Please don't hate me for the end of this chapter!
Jack noticed how quiet Ennis was being, but he knew that his partner was thinking everything over and he was happy to let Ennis figure things out for himself.
When they got back to the apartment from the airport, Jack led the way inside and turned to Ennis. "You okay?" he asked, and Ennis shrugged.
"I dunno...just a lot to take in. Not really sure how to deal with this."
"Right...tell you what. We'll sit down and talk this whole thing out. You want a drink?" he offered, and Ennis nodded. Jack got them both a drink and they sat down on the sofa; he curled his legs behind him and turned so that he was looking at Ennis. "Okay...tell me what you're thinking..."
Ennis sighed. "I just...even after everything that's happened, I hoped that they could realise I'm still the same person even though I'm now positive. As my parents, I thought they were supposed to support me in all of my decisions, including who I choose to be with. But...they obviously can't accept me being with you."
"Yeah. I'm sorry about all this, Ennis. You know I never wanted to make things like this between you guys. I know how it feels, so...I never wanted it for you."
Ennis looked at him. "It's not your fault, Jack. They're just...more narrow-minded than I thought. They were fine when I came out, or so I thought. But being with someone who's positive...they sure don't like that."
"You've gotta look at it from their point of view," Jack reasoned. He couldn't believe that he was doing this. "I'm not trying to defend them, because they don't deserve it. But I understand why they treat me the way they do. You're their only child, and they just want to protect you. They know that people can die from the virus and I bet they're worried for you. So now that you have it, maybe they think there's no point in trying anymore, and that's why your mom said not to come back."
"So they've given up on me," Ennis replied quietly, staring at the floor. "Thanks..." Jack sighed; he didn't want to fight.
"Hey, come on. You know I'm not trying to hurt you by saying this; I'd never do that. I'm trying to help you by getting you to understand. Maybe then it won't hurt so much." He ran his fingers through Ennis's curls, liking how soft they always were. "Ennis, look at me." Brown eyes met his own. "The last thing I want is for us to fight about this; we have to stick together now. Remember that you're not alone, okay? You've got me, and my mom and even Lureen's always there for us if we wanna talk to her."
He shuffled closer and looked deep into Ennis's eyes. "You're not alone, baby. And you never will be now you've got me. I love you."
Ennis smiled; he could always count on Jack to put things in perspective and make him feel better. Jack was just trying to help him. "Come here." Jack grinned and straddled him, his folded legs on either side of Ennis and fingers caressing his hair. "How did I end up with someone so smart, huh?"
Jack leaned forward and nuzzled his nose. "Maybe 'cos he was smart enough to pick you in the first place." He lowered his head and captured Ennis's lips, pushing his tongue inside. They kissed slowly, not needing to rush along. Sometimes they were satisfied with just making out, and that was fine. Their tongues slid against each other as Ennis rested his hands on Jack's hips, tugging the shirt from Jack's jeans. His hands slipped underneath and caressed Jack's warm skin, making his partner sigh into his mouth. Ennis felt Jack's muscles move in his back as they kissed, loving how firm they were. He didn't really understand how another man's body could appeal to him so much, but he had accepted it a long time ago. Maybe it wasn't because Jack was a man, but because the man was Jack.
Ennis sometimes looked at Jack and just knew that they were supposed to be together. He believed in fate and soul mates, especially now. Jack was his other half; there was no other explanation as to why he felt so complete when they were together.
"You're thinking again," Jack murmured, pulling his lips away slightly. "What's on your mind?"
"You," Ennis replied simply, smiling when Jack's cheeks reddened.
"Really?" Ennis nodded.
"Yep. About how damn lucky I am to have you, and just...how we're meant for each other," he said, looking up into Jack's eyes. "And you were right...I can't let it get to me when we've got so much to look forward to. I wanna spend the rest of my life with you, Jack. And when we die, if there's something after that then I wanna be with you still. Forever, if we can."
