Hey guys! Here's the sequel to Living In The Now. As you read this chapter you might find it very similar to The Choices We Make, but I promise it will be very different as the story unfolds. There will be a huge plot twist that I think you'll like to see unfold, so please bear with it. Happy reading!
August 3rd, 2012
It was a beautiful summer morning and Jack had crept out of bed to make breakfast. It was exactly four months since he and Ennis had gotten married in Central Park and he wanted to surprise his husband with breakfast in bed; it seemed like a good day for it.
He often woke up before Ennis, and during those mornings he would gaze at the man beside him and think about how different his life was now. He had never thought that he would end up living in New York again but here he was, married and happy. Things had never been smooth sailing for them, but they had pulled through and he was glad for it; he didn't like to think what might have been.
He stood at the counter, sliding pieces of bread into the toaster and thinking about the day ahead. They both had to work, but his mother would be meeting them in the city for lunch and that was something to look forward to. He missed his father but was glad that they had the chance to reconcile before he died; his father had accepted him and his condition.
Living with HIV came a lot easier to Jack these days; he kept himself healthy and didn't do anything risky. He had a wonderful man by his side who would do anything to make him happy and Jack was very grateful for that. He and Ennis had discussed marriage a few times over the last couple of years but he couldn't believe that they actually were, legally too.
He fondly recalled that day when he'd entered the coffee shop and Lureen had told him that someone was looking at him. Seeing Ennis for the first time was a memory that Jack would always treasure.
He finished the breakfast and got it all onto a tray, grinning to himself as he took it through the apartment to their bedroom. They had chosen one with two bedrooms, knowing that one day they might want to expand their family. No serious discussions about that had taken place yet; they were still enjoying life as newlyweds.
Jack entered the bedroom to find that Ennis was still asleep; he put the tray down on the dresser and sat on Ennis's side, shaking him gently. "Ennis?" he called softly, wanting to see those deep brown eyes that warmed his heart. "Come on, bud..."
"Hmm?" came a grunt as Ennis stirred, blearily opening his eyes. When they met Jack's, he couldn't stop the smile that spread across his face. "Morning, darlin'...what's going on?"
"Breakfast in bed," Jack informed him, gesturing to the tray. Ennis smelt the coffee and immediately perked up, rubbing sleep from his eyes. "You remember what day it is, right?"
Ennis thought for a moment and then nodded. "Yeah...four months since we got married..." He took Jack's left hand in his own, so that their rings clinked together. "Four months since you made an honest of man of me," he added with a smirk. Jack looked at him.
"You were always honest, right from the start," he replied seriously, and then his face relaxed. "We better eat up before it gets cold." Ennis nodded and sat up so that Jack could give him the tray, and Jack soon joined him in bed. They placed the tray between them and settled in; they didn't always have the luxury of time on a workday to do this so they wanted to make the most of it.
"Still can't believe we're really married," Ennis said as they ate, smiling at Jack over his coffee cup. Jack nodded.
"I was thinking the same thing in the kitchen...and how far we've come since we got together. Wasn't always easy, but...we're here now. We made it."
"Yep..." Ennis hesitated and then decided to tell Jack something that he'd been thinking about. "You know...if we had been allowed to get married back in California...we would've been married a lot longer than four months by now, I reckon."
Jack nodded. "I know...when we got back together after my hospital stay, I think we probably would've ended up married by the end of the year, or at least close to it. Wonder if the law will ever change over there?"
"I don't know...but we don't have to worry about that now. And if there's any other gay couples there who wanna get married...I reckon they'll end up moving like we did."
"Yeah." Jack decided not to ask about children just yet; they hadn't been married for very long and it was a huge commitment. They were devoted to each other but it was still a life-changing experience and he needed to be sure that they were ready for it. He would think it over at some point before talking to Ennis. "Gotta say...I never thought I'd be living here again after what happened. But coming back here that Christmas with you...it really helped me to get over what happened to me, and...I just want to thank you for that," he said softly, gazing into Ennis's eyes. "You...you've been my rock, you know?"
Ennis leaned over and kissed him warmly, very glad that Jack had come to terms with the attack and its aftermath. It made him sick to think of his sweet Jack going through something like that, to be in such pain, and he had been tempted to try and seek an even harsher punishment for Daniel Waters, preferably the death penalty if he could. Since that hadn't been possible, he'd instead focused on making Jack happy; something which he could definitely do with no problem.
"You're gonna be just fine," he murmured to Jack, nuzzling their noses together. Jack grinned.
"Thanks to you," he replied, and then took a deep breath. "You make me really happy, bud..."
