October 5th, 2012
Jack woke up early on Friday morning and saw that Ennis was still asleep. He didn't want to disturb his partner so he just lay there, staring at the ceiling. He could tell that it was still early.
There were so many thoughts whirring around his head, enough to give him a headache. But he just couldn't help it. He was honestly scared of what might happen to him and if it might wreck his marriage as a result. Ennis's parents seemed determined to break them up and he didn't know why they couldn't let this go. Surely parents were supposed to accept the decisions their children made when they grew up, including who they chose to spend their life with? Even his father had eventually accepted him for who he was before he died.
His birthday was in just one week, but he didn't feel much like celebrating right now. He would be thirty, which he knew was a big deal. Ennis's birthday had been just before his arrest and they had managed to have fun together despite Ennis's parents disowning him. But now they had the threat of the trial looming over them. He just didn't see how he could enjoy it now, with the possibility of imprisonment facing him.
He knew that he couldn't start panicking over what could happen; it was still early and they had a good defence as far as Peter told them. They could prove that the infection wasn't intentional and that was the only way for Jack to stay out of prison. Their relationship was the best defence they had and he knew that he had Ennis's support through this.
Jack had called his mother a couple of days ago to reassure her that he was coping; he knew that she was worrying about him and that he couldn't really stop her. He had promised her that they would meet for lunch soon to talk about all of this. He understood that she wanted to help him defend himself, but he hoped it wouldn't make things too hard for her; he especially didn't want her to contact Ennis's parents and make things worse.
He sighed and stretched; Ennis was still asleep and he needed to stretch his legs. A glance at the clock told him that they had about an hour before needing to get up for work; plenty of time to go and sit out on the balcony as far as he saw.
He slid out of bed and silently walked over to the balcony, sliding the door back and stepping out. There was a slight breeze but the sky was brightening; he had always loved the morning light when everything was quiet; it gave him time to think before their busy day started.
Jack went over and leaned on the wall, looking out and over to Manhattan across the water. He did love living here, which surprised him considering what he had been through. But maybe it was because they lived far from the park, or maybe because they had gotten married in there. He didn't really know what it was, but he did enjoy this life.
He hoped that he wouldn't have to give this up; the charges wouldn't warrant a life sentence but a few years would be more than enough to change everything. If he was attacked in there he would never recover; that scared him more than anything. What if he lost Ennis as a result? He wouldn't want Ennis to wait for him for years; that wouldn't be fair no matter how much it hurt to let him go.
Ennis woke up to find himself alone in the bed, and he wondered where Jack was. He felt a slight breeze and looked towards the balcony doors; they were slightly open and he could see Jack standing out there. He was dressed in just his boxers, which Ennis liked the look of. Sensing that Jack was doing some thinking, Ennis decided to go and talk to him.
Jack jumped slightly when he felt a pair of arms surround him, and a familiar warmth at his back. "Good morning..."
"Morning, Jack," Ennis murmured to him, kissing his cheek. "What're you doing out here?"
"Just woke up and needed to stretch my legs. Didn't want to disturb you..."
"It's okay. How're you holding up?" Ennis asked, yawning behind him.
Jack shrugged. "Best as can be, I guess. I'm trying not to worry, Ennis...but it's getting to me. I'm terrified of being sent to prison..."
Ennis sighed; he didn't know what he could say that would make Jack feel better. Maybe there was nothing he could say that would change things; they would just have to fight this and try to win. It was all they could do and he would do whatever it took to keep Jack with him. He just couldn't lose him.
"Darlin'...I know you don't like waking me up, but I think you should when something's worrying you. We ought to share these things." He wanted Jack to tell him things when he was worried; as Jack's partner he felt a need to be there for him. He just wanted to see Jack happy.
Jack sighed when Ennis squeezed him, knowing that he was right. "I just...don't like disturbing you when you're trying to sleep. One of us ought to get some shut-eye."
Ennis kissed the back of his neck and rested his chin on Jack's shoulder. "I know what you mean, but I really don't mind. I just wanna help you, bud."
"Let's go sit down..." Jack replied, and they moved to one of the wicker chairs. It was large enough for them to sit in together comfortably, and Jack settled himself on Ennis's lap. "That's better," he concluded, face just inches away from his partner's.
Ennis smiled. "Sure is." He leaned in to press their lips together, holding Jack comfortably in his arms. It was a good way to start the morning.
After breakfast, Ennis and Jack were heading up to Manhattan to go to work. They always took the subway there and back, and they liked having some more time together before their day started.
