into Ennis's mouth when he backed into the coffee table, and broke away.

"Ow, dammit..." he muttered, rubbing his leg. Ennis bit back a laugh.

"Your own fault, not watching where you're going." Jack rolled his eyes.

"That's because I can't wait to get you into bed," he admitted with a grin. He pulled Ennis close again, drawing their lips back together and once more moving across the apartment. They banged their way into Ennis's bedroom, falling onto the bed together and laughing softly. Jackets were thrown to the floor, swiftly followed by shirts and belts. They crawled up the bed and kicked off their jeans, kissing fiercely. "Mmm..."

"Mmmhmm..." Ennis responded, unable to form words with Jack's tongue in his mouth. He was rolled onto his back as Jack attacked his neck once more, sucking eagerly. Ennis bucked when Jack softly bit him, not enough to hurt but enough to drive him crazy. "Oh God, do that again..." Jack obliged him and grinned against Ennis's skin.

"You like that, baby?" he whispered into Ennis's ear, hand travelling south once more. Ennis nodded, breathing heavily. When Jack got like this with him, he was usually unable to do anything but go along with it. All thought went out of the window when Jack was here, doing these things.


"Can I get a present?" Jack purred in a voice smooth as honey. Ennis shivered with arousal.

"Help yourself..." Jack kissed him and straddled him, eyes glittering. It was very clear how much Jack wanted him.

"Are you sure?" he asked, now serious. "Can I...?" Ennis nodded, eyes hazy.

"Yeah." Jack cupped his cheeks, kissing him softly.

"Alright, baby...just relax, okay?" He reached over and went through the motions, putting on a rubber and coating himself with lube. He then lifted Ennis's legs and rested them over his shoulders, smearing lube over a couple of fingers and slowly inserting one, watching Ennis's face go slack. This was a feeling unlike any other; one that he would never get tired of, no matter how many times it was done.

"Oh...Jack..." he sighed, mouth open and eyes closed. Jack nuzzled his neck.

"That feel good? Tell me when you're ready..." Ennis bucked a little when Jack inserted another finger, scissoring them inside him and watching his face.

"I'm...I'm ready..." he breathed, and Jack withdrew his fingers, getting into position.

"Okay...just relax..." He slowly began to push into Ennis, one hand between them. Ennis breathed deeply as he always did in these moments, willing himself to remain calm.

Once Jack was fully inside him, he moved in close to kiss Ennis deeply, tongues meeting eagerly. They began to move together, slowly rocking and sighing as their bodies became one. " you..." Jack choked out, head buried in his neck. Ennis pulled Jack closer, as much as he could while bent in half like this.

"I love you too..." he gasped, legs starting to shake as he felt his orgasm loom. Jack continued to thrust into him, picking up the pace and kissing Ennis's neck as he loved to. At last, they reached the finish line, Jack feeling the warmth spreading between their stomachs and Ennis hearing him groan.

Jack collapsed onto Ennis and sighed, sinking down onto him and smiling. " alright?" Ennis nodded.

"Sure am, darlin'..." Jack pulled out and rolled onto his back, groaning a little. He rolled off the condom and went to dispose of it. He came back to the sight of Ennis, looking freshly-fucked and very happy about it. Jack grinned and crawled back onto the bed, kissing his cheek. He then looked around.

"You want a nightcap, or you wanna go to sleep?" he asked, stroking the curls. Ennis opened his eyes, perked up by the idea of them spending more time together before going to sleep.

"Wouldn't say no to some whiskey," he replied, now waking up a little. They hadn't done this often, especially at night. Usually they were too tired to stay up and talk. Jack nodded and left the bedroom, looking for some whiskey. While he was in the kitchen, he found a bag of chips and decided to bring Ennis a late-night snack.

He came back into the bedroom to find Ennis sitting up, propped against the headboard with the pillow behind him. Jack smiled and tossed him the chips, putting the glass with the shot of whiskey on his nightstand. He went around the bed to his side and settled down next to Ennis, drinking the whiskey and sharing the chips.

They sat in a companiable silence and ate their way through the bag until they'd had enough and finished their drinks. Jack stretched and sighed, feeling warm and sleepy. "Gonna take these back..." he started, but Ennis grabbed his wrist.

"Don't have to do it tonight," he said, pulling Jack back down. "C'mere..." He kissed Jack on the lips until Jack relented.

"Alright, bud. Let's get some sleep." They pulled the pillows down and cleared the bed, getting under the covers. Once in the cosy heat of the quilt, they found each other and snuggled together, Ennis putting his arms around Jack and kissing the top of his head.

"Happy birthday, darlin'," he said softly, rubbing his lover's back. Jack smiled and fit his head into Ennis's collarbone.

"Thanks, Ennis. I love you..." The words fell from his mouth easily now, after the first time. He knew that Ennis felt exactly the same about him, and that they very likely had a future together. That was something to look forward to.

Three days later, Jack fell ill from a cold. Ennis immediately went into panic mode as soon as Jack woke up, sneezing and coughing.