Ennis nodded and they returned to their breakfast, talking about work and what they would be doing today. Life had settled down for them, and they had a future to look forward to.
Jack was heading down the street towards the café to meet his mother when his phone buzzed in his pocket; it was Ennis.
"Hey, handsome," he said cheerfully, stopping for a moment.
"Hey, darlin'. Look...I can't make it to lunch. We're swamped here at the vet's and I've got to cover for someone..." He sounded so apologetic that Jack just wanted to hug him.
"It's okay...you've gotta do what you've gotta do. Considering our jobs, it's no surprise if we have to sacrifice our own time now and then. Don't worry about it, okay? I'll see you at home."
"Yeah, you bet. Give my best to your mom. Love you, Jack." He seemed more relaxed and Jack smiled to himself.
"I love you too," he replied before hanging up and carrying on. They had always known that they couldn't spend twenty-four hours a day together; it was just part of life. Besides, they'd had a leisurely breakfast that morning and that would get him through the day until he saw Ennis again.
He strolled through the park with confidence, even taking the same path that he had done so many years ago. Jack still felt slightly apprehensive, but it was more to do with the memories than actual fear. They hadn't been living here for long, and he figured that his fears would go away in time. His attacker was locked away where he couldn't hurt anyone and that was a comforting thought.
He made his way to the café to meet his mother, looking forward to seeing her. She had always been there for him even when his father hadn't been, and Jack would never forget that.
She was already there when he walked in, watching the door. She smiled widely when their eyes met and stood up to hug him.
"How are you, my boy?" she asked, embracing him tightly. Jack hugged her back; no matter how old he got she would always be his mother.
"I'm good, we both are," he replied as she let go. "Ennis has to work and can't get away for lunch, but he sends his best."
Karen nodded, feeling a little disappointed. She had always liked Ennis and was very grateful to him for making her son happy, during a time when she'd thought he might never be. Their wedding had been one of the proudest days of her life and she saw Ennis as a son now.
"Well, at least you two are working hard. That's something," she said as they sat down. "Are you doing okay?" she asked him, and he nodded.
"I'm fine. T-cells are high and viral load's down. Doesn't seem to be going anywhere either way," he told her with a smile. "I haven't been sick or anything, and my doctor's keeping a close eye on the Videx just in case."
"I remember when you were in hospital," she said quietly, eyes lowering. "I'm just glad that you two saw sense in time."
"Guess it was the wake-up call we needed," he agreed as they looked at the menus.
They ordered their food and started talking about work, but Jack got the sense that his mother wanted to ask him something else. Eventually, she bit her lip and looked at him. "Jack...I wanted to ask...about what's next for you and Ennis. I mean, you're married now. And...the next logical step..."
"Having kids," he finished for her, and she nodded. "Well...we always looked at it as a someday kind of thing. We figured that it would happen when we were both ready; we've never really had a serious conversation about it. We sure haven't made any plans." He paused for a moment. "I was thinking about it this morning, and it's a huge thing to think about. We love each other, and we're happy as newlyweds. I don't want us to go rushing into anything if we're not ready for it."
"I know, honey," Karen replied, resting a hand on his arm. "I don't want to put pressure on the two of you, but I think you'd be great parents."
He smiled at her. "Thanks, mom. You know...it would be amazing to have a kid with him, somehow. I know we can't do it the normal way, but there's options. I've read about them..." He thought for a moment. "I do wanna have kids with him someday, and...we agreed this morning that if it had been legal for us to get married in California, then we would have done a lot sooner. We've only been married for four months because of the law." He took a deep breath. "We've been together for almost three years now...maybe it is the right time for us. You don't have to be married to someone to know if you want a family with them; there must be a lot of gay couples with kids who can't get married but that didn't stop them."
"It's up to you, Jack...it's a big deal and you need to be sure before you talk to Ennis," Karen reminded him, but he shook his head.
"You know what? I think we're already there. You're right; it's the next logical step and we love each other. We're doing really well and...I'm sure we can handle it." He smiled at his mother. "I'll talk to him tonight at dinner, at least suggest it. I don't think he'll feel too pressured; we moved in together after only a few months and a break-up. I reckon it's okay to take things quickly if you're sure about them."
He nodded to himself as the food arrived; it made sense. He would never force Ennis into anything but he believed that Ennis would be all for it after some thinking. He knew it was a lot to consider but he had faith in their relationship and was certain that they could do it. Now all he had to do was talk to his other half and hope that he was in the same place.
Jack used most of his afternoon to think about what he would say to Ennis at dinner. As much as he wanted to have kids with Ennis in some way, he was well aware that he couldn't force the issue; if they weren't ready but did it anyway, it could harm their relationship. That was the last thing he wanted.