Ennis noticed that Jack was preoccupied and he knew why; ever since his arrest he had been debating with himself whether or not to tell his audience at work or the people who came for counselling. As far as Ennis was concerned, it was Jack's choice whether or not he did this; he would be supportive either way.
He had enjoyed their morning make out on the balcony and hoped that Jack was feeling more like himself now. If he was honest, he missed the way Jack used to be. He was the same man of course, but he seemed down these days and Ennis knew why; they were only just recovering from the infection when they had gone over to Mill Valley, and now Jack was facing serious charges if he couldn't prove his innocence. It was no wonder that he felt like this.
"Are you okay?" Ennis asked him, giving him a slight nudge. Jack shrugged.
"I don't know...just thinking about the people I speak to at work."
"You still not decided if you wanna tell them yet?" Ennis asked, and he shook his head. "What's holding you back?"
"Well...I don't really know if I can. It's hard enough to deal with this as it is...I don't really need people telling me it's going to be okay. Don't get me wrong," he added quickly when he caught the look on Ennis's face. "I appreciate it when you say that. You really do make me feel better. But coming from them...it's just too hard. I'm supposed to be counselling them."
"Fair enough. But, Jack...maybe they need to know these things. You've always been praised for how honest you are and...maybe one day they might find themselves in the same situation. They need to know how to handle it."
Jack nodded; he knew that Ennis was making a lot of sense. Some part of him did want to tell them for those very reasons, but he just wasn't sure.
When they reached the city, they kissed goodbye and headed their separate ways until lunch; they always looked forward to that. Jack walked down the street towards the clinic while thinking to himself about what he was going to say. Ennis was right; he couldn't keep hiding it away and the others could very well go through the same thing one day.
He walked into the clinic and saw that a few people had arrived already. He tended to give his talks in the morning and counsel people alone in the afternoon; he enjoyed his job immensely and he hoped that he wouldn't have to give it up. He didn't want his life to change so drastically.
"Hey, guys," he said to them when he approached them. "You're early."
His friend Sam was there, and Jack did consider talking to him about what was going on; he of all people would understand, given that he had been infected in the same way. "Well, we like hearing what you have to say," he replied, smiling. He had been dating someone for a few weeks now and Jack was glad to see him happy, like he was with Ennis.
"Well...there is something I wanna talk to you guys about...something which I think you all ought to know. We'll wait a while for the others before I get started, though."
He started to set up in the room while they sat down, but Sam approached him. "Jack...everything okay? You look distracted..."
He shrugged. "It's...something really bad. I wasn't sure whether or not to tell you guys, but I was talking with Ennis and he's made me see that maybe I should tell you. Won't be easy, though..."
Sam nodded. "Alright. Best of luck, bud." He went to sit down and Jack was left to think over what he was going to say. He hoped that he would be able to get it out.
When other people had arrived, Jack started talking to them. He was sure that he could do this and some part of him wanted to.
"The thing is...you know about me infecting my husband by accident. We went to visit his parents a little while ago, and we told them. His parents basically disowned him and made us leave. But then...the other week, I was arrested. It seems as if his parents are trying to get me sent to prison for attempted murder."
There were a few shocked gasps in the room, accompanied by looks of disgust. "Why would they do that?" asked Sam.
Jack sighed. "Because ever since they found out about me being positive, they haven't been able to accept our relationship. They seemed determined to break us up." He cleared his throat. "You know how I got infected in the first place," he added, glancing at Sam. "Well...it doesn't take a genius to figure out what could happen to me if I'm sent down."
There were a few mutterings of assent in the room. "So what are you gonna do?" asked Claire, the teenager who had been infected by her boyfriend. Everybody here was just an ordinary person who didn't deserve to have this virus.
"Well, fortunately Ennis is on my side. He's decided that he's going to help me fight this as long as we have to. We've got a good lawyer and he says that Ennis's parents have got a very weak argument, considering our relationship and everything. So that's what we're working on right now, and we're hoping it won't affect our adoption application."
He received words of assurance and support from the group; he had been dreading this but it wasn't as bad as he'd thought it would be. He liked knowing that they were fully supportive of him; he couldn't do this alone. He was certain that he would never be.
October 8th, 2012
On Sunday morning, Ennis and Jack were due for a meeting with their lawyer; he had called them the previous evening to tell them that he had some news. They couldn't really tell if it was good or not, but they wanted to know all the same. They needed to know what they were up against if they were going to fight it.
