September 30th, 2012
By Sunday, things had calmed down a little. Jack was trying not to panic so much despite how worried he was about going to prison. Ennis had been trying to reassure him that they could fight this and he was pinning all of his hopes on that. They were due to meet with Peter the next day to talk about their defence and what it might mean for their adoption application. Jack knew that if they were unable to adopt because of this, Ennis would never forgive his parents.
He still couldn't believe how low they had sunk just to get back at him; did they really hate him so much? The infection had been an accident and they probably knew that, but were clearly taking advantage of the fact that intentional transmission warranted the charges he was facing. They were determined to see him punished.
"I still can't believe all this," he said as they sat outside on the balcony, enjoying the warm weather. "To think that they would do this just because they don't approve..."
"I know," Ennis replied, squeezing his hand. He and Jack had managed to have sex last night, albeit slow and emotional because of how vulnerable Jack had been feeling. It would be a while before they really went at it, but that was okay; he just wanted things to get back to normal. "I can't believe my dad stole the records...you think they planned it right from the moment I told them?"
Jack shook his head. "I don't see how. They didn't know until you told them and they were never alone while we were there. Maybe...I dunno...your dad figured there might be something in the car? Just to see if there was anything they could use against me?"
"Yeah, maybe...I'm thinking of trying to call them again," Ennis admitted.
"They didn't reply to your message?"
"Nope. Guess they didn't like what I had to say. But they can't do this; you've done nothing wrong and you don't deserve to be punished. They know damn well it was an accident..."
"You know...didn't Peter say that even if it had been on purpose, then you would've consented to it?" Jack asked, looking thoughtful. "So then that would prove I didn't force you, because of our relationship."
"Right. You know, over the last couple of years I did have the occasional moment where I thought of asking you to infect me. Just because I thought it would make things easier. At least then we wouldn't have had to be so careful."
"I'm glad you didn't ask me," Jack told him. "It was hard enough when I infected you by accident. If you'd asked me, it would've been worse. You're not a bug-chaser, Ennis..."
"That's what they call them. People who actively seek out positive people just to have unprotected sex with them and get infected. They want to get it because they think it's gonna happen anyway, so they don't see the point in being safe."
Ennis had never heard of this before. "God...there are really people like that?"
"Yep. There's this one guy who comes to my talks at the centre; he used to be one, then he caught it and realised his mistake. They don't seem to really know about the effect it has on a life once it's there. And it's not like there's a cure for it yet. They call it 'conversion', I think...when they get infected by someone. It's crazy...to put yourself at risk like that."
"Sure is. It's like I used to say...if you're gonna get infected, it should at least be by someone you love, who'll stay with you afterwards. That's part of why I wasn't so afraid to get it...I knew I'd have you." He smiled over at Jack, whose cheeks had reddened slightly. "Anyway...you gonna call your mom sometime? She was worried about you."
Jack sighed. "I know...but it's hard. Even though it's a false accusation, it's not exactly something to be proud of."
"Jack, you know she loves you. She knows this is all a lie from my parents and that we're gonna fight it. She wants to hear from you that you're coping."
"I know...I'll call her this week, I promise." Ennis nodded and sighed, looking out over the city. They could see Manhattan from here.
"I was thinking...those medical records are confidential, right? Nobody but John can look at them without my consent."
"Well, since my dad stole them...maybe we could turn this around on them," Ennis suggested, looking thoughtful. "Surely it's a crime to steal something like that?"
"I think so, but...how do we prove they were stolen? Your parents could say that you gave them a copy or something."
"Right," Ennis replied, seeing the truth in this. They had nothing to go on. "Well, maybe we'll think of something. We don't even have a court date yet, so I think we've got time to figure this out." He stood up to get another drink, but then found himself being pulled into Jack's lap. "What's this, then?" he asked with a smirk. Jack nuzzled his nose.
"Just...really glad I don't have to face this alone," he said softly, squeezing Ennis's fingers. He leaned in and they kissed deeply, sighing in unison at the familiar warmth. Up here, in their own little world, they were safe. They were out of the way and nobody could get to them here; it was just the two of them together.
"I love you, bud," Ennis murmured to him when they broke apart, kissing his jaw. Jack smiled at him.
"Right back at you. We...we can do this, Ennis. We've got to, because...I just can't go to prison. Not when I think about what could happen..." His voice broke at the end and Ennis pulled him close.
"Shh...try not to worry, bud. We'll do everything we can to make sure it doesn't happen, I promise." Jack nodded and hugged him back, trying to believe his words.
