Chapter 22

November 15th, 2012

The next morning, Ennis and Jack were lying in bed together and kissing deeply. They were very happy with how the trial had started yesterday and were fairly confident that they would get the result they wanted, but were both well aware that there was still a slight chance of it turning around. They had to be prepared for anything.

Jack pulled Ennis closer to him and kissed him fiercely. "I want you inside me," he breathed when they broke apart, and Ennis nodded, dizzy with lust. He wanted to but he had to be sure that Jack was okay.

"Are you sure"? he asked, and Jack looked into his eyes. He needed this more than ever.

"I am. Ennis...I know we're sure that things are gonna go our way, but...I just...I need to feel you there right now. Need some reassurance, you know?"

Ennis stroked his cheek. "I know, bud. Just lie back..." He gently pressed a hand to Jack's chest and coaxed him down to lie on his back, knowing that Jack just needed him before they carried on with the trial. "Just relax, okay? I'm here...won't let anybody hurt you, I swear." He would rather get hurt himself than allow someone to hurt Jack; he'd take anything to keep Jack alive and safe.

Jack smiled up at him. "I know, Ennis. I love you..."

"I love you too," Ennis whispered, smoothing the lube over himself and easing in between Jack's legs. "I'll take care of you..." He started to push in, making shushing sounds when Jack groaned at the initial pain. Caressing Jack's face to soothe him, Ennis pushed his way fully inside and got into position. He felt Jack's legs wrap around his waist and smiled; that was a clear indication that he was ready.

"Make love to me," Jack breathed, his eyes locking onto Ennis's as his lover started moving. "Oh..."

"I'll always love you, Jack," he said softly, nuzzling Jack's ear. "No matter what happens. If you're locked up, I'll get you out. If you're hurt, I'll nurse you back to health. If it becomes too much and you have a breakdown, I'll be there to help you through it."

Jack bit his lip, the sweet words making him emotional in the state he was in. These words told him just how much Ennis loved him, and he would never forget that. His eyes slid shut as he felt Ennis moving smoothly inside him, kissing and nipping at his skin as he went. Jack trembled with arousal and could feel himself leaking onto his stomach. "Ennis...this is wonderful..."

"You deserve the best," Ennis replied, holding him close. "We're good for each other, matter what anybody says." He was referring to his parents, but they had agreed not to talk about them here, in their bed. This was private.

"You're right," he choked out, groaning slightly when Ennis found his prostate. "You're right and I...I know that now. We need each other..."

Ennis rose up and planted his lips on Jack's, pushing his tongue into Jack's mouth and searching hungrily. With his hips rocking steadily against Jack and one hand between Jack's legs, he was drawing close to the finish line but never wanted it to end. If they finished then time would move on and they would have to get up and go back to the courthouse, and he wasn't ready yet.

All too soon, it was over. Ennis sank down onto Jack and started breathing deeply, not caring how Jack had shot all over his chest or how sweaty they were; this was good. "Darlin'..." he sighed, tiredly kissing Jack's shoulder and pulling out.

"Yeah...that was good, baby. Sure will get me through the day."

" know, it's pretty much a given that they'll let you off. I mean, you saw the judge's face when they brought out the photos. He looked pissed off."

"Yeah. So did your parents. They knew that it was all over as soon as Peter started talking about the photos. And did you hear the jury murmuring?" Ennis rolled off him, stretching and sighing.

"I sure did. Looks like things are gonna go our way." Ennis leaned over and stroked Jack's cheek; Jack turned his face into Ennis's palm, smiling. "God...I love you so much that it hurts."

"But it's a good kind of pain, right?" Jack asked, eyes open and trusting. Ennis smiled.

"The best. Wouldn't trade it for anything, you know. Not even for being negative."

Jack stared at him, wondering if he'd heard right. "You mean that?" he asked; he so wanted to believe that but he'd never expected it.

Ennis nodded. "I do. I'd rather have this than be negative. Ever since I got infected...I feel like it's brought us closer together, in a way. You know? Not just sex without a barrier, we're the same now. I feel everything that you do and I understand you better now that I'm like you."

Jack sat up. "Ennis...I don't know what to say. I never wanted you to be like me. You were perfect before, but now..."

