Chapter 20

November 10th, 2012

It was now Saturday, which saw Ennis and Jack waiting nervously for their visit from the adoption worker. Both of them were looking forward to it; this would ultimately decide whether or not they were put on the waiting list.

"Just remember," Ennis said as they kept their ears peeled for the buzzer. "We've got nothing to be ashamed about. I'm sure she'll appreciate it if we tell her the truth."

Jack nodded, feeling his stomach twist with nerves. "Yeah. You're right, but still...this is nerve-wracking." Ennis leaned over to kiss him but then the buzzer sounded. "Oh God..."

"I'll get it." He went over to it and pressed the button. "Hello?"

"Ennis Del Mar? It's Claire Simmons from the adoption agency."

"Come on up," he told her, trying to keep his voice even. His eyes met Jack's from across the room, and Jack nodded at him.

"It's okay," he mouthed, and Ennis took a deep breath, jumping when there was a knock on the door. He opened it to reveal a blonde woman, some years younger than them and dressed in a grey pantsuit.

"Ms Simmons?" he asked, and she nodded. Jack had walked over to his side by now and she regarded them both.

"Mr Del Mar and Mr Twist?" she replied, and Ennis extended his hand.

"Pleased to meet you, ma'am," he told her, and Jack also shook her hand. "You can call us Ennis and Jack." They invited her inside and she looked around the apartment, noting how clean and tidy it was.

"Well, this is a nice place," she observed. "How long have you been here?"

"Oh, um...just over a year. But we lived together for longer back in San Francisco. We've been together for just over three years," Jack told her as they led her to the dining table.

"Right. And I understand you've been married for seven months? Normally I would be hesitant about letting a couple adopt a child after just a few months of marriage. But considering your circumstances, it doesn't worry me."

"We would have married sooner if we could," Ennis assured her. She nodded.

"I understand. You're not the first gay couple I've worked with." She cleared her throat. "Now then...Mr Twist, I have heard about the court case." At his groan, she smiled sympathetically at him. "You don't have to worry. I've spoken to your lawyer, background checks and everything. He told me the circumstances and I agree that it's very likely you'll be found not guilty. My boss happens to share this opinion."

"Really?" Ennis asked, feeling hopeful.

"Yes. Like he said, it'll be a false accusation and won't mean anything. You have nothing to worry about, Jack."

"We were gonna tell you," he said to her. "But I guess you beat us to it."

"Well, I would have appreciated the honesty," she said with another smile. "Nevertheless, I think we can just concentrate on today. You'll be glad to know that HIV-positive people are treated just the same as people who aren't positive." She paused. "Everyone is treated equally, which is how it should be."

"Thank you," Jack said to her, smiling. "So is there anything else you need to know?"

"I don't think so, but I would like to see the apartment. Now, I understand that your bedroom is a private space so I won't ask to see that. But could I maybe see the room which will become a nursery?"

"Yeah, sure," Ennis told her. "Um, would you like a drink or something?" he offered, and she shrugged.

"Water would be fine, thanks." He got her a bottle from the fridge with a glass and sat back down. "Jack, can I ask about your parents? I'm aware of the situation with Ennis's parents, but I don't know much about your side of the family."

"Well, my dad died two years ago. But my mom still lives in the house, out on Long Island. She's very close to us; we sometimes have lunch together in the city or go to her place, or maybe she comes for dinner here."

"Good. Now, I know that you both work full-time. It's my job to ask what arrangements might be in place for childcare if you do have a baby around."

They looked at each other, having already set plans in motion. "Well, we've talked to our bosses about that. And we've managed to negotiate something. I'm gonna start working just on Mondays and Wednesdays, so Ennis can take care of it then while he takes those days off. He'll work on Tuesdays and Fridays and I'll take care of the baby then. We both get a day off on Thursdays and the weekend."

"That sounds like a good plan." They showed her around the apartment, including the room that would be the nursery and how safe it would be on the balcony, considering it was a stone wall and not bars. They talked to her about the work they did and how they had met back in California. They had some good stories to share with her.