Jack smiled down at him. "Nothing would make me happier, Ennis." He thought for a moment. "Wonder which of us will go first...?" Ennis held his face in his hands, the way that Jack always liked.
"Don't think like that," he said softly. "We'll only go upsetting each other if we do that. Whoever goes first...we'll eventually be back together, I know we will." Jack smiled and moved forward into his arms, embracing him tightly. He knew that whoever died first, the other would be left heartbroken. Was it possible to die of a broken heart? He didn't know, but he was aware that if he was the one left behind he wouldn't last long. Part of him would die with Ennis and he would soon be following.
Still, he knew that Ennis was right; it was an upsetting subject and he couldn't allow it to invade his thoughts, not when they were trying to hold each other up after their ill-fated visit. They had each other right now and that was all that mattered.
September 25th, 2012
On Tuesday, Ennis and Jack had their day off and decided to stay at home together; neither of them felt much like going out anywhere. When they were trying to recover from something difficult, they often wished to just be alone together.
Jack had already spoken to Lureen about the visit to Mill Valley; she had been shocked and disgusted by the reaction from Ennis's parents and offered to go up there to tell them off.
"There's no point, Lu," Jack said to her over the phone, grateful for the support but not wanting her to put herself in the line of fire. "They've made their minds up."
"But they've just ruined any chance they had of being a part of Ennis's life from now on, including the baby you guys wanna adopt. It'll be their grandchild and they've cut themselves off."
Jack had agreed with her, but he maintained that it was their decision and they would just have to accept it. As much as he wanted to punish Ennis's parents for hurting their son in this way, it wouldn't achieve anything. He had to pick up the pieces and try to comfort Ennis as best he could.
One thing bugging Ennis right now was his missing medical record. After they'd unpacked, he had been expecting to find it somewhere and yet it was still missing. He'd even called the rental car company to see if it had been located in the car and handed in, but there was nothing. A phone call to the hotel also led to a dead end; the record had just vanished. He tried to think what might have happened to it, but he was getting nowhere. At one point he had started to become convinced that he was going crazy and had imagined even taking them to California, but Jack assured him that it had been real; he could remember Ennis taking them.
They were lying on the sofa together, Jack lying on Ennis's chest. The TV was on and they were half-watching it, but mostly were just enjoying the intimacy between them. Even when they weren't having sex, they still felt very close and were somehow joined together in a different way.
"God, Ennis...I could lie here forever," Jack sighed, smiling to himself with his eyes closed. Ennis threaded his fingers through Jack's silky hair. He was propped up against the arm of the sofa with a cushion behind his head and their legs were tangled together at the other end.
"Me too...so peaceful..." Jack raised his head to look up at Ennis, looking thoughtful.
"I was thinking...when we adopt, do we care about the sex of the baby? I know that when a woman gets pregnant, sometimes they wanna know and sometimes they don't. Do we wanna know?"
Ennis thought it over. "Would help with planning and decorating," he reasoned. The spare room would hopefully become a nursery one day and part of him was looking forward to decorating it. That was another project they could work on together. "It might be a good idea for us to pick which one we want."
"How would we decide? Which do you want?"
"I don't know," he replied honestly; he hadn't given it much thought. "If we have a girl, though...we'd need to have a woman on hand to teach her about...woman stuff." His cheeks reddened and Jack grinned. "Your mom could do that, though. And Lureen would be a good role model when she's here."
"Maybe having a boy would be easier," Jack mused. His eyes then darkened as he realised what certain people might say about two gay men wanting to adopt a boy; it didn't bear thinking about. He thought wryly that Ennis's parents might be amongst such people who would say that.
His thoughts were interrupted by his phone ringing; it was his mother. Not wanting to leave his comfortable position, Jack answered it right there. "Hey, Mom."
"Hi honey...I just wanted to ask how things went with Ennis's parents. You didn't call, so I was starting to worry." Jack felt guilty for not contacting her sooner, considering how much she wanted to help them.
