The City Of Love
June 14th, 2010
"This place looks great!" Jack exclaimed as they entered the main part of the airport, looking around.
"It's only the airport, Jack," Ennis replied, giving him a look of amusement. Jack shrugged.
"Still, we're here," he reasoned, grinning at Ennis. "Can't wait to go exploring...got two whole weeks here."
"Yep." Ennis reached out and took his hand. "I reckon we're gonna have a good time."
"I'm glad there weren't any problems at customs," Jack commented as they headed for baggage claim. "Don't know what we would've done if they'd confiscated the meds."
"We would've figured something out," Ennis assured him. "Even if it meant flying straight back to the States to get you some more."
Jack smiled at him, touched by the sweet words. They had grown a lot closer since getting back together, and he was very happy with how things were right now. He felt certain now that they were going to be together for the rest of their lives; there was a sense of permanence when he and Ennis were together.
"I love you," he suddenly said as they were walking. Ennis looked at him, and then realised he didn't need to ask where that had come from.
"Love you too, darlin'," he replied, kissing Jack's hand. He couldn't wait for them to start exploring this very romantic city; he knew that they would have a good time.
Their luggage arrived and they left the airport, trying to find a cab that would take them to the hotel; all they knew about it was that it was close to a park. They had decided on one near the Seine River, and their room had a balcony with a view; they'd wanted to make this trip special after everything they'd been through lately.
As the cab drove through the streets, they found themselves looking out of the windows in interest; this was a beautiful city. They had decided to stay at the Hôtel de Nesle, which was on the other side of the river. They could spot the Eiffel Tower as they neared their destination, making them both grin with excitement; they were really here.
Jack loved the peaceful nature of this city; it was so different compared to San Francisco. He'd seen photos of quiet streets and bustling marketplaces; he couldn't wait to share all of this with the man he loved by his side.
"This looks amazing," he breathed, eyes darting around and trying to take everything in. Ennis smiled and took his hand again.
"Sure does, bud. It's...different here. Seems more relaxed than back home."
At last, they reached their hotel and stepped out, looking at it in wonder. There was a red canopy over the ground-level windows and doors, and Jack tried to remember everything he'd read. He recalled seeing a photo of a garden on the website, as well as cosy sitting rooms that they could get comfortable in. They would have two whole weeks to explore the city as well as their hotel, and he couldn't wait for them to get started. "Shall we?" he said to Ennis, who nodded.
They walked in, hand in hand as they looked around. There were a couple of other people around, but nobody gave them a funny look for holding hands; that was an encouraging sign. They approached the front desk, where a young woman was standing by.
"Bonjour," she said to them pleasantly. Jack smiled at her, eager to try out the language.
"Uh, bonjour," he replied, nodding. "We have a reservation here..."
"Oh...you are American?" she asked them in a thick French accent, and they nodded. "Bienvenue, welcome," she said to them. "The name?"
"Ennis Del Mar," Ennis said to her, and she consulted the list before her.
"Oui, two weeks. Departing on the...twenty-fifth?"
"That's right," Jack said to her, and she held out the book to Ennis.
"Sign here, s'il vous plait," she asked of him, and he did so. Jack loved the language and couldn't wait to try it. He wanted to try something dirty on Ennis when they were alone. "Merci," she said when he was done. "Here is your card key for the room. Enjoy your stay." She held out the card with a smile and Ennis took it; they had already paid for the room while back in San Francisco since it was easier.
"Amazing language," Jack said as they headed up the stairs.
"Sure is," Ennis agreed. "I think we'll have fun trying to learn it." Jack grinned at him, thinking of the things he wanted to say to Ennis in French. Some were romantic, but a lot were rather dirty and fun. He loved how they could be like that again; he had sorely missed Ennis during their brief time apart earlier in the year and he hoped that they never went through that ever again.
