September 21st, 2012
On Friday, Ennis and Jack were due to fly to San Francisco after work. They had ultimately decided to visit Ennis's parents over the weekend and both were nervous. Ennis had called that morning and left them a message on the answerphone to tell them that they would be visiting; he was glad that he hadn't spoken to either of them directly because he thought he would lose his nerve if he did.
Jack had recovered quickly from his setback the other day, with his flashbacks of what had happened to him, and he knew that it was mainly due to Ennis being there and taking care of him. That night, he had shown Ennis his gratitude in the best way he knew how, taking him in his mouth and driving him crazy with lust. He still hadn't plucked up the courage yet to be on top but he figured that would come in time; they were more or less back to normal now.
"You okay?" Jack asked him as they waited for the taxi that would take them to the airport. Ennis nodded.
"Yeah, I'll be okay. Just wish this flight wasn't so long..." Jack rubbed the back of his neck.
"I know, bud. But think of it this way...maybe we can entertain ourselves on the plane," he suggested, hoping to get a smile out of Ennis. It worked; Ennis's cheeks flushed and he looked down. "You're cute when you blush." He kissed Ennis's cheek and soon they heard a car horn somewhere down below.
Knowing that a long journey was ahead of them, Jack had thought of something to distract Ennis with (apart from a rendezvous in the bathroom of the plane). When they got to the airport and checked in, they took their seats to wait and Jack reached into his carry-on.
"Here," he said, handing over the white book to Ennis; it was their personal photo album from the years they'd spent together. In pride of place on the first page was the very first photo they'd had together, the one that Lureen had taken for them. The album still had plenty of space left, and Jack hoped that one day they would have a family.
"Good thinking, bud," Ennis admitted, looking through the pages fondly. He found their wedding photos and smiled; it had been a beautiful day and one that he would never forget as long as he lived. "God...you looked amazing that day," he said as he admired the photo of Jack in his suit. Jack nudged him.
"You did too...was tempted to drag you into a dark corner and have my way with you," he grinned, and Ennis smiled back at him. He knew that Jack was just trying to take his mind off the meeting with his parents, and he appreciated it.
As Ennis had feared, the flight was long and tedious; he just wanted to get it over with. The highlight was undoubtedly meeting up with Jack for a little fun in the bathroom. He did like how they didn't have to be careful anymore, and he revelled in how he could swallow when he went down on Jack. The taste was strange but he liked it, and he figured that maybe they were better off this way.
"God, I love you," he breathed, forehead pressed against Jack's. He felt arms snaking around his waist and pulling him close.
"Same to you, baby. Ennis, I...I know it won't be easy, but...we'll get through this meeting. I promise." Ennis nodded, very glad that Jack was here with him.
"I won't let them insult you," he murmured, holding on to Jack's shoulders. "We'll leave if they do. But I just want to at least try."
"I know, Ennis..." He leaned in for another deep kiss, less frantic than the one Ennis had greeted him with just a few minutes before but still passionate. He then brought Ennis's head down to his shoulder, not caring that their jeans were still around their ankles.
Eventually, they went back to their seats and tried to ignore the wink that the stewardess gave them as they emerged. They knew that they'd been figured out but neither cared; they weren't ashamed of their love and nobody had seen what they had been doing.
Back in their seats, they held hands and tried to watch the movie that was playing. Ennis kept thinking over how he would break the news to his parents. He had his medical records with him that proved the infection, but wondered if he would even want to show it to them. They were bound to take his word for it anyway.
They got to the hotel some hours later, needing to get some sleep before their meeting tomorrow. When they walked into the room, Jack took one look at the double bed and immediately felt tired. "God...I need to sleep." Ennis nodded as he locked the door.
"Me too. Let's just get undressed and get in," he replied. He wasn't even thinking about sex right now, which wasn't unusual; sometimes they were just too tired. He felt slightly aroused when he saw Jack stripping off, but his body was too tired to do anything about it.