"Yeah, sorry. Um...well, we told them. And they weren't exactly happy about it. His dad looked like he wanted to hit me, but then he sort of stormed out of the house. Then his mom said...that..." He glanced at Ennis, who nodded. "She said it would be best if we didn't go over there anymore. They don't want anything to do with him now."
"Oh, Jack...how's he taking it?"
"He was upset, but...I think he'll be okay. I'm doing everything I can to make him happy and we're just spending the day at home now." His hand found Ennis's, squeezing gently.
"Alright. Do you want me to call them and try to help?" she offered. Jack smiled weakly.
"No...Lureen already offered. I appreciate it, but it's our problem. We don't want anybody else getting involved like that; you don't deserve to be treated like this any more than we do."
"Okay. Is Ennis there? Can I talk to him?" Jack handed Ennis the phone and watched with a smile; he was so happy that his mother accepted Ennis the way she did.
"Hey, Karen...yeah, I'm fine. Wasn't easy, but I've got Jack...yeah, I know. Look, don't worry, we'll be fine. Alright...yep, bye." He gave the phone back, and Jack bid goodbye to his mother before hanging up. He resumed his usual position, Ennis's chest providing a comfortable pillow.
"You comfy there?" Ennis asked, looking amused. Jack nodded.
"Yep...could fall asleep on you." He let out a deep sigh of contentment, reminding Ennis of a cat. "Mmm..."
"Go right ahead," Ennis told him. "I don't mind." He too was very comfortable with Jack lying there; it was just the two of them and he liked that. "Love you so much," he murmured, planting a kiss in Jack's hair. Jack smiled and squeezed him.
"Right back at you, bud."
That night, Jack knew that he would have to try and help Ennis relax. They had been through a lot lately and he just wanted them to have a passionate night together where they could forget everything else.
When they entered the bedroom, Jack turned to Ennis and took his hands. "Ennis...try not to think about it, alright? I know you feel bad about your parents, but just remember that you've still got me, okay?"
"Yeah," Ennis replied, nodding. Jack leaned in and kissed him, keeping it gentle for now. "Jack..." he sighed. "Don't know what I'd do without you..."
Jack nuzzled him. "You don't have to worry about that, baby. Come on...let's get under the covers..." They went to their respective sides of the bed, casting furtive glances at each other as they undressed. This was one of their favourite times of the day, when they were about to make love together.
When Jack was settling himself on his back, he felt Ennis press close to him, kissing his neck. "Hey...you want something there?" he asked with a smile. He saw Ennis's eyes looking at him in the semi-darkness, full of need.
"Jack...can we...? I mean..." He bit his lip and Jack cupped his cheek.
"Sure...anything you want, bud. Tell me what you want..." Ennis nuzzled Jack's face with his own, clearly feeling emotional.
"Want you inside me," he breathed. "Can we do it on our sides? Remember that way?" Jack nodded.
"Yeah, okay...I'll take care of you," he promised, running a hand over his partner's hip. Ennis nodded and kissed him again, feeling vulnerable. Jack could see now how their positions had changed from when Ennis had been diagnosed; now he could be there for Ennis. They had a fair and balanced relationship that still surprised him even now, and were equals in every way.
After a few minutes, Jack could sense that Ennis was ready. "Turn over," he whispered in Ennis's ear, nudging him with his hand. Ennis felt so safe here with Jack, as if nothing could hurt him. He knew that Jack often looked to him for protection and the feeling of safety, but he'd never really told Jack that sometimes he needed it too.
With Ennis facing away from him on his other side, Jack pressed soft kisses to the back of his neck as he prepared himself. "Just relax," he murmured, and he saw Ennis nod. Jack rose up and slid one leg in between Ennis's, giving him a better angle as he started to push in. He heard a low groan and kept his movement slow, knowing that Ennis sometimes needed a moment to adjust.