"I don't wanna hear you putting yourself down," Ennis told him, also sitting up and curling an arm around his shoulders. "Jack, I meant what I just said. I know it won't be easy, especially if it turns into AIDS for one of us. But we've got each other, and we're strong. That's all I need to know. We can look after each other."

" meant it about understanding me better?" Jack asked, looking unsurely at him.

"I did. I really feel like that, Jack. When I was negative, there were times when I felt as if I didn't understand what you were going through. But now...I know what it's like. We're the same now, Jack. And we're fighting for everybody like us."

Jack smiled and kissed him, feeling his heart lift; Ennis continued to surprise him no matter how long they had been together.

All too soon, they were back in the courtroom and the trial was about to resume. Everybody knew that the jury's decision would be coming today, but they had been informed that the judge wished for Ennis's father to take the stand with regards to the stolen documents. This gave Ennis and Jack some hope that this meant the judge was seeing through the plot that Ennis's parents had tried to carry out, and that Jack would be declared not guilty.

They had taken their seats in the courtroom and were waiting for the judge to arrive; Jack had noticed how Ennis's parents were looking a lot less sure of themselves than yesterday, and he smirked to himself. He had honestly expected them to pull some kind of trick between yesterday and now, but they had heard nothing. He wasn't sure that they even could, because he knew there was nothing on him that they could exploit.

"Things are a lot better for us than yesterday," Peter said to him, going over his files as they waited. "We've done everything we can as far as I can see."

Jack nodded. "They sure don't look too good," he replied, nodding to Ennis's parents. They were quiet and no longer giving Jack evil looks; it seemed as if they knew they had lost. Peter shrugged.

"If you ask me, they brought this upon themselves. They've clearly underestimated you and Ennis." Jack smiled; they were a force to be reckoned with when they worked together.

They were asked to stand and the judge walked in; Jack tried to gauge his expression but this was impossible; there was no way of knowing anything until he spoke.

"Resuming the trial of John C. Twist Junior from yesterday. I have looked over the photographs of Keith Del Mar stealing Ennis Del Mar's medical records and have called for the former to take the stand. Once this is done, I will ask the jury to make their decision based on what they have seen and heard."

Ennis waited with bated breath; his father had already admitted to stealing the records so what now? Was he going to say why? Surely if he did, this would prove Jack's innocence even further.

The judge cleared his throat and nodded at Peter, who stood up. "Calling Keith Del Mar to the stand." Ennis's father got up and walked to the stand; Jack could tell that he was extremely nervous.

After swearing to tell the truth, Keith looked warily at Peter as he started to question him. "Mr Del Mar, you have already admitted to stealing your son's medical records on September 22nd of this year. Can you please tell the court why you did this?"

Keith sighed. "My wife and I...we've only ever wanted the best for our son. When he told us about his partner having HIV, we couldn't just stand by and watch him ruin his life. We knew back then that we weren't going to change his mind, so we allowed him to cut us off. And when he told us that he had caught the was extremely difficult to take in. We were angry at Twist for doing this to our son."

"And you wished to see him punished by whatever means?" Peter asked, and Keith nodded.

"It was an impulse, to see if they had anything in the car that would incriminate Twist. My wife didn't know until after they had gone. We knew that if the infection had been on purpose then it would be attempted murder."

"Mr Del Mar, that would only be the case if your son had not consented to unprotected intercourse with his husband. But looking at the relationship they have, I think we can agree that this would not be the case. Did you know, on any level, that this was not attempted murder?"

Keith looked down. "Yeah, we did. We just wanted to see him punished for doing this to our son."

Ennis swallowed past a lump in his throat; he wished that his parents could have taken this differently. Deciding to cut them off for good after this case would be the hardest thing he'd ever had to do, but it was for Jack. He didn't want them near the man he loved.

" knew that by itself, an accusation of attempted murder by your son-in-law had no substance, which was why you stole the records. So this proves that you knew it was not the case; you knew that Jack Twist was innocent of the crime he is being tried for. This was a desperate attempt to see an innocent man punished. End of questioning, Your Honour," he directed to the judge, who nodded and told Keith to stand down. It was clear to Jack that there was nothing more to say.