They arrived at their room and Ennis opened it up, whistling when they saw the interior. "This is...beautiful," he said softly. It was cosy yet spacious, with an antique wardrobe made of what appeared to be oak, and the walls were of an off-white colour. They looked at the bed; it was a canopy with a thick quilt that looked very inviting, and Jack was looking forward to testing it.
"This is amazing," he agreed, walking over to the window. They could see the river a short while away, and could even see Notre Dame in the distance. He grinned when he felt a pair of arms snake around his stomach. "Mmm..."
"Wanna take a walk, or test out the bed?" Ennis murmured in his ear, biting it softly. Jack squirmed and grinned further.
"I say let's take a walk and get something to eat. We've got plenty of time later to test the bed," he replied, turning his head to meet Ennis's lips. They kissed a few times before Ennis let him go, stretching as he headed for the bathroom to get the plane feeling off him; Jack simply smiled as he watched.
They left the hotel and started walking around, looking for somewhere to eat. As they strolled through the quiet streets, they loosely held hands between them and started to feel more relaxed now that they were here. While they had been to New York together before, it felt different to be in another country. This was a very romantic place and they couldn't believe that they would have two whole weeks here.
A brisk walk took them closer to the river, where they found a small and charming café with traditional French cuisine. Jack had brought a book of French phrases with him just in case they needed it, but he figured that these days most of the locals spoke other languages due to tourism; the woman at the hotel certainly seemed to have a good grasp on English.
They sat down together inside, peering out at the ducks on the river and admiring the great view. When the waiter came over they managed to order some food without any trouble, and Ennis laid his hand on top of Jack's.
"You really enjoying it here, darlin'?" he asked, and Jack nodded.
"I am...it's great, Ennis. This was a brilliant idea...and I can't wait to see the city. There's so much we can do while we're here...so many sights that I've always wanted to see. Maybe we could go up the Eiffel Tower, to the top. Bet there's a great view from up there," he added, nodding.
"Yeah, reckon so," Ennis agreed. He then held Jack's hand in his own. "You know...I didn't just suggest a trip away for the fun of it. I...I wanted to make things up to you, after everything that happened. I was an idiot to let you go, Jack...and I wish it hadn't taken a hospital stay to make me realise that."
Jack smiled and took Ennis's other hand. "Bud...I know. But at least it got us back together, and I'm fine now. I can't promise that something like that will never happen again, but at least you'll be with me if it does, right?"
"Of course," Ennis told him, looking straight into his eyes. "I'm not going anywhere now." He kissed Jack's hand, drawing a smile from his partner. He would love to marry Jack one day, but considering where they lived it wasn't likely. The only way it could happen was if they moved to a state where it was legal, which were few and far between right now. Maybe it would happen by the time they were ready.
The food arrived and they reluctantly let go of each other, sniffing in interest. The bread was clearly freshly made, which definitely agreed with Jack.
"Mmm...they just don't make it like this back home," he mumbled around a mouthful. "We've gotta buy some before we leave."
"Sure thing," Ennis replied, coughing at the hot temperature of the mushroom soup he'd ordered. "Maybe we should move here," he joked. Jack grinned; if only it could be practical for them to do so.
When they had eaten, they walked down the river for a while enjoying the late afternoon sun; they didn't want to go too far considering that they still had jet lag and were tired, but there was plenty of time for them to do everything they wanted to.
With the river on their left, they stopped in their tracks. Across the water was Notre Dame, a very impressive structure that was amongst those which Jack had always wanted to see. "Wow..." Jack breathed, his eyes wide. "It's amazing..."
"You wanna take a closer look?" Ennis asked, nodding at the small walkway that led across the water to the island. Jack nodded and they made their way over, keeping their eyes focused on the cathedral. The Gothic architecture was strangely beautiful; Jack got his camera out and started taking photos, a grin on his face.
"I can't believe we're actually standing in front of it," he said as he zoomed in. "I've only ever seen photos..."
They ended up going inside, walking around to take more photos and listen as guided tours took place around them; the stained glass windows shone in the setting sun, casting a multicoloured image on the stone below. It turned out to be too late in the day for them to go up into the towers for a view of the city, but they agreed that they would come back later.