They got under the sheets and sighed in unison, staring up at the ceiling. "Don't suppose you're up for it?" Jack asked, looking at him. Ennis shook his head.
"Sorry, darlin'...too tired. You know I don't like turning you away, but...I can't."
"Thank God," Jack groaned as he stretched. "I'm not either but I was willing to do it if you wanted." They grinned at each other at how well they could communicate and Jack stroked Ennis's cheek with the back of his hand. Ennis lifted his arm up and Jack snuggled up against him, kissing him softly. "Night, baby."
"Night, Jack," Ennis replied, glad to have someone to hold in the night who would make him feel better. Jack was everything to him and he would fight his own parents to keep hold of him.
Jack woke up a few hours later to find himself alone in the bed. With a look around the room, he soon located Ennis standing by the window and looking out. Jack could tell from the way he was standing that he was tired but couldn't sleep, and he slid out of bed.
"Ennis?" he called softly, coming up behind him. Ennis turned his head and smiled.
"Hey...did I wake you?"
Jack wrapped his arms around Ennis's waist and kissed his bare shoulder. "Not really...just woke up and you weren't there. You okay?" Ennis shrugged.
"Can't sleep...worrying about tomorrow." He covered Jack's arms with his own, feeling more relaxed now that Jack was here. "Just...thinking about how they're gonna take it. I remember the other times we tried to see them, and how it just ended badly. Is this really a good idea?" He turned to look over his shoulder and into Jack's eyes.
"I don't know. But...I can see that you want to try anyway, and I know why. They're your parents and...in spite of everything they've said and done, there are some bonds that you just can't break. That's why I wanted to forgive my dad even after everything he said to me. No matter how old we get, we still want approval from our parents. Some things just don't change."
Ennis nodded, sighing. "Guess you're right. Jack, I...I want you to know...I don't regret choosing to stay with you, even after they suggested I break up with you." He felt Jack stroking his skin. "I mean...it's never gonna be easy and I knew that right from the start. But I also know that I've never been this happy in my life...you made me happy." He thought for a moment. "When I realised that I was gay, I never thought I'd find anyone who would feel about me the way you do. Guess I never thought I deserved it."
Jack kissed the back of his neck. "I don't like it when you put yourself down, Ennis. You're a good man; better than you might think. And you've always been good to me...I'm damn lucky to have you and I don't wanna hear you talking like that."
"Can't help it," Ennis said quietly, and Jack released him. He took Ennis by the shoulders and turned him around.
"Shhh," he shushed, and he leaned in. Ennis's lips were warm and soft, but Jack could tell that he still needed some reassurance. He held Ennis's face in his hands the way he liked, and he felt Ennis holding onto his hips unsurely. "It's alright," he murmured when they broke apart. "Everything's gonna be fine tomorrow. Even if they say they never wanna see you again, you won't be alone. I'm not going anywhere. You'll always have me, baby."
Ennis smiled at the endearment and pulled him closer, embracing his lover in the moonlight flowing through the window. It was very romantic and all was quiet in the city; he had always loved this time while they'd lived here. "Mmm..."
"This is nice," Jack said softly, his head resting on Ennis's shoulder. "You know I love having sex with you, and it's always great. But I do like times like this...where we just hold each other. It's more...I dunno..."
"Romantic?" Ennis suggested. Jack nodded.
"Yeah, I guess. I mean, sometimes we can be romantic when we're in bed, but...it's more about the act and how we make each other feel. This is just different..."
"I know what you mean," Ennis replied, nuzzling him. Jack felt warm and alive in his arms, and he never wanted to let go. "God...I love holding you..."
Jack smiled. "Same here." He pulled his head away to look into Ennis's eyes. "You look beautiful in the moonlight," he murmured, brushing hair away from Ennis's forehead. "You do," he added when Ennis's cheeks coloured and he looked away, a shy smile on his face. "Ennis...before you met me, did anybody ever tell you that? That you're beautiful?"