"Very well, Mr Thompson. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you have seen and heard everything of this case, including a confession from Mr Del Mar Sr of having stolen the records and his motivation for it. There is nothing more to be heard, so I now ask you to make your final decision as to the fate of John C. Twist, the accused. We will take a ten-minute break, and when we come back I will ask you for your verdict." He banged the gavel and left the room; Jack sank back into his chair.

"Well...I didn't think I'd hear him admit it," he sighed. "That was interesting."

"Sure was. Between you and me, Jack...there's no chance of them finding you guilty. Not with everything they've heard and seen."

Jack smiled at him. "Hope not." He turned and looked up at Ennis, who nodded at him. He grinned back as everybody started to leave the room.

He and Ennis were kept apart once more, but hopefully this would be the last time. When they went back in, all of this would be over and they would be left to get on with their lives.

When they were back inside, it didn't take long for everybody to get settled and the judge cleared his throat.

"John C. Twist Jr, you stand accused of the attempted murder of your husband Ennis Del Mar via transmission of the HIV virus. If you are found guilty of this charge, you will be sentenced to eight years in prison without parole. If you are found not guilty, these charges will go down as false accusations and the case will be closed forever."

Jack nodded, knowing that Ennis was just as nervous as him; he wished they could communicate telepathically.

I love you, he thought with Ennis in mind, unaware that Ennis was thinking the same thing.

"Have the jury reached a verdict with which they all agree?" asked the judge, and a woman with short brown hair stood up.

"Yes, Your Honour," she replied, and he nodded.

"Very well. Do you find Mr Twist guilty or not guilty of the charges he faces?"

Jack closed his eyes, bracing himself.

"Not guilty," came the same woman's voice, and Jack's eyes flew open. If he hadn't been sitting down, he would have needed to now.

Ennis fell back in his seat and let out a breath; everybody on Jack's side felt overwhelming relief. "Thank God," he breathed.

"Very well. Mr Twist, you are cleared of all charges brought upon you, and as of now you are a free man. Mr and Mrs Del Mar," he added, turning to them; they seemed to shrink in their seats. "I must impress upon you the seriousness of your own crimes of theft and of wasting court time by making accusations that you knew were false." He glared at them. "If your son wishes to press charges against you for theft then he will be quite justified to do so." Then he banged the gavel one last time. "Case is closed, court dismissed."

Jack stood up and shook Peter's hand. "Thank you so much for everything. We wouldn't have got this if not for you and I swear...Ennis and I will always be your friends as well as clients."

He smiled back. "It's been a pleasure to help you." He looked over to where Ennis, Karen and Lureen were. "And now I think you'd better brace yourself."

"Why?" Jack turned in time to see Ennis rushing down the steps to him, a grin on his face. He had expected Ennis to pull him into a hug, but he hadn't expected the searing kiss that Ennis gave him upon contact. He made a muffled sound of surprise but soon gathered himself, kissing back enthusiastically and not caring if everybody was watching them.

They broke apart and Jack looked breathless. ""

Ennis cupped his cheeks. "I wanted to do that as soon as she said not guilty. It was only about thirty seconds but it felt like thirty minutes because I...I just wanted to be near you."

Jack smiled back at him, feeling happier than he had in months. It was over, and he wasn't going to jail. He was safe and they could carry on with their lives now. "I can't believe it..."

"I know." Ennis hugged him tightly and then relinquished him to Karen and Lureen. "There's just one thing I have to do before we leave." Jack nodded in understanding and Ennis turned to his parents; he had to do this.

"Congratulations," his mother said stiffly, sparing a nasty look for Jack. "Looks like you got what you wanted."

"Not quite everything," he replied, looking at them sadly. "I wanted one more thing that I'm never gonna have. The unconditional love of my parents. You can't accept who I've chosen to spend my life with, so...that's that. If you can't accept him, then I don't want you in my life. You stole from me, you lied, you tried to have Jack locked up because you didn't like him."

"Ennis?" asked Peter, and he turned. "You are allowed to press charges for theft if you want to. Maybe you should think about that?"

Ennis looked at Jack, whose face remained neutral. He understood that this was Ennis's decision and he would support whatever was chosen.

"To be honest, I did think about it when it started to look like we would win this." He turned back to his parents. "But...I don't think I'm going to."