Once back outside, they grinned at each other. "That was incredible," Jack said, taking Ennis's hand. "This really is a romantic place."
"Sure is." Ennis looked over to where the sun was setting in the sky. "You wanna watch the sun set before we head back?" he asked, feeling the love in their air all around him; there were many other couples here, some of them same-sex like him and Jack. He was glad that they could be open here.
"Okay," Jack agreed, and they walked over to a nearby bench. Ennis put his arm around Jack and held him close, glad to see him so happy about their trip so far. They had only been in the city for just over an hour, and already they had fallen in love with the place.
Ennis spotted a vendor walking by, selling red roses; an idea popped into his head. He gently pushed Jack up and went over to the man, buying a red rose and bringing it over to Jack. "Um...here, bud. Just...saw them and I thought..." His face was a similar colour to the rose, and Jack stood up.
"Aw, Ennis...thank you." He took the rose and leaned in, kissing Ennis deeply. They held each other close in the reddish light of the sunset, lost in their own little world. Neither of them quite knew why, but this city felt like it had some sort of romantic spell cast over it. This city was truly a wonderful place and they couldn't wait to see the rest of it.
When they got back to their room, Jack decided that tonight would be a good time to test out the dirty phrases he wanted to try with Ennis. Google Translate had been around for a while by now and he had been putting in various phrases when Ennis wasn't around, memorising the translations for later use.
"Ready to go to bed?" he whispered in Ennis's ear as they entered their room, and he grinned. This would always be his favourite time of day, no matter where they were in the world.
"You bet, darlin'," he murmured, nuzzling their noses together. Jack took a deep breath, ready to test his knowledge.
"Me faire l'amour," he whispered, and Ennis looked at him, an amused look on his face.
"You been practicing?" he asked, and Jack nodded. "What does it mean?"
"I asked you...to make love to me," he practically purred, a glint in his eye. Ennis smirked.
"I think that can be arranged," he replied, capturing Jack's lips with his own and pulling him close. They headed for the wide canopy bed that they were eager to christen, falling onto it in a tangle of limbs. Ennis kissed Jack's neck as they removed their shirts, wanting to hear some more of that language. It sounded so tantalising when it came from Jack. "Keep speaking French," he murmured, running his hands over Jack's chest.
"Um..." Jack tried to remember what else he'd learned, but it wasn't easy when Ennis was distracting him in the way he did; it rendered him incapable of thought at the best of times. "Baise-moi...fuck me..."
"That's it," Ennis breathed, biting his ear and making him moan. "What do you want?"
"I, uh..." Jack breathed heavily as Ennis removed his sneakers and jeans, and watched as Ennis removed his own. "Um... je te veux en moi..."
"You want me inside you?" Ennis asked, recognising that one as he rolled a condom onto himself and then Jack (a necessary precaution). His lover nodded.
"Uh huh...please!" Jack pleaded, and Ennis kissed him as he found the lube, smoothing it over himself before spreading Jack's legs apart.
"You ready, darlin'?" he asked, and Jack nodded, his eyes hazy with lust.
Ennis pushed into Jack as slowly as he could, wanting to make the moment last. Hearing Jack say those things in a language like that aroused him more than he'd thought possible. There was just something so sexy about hearing it, and he vowed to learn some of his own before they left. He couldn't believe that he'd practiced everyday things in French that they might need to use, but had forgotten something so important.
"Petit mignon," he breathed in Jack's ear. "Little darlin'..."
"God, Ennis," Jack moaned as they rocked together, hearing the words dripping from Ennis's mouth like honey. "I love you..."
"Love you too," Ennis whispered to him, kissing Jack deeply on the mouth as he moved inside him, pushing his tongue into Jack's mouth.
They came together after several long moments and collapsed, breathing heavily. "That was good..." Jack gasped out, running his hands up and down Ennis's back. "Why is sex always so good away from home?"