A little later, Ennis decided to go ahead and try to talk to his parents. More than anything, he just wanted them to leave him and Jack alone to get on with their lives; he'd been happy to leave it all behind him until now.
He sat on the sofa with Jack at the opposite end, facing him. Their legs were gently pressed together in the middle, giving Ennis some kind of courage.
"Are you sure about this now?" Jack asked him, looking apprehensive. "Would this go into court records?"
Ennis shrugged. "Peter said it would be okay. Besides, if I can get them to stop, then we won't have any more of this. It's stressful."
"I agree...but we don't want them using this against us. We need everything we can get if we're gonna win."
"I've got to try," Ennis replied, holding his phone up. Jack nodded and he dialled his parents' home number.
"Hello?" came his mother's voice.
"Mom, it's me," Ennis replied, determined to hold his ground.
"Oh...right. We got your message the other night."
"Yeah, I did that just after Jack was led away by the police," Ennis shot at her. "Then I went down to the station. Do you have any idea what you've done?"
"I could ask that partner of yours the same thing," she said. Ennis seethed at how she wouldn't even say Jack's name. "He's ruined your life."
"No, he hasn't," Ennis replied. "He hasn't ruined anything; it was an accident and you know that."
"Ennis...he's made you think that. He manipulated you into thinking that because he wants to keep you with him."
He couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Mom...Jack didn't need to infect me to make me stay with him. I'm with him because I want to be; he hasn't manipulated me."
Jack looked saddened at this; he hadn't felt so hated in his life, not even when his father had disowned him. How could she even say something like that? Ennis was capable of making his own choices.
"Ennis...we can't stop this. We're doing this for you, son. When he gets put away, you'll thank us."
"I doubt that; he's not gonna go down anyway, because there's no proof that he forced me. He would never do that." Then he thought about the records. "By the way, I've figured it out; my dad stole the records, right? From the car?"
"Well...your dad really does smoke electronic cigarettes. He said that when he went outside, he saw your rental car and...wondered if there was anything in there that we could use. I don't approve of stealing, but when he showed them to me...I realised we had to do something. It isn't right for him to be with you when he's done this."
"You stole confidential records," Ennis informed her. "And if I can use this against you and prove it, then I will." Jack half-smiled at him; he was impressed by how Ennis was taking charge of the situation. When Jack had first laid eyes on him in the coffee shop, his initial impression had been that Ennis was a very dependable man who he could rely on. Ennis had proved this more than once through their relationship.
"Ennis, I don't want to argue about this. We've made our decision and we think it's the best thing for you. You will thank us when he's away in prison."
"Mom...I told you how Jack got infected in the first place. How it nearly destroyed him and how he still has nightmares. Surely you've heard about what happens in prisons to gay guys?"
"We know, but...it's all he deserves for hurting you the way he has," she replied. He would have thought she was joking if she hadn't sounded so sure of herself. He couldn't believe what he was hearing.
"How the hell can you say that? He's a good man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and he's been suffering for it ever since. He's done nothing wrong."
"Ennis, your dad's just got back from work. I'd better go..."
"Please, Mom...stop this now," he pleaded. "This'll end badly for all of us, even if he isn't charged. "I'll cut you off completely either way and I'll never forgive you."
"At least you'll be safe without him. We're not stopping, Ennis...we're doing this for you." She hung up at this, leaving him to stare at his phone.
"God...never thought she could be such a bitch," he mused. He looked up and saw that Jack had drawn his knees up to his chest, looking miserable. "Hey..." Ennis crawled forward and lifted his chin. "Don't let it get to you, bud..."
"She thinks I deserve to be attacked again, doesn't she?" Jack asked. He blinked back tears. "What if...I go to prison and Daniel Waters is there? You know what he'll do to me, Ennis...and I'm scared..." He gulped. "As soon as he catches me alone..."
Ennis pulled Jack's legs down to lie flat and he moved closer, pulling Jack into his arms. "Shush now...that's not gonna happen, darlin'. You're not gonna get sent down because we're gonna fight this. I don't care what she says...they've got nothing." He pressed a soft kiss to Jack's neck, trying to comfort him. Jack closed his eyes and allowed Ennis to give him some attention, enjoying the kisses he was being given.
When their lips met, Jack trembled slightly with emotion. "Sorry, I just...sometimes I can't believe I managed to meet someone like you. You're strong, and dependable...you're my rock, you know?"
Ennis nuzzled him. "I like being there for you, Jack. Don't really know why...maybe I just like taking care of people I love. I'll do whatever it takes to keep you here with me, Jack...even if it means cutting them out of my life for good. It'll be their own fault for trying to break us up."
He pulled Jack close again, rubbing his back and hoping that no other nasty surprises were heading their way.