Ennis shook his head sadly; nobody had ever told him that; he'd just figured that it wasn't a word commonly used to describe men, and until Jack had used it the first time he hadn't known what he was missing. Jack sighed.
"Baby...I'm sorry for that. But you really are and I hope that one day you can see what I love about you. I just want you to be happy with yourself."
Ennis managed to smile at him. "Well, with you...I'll probably get there one day." He kissed Jack on the lips and nuzzled his nose, making him grin. Jack had always loved the little touches like this, the loving gestures that passed between them.
"You think you can sleep now?" Jack asked, and Ennis took his hand.
"Just something I wanted to show you...why I wanted us to stay here. Come here..." He led Jack to the window and positioned himself behind him, pointing out. "You see there?"
Jack looked at the building Ennis was pointing at, but in the dark he couldn't really tell why Ennis was pointing at it. "What am I supposed to be seeing?"
"That building, right there...it's our old apartment building," Ennis told him, smiling. "You said I could decide where we stay, and I saw the location of this place on a map and realised it would have a view of where we used to live, when I moved in with you."
Jack grinned as he realised that Ennis was right; it was their previous home. "Oh God...that's amazing. Think about everything we've been through since we left. Especially getting married, and now we're looking at adoption...can't believe it."
"Me neither." Ennis kissed his cheek. "Come on, bud." He led Jack back to bed and they wrapped themselves around each other once more. With their faces just inches away, Jack stroked Ennis's cheek.
"Whatever happens tomorrow...I love you." Ennis kissed his wrist.
"I love you too, darlin'." They closed their eyes, trying not to think of what tomorrow might bring.
September 22nd, 2012
The next day, Ennis and Jack headed to Mill Valley to speak to Ennis's parents. Both of them were dreading it, but Ennis knew in his heart that he at least wanted to try with them. If he and Jack were going to adopt one day, he wanted his parents to be part of the child's life.
They took a rental car up into the area, and Ennis had decided to take his medical records along but he'd soon realised that it wouldn't change anything. They would simply say that he had the virus and it wouldn't make any difference. Still, he at least knew that Jack would support him no matter what. He hadn't told Jack that he was taking the records with him; it wouldn't matter. Jack was still under the impression that he'd left them in the hotel.
When they pulled up outside the house, Ennis started taking deep breaths and Jack grasped his shoulder. "Just remember to stay calm...that's your best way of talking to them rationally so that there's no yelling." He let his hand fall and held it open, his eyes full of love as Ennis looked at him. He took Jack's hand and squeezed it before they exited the car, looking around. He hoped that one day, he and Jack might move out of the city into a house of their own, possibly with a child to bring up. He would love that and he hoped that Jack would too.
"Well...we better get this done," he said finally, taking Jack's hand once more. He nodded and they headed up to the house together. Ennis knocked and felt Jack squeezing his fingers in support; it gave him hope that everything would be fine.
The door opened and his mother appeared, looking wary when she saw Jack but keeping civil. "Ennis, Jack..." She smiled at her son. "It's good to see you."
Sarah hugged her son but merely shook Jack's hand; Jack knew that his mother would have something to say about that, for she always hugged them both. "Good to see you, Mom," Ennis replied as they walked inside. His father Keith was there, glaring at Jack and not even attempting to hide it.
"So..." Sarah started as they all sat down. "What brings you here after so long? Been over a year since we last saw you."
Ennis swallowed down his question of whose fault that was and nodded. "Well...some things have happened since then. Really big things that I thought you should know about, being my parents." He took a deep breath. "We, um...well, you know we got married back in the spring, and now...we're looking into adopting a baby."
His parents looked at each other in shock. "You are? Will they allow someone with HIV to adopt?" Sarah asked, looking at Jack. He bit back a snarl, annoyed that she was treating him with such contempt. Ennis nudged him with his knee to let him know it was okay.
"Yeah, they will. As long as we can prove we'd be good parents and that we can provide for a child, we should be fine."