"Dunno...but I'm not complaining," Ennis replied, pulling out of him and disposing of the rubbers; he liked how there was a bin next to the bed. He looked down into Jack's eyes. "So...what else have you been practicing to say to me?"
Jack grinned. "Some dirty stuff...you wanna know?" At Ennis's nod, he grinned further. "There's...manger mon cul," he started, whispering in Ennis's ear what it meant and making him blush. Jack laughed. "Oh come on, like you've never done that to me."
Ennis shook his head. "What else?"
"Um...donnez-moi la tête, which means 'give me head'," Jack said with a smirk. Then his expression softened. "You know...it wasn't just dirty words that I was looking up. There were others..."
"Really? What like?" Ennis asked, stroking his cheek. Jack leaned into the touch.
"Je t'aime de tout mon coeur...I love you with all my heart," he whispered, causing Ennis to kiss him again. "I really do, Ennis...I hope you know that."
"I do," Ennis agreed, nodding. "I learnt a couple of things just for us...but not much. You heard me calling you 'little darlin'." Well...I learnt the basics. Tu es mon âme soeur...you're my soul mate."
Jack smiled widely and kissed his fingers. "Thank you, Ennis...I'm really enjoying this trip, even though we haven't been here long. I know we're gonna enjoy it even more as we see the city."
Ennis rolled off him and stretched, then turned to face him. "We sure will, bud. What do you wanna do tomorrow?"
"Well...I was thinking we could have breakfast here and then see if we can get up into Notre Dame, like we wanted to earlier. Then maybe...walk up the river in the opposite direction. Where's that map?"
They had found a map of the city in the hotel lobby that morning, and they looked over it together. "There's so much," Jack commented, his eyes roaming over the streets and the highlighted tourist spots.
"What if we looked at some of these markets to start off with?" Ennis suggested, pointing to them. "I'd like to try out some of that food." There was a lot of ground to cover and they wanted to see everything.
"Yeah, sounds good." Jack kissed his nose. "I love you, Ennis..."
"Same to you, darlin'," he replied, kissing Jack's collarbone. "Well...you ready to get some sleep? I'm beat after today."
"Yeah, me too." Jack put the map on his bedside table and they switched the lamps off, settling down under the covers. The quilt was cosy but not too thick; it was summer after all. Ennis opened his arms and allowed Jack to burrow close to him, kissing his forehead.
"Get some sleep, darlin'...got a real busy day tomorrow."
"Mmm...yep," Jack replied, yawning. "Night, baby..."
"Night...chérie," Ennis said with a grin, and he felt Jack smack his ass.
"Go to sleep, Ennis."
As the week progressed, they ventured further and further from their hotel to see the city. They went back to Notre Dame and explored the towers, taking photos of the amazing view from the height. At one point, Ennis slid his arms around Jack from behind and kissed his cheek, happy that they were here together and sharing this experience.
The pair of them explored the markets and bought gifts for their friends, also finding postcards to send to Alma, Lureen and Jack's mother. Ennis could see that the pain of losing his father was still fresh in Jack's mind, and he squeezed Jack's fingers in support.
"He'd be happy that you're happy," he assured Jack, who nodded.
The following day, they reached the Eiffel Tower and walked up to the top, taking photos and walking around to see the sprawling city below them. There was so much for them to see and they wanted to cram in as much as possible. While they were up there, they got another tourist to take a photo of them together and decided that it would be put up in their apartment.
At lunchtime, they found a café near the base of the tower and settled in to eat, talking about their day so far and looking over the map, trying to decide what they wanted to do next. They agreed that for the remainder of the day and possibly the next one, they would stay on this side of the river to explore.
Jack was poring over the map, circling the places that looked interesting and mumbling to himself. Ennis was happy for him to take charge of what they would do; he knew that Jack would make some good choices.
"Hey, you still wanna go to Disneyland?" Jack asked him; they had talked about going just for the fun of it, even though they had never even been to either of the parks in America.