"Well, I think I've got everything I needed," she mused as she checked her files. "It's been a pleasure to meet you guys." She hesitated, looking at them both with a smile. "And I have to say...I think you two will make great parents. I really do."

They smiled at her and Ennis grasped Jack's hand. "You do?"

"Yes. When I get back, I will submit my report and you should hear from us soon. Hopefully, you will be put on the waiting list."

"Well, thank you. It was great to meet you too." They shook her hand and Ennis walked her to the door. When he turned around, Jack was close to him with a light in his eyes.

"It worked," he murmured, grinning when Ennis pulled him close. "We're gonna get put on the waiting list, bud..."

"We sure are," he replied, leaning in for a kiss.

After Claire left, Ennis and Jack decided to open a bottle of wine while making dinner together, wanting to celebrate the good result from their visit. They knew that despite the trial looming closer, they had a lot to be grateful for.

As Ennis was tending to the sauce for the chicken, he felt Jack sidle up to him and press against his arm. "What d'you want, huh?" he asked, grinning. Jack was looking at him.

"Just...wanted to be near you. We had a good day, didn't we? I mean, she didn't seem to care too much about the court case, and agreed that it won't affect our application if I'm found not guilty. She was really nice about it."

"Sure was." Ennis turned from the oven and smiled down into Jack's face. "Come here..." He slid his arms around Jack's waist and pulled him close. "I'm proud to call you my husband, you know."

Jack smiled back at him. "Me too. I know things aren't easy for us right now, but we're gonna be fine. I have to believe that the jury will see things our way and declare me not guilty, because I just...I can't think about the alternative. It scares the hell out of me and that's why I have nightmares."

Ennis nodded, stroking his cheek. "I know, bud. Hopefully, after Wednesday things will go back to normal. We can get back to our lives and forget all of this."

"Sounds good," Jack sighed, moving close to rest his head against Ennis's chest. "Mmm..." Ennis wrapped his arms around Jack and hugged him close.

They stayed like that for a while until Ennis's phone rang, and he reluctantly let go of Jack to answer it; Jack took over supervision of the food. "Hello?"

"Ennis? It's Claire Simmons again. I just wanted to let you know that my bosses have read my report, and that the two of you are now officially on the waiting list."

Ennis grinned at Jack when he heard this, his heart lifting at the news. "That's great, thank you so much."

"No problem; it was great to meet you. You'll be hearing from me again if anything comes up. Bye for now."

"Yep, bye." He hung up and squeezed Jack from behind, knocking the wind out of him.

"Damn, was what that for?" he gasped, turning around in surprise at the assault. "What is it?"

"That was Claire; her bosses read her report and we're now on the waiting list," he said to Jack, cupping his cheeks. Jack's face split into a wide smile.

"Oh my God!" He threw his arms around Ennis's neck, hugging him tightly and laughing. He hadn't been this happy for a while and Ennis was glad to see him like this. "I can't believe it..."

"Me neither," he replied, pulling his face away to plant his lips on Jack's. The crushing kiss sent fire through their veins but there wasn't time now; the food wouldn't take long to cook.

They broke apart, slightly aroused with flushed faces. "Um..." Ennis started, cheeks colouring as he looked away. "Well..." Jack grinned, taking his hands.

"No need to be embarrassed...that was a damn good kiss, bud."

"Yeah, but see the state of us now," Ennis replied, gesturing downwards. "We don't have time."

"Just think of something that turns you off, like...I don't know, the trial or something," Jack said, shrugging. "Nothing good about that, right?"

"Guess not." As they calmed down, they got the food ready and to the table, Ennis opening the bottle of red wine. Jack grinned; Ennis was always horny after a few glasses of that stuff. He was in for it tonight. "Okay, four days until the trial. I have to ask, there anything you wanna do before that? We're hoping that you'll be found not guilty, but it's like you said...we have to be prepared. So if there's anything you wanna do, tell me now."