Jack whispered soothing words in his lover's ear as he kept going, promising Ennis that everything would be alright. When he was fully inside, he held Ennis around the middle and felt his heart rate slow down as they relaxed. "Tell me when you're ready," he said softly, caressing Ennis's lower stomach. Ennis trembled under such gentle touches, knowing that he was very much loved.
At Ennis's nod, Jack started moving slowly. He thrust into Ennis as gently as he could, wanting to provide comfort more than anything else. He loved it when they went slowly, for they could experience every moment without feeling the need to rush things along. And he figured that it was better right now considering how Ennis was feeling; he didn't need Jack to go at him right now.
"I love you," Jack whispered in his ear. "I'll always love you, Ennis. You'll never feel alone as long as I'm here, I promise. You and me...that's sticking. Okay?"
"Yeah," Ennis managed to reply, bucking when he felt Jack's hand wander a bit lower down his body. "Love you, Jack..."
Jack kissed the base of his neck, right on the collarbone. As he kept moving inside Ennis, he kissed his way up the smooth skin of Ennis's neck and to his jaw, eliciting a low moan from the man underneath him. "God...you're so beautiful," he murmured, gently biting Ennis's earlobe. "Every part of you...amazing..."
Ennis bit his lip as he felt Jack's fingers lightly brush against his erection, needing to be touched. "Jack...please...jerk me off..." He groaned when Jack obliged him, taking a firm hold and sliding his hand along. Being taken from behind while also being touched like this was sending volts through Ennis's body; how on earth Jack just knew what he needed most was beyond him. "Jack...oh God..."
Jack pressed his lips to Ennis's ear, giving a hard thrust into him. "Come for me, baby."
That did it; Ennis started shooting onto the bed beneath them, shaking as he came with Jack still thrusting into him. Soon enough, they were both spent and Jack had collapsed onto Ennis's back, breathing deeply.
"Oh, Ennis..." he sighed, kissing him between the shoulders. "Are you okay?" He pulled out and turned Ennis over to face him, hoping that Ennis wasn't upset again; that had hurt to see him so miserable. To his relief, Ennis was smiling and clearly happy.
"Yeah, I'm good," he replied breathlessly. He reached out for Jack's hands and squeezed his fingers, feeling happier than he had in a few days. "Thanks, Jack...you know it means a lot to me that you're willing to do things like this."
"I don't just do it for you," Jack told him. "I mean, I like being able to make you feel better, but I get something out of it too. I see how I'm making you feel and it lets me know that I'm doing something right. You see? I like being there for you, Ennis."
Ennis lifted his head to kiss him, drawing Jack further down onto him. They kissed slowly, now embracing in the afterglow. Ennis held Jack close, feeling as if Jack could fix everything just by being there. He knew that he would get through what had happened as long as Jack was here with him. Ennis hoped that he would never lose this wonderful man.
September 27th, 2012
On Thursday, Ennis and Jack had an appointment with their lawyer during their lunch break. They had been reading through everything he had given them about adoption and were now ready to go about it. To them, it was both scary and exciting.
Ennis had been doing a lot of thinking over the week, and he had ultimately decided to let things go where his parents were concerned. The only way that they might want anything to do with him ever again was if he left Jack and returned home, and that was never going to happen. Even if they did break up, Ennis was sure his parents still wouldn't want to know because he was positive now and there was no cure.
He had loved his parents once, but they had hurt him deeply by refusing to accept his relationship with Jack and now he was content with never seeing them again; they had decided this and there was nothing he could do about it; he never wanted to put himself or Jack through that again.
Jack could read him very well by now, and he knew that while Ennis had been hurt by his parents' rejection, he figured it was probably for the best that they cut ties; they were never going to accept this. He would always be there for Ennis whenever he was needed; that was the basis of their relationship, to be there for each other and keep things together.
They were sat in Peter's office together when he came in, looking happy to see them. "So, how are you guys getting on?" he asked as he sat down. Jack smiled at Ennis.