Keith looked thoughtful for a moment. "So, why adoption? Couldn't you just have a kid with a friend or something? That insemination thing?" Jack groaned inwardly at their coming reaction.
Ennis sighed. "We were gonna do that, with our friend Lureen. We got all the papers signed and even had our first attempt, but..."
"Did it just not happen and now you've given up?" Sarah asked, and he shook his head.
"No, I..." He glanced at Jack and they braced themselves. "I've caught the virus, from Jack. And it happened before we could have another try with Lureen, so this is our only option."
His parents looked both shocked and disgusted. "What the hell?!" his father growled, standing up. Ennis quickly followed suit and stood in front of Jack, who had risen in alarm. "And you've got the nerve to come here! Twist, you filthy little-"
"That's enough!" Ennis shot at him, keeping Jack behind him. He would not let Jack get hurt. "It was an accident and we've made our peace with it. I thought you had a right to know."
"You expect us to accept this?" Sarah asked; she was trying to calm her husband but looked equally angry. Ennis's shoulders sagged a little.
"Don't know why I should...you wouldn't even come to our wedding. You just ignored the invitation." He felt Jack's hand on his back.
"We didn't want to see you throw your life away. And now you have, so..." Sarah shook her head.
"I need a smoke," Keith muttered, grabbing a box from the coffee table and heading out. Ennis looked confused.
"Since when does he smoke?" he asked his mother, who looked distressed.
"Since he's stressed..." Ennis looked around; there were no ashtrays anywhere that indicated cigarette use. "Electronic," she informed him, but there was something in her tone that told him she was holding back. He had finally let go of Jack now that his father was out of the room, but he was still wary. "Ennis...we can't accept the...person you chose as your partner. Not after this. Congratulations on your marriage and best of luck to you, but...I think it's best if you stay away in future."
Tears sprang to his eyes but he wouldn't give her the satisfaction. "Right." He thought he heard a banging sound from outside but thought nothing of it. "So...guess we'll go." His father entered the room again, but they said nothing as Ennis grabbed Jack's hand and led him out of the house.
When they were back in the car, Jack reached over and hugged him tightly. "It's okay, baby. I'm here." Ennis sniffed and held onto him, trying to keep it together. "Let's get back to the hotel," Jack murmured in his ear, and he nodded. He never noticed that his medical records were missing from the car, but they were driven from his mind as they headed back to the hotel.
Both of them were quiet on the way back to the hotel; Jack knew that Ennis was trying to deal with the fact that he'd basically been disowned, and that they had to try and keep going despite this. He drove them back, wishing that he could get them there quicker so that he could hold Ennis and make everything better.
At last, they reached the hotel and their room. Jack took his hand on the way upstairs and could sense that Ennis was struggling with what had just happened; he'd never expected it to be this bad. When the door was locked behind them, Jack turned to face Ennis; there were tears in his eyes and he was clearly reluctant to let them fall.
"Ennis...it's okay. You can let it all out now...you know I won't judge you," he said softly. He gently pulled Ennis into his arms and rubbed his back; soon he felt wetness on his neck from where Ennis had buried his face. "Let it out..." he soothed, knowing that Ennis couldn't bottle it all up; that never worked. Ennis trembled in his arms as he tried to calm down, so glad that he had Jack here.
"I shouldn't let it get to me," he mumbled, slightly annoyed with himself for not being stronger. Jack squeezed him.
"I understand...you've just been disowned. When my dad told me to keep away after being infected, I was a mess. I know what you're going through, bud..." He heard Ennis sniff a couple of times as he pulled away a little.
"Jack...can we, um...you know?" he asked quietly, peeking up at Jack unsurely. He needed comfort, the kind that only Jack could give. Jack nodded.
"Sure, come on. You want me to be on top?" he asked, stroking Ennis's cheek.
"You sure you can? You haven't topped since..." He trailed off, and Jack nodded.