When he left the clinic, he received a text from Ennis; he was already home and starting dinner. They had agreed early on that whoever finished first would start dinner, and had settled into this routine quickly. Jack had always loved living with Ennis, and this had increased tenfold since their wedding.
He entered the apartment to find Ennis at the stove, a delightful smell wafting from the area. He smiled when Ennis turned around. "Hey, bud."
"Hey," Ennis replied, walking over to him and planting a kiss on his lips. "Work okay?"
"Yeah, great," Jack told him, and then looked over at the stove. "What're you making?"
"Chicken korma," Ennis answered, gesturing over to where the sauce was waiting to be added to the chicken and herbs. "Thought something spicy might do us some good."
"Sounds good," Jack replied, and kissed Ennis one more time before letting go of him. "Work alright for you? Said you had to cover for someone..."
"Yeah, that went okay. How's your mom?" Ennis asked as he resumed cooking. Jack sat at the island.
"She's doing okay. I know she misses my dad, but...I think she's coping." He looked at Ennis. "Makes me wonder how I'd cope if..." Ennis glanced at him.
"Don't think on it, darlin'. We're both healthy, even you most of the time. I'm not going anywhere."
Jack smiled. "I know...just saying. Look, there's something I wanna talk to you about...at dinner. Nothing bad, just something I wanna run by you."
"Sure," Ennis replied, thinking that he knew where this was heading. They were settling into married life after all; perhaps it might be time for the next step.
While Ennis cooked, Jack exchanged a few texts with Lureen to see how she was. Still living in San Francisco, but had now been promoted to manager of the coffee shop where she worked. Jack knew that she wanted to get into fashion and he hoped that she could make it; she had made his and Ennis's wedding suits just four months ago and they had kept them.
"Lureen says hi," he informed Ennis. "She's still trying to get her résumé to designers and stuff. Hope she makes it."
"Yeah...those suits are really something. Dinner's nearly ready, bud..."
"Okay." Jack got up from the sofa and set the table for them both; they worked together very well in domestic situations. He was nervous about talking to Ennis about what his mother had asked, but he was sure that they could talk it through. They were doing really well, after all, and they were very happy together. He did want to have a family with Ennis.
They talked as they ate, about everything but what was on Jack's mind. They always talked about work when they reunited at home afterwards and they liked to spend this time together. Eventually, Ennis couldn't avoid it anymore and he just had to know what Jack was thinking about. "Bud...can we just get it out there? I know something's on your mind."
Jack sighed and nodded, putting down his spoon. "Alright. When I was talking to my mom at lunch, she started talking about our wedding and how things were going for us. She asked me...if we were thinking of starting a family. Having kids in some way."
"Right...well...we can talk about that," Ennis replied, feeling unsure. They had only been married for four months. "Um...do you really wanna have a family with...me?" he asked. He and Alma hadn't been together long enough for that conversation to come up, so this was new territory for him. Would he even make a good father?
"Of course I do," Jack told him, taking his hand across the table. "Ennis, I love you. I'd carry your baby if I could and you ought to know that by now. We're married, and we're doing so well right now. Any baby we have would be raised in a loving home with two committed parents, just like it would need."
"You're right about that," Ennis agreed. "But...we've only been married four months," he added, now uncertain. Jack lowered his eyes.
"Only because of the law...we agreed that we would've done it sooner if we could. And we've been together nearly three years...isn't that long enough to know when you want all that stuff with someone?" He began to fear that Ennis didn't want it.
Ennis squeezed his hand. "You're right about that, too," he said softly, making Jack meet his eyes. "I do want all that with you, bud. We are gonna have a family one day, I promise. I just need to think this over, alright? It's a lot to think about."
Jack nodded. "I know. I don't wanna put pressure on you, Ennis...that's the last thing we need. But...I'm sure we'd be great parents. I know we can do it."
Ennis smiled. "You're probably right. Tell you what...we'll talk about this tomorrow at dinner, alright? Just give me tomorrow to think about it."
"Sure," Jack agreed, smiling. They resumed their meal, Jack feeling hopeful about their future. Ennis was torn; he did want to have kids with Jack but he was worried about turning into his own parents. He hadn't spoken to them since before the wedding, and that hadn't gone well. They were truly estranged now and he couldn't run the risk of being like them.
On the other hand, he had Jack to help him stay grounded. Jack would make sure that he didn't turn into his parents, but instead into a good one to a child of their own. Maybe they could do this, as long as they worked together.