September 31st, 2012
On Monday, Ennis and Jack were due for a meeting with their lawyer. They just had to know what was going to happen and if it could in any way affect their adoption application. Jack was feeling especially nervous; he knew that Ennis really wanted to raise a child and he would never forgive himself if this meant that they couldn't.
"Look, try not to worry," Ennis told him as they waited to be seen. "I'm sure he said that if you're not charged then it won't change anything."
"I know, but...I can't help it. I know you wanna have a kid, Ennis...and I do too but if we can't because of this..." He looked away. "Maybe you'll feel resentful towards me..."
Ennis sighed and put an arm around him; Jack wasn't normally like this but he could understand it. "Jack...that's not gonna happen. I'll still love you no matter what happens. Even if you are sent to prison, I'll do everything I can to get you out of there as soon as possible, okay?"
Jack smiled at him and rested his head against Ennis's, taking a deep breath to try and calm himself. He knew that Ennis was right; that they couldn't just assume the worst was going to happen at this early stage. There was the chance that everything would be alright and he had to hold onto that. He knew how lucky he was to have Ennis on his side, even though it meant Ennis fighting his parents like this.
When Peter called them in, they sat on the other side of the desk with their hands clasped between them. "Alright, the three of us need to talk about all this," he started when they were settled.
"Yep...we've got a few questions," Ennis replied, trying to keep Jack calm. "And we're worried about our adoption application."
"I understand. Well, I've been in touch with your parents' lawyer and they seem quite determined to see this through until the end," Peter informed him, looking through his notes. "I'm afraid there's not much chance of them changing their minds."
"I called them yesterday," Ennis told him, the conversation still whirring in his mind. He hadn't believed his parents could be capable of something like this. "They seem convinced that Jack did it on purpose to make me stay with him, and that he's brainwashed me or something." He shook his head. "I never thought they'd do this."
"It's like I told you the other night...I think they have a very weak argument that shows signs of desperation. They want to see Jack punished for infecting you, so they're going for anything they can."
"Ennis's dad stole his medical records," Jack cut in, feeling indignant over it. "His mom admitted it."
"But we can't prove it," Ennis added. "They could just say we gave them a copy and then they turned around to betray us. I don't think we could prove that they stole it."
"Alright...but if there is a way then we'll do it. I'm sure we'll figure something out. You said you were worried about your adoption application?"
"Yeah. Even if he isn't charged it'll still go on our record, right? So that won't look good..."
"I can tell you that if Jack is not found guilty, it will go on your record as a false accusation and it won't affect your application. If need be, you can simply explain why he was accused in the first place. I personally think that as long as you can show your unity, and that you're working together to get through this...it will look good for you. It'll prove that you can work as a team, which is very important for bringing up children."
"Okay. Did you say something before about turning this around on my parents?" Ennis asked; he wouldn't be above doing this if it saved Jack from what could happen to him.
"Yes, I did. The fact that you and Jack have been in a relationship for a substantial amount of time, and that your parents didn't attend your wedding because they don't approve...well, if you can prove to the jury that this is being done out of spite, it could very well make them question the validity of the accusation. This could determine the outcome for you, which is exactly what we need. You should try everything you can to make this work in your favour, guys. It's probably the only way you can win."
Ennis nodded and squeezed Jack's hand, managing to draw a smile from him. He could read Jack very well by now, and he knew that while Jack was terrified of going to prison, he was determined to stay out of there. Perhaps it was Jack's fear that was driving him to try and defend himself, and Ennis was glad that he wasn't giving up.
"Alright...so we need to work on our defence," he said finally. Peter nodded.
"Yep. I would say that you two should write down everything you can think of that would help; the circumstances surrounding you and your parents. And keep going with your adoption application; there's no reason to give up on that yet."
They thanked him and left the office, and when they got outside Jack sighed.
"He's right...we can't give up. You keep telling me that and I'm acting as though I've already been charged," he said, looking up into the sky. Ennis nudged him.
"You had a good reason to. You're scared and I understand why. But I can see that the fear is making you realise that you need to fight this." Jack nodded.
"Yeah, I guess. You sure you're okay with us fighting your parents like this?" he asked.
Ennis took his hand again. "I am, because it means I can help to keep you safe," he replied. "That's more important to me now." He kissed Jack's cheek and they set off walking, feeling as if they could do this as long as they stuck together.
After dinner, Ennis and Jack were sitting on the sofa together trying to relax. They had opened a bottle of wine, which usually helped when they were stressed, and were now sitting together comfortably on the sofa with the TV on in the background. At the moment, they liked it best when it was just the two of them.