Jack thought for a moment. "Well, I'd like to go out for dinner again, maybe tomorrow night. And...I'd like to spend some time with my mom. But mostly I just wanna be with you," he finished, looking earnestly at Ennis. "You know? The night before the trial...I just wanna be alone with you, here."

Ennis nodded. "Okay, that sounds good. The trial might last a few days or more, so...I promise that I'll make every night count, starting from the night before. We'll make them special."

Jack smiled at him, grateful that he was trying so hard. "Thanks, Ennis." They clinked their glasses together and started eating, just relaxing in the comfortable silence between them.

Afterwards, they were making out on the sofa when Ennis rose up, gazing down at Jack with a look of reverence. Jack's eyes were hazy and full of love; he looked beautiful in the light coming from the fire. "God...I love you so much," Ennis sighed, nuzzling him. Jack moaned softly, very much aware of Ennis's leg rubbing against his crotch.

"I love you too. Can't believe the good day we've had after all the bad stuff." He swallowed, looking up into Ennis's eyes. "I really hope that the trial goes our way, Ennis...we've got so much to do yet and I'm not ready to leave you. I never will be." A lump formed in his throat at the thought.

Ennis sank back down to hug him close, kissing his jaw softly and trying to make him feel better. "Shh, darlin''s alright. I know how you're feeling. It's gonna be okay, I'm sure of it. They've got nothing to prove their accusations, and we've got everything we need to prove them wrong. Come on, Jack..."

"Ennis...take me to bed," Jack whispered in his ear. "Make me forget the pain for a while..." Ennis couldn't refuse a request like that, not when Jack needed him so much. He nodded and quickly locked up before taking Jack to the bedroom, ready to do as he was asked.

November 13th, 2012

By Tuesday, Ennis and Jack were spending as much time together as they possibly could. The trial would be the very next day and Jack had to admit that he was extremely nervous about the outcome and he prayed to anybody who might be listening that it would be okay.

True to his word, Ennis had paid him a lot of attention over the past few days. As for the nights...Jack would always treasure those memories no matter what happened. The sex had been incredible and Ennis had taken good care of him through the night. He was more in love than ever and he wished the circumstances could be different.

They were sitting on the sofa, having taken the day off together to make the most of the time they had left. Everything was hanging on this trial and they didn't want to plan too far ahead. Ennis held Jack close to him, nuzzling his neck and half-listening to the TV. Jack said nothing; he knew why Ennis was being like this and he understood. "Ennis? You okay?" he murmured, squeezing Ennis's arms where they covered his stomach.

"Not really," he admitted. "I don't ever wanna let you go, not after what happened the last time I did. Christ, ended up in hospital and that's bad enough. When I think about what could happen to you this time..."

Jack moved further back into him, enjoying the warmth radiating from Ennis. "I know. Scares the hell out of me, to be honest. I hate this waiting around."

"Yeah." Ennis's phone rang and he answered it without letting go of Jack; he did seem to be attaching himself to Jack at every opportunity and Jack would have found it quite sweet were it not for Ennis's fear. "Hello?"

"Ennis, it's me," came Alma's voice. "I just wanted to say best of luck to you and Jack for tomorrow."

"Thanks, Alma. It really means a lot to both of us how supportive you're being." He really was grateful to her for everything she was doing for them, even if she couldn't actually do anything at all. He appreciated it anyway.

"Jack doesn't deserve this kind of treatment from your parents. He would never do what he's being accused of. This isn't fair on either of you and I hope that it goes well."

"We're hoping it does. Anyway..."

"Yeah. Have you guys heard from Lureen yet?"

"No, why? I thought she was working today?"

Alma hesitated, and when she spoke again Ennis got the impression that she was holding something back. "Well, I'm sure she'll talk to you as soon as she gets a chance. I'd better go, then. Bye, Ennis...and give my best to Jack."

"I will, thanks. Bye." He hung up and stared at his phone, thinking. "That was weird..."


"Alma sounded weird after saying good luck. She asked about Lureen, and then sounded like she knew something but didn't wanna say."