August 4th, 2012
Ennis thought about Jack's suggestion all day while working. He so wanted them to make a family, but couldn't quite shake off the worry of turning into his parents. They had been fine when he'd come out to them and even when he'd initially introduced them to Jack; that wasn't the issue. Their only problem had been when he'd told them about Jack's HIV status; that had killed any possibility of them accepting the relationship. Ironically enough, he'd told them only after they'd asked about children.
He sat at his desk for most of the day, with the clinic being quiet. He kept running things over in his head so many times that he soon became tired of it. Ennis pulled out his phone and smiled when he saw the wallpaper; a photo of himself and Jack during their wedding in the park. They had been very happy during their relationship so far, despite their brief breakup a couple of years ago. He was very glad that he'd seen sense and had been keeping a close eye on Jack's health ever since.
There was a knock at the door and the receptionist poked her head in. "Are you busy? There's some more paperwork to do..."
"Sure," he replied, and Rachel dropped the files on his desk. She was a good friend of his and Jack's, living in the apartment below them, and she could tell that something was on his mind.
"You okay?" she asked, arms folded. Ennis shrugged.
"Jack...yesterday he asked me about us having kids. I told him I'd give him an answer tonight."
"And...that's a problem?" Rachel asked, sounding confused. "You love each other, right?"
"Yeah, we do. That's not what I'm worried about," he told her. "I keep thinking that I might end up like my parents. Harsh...prejudiced...cold." The last word was spoken quietly, but she heard it.
"Ennis...I know I don't know you guys that well, but...you told me what happened. How they couldn't accept Jack after you told them about him having HIV...and how they never came to the wedding. You're not like that at all. I'm sure all parents of gay men and women worry about their kids catching the virus and God knows what else. That's probably normal because all parents want to protect their kids. But if your kid ended up with someone who's positive...I don't think you'd react badly because you know what it's like. As for prejudiced...that doesn't even come into it. You're gay; how could you possibly be prejudiced?"
Ennis sighed, hands over his eyes. "I know...don't know what to do, to be honest."
He continued to think about it, and then realised that everybody probably had the same fears about having kids. Surely everybody worried about whether or not they would be a good parent, but that didn't meant that they wouldn't be. Rachel was right; he was very different from his parents and he had Jack; what did they have to lose?
With this decided, he couldn't wait to tell Jack. They could start talking about how they would do it and would make plans. It was both exciting and terrifying and he loved the notion.
He did wish that he and Jack could have a child together, but he knew how impossible that was so they would have to deal with that. There were other ways but he didn't know much; there was plenty of time for that.
When he entered the apartment and found Jack starting dinner, he smiled and slipped up behind his husband, arms wrapping around Jack's waist. Jack looked down and grinned. "What's all this now?"
"Been thinking about what you said," Ennis said softly into his ear. Jack froze. "I...I wanna do it, Jack. I wanna have a kid with you...however we can."
Jack turned in his arms, eyes wide. He couldn't believe that Ennis had said yes, and that he seemed so sure about it. "Ennis...you sure? It's a huge thing..." Ennis took his hands.
"I know. But I was talking to Rachel. She made me see that I was worrying about nothing; just because my parents are the way they are doesn't mean I'll be like that. I'm not like them and never will be. If a kid of ours got together with someone who's positive, or even caught it themselves...I'd never react the way they did. I know what it's like to love someone so much that you don't care about the risks." He looked into Jack's glistening eyes. "I know we can do this, Jack."
"Are you sure?" Jack asked him firmly, needing to know that he was serious about this. It was a huge deal and required a lot of planning. "Once we get started, there's no going back."
"I don't wanna go back," Ennis replied. "I wanna go forward, with you. You're my future, darlin'...that's just how it is. And I want us to have a family. You were right yesterday; we would have married sooner if we could, but three years together is long enough to know what we want. There's gotta be gay couples out there who have had kids together somehow but can't get married; it didn't stop them. I say we should take advantage of what we've got, and do this."
Jack nodded, seeing the sense that Ennis was making. "Okay," he replied, taking a deep breath. "Let's do it, then."
"We're gonna be parents," Ennis said to him, pressing their foreheads together. Jack laughed, euphoria running through him and warming his heart.
"We sure are...you and me...daddy and, well...daddy." Ennis joined his laughter and they embraced tightly, Jack kissing the side of his face in happiness. He couldn't believe how happy Ennis had made him over the last few years, yet here they were. They were married and now were going to try and create a family. Neither of them knew the details but that didn't matter; it was going to happen anyway and they couldn't wait.
The pair of them were smiling all the way through dinner after their agreement to start a family, but decided not to tell anybody until the details were all sorted. They would have to go and speak to their doctor about their options and could do that on Tuesday; it was a rare day in that they were both not working then.