When they had had their last HIV scare a couple of years ago and Ennis's parents had practically thrown them out a second time, Ennis had decided there and then that he wanted nothing more to do with them. But some part of him had never stopped hoping that they would come around, which was why he had invited them to the wedding. He had always wanted his parents to be part of his life and to accept Jack.
Since they had ignored the invitation, he had started to resign himself to the fact that they might never accept this. He was now starting to wish that they had never gone back there, and that he had never told them about his HIV status; if they hadn't then they wouldn't be dealing with this right now.
"Are you okay?" Jack asked him, looking up into his face. He could tell when Ennis was thinking about something that upset him; he knew how Ennis thought and when he was thinking. Ennis shook his head.
"Not really. Wishing that we'd never told them now...look what it's done."
"It's my fault," Jack murmured, and Ennis looked at him. "I pushed you to try and reach out to them, to talk to them about being positive. If I hadn't, then..."
Ennis put a hand over his mouth. "Jack, it's not your fault. I was thinking about trying to reach out to them before you even suggested it. You were right...I always did want my parents in my life and until now, I didn't want to stop trying. No matter what you said, I wouldn't have done it if I hadn't wanted to. You didn't make me do anything."
Jack nodded. "Alright...but what happens after all this? If I am sent to prison, then what?" As much as he hated to admit it, he knew that they had to try and prepare themselves for the worst.
"I'll never speak to them again," Ennis replied, knowing that he would hold his ground on that one. "I'll fight to get you out. And if you're not charged and walk free, I still won't talk to them because of what they tried to do. They've started this, and they can suffer for it when it's all over. They might think they're doing the best thing for me, but...I can't see it."
"Say for a moment that we raise a baby," Jack started, shuffling to face him. "And when he or she grows up, they end up with someone who's positive and they get infected. By accident, just like with us. What would you do?"
"If they were with a good person who regrets infecting them and loves them as much as we love each other, we'd work it out. I sure as hell wouldn't try sending them off to prison," Ennis told him. "I don't get why my parents can't see this any other way."
Jack sighed and moved closer to him; he needed the warmth that Ennis was radiating right now. It gave him a lot of comfort to know that he had someone who could take care of him; that was one perk of being with a man that he didn't think he could ever get with a woman. "Me neither...I thought they were just trying to protect you, but...from what you told me, they seem determined to break us up even though they must know it'll hurt you."
Ennis finished his glass of wine and slid his arm around Jack's stomach. "Well...there's nothing we can do about that now. We've just got to stick together and fight this as long as we can, bud. I'll do everything I can to help but you've got to stand up for yourself too. We can't let them win, Jack...I can't lose you..."
Both were silent for a few moments until Jack finished his own glass. "Ennis..." He turned so that he was facing Ennis properly, eyes gazing up into his. "I love you so much...and I'll fight to stay with you. I sure as hell don't wanna go to prison..."
"You won't," Ennis tried to assure him despite his own worries. "Come here..." He lifted Jack's chin until their lips met, pressing gently to try and draw comfort from each other. He held Jack close as they kissed, hoping that everything was going to be okay. He just couldn't lose Jack, not after he'd built his entire life around him. He would be losing so much more than a husband; a best friend, a soul mate. Jack was the only one who really knew him better than anybody else, and he resented his parents for trying to destroy his marriage. Why couldn't they just leave them alone?
When they pulled apart, Jack's eyes were hazy with lust. It had been a while since Ennis had seen that; the sex lately hadn't been as passionate as usual and he'd missed it. He understood why things were like this, but still; they were used to passionate sex that left them reeling. "Jack..."
"Ennis..." he breathed, lowering his head to nibble on Ennis's ear. "I think we need to...get our frustrations out, if you know what I mean." Ennis smirked; the hardness pressing into his leg was a certain indication of what Jack meant.
"Well...maybe. You sure about this?"
"Uh huh...I want you..." He kissed Ennis's jaw, feeling himself growing hard. "I think we need to..."
Ennis managed to gather Jack into his arms and stand up, keeping their lips glued together as he carried Jack through the apartment to the bedroom. Jack was right; they needed to do this and remind themselves of what they were fighting for.
Ennis kicked the door open with Jack still in his arms, eager to get him onto the bed. Jack kept kissing him as he was laid down, sighing when Ennis pressed his weight down onto him. The duvet had been pulled down about halfway, ready for when they were done and in need of sleep.
"Oh God," he breathed as Ennis started undressing him, kissing his skin as it was exposed. "Ennis..."