"I'm sure...I know it's what you wanted to ask but you weren't sure if I would say yes, right?" They smiled at how well they knew each other and Jack lifted his chin. "Let's get into bed...I'll do whatever I can to help you."
They headed for the bed, not caring that it was still the middle of the day; they needed to do this. Jack knew that Ennis really wanted to be taken care of, but hadn't been sure of asking considering recent events. He personally felt as if he was ready to be on top again, and he wanted to do this for Ennis. They stripped off in silence and slid under the sheets together, glancing at each other nervously. Jack wondered if Ennis was up for this, given his emotional state. "You sure you wanna do this?" he murmured as they turned to face each other. Ennis nodded.
"I need to, Jack...I need you..." He swallowed and looked away, only looking into Jack's eyes when he moved closer. Jack leaned in and kissed him softly, gauging his response. When Ennis felt Jack's lips touch his, he knew that this would help. Jack could feel him trembling but they continued to kiss, reaching out for each other.
"Let me know when you're ready," he whispered into Ennis's ear, trailing a hand down to caress his lower stomach. Ennis was growing hard under his touch, and he pulled away for air.
"Jack..." he breathed, tugging at Jack's waist; that was their signal that they were ready for closer contact. Jack moved closer and slowly rolled on top of him, holding Ennis's face in his hands and settling in between his legs. "Darlin'..."
"I'm right here," Jack said to him, his eyes boring into Ennis's. "I'm not happy about the things they said, but...I know it hurts you more. Just relax and concentrate on this, okay?" He kissed Ennis a few more times, feeling something digging into his leg; at least Ennis was sure about this.
He took it slowly, only reaching for the lube when he was certain that Ennis was ready. Very gently, he spread Ennis's legs wider and worked his way inside. Ennis felt the pain that came with penetration but knew from experience that it was all worth it. Jack was being so tender with him that he felt emotion building up inside him again.
"You okay?" Jack breathed when he was inside, looking down at Ennis. He felt a pair of legs wrap around his hips and saw Ennis nod.
"Go on..." he whispered, eyes pleading with Jack to make love to him. "Do it..."
Jack kept his rhythm steady as he moved inside Ennis, careful not to go too fast or get carried away. It wasn't so much about pleasure as it was about comfort, but that was okay; sometimes they needed comfort sex with each other.
"Ennis..." Jack sighed as they rocked together, kissing deeply. He could feel Ennis shaking in his arms but knew it would be alright; he would look after him. Ennis was unusually silent as Jack moved within him, but he couldn't really say anything with the lump in his throat. Emotion was bubbling close to the surface now and he knew he wouldn't be able to hold it back for long.
"Jack," he choked out, groaning when he came. Jack soon followed him into orgasm and then sank down, sighing in contentment. It wasn't the most passionate sex they'd ever had, but it did what they'd needed it to.
Jack heard a sob escape from above him and he looked up in alarm. "Ennis?"
"I...just..." Ennis tried to wipe the tears away but he was too emotional after what had happened. To have this wonderful man with him after his parents' reaction was sending him over the edge. Jack seemed to understand; he crawled up and pulled Ennis close, kissing him on the neck and covering him with his warmth.
"Shh...it's okay. I'm not going anywhere. Let it all out, baby...I'm right here." Ennis held onto Jack and didn't stop crying until he fell asleep, leaving Jack fuming at Ennis's parents for doing this to the man he loved.
September 23rd, 2012
On the Sunday, Ennis and Jack were packing up to go home. The trip had been hard for both of them, but Jack knew that Ennis was suffering more. He hadn't appreciated the insult that Ennis's father had almost thrown at him, but to be honest it didn't bother him too much; he'd half-expected it anyway. He was more angry on Ennis's behalf; he'd been disowned by the people who ought to love and support him no matter what, and now it was weighing heavily on his heart.