Afterwards, they curled up on the sofa together and kissed softly as they watched TV, hands entwining as they thought about having a family together.
"Still can't believe it," Jack murmured as he looked up into Ennis's eyes.
"Me neither..." The clock chimed eleven and he sighed. "Well...you ready to go to bed?" he asked, voice heavy with all the implications that carried. Jack grinned.
"Hell yeah. I wish we could say that we were gonna make a baby but that's not really possible. Still...we'll figure it out."
"We sure will, bud. Come on." Ennis switched off the TV while Jack went to lock the door. This was undoubtedly their favourite time of day; when they were preparing to go to bed together after a long day. They both knew what was going to happen and were very much looking forward to it.
Ennis took Jack's hand as they walked across to their bedroom, leading him inside and then turning him to face him. "I love you, darlin'."
Jack grinned and kissed him warmly, tongue sliding against Ennis's. "I love you too. Let's get in..." They moved to their respective sides of the bed and started stripping, eyes watching each other carefully. Ennis caught Jack's lustful expression when his jeans were removed and his cheeks coloured slightly.
Once they were settled in bed, they instinctively turned to each other. Ennis stroked Jack's face with the back of his hand. "You wanna?" he asked even though he knew it was obvious.
"Yeah...want you inside me," Jack murmured, nuzzling their noses together. Ennis nodded and kissed him, stealing Jack's breath as their tongues met once more. Jack trembled at how Ennis could make him feel with just one kiss; they were just meant for each other.
They kept kissing as Jack tugged at Ennis's waist, wanting more contact. Ennis knew the signs by now and rolled on top of him, settling between his legs and grasping Jack's hair in his hands. He trailed one hand down to lightly brush against the swelling and felt Jack moan in his mouth; he couldn't take much teasing when he was so hopelessly aroused.
Ennis grabbed the lube and smoothed it over himself, and thankfully remembered to also grab two condoms and put them on himself and Jack; he sometimes hated having to remember that but he knew it was for his own good.
"Fuck me," Jack breathed as Ennis nuzzled his neck, getting into position. Jack lifted his legs and wrapped them around Ennis, needing more. "Come on..."
"Steady on, bud," Ennis replied softly as he worked his way inside Jack, feeling around for the most comfortable point. A low groan came from Jack and he knew he'd found it. Now ready, he took Jack's hands and held them in his own, pinning them above Jack's head. "You ready?" he asked, feeling Jack's fingers curl around his own. Jack nodded and he started moving, sliding in and out at the steady rhythm that they both knew so well. His movements were slow but smooth, taking Jack deeper every time and knowing that he was making his lover feel good.
He watched Jack's face as they rocked together, seeing how he was making him feel. Jack's eyes were closed and his mouth open in bliss, unable to speak. Ennis thought it was a beautiful sight and couldn't help but kiss Jack's neck, biting softly.
"God, I love you," Jack croaked, pushing back to meet Ennis's thrusts. He couldn't believe how well they suited each other. They were best friends and could talk about anything together, but also make each other's toes curl in arousal. Sex could be seen as the darker side of their relationship, but not in a bad way. It was what went on behind closed doors with the promise of love and lust and everything they felt for each other. Their attraction to each other bubbled all day when they were together, finally spilling over when they got to bed. But even in their most frantic bouts of desire, Ennis could still remember to make him feel good in a different way; it got to his heart and made him fall even more in love.
Ennis sensed that Jack was close, if the whimpers in his ear were anything to go by. He took hold of Jack, this time not teasing, and stroked him in time to the thrusts. They came together in a jumble of moans and cusses, holding on to each other tightly as they rode it out and then collapsed. Jack panted heavily as his senses tried to sort themselves out, unable to think about anything but how good that had been. "Damn, Ennis...that was something else."
"You say that nearly every time," Ennis observed breathlessly, grinning. He winced when he pulled out and rolled off Jack, sighing contentedly. They removed the condoms from themselves and Ennis went to get some paper towels for them both. Once cleaned up, settled down and Jack curled up against him, head nestling in Ennis's collarbone as he was held. Ennis kissed the top of his head and took his hand. "You feel good?"
"Mmm...better than good," Jack replied, squeezing his hand. "You just...always know what to do. You know what'll make me feel good. It's like we can read each other's minds or something."
"Maybe because we're soul mates," Ennis suggested. There was a time when he hadn't believed in that, but not anymore. Since being with Jack, he knew what this was. It was the kind of love that you waited all your life for, but always ended up being so much better than anticipated.