"Are you okay?" he asked helplessly, rubbing Jack's shoulders. Jack shivered.

"Cold..." He lay back and buried himself under the covers, big doe eyes looking up at Ennis. "Can't go into work with this...not with the HIV. You shouldn't be so close, either..."

"Need to make sure you're okay..." Ennis reasoned, and then thought for a moment. "Alright, I'm gonna stay with you. One day won't get me fired; I'll just be honest. Say that I'm taking care of my sick boyfriend," he added with a smile. Jack coughed weakly. "What about your work?"

"They don't know you," Jack rasped out. "Can you call Lureen and get her to do it? They know her..." He coughed again. "And...can you call my doctor?" Ennis looked alarmed. "It's alright...just need him to make sure that it's just a cold."

"Okay," Ennis replied with a nod. He then felt Jack's forehead. "I'll get you something to drink and some tissues, okay?" He got up and left the room, praying that it really was just a cold.

After calling Lureen and the doctor, Ennis brought in some things to help, such as juice and tissues. He considered using vapour rub on Jack, but decided to wait until the doctor had been. Not wanting to catch any germs, he sat on a chair in the corner, watching Jack protectively.

When the doctor arrived, Ennis let him in so he could examine Jack. "So, you're the famous Ennis?" he asked with a smile. "Jack's told me a lot about you." Ennis shuffled his feet and hovered outside the bedroom. He watched the doctor examine Jack and then stand up.

"So what's the deal, doc?" Ennis asked nervously. Richard looked at him, wondering how much he knew.

"It's okay, Rick," Jack said, coughing a little. "Ennis knows about the HIV." Richard nodded and sighed.

"Well, it does just seem to be a cold, Jack. I know the weather's getting colder now, so you have to be very careful. Did you call work?"

"Got Lureen to do it," he replied, sniffing and blinking rapidly, his eyes feeling warm. All he wanted was to completely disappear under the quilt for a while. Richard nodded and then looked at Ennis. "Here." He handed over a surgical mask, and Ennis took it with a confused expression. "So you can stay by him and not worry about infection." Comprehension dawned on Ennis's face and he nodded.

"Thanks, doc." Richard left and Ennis put the mask on, very grateful for the gesture. He sat on the edge of the bed and stroked Jack's cheek. Jack opened his eyes and grinned.

"Don't you look a sight," he chuckled. "But I sure am glad you can stay nearby."

"Me too." Ennis so badly wanted to kiss Jack, but that was out of the question right now. Sitting close like this was okay, but anything more than that would have to wait. He went to sit on his side of the bed, propped up against the pillows and watching Jack as he fell asleep.

Ennis stayed there for about another hour, reading his book and keeping an eye on Jack. Around lunchtime, he heard Jack waking up.


"You alright?" he asked softly, rubbing Jack's arm. Jack coughed.

"Still feel like shit," he replied. "Kind of hungry, though..."

"Want some chicken soup?" Ennis offered, and Jack nodded.

"Sounds good." As Ennis walked out of the room, Jack called after him. "Ennis?"

"Yeah, darlin'?" Jack smiled.

"Thanks. Love you..."

"Love you too, bud." Ennis left the room to get lunch started. He came back a little later to find Jack nodding off. As much as he knew that sleep was good for Jack, he needed to eat too. "Jack? Got some soup here..." he said softly, sitting by him. Jack opened his eyes and sniffed. He couldn't smell anything through his nostrils, but it sure looked good. Too weak right now to do it himself, Jack allowed Ennis to feed him, the hot soup trickling down his throat and warming his insides. Ennis could see that this was doing Jack the world of good.

When he'd had enough, and had eaten most of the soup anyway, Jack sighed and lay back down, smiling up at Ennis. "Thanks...sure glad you're taking care of me."

Ennis smiled, even though Jack couldn't see it. He stroked Jack's cheek, seeing his lover lean into the touch. Jack gave a low purr of contentment.

"Get some sleep, darlin'," Ennis instructed. "The more you sleep, the sooner this'll go away right?" Jack nodded and closed his eyes, curling up. Ennis once more took his place on his side of the bed and resumed his reading, glad that Jack was going to be okay.

The rest of the day passed in a haze. Jack slept a lot, occasionally waking up to sneeze or cough until he settled down again. Ennis stayed by his side, reading when Jack slept and looking after him when he woke up.

As Jack was sleeping early in the evening, Lureen came by to check that everything was okay, telling Ennis that she was just a phone call away if they needed her. Ennis was glad that Jack had such a good friend on his side, and that she could deal with the outside world for him while he took care of Jack.

In the middle of the night, Ennis awoke to the sounds of Jack stirring restlessly. "Ennis?" he called out. "You there?"

"I'm right here, bud," Ennis replied, putting an arm around Jack and rubbing his back. "It's okay, I'm here." Jack settled down again and relaxed, knowing that Ennis was nearby. Ennis watched him fall asleep again, heart filled with love as he looked over the familiar features. Jack was the most important person in his life now, and he would do anything to make sure that Jack was alright. No matter what the future held, Ennis knew that they would be okay.