Jack frowned. "You think she's okay?"

"Yeah...Alma would've told us if there was something wrong..." He knew that Lureen could take care of herself, but still.

Jack smiled a little. "Lureen's up to something, then. I know her, Ennis...she's got something planned."

"You think it's something to do with us?" Ennis asked, brows furrowing.

"Well, it's a hell of a coincidence. The day before the trial? Maybe she's on her way here so that she can give evidence." After knowing Lureen for so long, he knew when she was plotting.

Ennis considered this. "That sure would be good. She can't be talking to my parents; they'll already be over here for tomorrow."

"Right...any idea where they're staying?"

"Don't know and don't care. I don't even wanna see them until tomorrow, and even then I'll be ignoring them," Ennis replied vehemently. Jack nodded and then heard his own phone ringing.

"Hey, Mom."

"Hi sweetie," she replied. "Wanted to wish you good luck for tomorrow. What time should I be at the courthouse?"

"It starts at eleven so we should be there by half ten," he told her. "Alma just called Ennis to wish us good luck, and she sounded weird. She seems to know something about Lureen, and I reckon it's that she's on her way here to stand up for us."

"That sounds possible," Karen replied. Jack glanced at Ennis; he was scrolling through the names on his phone and pausing on Lureen's. Jack nudged him and nodded encouragingly. "Ennis is trying to call her right now."

"Okay. Do you know where Ennis's parents are staying?"

"He doesn't want to know, and neither do I. We want them to keep away from us."

"Alright. Make sure that you get some sleep tonight, okay?"

"Yep. Bye, Mom." He hung up and watched Ennis trying to call Lureen. "Anything?"

"Not even ringing...that means it's switched off," he replied, stopping his attempt and looking confused. "That's weird..."

"Maybe she really is on her way here," Jack replied as they put their phones down and resumed their earlier position. "We did ask her, after all. And I know she said she would if she didn't have to work. And you're supposed to turn your phone off when on a plane, so it makes sense."

"Yeah." Ennis rubbed Jack's stomach absentmindedly, occasionally pressing a kiss to his ear. Jack smiled and relaxed against him again, feeling secure and well-loved. " want something to eat? I could call for take-out." He didn't feel like cooking and could sense that Jack didn't either.

"Sure," Jack replied, getting up to use the bathroom while Ennis called for the food. They usually got pizza, not really liking anything else. It was quick and easy.

While he was washing his hands, Jack thought of Lureen and what she might be up to; he knew her well and had a strong suspicion of where she was, or at least where she was heading. He hoped he was right; he needed every friendly face he could get tomorrow.

Not long after the pizza had been delivered, Ennis and Jack were eating it on the sofa when there was another knock on the door. It wasn't unusual for someone to enter the building without being buzzed in if they caught someone leaving, which sometimes worried them for security reasons. Jack got up to answer it, and when he opened the door he saw a familiar face grinning at him.

"Long time no see, Jack," Lureen said to him, a suitcase next to her and a wide smile on her face. Jack grinned back.

"I knew it. Alma asked if we'd heard from you and she sounded really weird. I knew you were up to something." He hugged her tightly, very glad that she was here to support him. Ennis was also up by now, approaching the door.

"So you made it," he said with a smile, and she broke away from Jack to hug him too.

"Wasn't sure I would, but since I'm the manager of that place I can do whatever I want. It's all sorted; I've got this guy working for me who is more than capable of taking care of the shop for a few days. I wanted to be here."

"How did you get in?" Jack asked as he pulled her suitcase inside.

"Well, I wanted to surprise you so I buzzed one of your neighbours. Luckily they remembered me from the last time I was here and let me in." She smiled between them. "So how did the visit from the adoption worker go?"

"Really well. She liked us, and we've been put on the waiting list," Jack told her as they led her to the living area. "She'd talked to Peter and agrees that we don't have anything to worry about with the trial."

Lureen helped herself to pizza and curled up in one of the chairs. "I'm glad to hear that. You know I've been worried about how tomorrow might impact everything. And yes, I did tell Alma that I was heading over here but asked her not to say anything."