They had agreed not to let it get to them, but that was proving to be harder than they'd thought. Still, Ennis had thanked Jack for his comfort the night before. He had tried to explain his emotional state without getting worked up again, and Jack soon had the gist of what he was trying to say. The meeting with his parents had upset him and made him doubt himself, and then to have Jack's unconditional love had increased his emotional state because he'd realised just how lucky he was.
"You alright?" he asked Ennis as they packed their suitcases on the bed. Ennis nodded.
"Better than last night...but I'm really glad you were there, bud. If I'd been on my own, I probably would've called you but it's not the same. I needed you here and...I'm glad you were."
Jack smiled at him. "I'm just glad I could help. I don't care what they say to me; I was more worried about you."
Ennis nodded. "Right..." He then looked around. "By the way, have you seen my medical records? I can't find them..."
"Where did you see them last?"
"I brought them with us in the car when we went to my parents' house, but I checked the car earlier when I went to return it and they're not in there anymore."
"You never said you were bringing them," Jack observed. "How come you didn't tell me?"
Ennis shrugged. "On the drive up, I figured it wouldn't make any difference to have them with us, so I didn't think it mattered. You mad at me?" he asked, looking at Jack warily. Jack smiled and shook his head.
"No...can't be mad at you. And it makes sense. But you said you can't find them now?"
"No, can't see them anywhere." Jack shrugged.
"Maybe you already packed them and didn't think about it. Let's face it; you're not feeling at your best right now and probably can't concentrate."
Ennis nodded. "Yeah, maybe..." But he couldn't shake off a nagging feeling that he'd missed something. There was something not right about all of this and he couldn't work it out. Maybe Jack was right, but he wasn't sure. Even if the records had been lost, it wouldn't be the end of the world; there were no contact details on them and no chance of identity theft. It would simply have his name and the diagnosis on there. People out here might recognise the name from when he lived here, but it didn't really matter.
When they were packed and ready to leave, Ennis sat down on the edge of the bed and sighed, hands on either side of his neck as he stared at the floor. Jack crawled onto the bed behind him, arms snaking around his stomach. "Love you," he murmured, not really knowing what else to say. Ennis smiled and leaned back into the embrace.
"I love you too, bud. Thank you for being here..." Jack smiled at him.
"No problem. When we get back...we've got to concentrate on what we're doing. Our adoption application, remember? We've got to carry on as best we can and we both know that."
"I know. Got a lot to do, right? Reckon it might distract us well enough."
"Yep. Come on, or we'll miss the plane..." They kissed a couple of times before getting up and starting to leave. If any good had come from this trip, it was that they'd both realised how close they really were and how nothing could come between them. Maybe they had achieved something after all.
Ennis was wondering about his records and where they had got to; he couldn't for the life of him figure out where they were and couldn't remember packing them. Maybe Jack was right and he had done so without thinking about it, but he had a very bad feeling that something was wrong. But as he sat in the taxi with Jack's hand in his own, he knew he couldn't dwell on it for too long.
There was the usual waiting around at the airport, but they were used to it by now and continued to look through their photo album to cheer themselves up. At one point, Jack held Ennis close and told him that nothing could break them apart now; they were so much stronger than that.
"I love you so much," he murmured when they were alone. "I just...I'm in love with you and I hope that you can see why..."
Ennis was playing with his fingers, feeling unsure of himself. "I do try, Jack. But I can't always see why you chose me...I'm nothing special..." Jack put his hand over Ennis's mouth.
"Don't say that; you are special, to me. You're a good man who deserves to be happy and I hope I'm the one who can make you happy for the rest of your life." He smiled. "You sure do make me happy, you know. Just think...we're not thirty yet. We've got so many years ahead of us, even with the virus. Just think of everything that's to come for us; so many good things, starting with this baby we're gonna adopt."
Ennis nodded. "You know...when we were in Mill Valley I was looking at the houses. One day, maybe we could move out of the city and live in a house in the suburbs, with our kid."
Jack grinned, images of such an idyllic life dancing in his head. "That sounds perfect," he replied, leaning in to kiss his other half.