"Well, we've been reading all that stuff you gave us. And...we've been talking it over. We're ready to get things started," Jack replied.
"Okay," Peter answered, rummaging through the filing cabinet. "Ennis, how did it go with your parents?"
Ennis sighed. "Not good. My dad looked like he wanted to hit Jack and my mom told us to stay away from now on." He felt a lump in his throat and then Jack squeezing his fingers.
Peter shook his head. "No parent should do that to their child, no matter what the circumstances. I'm sorry you had to go through that, Ennis."
"It's okay...I've still got this guy," he replied, holding up his and Jack's joined hands with a smile. Peter nodded his approval at this.
"That's certainly something to remember. Now then...your first task is...I would say think of someone to write a letter of recommendation. This would go in your file and would be taken into consideration when you are assessed."
"Who should write it?"
"Ideally someone who has known you for a long time, who knows that you would make good parents. It can be a close family member or a friend; we're allowed to be biased here as long as this person truly knows you. Then I would advise you to make sure your apartment is suitable for a child. I understand you have a guest room that you want to turn into a nursery?"
"Yep, that's what we were thinking of," Ennis replied, nodding. "Hopefully, one day."
"Good. That will show that you have thought this through extensively. Now then, as for your HIV status..."
"You said before it wouldn't work against us..." Jack pointed out, hoping that he hadn't heard wrong.
"And it won't as long as you can prove that the appropriate measures are in place. Your medication would have to be somewhere that a child wouldn't be able to access easily, and you would have to be certain that you are in otherwise good health; talking to your doctor will get this sorted. You can have written proof that considering the circumstances, you're still relatively healthy."
"What about the time I was in hospital?" Jack asked unsurely. "Will that come up? Will they see me as too risky?"
"I shouldn't think so; you've been fine since then and it was a few years ago. One thing that will help is the fact that you're married. It shows that you are fully committed to each other and to any child that you take on. I am aware that there are many same-sex couples in the world who cannot marry, but are still committed to each other. They would probably have a harder time trying to adopt, so you two are very lucky."
Ennis nodded. "So we can prove that we can give a stable home?" he asked, and Peter nodded.
"Pretty much. I've known you two for a while now, even before you came to live here. I'm certain that you would make good parents; you're very dedicated to making this happen and seem determined to build a good life together. If it were up to me, you'd be on the waiting list already."
Ennis and Jack smiled at this, glad that they had good friends on their side. "So...we need to sort out a letter of recommendation, then we can start to put things together?"
"Yeah, that's it. Let me know when you have one, or if you have any further queries. Ennis, try not to worry about your parents. Considering the kind of guys you two are, I'd say it's their loss and not yours." They thanked him and left the office, feeling better than before. When they got outside, Jack stretched and looked around, feeling hungry.
"Well...we've got time for lunch, if you want." Ennis nodded and took his hand again.
"Yep. Come on, bud." They walked down the street together in search of somewhere to eat, enjoying the warm weather while it lasted. Fall would be coming soon with winter not far behind, so they wanted to make the most of summer. Even without his parents, Ennis knew that life would go on and that he would be happy. He had to let go and concentrate on the family he wanted with Jack; that was all that mattered now.
After work, Ennis and Jack returned home together. On the subway, they talked about who they might ask to write the letter for them; the only person they could think of was Jack's mother, who knew them both well. Lureen would be a good candidate, but she was far away and they needed to get started as soon as possible.
"So then all we have to do is make sure the apartment's tidy," Jack was saying as they entered their home. It was of a decent size, but he was thinking over Ennis's suggestion of them moving out of the city one day to a house. It sounded like a perfect life, the kind he'd always wanted.
"Guess so," Ennis replied, stretching. "What d'you want for dinner, bud?"
"I don't feel like cooking," Jack admitted, shrugging. "Maybe we could order take-out?" Ennis agreed and was soon phoning the local pizza place; sometimes they just couldn't make the effort after a long day.