He felt nimble fingers undoing his jeans and helped to kick them off, grinning when he saw the look of lust on Ennis's face. "See anything you like?" he asked, and Ennis nodded.
"Sure do." He stripped off his own clothes with Jack watching him, wishing that he could do it quicker. When they were both naked, he leaned down to capture Jack's lips again, making him moan. "Wanna fuck you," he murmured against Jack's lips. "Can I...?"
"Hell yeah," Jack replied, shuffling up the bed until his head was resting on the pillow. Ennis followed him like a moth to a flame, staring at Jack's muscles as they moved.
"God...you're beautiful," he whispered, cupping Jack's cheeks. "You really are..."
Jack smiled up at him. "Come on...make love to me," he whispered back, his entire body yearning for Ennis to complete him. Ennis didn't need much more persuasion; he grabbed the lube from the bedside table and smeared it over himself, seeing how Jack was watching him hungrily. "Hurry up..."
"Steady on, bud," Ennis said to him, nuzzling his neck. He spread Jack's legs wider and got into position, gazing down lovingly at him. "You sure you're ready?"
Jack nodded, eyes pleading. "Yeah...I need you, Ennis...need you to do this."
"Alright, darlin'...just relax..." He started to push himself in, the familiar warmth washing over him as he entered Jack's body. There was nothing that felt like this and he considered himself very lucky that Jack trusted him so much. Considering what Jack had been through by the time they had met, Ennis could see how easy it might have been for Jack to not trust him enough. But he had and Ennis knew that he would always take care of Jack.
When Ennis was fully inside him, Jack let his head fall back to the pillow and he sighed, shifting slightly until he was comfortable. "Why does this feel so good every damn time?" he murmured, wrapping his legs around Ennis's waist. Ennis had his hands braced on either side of Jack's head, ready to move.
"Because it's right," he said simply, and he kissed Jack once more before starting to thrust, nuzzling his neck the way Jack liked.
"Sure is..." Jack had his arms around Ennis's neck by now, holding on tightly as he felt Ennis move inside him. "Oh..."
"Don't worry about anything," Ennis whispered in his ear after a few moments. "I'll take care of you, Jack...nothing bad will happen to you as long as I'm around, okay? I swear, Jack..."
"I know," Jack replied, trembling with emotion and arousal. "Ennis...I...I love you so much..."
"I love you too..." Ennis planted his lips on Jack's, rocking steadily into him and keeping it slow. He knew how scared Jack was of going to prison and he wished that he could reassure him that it wasn't going to happen. But Ennis knew that his parents weren't going to let this go and he had to wonder if they could fight this.
"Ennis..." Jack choked out before finally climaxing, shooting in between them and groaning. Ennis soon followed suit and sank down onto him. "Oh God..."
They took several deep breaths before Ennis could pull out, and they lay there enjoying the afterglow. "Darlin'...you okay?" Ennis asked, peering up at Jack's face. His partner nodded.
"Feel better after that. Been a while since it was like this..."
"Yeah, but we had good reason. You were scared, and I didn't wanna pounce on you while you were like that...figured you didn't need it."
"You were right," Jack replied softly. "Ennis...I love it when you do that, but lately, I...I've needed something else. Comfort, I guess. I just needed you to be there for me to try and make me feel better. And you've done that...I do feel better than I was."
"I know you're still scared," Ennis said to him, stroking his neck. "But I'm trying to take your mind off what could happen. There's no guarantee it will, you know?"
Jack sighed. "I know...just can't help it. Especially since I realised that that bastard's gonna be in there too. I still remember the day we saw him in the station after he was arrested..."
Ennis crawled up onto the other side of the bed, wrapping an arm around Jack's stomach. "Darlin'...don't think about it. You know it won't do any good, right? Don't think about him."
Jack turned onto his side, shuffling closer to Ennis's warmth. "I know..." He sighed contentedly. "I'm glad to have you here, bud. Don't care if it makes me weak...I need you to take care of me..."
"It doesn't make you weak," Ennis assured him. "Everyone needs someone to be there for them. You've been there for me too. Like when we got back after my parents disowned me...I was miserable and you were there to take care of me. Now it's my turn. That's what you and me is all about, Jack. We take it in turns to look after each other, because we need each other."
Jack smiled at him. "You're always saying you're no good with words...but you couldn't be more wrong. You know how to say some really sweet things, Ennis. And I love you for it."
He leaned in close for a soft kiss, enjoying how Ennis's lips seemed to mould against his own perfectly. When they broke apart, he tucked his head underneath Ennis's chin and curled up. Ennis smiled at him and pulled the duvet over them both, holding Jack close and praying to whoever might be listening that everything was going to be okay.