"Well, it's kind of far out from the city, to the East," Jack replied, pointing at it on the map and then at Paris; it was quite some distance away. "Maybe we should leave that until next week?"
Ennis looked at the points and nodded. "Yeah, probably. We can focus on the city this week. What about on the other side of the river? What's over there?"
"Um...the Arc de Triomphe," Jack replied, pointing at it. "We could always take a look at that."
"Yeah, sounds great. I'm sure we'll find something good to look at." They continued to eat their lunch, clicking through the photos on the camera and deciding which ones they were going to put up in the apartment. They knew that they could have the photos developed and put into an album to remember their trip, and the idea had its appeal.
"Um...you remember that boat trip we went on, a little while after we got together back in San Francisco?" Ennis asked, and Jack nodded. "Do they have anything like that here?"
"I know that you can take a boat ride along the river," Jack replied. "But I don't think we could stay overnight or anything."
"That's okay, bud. I'd rather spend the night in that cosy bed with you," Ennis told him, smiling. Jack grinned.
"Me too, Ennis. I'm...really happy that we're here together. It really is a romantic place and...I just can't help but feel happy here. It's perfect." Their hands linked across the table and Ennis squeezed his fingers. He would so love to propose to Jack here in the city; it would certainly be memorable. But since same-sex marriage wasn't yet legal in their home state, he had to resign himself to the fact that there wasn't much point; it would only raise their hopes too much and they could end up being disappointed. "What are you thinking about over there?" Jack asked, breaking into his thoughts.
"Well...I was thinking of proposing to you, here. But it's not legal where we live, so..." He shrugged and Jack touched his cheek.
"Ennis...it's okay. Just because we can't get married in California doesn't mean we can't at all. There are seven states that recognise same-sex marriage, and there's bound to be more in time. I reckon that by the time we're ready to get married, there'll be more choice. And you never know...it could become legal in California by then." He smiled. "Don't worry, okay? We'll get married one day, right? It's on the cards, isn't it?"
Ennis nodded. "Yeah. We're gonna get married one day, somehow. Even if we have to move to another state, we're gonna get married."
Jack grinned and leaned across the table, kissing him firmly. The promise was sealed between them; they would marry one day because they loved each other. Nobody could take that away from them.
When they had finished, they strolled to a nearby park and sat down for a while, enjoying the warm weather and quiet atmosphere. It reminded them of the park back home, where they had spent so much time together, especially in the early days of their relationship. They had been inseparable in those early days, learning all about each other and forming their relationship. Jack could remember the pain he'd felt when they had briefly separated, and he was very glad that he wouldn't have to go through that again; Ennis wasn't going anywhere now.
He rested his head on Ennis's shoulder and linked their hands together, just relaxing in his partner's presence and thinking about their agreement to get married one day. He felt excited about it already and hoped that it would occur in the next couple of years; that would be great. How amazing would it be, to marry the love of his life? He couldn't imagine anything better than that, and he was very happy even though his life wasn't perfect. He was proof that HIV didn't have to be a complete curse on his life; it had given him Ennis.
On Friday night, Ennis and Jack had decided to take a bubble bath together in their room. They'd done this a few times over the course of their relationship, and had always loved the fun and romantic parts of it. The en-suite bathroom had a large tub that they could easily fit into together, and Ennis was lighting the candles while Jack filled it.
"Looking forward to this," Jack said as he waited, eyeing Ennis with interest. He'd topped Ennis the previous night and could still remember the feeling of being inside him. As much as he loved it when Ennis made love to him, he still enjoyed the notion that Ennis trusted him enough to let him take over. They had recently started buying thicker condoms, so hopefully they wouldn't have any more scares. Even though Jack knew that Ennis was no longer so afraid of being infected, he didn't want Ennis to suffer through it like he was. Ennis was a good man who didn't deserve something like this.
Ennis finished with the candles and turned to Jack, who smiled at him. The bath soon filled up and Jack turned off the faucets, standing up. "Well...looks like we're ready," he said softly, moving close to Ennis. "Want me to wash your back, baby?"