When he'd placed the order, he sat down next to Jack on the sofa and curled an arm around him. "Mmm...glad to be home," he murmured, pressing his lips to Jack's cheek. Jack grinned.
"Me too, bud. Looks like we've got a lot to sort out with this adoption thing. We should put our meds somewhere out of sight and reach; they're just on the shelf right now."
"Maybe we should get one of those medicine cabinets," Ennis suggested. "Put it on the wall instead of the mirror. They have mirrors on them, right?" Jack nodded and they watched TV until their food came. Although they did end up making out for a few minutes before the buzzer went off.
"So...you've definitely decided you don't wanna talk to your parents again?" Jack asked as they ate, looking over at Ennis. His partner shook his head.
"No, not after all that. We've always made the effort and got nothing back. We were always the ones going up there to see them, even crossing the country to try and build bridges. And we invited them to the wedding...they've never even tried to get to know you, not after I first told them that you're positive. So if they can't accept it, we'll just have to try and live with that."
Jack felt saddened that Ennis was cutting his parents out of his life, but it was his decision and Jack could understand why he was doing it. Even if they ever did change their minds, Jack had a feeling that Ennis wouldn't respond to them now; the damage was done.
"It'll be alright," he said to Ennis, smiling. "It's their loss...they're the ones who'll be missing out, not you." Ennis smiled back at him and continued to eat.
Ennis was washing up when the buzzer went off, and Jack went to answer it.
"Jack Twist?" came a voice at the other end.
"Yes," Jack replied, feeling confused.
"This is the police, Mr Twist. Please could you let us up?"
"Um, sure..." Jack buzzed them in and turned to face Ennis. "What's going on?" Ennis shook his head.
"No idea..." There was a banging knock on the door; even without the buzzer system, Jack knew that only the police knocked like that.
"Hello?" he asked when he opened the door. "Can I help you?"
"You're under arrest, Mr Twist," said one of the policemen, and Jack's eyes widened.
"What? What for?" he asked, flinching when a pair of handcuffs were slapped on him. Ennis rushed to his side.
"What are you doing? Why are you arresting him?"
"Jack Twist," said the policeman, directly facing Jack. "I'm arresting you on suspicion of attempted murder. You have the right to remain silent but anything you do say can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney during questioning."
"Ennis," Jack said helplessly to his husband, eyes panicking as he was led away. He just couldn't go to prison, not when he was barely over what had happened to him all those years ago.
"Don't worry," Ennis said to him, trying to reassure him. "I'll be right there with help. Try to stay calm, bud." He watched as Jack was led down the stairs, wondering what the hell was going on. Jack would never try to kill anyone, not even when angry. It had to be a mix-up.
Stay calm yourself, he thought, trying to keep it together. Call Peter. Ennis reached into his pocket for his phone and grabbed his keys, knowing that he had to get Jack out of there. He knew that Jack wouldn't be sent to prison right away, and would only be in a holding cell which he could be bailed from. But such a serious allegation was bound to involve a trial. This was the last thing they needed.
He headed down the stairs and dialled their lawyer's number. It was out of office hours by now but they needed his help. "Peter, it's Ennis Del Mar," he said as he walked quickly down the road; the police station was a few streets away.
"Ennis? What's wrong?"
"It's Jack. We just had the police at our front door; they've arrested Jack on suspicion of attempted murder and they took him to the station, the one just off Court Street. Can you get here?" Fortunately, Peter also lived in Brooklyn Heights and closer to the station than himself.
"I'll be there as soon as I can. It's probably just a mix-up." Ennis thanked him and continued walking, hoping that he was right. He'd heard the stories of what happened in prisons, especially to gay men; he just couldn't let Jack go through that kind of pain again.
Something popped up at the back of his mind, a reason as to why this had happened if it wasn't a mistake. There was only one reason he could think of and two people who would do this, and if he was right then he was never going to forgive them.