Jack had been initially concerned about Ennis fighting against his parents just for him, wondering if he was really worth it. But Ennis had assured him that he was okay with it; he had made his choice and that was that. Ennis truly didn't care about cutting off his parents if it meant he could be happy with Jack; this was his future now.
"Try not to worry," Ennis told Jack as they walked along the street to Peter's office. "I'm sure it's nothing really bad."
"I can't help it," Jack replied, holding on tightly to his hand. "Keep thinking the worst every time we hear something." He knew in his heart that this was nothing too bad, but still.
"Just calm down," Ennis soothed him as they entered the building. There was nobody here but the receptionist, so they informed her that they were waiting and then sat down together. "I'm sure it's fine."
"Yeah..." Jack kept thinking about his talk the other day. He was truly grateful that everybody was on his side; he had more friends than he'd thought. And they had come up to him afterwards to once again praise him for his honesty. He'd talked with Sam afterwards about the situation, and he did understand why Jack was so scared of going to prison; they shared this in common.
He was surprised that Ennis hadn't expressed any jealousy at how well he got on with Sam, but when asked, Ennis had simply said that he understood their connection based on what had happened to them. Jack knew that Ennis trusted him and he wasn't even interested in Sam; he saw him as a brother more than anything.
For his part, Ennis was certain that Jack would never cheat on him; he simply wasn't the type. Jack was very happy with him, had told him so on several occasions and he believed it.
After a while, Peter called them in and they sat down in his office, wondering what was going on. He didn't usually call them in without further information, so it had come as a surprise to them both. "So, what's going on?" Ennis asked as they sat down.
Peter sighed, knowing that they wouldn't like this. "Well, we heard from the courthouse yesterday. It seems as if the trial date has been set now. November 14th is when it'll start." Ennis took a deep breath, taking this new information in; they had to remain calm.
"That's just five weeks away..." Jack replied, feeling slightly overwhelmed. His entire life could change in less than two months, and he dreaded the possibility of saying goodbye to the man he loved. Surely it couldn't be over, not when they had so many plans? Ennis squeezed his hand, trying to reassure him even though he knew it didn't really work.
"I know, but we've got plenty of time to work on your defence. I'm certain it will all work out, Jack. Like I told you before, just focus on the facts and try not to panic. You've got a very good chance of winning this despite how impossible it might seem right now."
Jack nodded, trying to calm himself and remain rational. "Okay, so...how does this work, on the day?"
"Basically, you and Ennis would have to give evidence in your defence, along with anybody else who you call to witness. This could be someone who knows you."
Jack nodded. "Alright..." Maybe his mother or Lureen could do this for them; they knew him well after all and would probably defend him if he asked. He had a lot of people who were on his side.
"Also, you should know that until the trial is over, you can't leave the state. Considering the seriousness of the accusations..."
"Fair enough." Jack was very nervous about what was going to happen, despite the strong defence they had and the support from family and friends. He knew that he didn't really have much to worry about but he couldn't help it.
"So is that everything?" Ennis asked, and Peter hesitated. He looked as if something else was on his mind and Ennis thought he knew what it was.
"Well...I wanted to ask you if you've heard anything else from your parents. You said the phone call didn't go too well..." Ennis had told him a few days ago and Jack had walked in right in the middle of the call; he hadn't reacted very well to the reminder. Ennis didn't like making Jack upset and he regretted it.
"Yep. They seem determined to break us up and I hate them for it." He gently squeezed Jack's fingers as he spoke, knowing that his partner was still reeling from the whole thing. He wished that he could make all the pain go away. Jack just didn't deserve this after everything he had already been through in his life. Ennis just wanted it to stop.
"Well, all I can say is try not to let it get to you. The pair of you know the truth and that's all we can hold on to. Your relationship is your best defence."
Ennis nodded and tried to smile at Jack, who couldn't meet his eyes. He sighed inwardly; he didn't know what to do. He would never forgive his parents for doing this, regardless of the outcome.
"Come on, then," he said to Jack, tugging at his hand. They bid goodbye to Peter and left the building, and Ennis squeezed his hand again. "Wanna go for a walk?" he asked, indicating to the park. Jack nodded and they set off.
They entered the park and set off walking, not aiming for anywhere in particular but just enjoying the weather. Ennis knew that the court date was worrying Jack as it was so close, and he hated to see what this was doing to the man he loved. He hoped that they could find some way of turning this around on his parents; it was all they deserved for doing this.
"Look, I know you're worried. But you've gotta remember that you're innocent," he reminded Jack as they walked past a lake. "That's the main thing."