"She did sound strange," Ennis admitted, giving her a knowing look. "But we're both glad that you're here."

She smiled. "So I'm guessing that your parents are somewhere in the city?"

"Yeah. Don't know where they're staying and I don't want to. As soon as this is over, I don't want anything to do with them."

"I understand. Parents are supposed to love their child unconditionally, and support all of the decisions they make. You said they were supportive when you came out, so it made you think that no matter what, you could rely on them to be there for you. Now all this is happening and it's shaken everything you've ever believed about them."

"Yeah," he agreed simply. "They've lost my trust for good, and just can't seem to accept my choice to be with Jack." He exchanged a glance with his husband, who looked sad on his behalf. "But I don't care," he added firmly. "This is what I want and right now I'm just focusing on getting us through tomorrow."

Jack nodded. "You're right...we should just concentrate on that." Lureen watched them interact with each other and felt very sorry for them; they loved each other so much and yet tomorrow they could lose everything. Worse still, what if the trial lasted more than one day? Everything would be hanging by a thread and they wouldn't know if the thread was going to be cut or not. She didn't understand why Ennis's parents were doing this.

"Guys...I want you to know that I'm gonna do everything I can to help tomorrow," she told them. "I mean it...I remember what it was like when you broke up and I never want to see either of you so unhappy ever again."

They managed to smile at her. "Thanks, Lureen," Jack said to her. "We really appreciate you being here for us. Um...did you want a drink?"

She accepted and Jack got up to get her one; she looked at Ennis. "How's he coping?" she asked in a low voice that wouldn't carry to the kitchen.

"He had another nightmare last week," Ennis replied, looking down. "That he was in prison, and...that Daniel Waters attacked him."

"You mean...?"

Ennis nodded, breathing deeply. "Yeah. It scared the hell out of him and I was sat here, just holding him and trying to soothe him. Took a while..."

"I bet it did," she replied, shaking her head. "We can't possibly imagine what it was like for him, both during the assault and after. That's why he's good friends with that other guy, Sam. He knows what it was like."

"Yeah. You know...I've never even been jealous of that because I know they're not interested in each other at all. I know Jack wouldn't cheat on me and Sam isn't the type to sneak around like that. I'm glad he has a friend who knows what it's like. If it were me I'd want to have someone around who knows what I'm going through, no matter how much I love Jack."

She smiled. "You two are so strong now, and you trust each other. That's all you need to know." Jack came back with a drink for her and sat back down, curling up against Ennis comfortably.

After a while, Ennis headed off to bed and Jack was locking up. Just as Lureen was approaching the spare room, she felt Jack grasp her arm. "Lureen...can you promise me something?" he asked in a low voice.

"Sure, what?"

"If I am locked up...he says he'll do whatever it takes to get me out of there as soon as he can. If that happens, just...try to keep an eye on him, okay? Make sure he eats and gets some sleep now and then, no matter how hard he tries for me. I'd feel better if I knew he had a friend looking out for him."

Lureen smiled up at Jack and kissed him on the cheek. "I promise. Night, Jack."

"Night, Lureen."

Jack closed the door behind him and was immediately aware of a warmth at his back; Ennis had slipped up behind him and pulled him close. "Mmm..."

"Ready to go to bed?" Ennis murmured in his ear. Jack nodded.

"Yep..." Ennis led him to the bed, Jack's hand in his own. When they reached it, he turned to Jack and cupped his face. "Darlin'...I know what this night means to you. Could be our last time together, or it might not be. We don't know how long this trial will go on for, and we'll probably have more nights together before it's over."

"But this is the last one before it all starts. I know what you're trying to say, Ennis, and I agree. We should make this night special."

Without a word, Ennis leaned in and kissed him. He kept it soft at first, just on the lips. Jack moaned softly and pressed closer, moulding his body to Ennis's and sighing into his mouth. When they broke apart, he smiled. "Come here..." He started to undress Jack, pulling the shirt from his shoulders and tossing it to the floor. Jack did the same to him as they kissed, exposing each other slowly and enjoying every sight that met their eyes. "You're so beautiful," he whispered to Jack, who smiled.