A smirk spread across Ennis's face. "Sure, darlin'...come on." He reached out and undid Jack's shirt buttons, looking into his eyes. Jack saw the look of pure love and did the same to him, undoing Ennis's shirt and pushing it off his shoulders. Now both shirtless, they leaned in to each other and kissed at whatever skin they could reach, Ennis nuzzling into Jack's collarbone. "You feel good, Jack..."
"Mmm...so do you," Jack replied, sliding his arms around Ennis's waist and squeezing him. "Come on, before it gets cold." They undid their jeans and watched each other closely as they stripped off, Jack grinning uncontrollably when Ennis exposed himself.
"Put your eyes back in, Jack," Ennis told him with a roll of his eyes. They got into the tub, with Ennis settling himself between Jack's legs and sighing. "God...need this after all that walking we did today."
"Yeah," Jack murmured as he hugged Ennis close again. He grabbed the soap and dipped it into the water before starting to wash the glowing skin before him. Ennis leaned forward to allow Jack access to his back, and he let out a moan of contentment.
"Mmm..." He bit his lip when Jack reached his lower back, feeling himself becoming aroused. They couldn't have sex here or really pleasure each other; he couldn't risk Jack releasing without protection even with the water. "Jack...you know we can't...not here."
"I know," Jack replied, bringing his hands back up and kissing his shoulder. "Just let me do your chest and then you can wash me." Ennis nodded and sighed as Jack washed his strong chest and kissed his ear.
Ennis then turned himself in the tub and rested on his knees, taking the soap and washing Jack's chest while looking into his eyes. He sometimes resented the fact that they had to be so careful about sex; part of him wanted to feel Jack release into him. But he knew that he could never ask Jack to do it without protection; that had the potential to ruin their relationship.
Jack leaned forward into his partner's arms while Ennis washed his back, half-embracing him as he felt Ennis pay such close attention to his task. When Ennis was done, he held Jack's face in both hands in the way Jack loved, a soft glow in his eyes. "Je t'aime," he murmured, making Jack grin.
"Même ici," he replied, feeling Ennis's lips on his. They kissed slowly and deeply, caressing each other and just relaxing in their love for each other. Everything they needed was right here, in their arms, and they wouldn't have it any other way.
After a while, they broke apart and Ennis nuzzled their noses together. "Jack...for months I've been trying to find the words...to tell you how much you mean to me. But...it's like they don't even exist 'cos I can't describe it..."
Jack nodded and pulled him closer. "I know, Ennis. Don't worry about that, okay? I know how you feel...I can see it in your eyes when you look at me. Not just here, or when we're in bed, but...all the time. Like last week when we were cooking dinner together. You glanced at me when you thought I wasn't looking, and I caught your eye. I saw the look...the one that told me everything I needed to know."
Ennis smiled and kissed him again. "Well...since I can't really tell you how strong I feel, maybe...I can show you?" he asked, sounding hopeful. Jack nodded.
"I'd like that. Ennis...emmène-moi au lit et me faire l'amour." At Ennis's head tilt, he translated, "Take me to bed and make love to me."
Ennis smiled. "You got it, darlin'. Come on." He stood up and helped Jack out of the bath, and then blew out the candles as Jack drained the tub. They towelled themselves off and to Jack's surprise, Ennis lifted him into his arms without warning, one arm around his waist and the other under his legs.
"Put me down," he laughed, holding onto Ennis around the neck. Ennis kissed him to shut him up.
"I wanna do this right, Jack. Tonight should be romantic. Come on." He carried Jack out of the bathroom and laid him down on the bed, leaning over him. The knowledge that he was about to make love to this beautiful man sent shivers down his spine and warmth into his heart. He loved showing Jack how strong his feelings were and was happy to know that they would get married one day; it would seal everything forever and make sure that their future was secure. He would love Jack for the rest of his life and beyond that if he could; their love for one another could withstand anything.