"I know, but I can't help it," Jack replied, shaking his head. "Your parents are determined to have me put away for a long time, enough for you to move on and find someone else."
"Hey," Ennis said to him, stopping in his tracks and looking directly at Jack. "How many times do I have to tell you? That's never gonna happen, Jack. I'll wait as long as I have to."
"And what about what you need?" Jack replied, raising his eyebrows. "You gonna be celibate for however long I'm in there?"
"I've got my right hand," Ennis told him, trying to draw a smile out of Jack. But no such luck.
"It's not the same and you know it. Ennis...when you're inside me I get this feeling. Like...I'm complete or something. And I know you must feel it too when I'm inside you. So are you really gonna go without that for a number of years?"
"I'll have to," Ennis told him, gripping Jack's arms. "Bud...don't do this. You're trying to tell me that you'd be okay with me finding someone to pass the time with, but I know that you're lying. You wouldn't be okay with it and neither would I. Jack...I love you. And there is no way I would ever cheat on you, not even if you said it was okay because I know it's not. It would hurt you if I did, and I don't wanna hurt you, ever."
Jack gulped and looked down; Ennis knew him all too well. "I just...I'm just trying to do the right thing. Making preparations just in case..."
"Well, don't keep thinking that way. I can go without sex if it means holding onto you; it'll be difficult, but I'll get through it. Look at it this way...when you do get out, it'll all be bottled up and I'll be all over you," he said, smiling at Jack. The corners of Jack's mouth twitched and Ennis knew he'd gotten through. "Darlin'...I appreciate that you're trying to think of me, but I don't need to be told what I can do if you're put away. I'm staying faithful no matter what."
Jack nodded, feeling a little emotional. "Okay. Sorry I keep falling apart like this...don't mean to."
Ennis shrugged. "Reckon you've got a good enough excuse. I know it's scary, what could happen, but you've gotta try and think positive, you know?"
Jack gave a humourless laugh. "I always think positive, Ennis. I'm a positive person, always positive." He turned away, folding his arms. Ennis swallowed down his hurt; he knew that Jack didn't mean to be like this.
"You're not the only one, you know," he said quietly. Jack's shoulders slumped and he turned back to face him.
"I know...I'm sorry." He moved forward and they embraced; they couldn't start fighting now, not when they had to stick together. "Sorry, baby..."
"It's okay...I know why you're like this. You're scared, and just all over the place right now. I understand."
Jack sniffed. "I just...my whole life could change in less than two months and I don't know how to deal with that. It took me so long to adjust to being positive, and I didn't know it was gonna happen. I know I could go to prison but knowing that doesn't make it any easier."
"Shh..." Ennis soothed him, rubbing his back. "I know. Jack...if you go to prison I swear I'll do everything I can to get you out of there. I mean...I'm the person who they're accusing you of trying to kill...surely it says something for me to be on your side?"
"You'd think...but...oh God, Ennis. What if we end up with a homophobic judge? Or jury? That's gonna make it even harder 'cos they think we're all monsters."
Ennis sighed; he wished that Jack could stop worrying. "Jack, calm down. You'll do yourself damage if you keep on like this and I don't wanna see you like that."
Jack held onto him, feeling like he never wanted to let go. "I know...I feel so drained, trying to fight this. Feel like I've been fighting ever since I was infected."
"If I could take all the pain away, I would," Ennis murmured in his ear, squeezing him. "I'd rather feel it all myself than let you bear it."
"Then I'd feel guilty for making you feel it," Jack replied, and he sniffed. "We're a right pair, aren't we?"
"Guess so. Maybe that's why we're such a good match...we were made for each other, I reckon." Ennis pulled away and wiped Jack's eyes with his thumbs, with such a loving look on his face that it made Jack's heart skip a beat.
"Ennis..." he breathed, closing his eyes when Ennis leaned in. The kiss was sweet and reassuring; everything he needed right now. He loved how Ennis would hold him as they kissed, making him feel like he was the most important person in the world. He'd always loved it when Ennis gave him such attention; the touches, the kisses, the looks...it always made him feel good and he hoped that he had the same effect on Ennis.
"Don't worry," Ennis breathed against his lips. "I'll take care of you as much as I can. I'll fight your corner at the trial and make sure that you stay with me. Always gonna be here, Jack."
Jack nodded and leaned in again, his heart finally believing that he would always have Ennis.