"You're not so bad yourself," he replied, looking up and down Ennis's body. Neither of them bothered with the gym anymore, mostly due to a lack of time, but they had their suspicions that their regular physical activities kept them in good shape.

They sank down to the bed together, shuffling up to the pillows. Ennis gently pushed Jack down onto his back, leaning over him and giving him a loving look. Jack smiled up at him, eyes full of trust. "Ennis..."

"Shh..." Ennis murmured, pressing a finger to Jack's lips. "Don't say anything. Just let me take care of you tonight, okay?"

Jack nodded and smiled when Ennis kissed his neck, feeling as if he could melt under the touch. He closed his eyes and was dimly aware of Ennis moving to settle between his legs, still kissing and touching him. He sighed and opened his eyes again to see Ennis watching him, a look on his face that made Jack feel like the most precious thing in the world. At his questioning smile, Ennis kissed the tip of his nose and reached over for the lube, causing a flutter of anticipation to run through Jack. "You wanna?"

"Yeah," Jack breathed, widening his legs even further. He needed this so much and he knew that Ennis was aware of that. "Please..."

Ennis coated himself with the lube and started to push in, finding his target and easing himself into Jack. The soft gasp from below told him that he was on the right track, and he kept going until he was fully inside. Jack had closed his eyes again but they were now open, gazing up at him. Ennis knew how much Jack trusted him in such a vulnerable position, and it humbled him.

"You okay?" he asked softly, and Jack nodded, wrapping his legs around Ennis's waist. At this familiar signal they knew so well, Ennis started moving inside him. He pushed his hips tight against Jack in a fluid movement, gently stroking Jack's insides and feeling a familiar warmth take over him. Jack groaned and let his head fall back to the pillow, trying to keep hold of Ennis's shoulders and fully aware of the pressure building up inside him.

"Oh..." he sighed, allowing Ennis to kiss his neck again. Ennis picked up the pace slightly, moving steadily in a well-known rhythm that he knew would make it good for Jack. "Ennis..."

"I love you, Jack," Ennis breathed in his ear, kissing it. "Love you so much." Jack bit his lip when he felt Ennis pushing even deeper and finding the sweet spot.

"Oh God..." he moaned, which told Ennis he had found what he was looking for. He pressed at it with each thrust, now moving quicker. "Touch me, please," Jack groaned, lifting his hips.

Ennis took hold of him and did as he was asked, stroking at Jack even as he moved. He felt Jack bucking underneath him and knew he was close. He planted his knees firmly on the bed and thrust harder, making the bed squeak with the movement. Jack yelled out and shot between them, coating Ennis's stomach and straining. It didn't take long for Ennis to follow him, and soon he was sinking down onto his satisfied lover. "Jack..."

"I love you too," Jack sighed into his ear, smiling and wrapping his arms around Ennis's back. "Thank you..." He did feel a lot better after this, and he knew that Ennis was trying his best to make things better for him.

"You're not the only one who got something out of that, you know," Ennis murmured, nuzzling him. "I love being with you like this..."

"Me too," Jack replied, wincing slightly when Ennis pulled out but soon relaxing. "I'll remember this tomorrow when I start worrying, and thinking that something's gonna go wrong. I'll remember the wonderful man I married and how much he loves me."

Ennis smiled and rose up slightly, brushing Jack's hair away from his face. "Good. This is what we've gotta hang on to, Jack...moments like this. I swear...I'll do whatever it takes to keep you by my side." This he knew in his heart; he simply couldn't live without Jack.

Jack pulled Ennis's mouth down to his in a searing kiss, one that sent volts through both of them and reminded them of what they were fighting for. If Jack was locked up, then Ennis would remember this moment while he fought to help him.

They fell asleep in this position, not wanting to move away from each other even slightly. They wanted to be as close as possible during these final hours before they had to fight for their relationship.