At dinner that evening, Ennis started thinking about Jack's birthday. It would be in just four days and he would be thirty, like Ennis himself. Being a milestone birthday, Ennis wanted them to celebrate it properly but he wondered if Jack would even be up for it. This was another reason why Ennis was starting to hate his parents; they were wrecking everything that he and Jack had worked for over the last three years. Everything that he and Jack normally did was now tainted with the possibility that the next few weeks together could be the last for a long time, and he didn't like that.
He had half a mind to call his parents again to try to plead with them to stop; why couldn't they see that they were destroying him as well as Jack? Seeing Jack this miserable was like a knife in his heart and he just wanted it to stop for good. They had to win this fight.
He'd made Jack's favourite dinner in an effort to cheer him up, and Jack had kissed his cheek in thanks before they'd sat down. Now they were eating and occasionally glancing up at each other. They preferred to sit opposite each other when eating at a table, even at restaurants because it meant they could see each other. But Ennis had enjoyed sitting next to Jack during their first date, because of how Jack had slid over for their first kiss. That was a very fond memory of his that he would always hold on to.
Jack was enjoying the dinner and the company, but couldn't relax even now. His mind was constantly going over the possibility of going to prison and what that would mean for him and Ennis. He'd thought that it would only be fair to let Ennis go if he was put away, but if he was honest he knew he didn't really want that. Ennis had sworn to remain faithful.
"Jack?" Ennis asked, and he looked up, looking distracted. Maybe he was thinking of the same thing.
"I was thinking...what d'you wanna do for your birthday? Just four days away now." Jack's eyes lowered slightly.
"Oh, um..." Truth be told, he hadn't given it much thought. The past few weeks had driven all thoughts of celebrating from his mind; one more reason to hate Ennis's parents. Slowly but surely, they were draining him of his personality and everything he enjoyed. "I dunno. Haven't really thought about it..."
"Well...I was gonna suggest we take a trip somewhere, but..." Ennis hesitated, knowing it was a sensitive subject for Jack. He didn't want to upset him like earlier in the park.
"But I'm not allowed to leave the state," Jack finished for him, looking back down again and trying to eat. "Ennis...I don't wanna make a big deal of it. I mean...it could be the last birthday we spend together for a long time."
"Jack-" Ennis started, but Jack held up his hand.
"No, hear me out. I know it's not guaranteed that I'll be found guilty, because we've got a strong defence. But there's always the possibility. So...if it's okay, I just wanna spend my birthday with you. Maybe...we could just have dinner?"
"Okay," Ennis replied, nodding. "But we're doing something romantic and that's that. Maybe we could...have sex in front of the fire?" he suggested. "With the flames going and maybe a big blanket on the floor? I know you like that." He smiled when he saw Jack's eyes light up; they had done that before and it was always very romantic to make love in that way. In the glow from the firelight, they could see each other and enjoy every second of what they were doing. That was always something to look forward to.
"That sounds great," Jack replied, nodding. "I'd like that."
"Sorted, then," Ennis concluded, smiling wider. Maybe they would be alright. "And you know...I reckon we can make it fun. Massage oil...stuff like that."
"Yeah." Jack reached out with his foot and curled it around Ennis's ankle, drawing his leg closer and keeping it there. Ennis smiled and carried on eating, knowing that he'd done the right thing; Jack was a little happier than before. Ennis had only ever wanted to make Jack happy, every minute of every day. Hopefully he could do that for a long time.
When they were finished, they did the dishes together and then settled themselves onto the sofa. Ennis sat in the corner, leaning against the arm and holding Jack close. Jack was enjoying having Ennis's arms around his waist as they watched TV, feeling safe and secure like nothing could hurt him. There was nothing else, and nobody else, that could make him feel like this. He sighed and rested his head against Ennis's shoulder. "This is good..."
"Sure is," Ennis replied, softly kissing the back of Jack's head; his hair was always so silky and soft and he loved it. He was a little aroused by having Jack sat between his legs, in perfect position to get up to something, but there would be time for that later; Jack needed comfort now, needed to be held. "You have any idea how much I love you?" he murmured. Jack smiled, enjoying the firm hold Ennis had on him.
"How could I not? You tell me all the time," he replied, squeezing Ennis's arms. "I'm not complaining, though. I love hearing you tell me...feels good to know that you do. I've never doubted it, but you know what I mean."
Ennis nodded. "I do, bud. And I know you love me," he added, nuzzling Jack's ear. He knew it was true but like Jack, he loved to hear it.
"With all my heart," he whispered, closing his eyes. They continued to embrace for a while before deciding to go to bed, keeping their hands clasped together as they made their way to the bedroom, wanting to show each other exactly how they felt.