"Ennis-" Karen started, but Jack stepped forward and took his hand.

"No, I know what he's on about. We've been through all of this stress for months, and to press charges will just add on to that." He squeezed Ennis's hand. "We could end up facing more time in court, more fighting, more stress...we don't need that. If we let it go, we can just leave this alone and we won't have to deal with it anymore."

"Yeah," Ennis agreed, not even surprised that Jack knew what he'd been thinking.

"Are you sure?" asked Peter.

"I am. Jack's right; we need to leave this where it belongs, in the past. I don't want my parents in my life anymore so this is it. We need closure and this is the only way. They'll go back to California and we'll stay here, and that'll be that."

"Alright," Peter agreed; he trusted that Ennis knew what he was doing. He felt as if they should be punished for doing this to Ennis and Jack, but it wasn't his place. This was a personal thing that only Ennis had the right to decide.

"We'll leave, then," said Sarah, stepping back and leaving the courtroom with her husband. Ennis watched them go with a slight hint of sadness that things had to be this way, but he knew it was the best thing for himself and Jack. He sighed and felt Jack slide his arms around him.

"I'm proud of you," he murmured and Ennis smiled.

"I'm doing it for us,'s the best thing for us and the family we want to have. You're my future." He felt Jack kiss his cheek and saw happiness on the horizon for them, at long last.

To celebrate their victory, Ennis and Jack invited their group out to their favourite restaurant; the River Café near the bridge. Lureen went shopping for a while to give them some private time and both Karen and Peter returned home for the afternoon, as they would meet up later at the restaurant.

When Ennis and Jack got back to their apartment, they shut the door behind them and turned to each other.

"It's really over," Jack said, still looking stunned. "I just can't believe it." Ennis took his hands.

"I know...we've been waiting for this for months and now everything's gonna be okay. I love you so much, Jack..."

Jack smiled up at him. "You remembered about the CCTV camera, and we might not be standing here together now if it weren't for that. I could be off to jail right saved me, Ennis." He moved in closer, allowing Ennis to embrace him. "Thank you...I love you..."

Ennis hugged him tightly and kissed the top of his head, hearing a slight purr. "Jack...we've got some time to kill before we go"

Jack grinned and pulled away slightly. "I know what you're asking. I want to, but I wanna save it until tonight, when we're really alone. One of us has to book a table for dinner for later, remember? I wanna wait until we've got the whole night together."

They looked into each other's eyes and Ennis nodded, seeing the sense in Jack's words. "Okay, you're right. Tell you what, just wanna make out?" Jack smirked.

"Alright, as long as you call the restaurant first." Ennis sighed and pulled out his phone, knowing that Jack wouldn't give him anything until it was done.

As he booked the table, he watched Jack settle into the large armchair and stretch out, looking very tempting. He fixed Ennis with those deep blue eyes, knowing exactly what he was doing, and Ennis gulped.

When he was finally done, he joined Jack in the chair and manoeuvred himself so that Jack was sitting in his lap. "You damn tease," he murmured, kissing Jack's neck. Jack grinned.

"Can't help it. I'm feeling like myself again after so long..." Ennis nodded and kissed his nose.

"I know, darlin'. It's like there was this dark cloud hanging over you, and now it's gone." He smiled, stroking Jack's cheek. "I'm glad to see you're gonna be okay, but even if you were still shaken up I'd be here for you."

Jack rested his head in the crook of Ennis's shoulder. "I know you would. And I'm guessing you don't care about when your parents are leaving?"

Ennis sighed. "I won't lie, hurts that we couldn't work this out. But they crossed a line by threatening you like that. There was never any chance of us working through this after they had you arrested."

They were silent for a few moments and then started kissing, enjoying the calm after the storm and the promise of a fresh start for all of them.

The afternoon passed by slowly, and they spent most of it in the armchair together. At one point, Jack received a text from Lureen; she had seen Ennis's parents leaving their hotel and clearly heading for the airport. He and Ennis talked about it briefly but then put it out of their minds.

Lureen came back some time later and they started to get ready for their evening out; they were looking forward to celebrating the day they'd had.

The three of them met up with Karen and Peter at the restaurant and they were shown to their table. Jack ordered a bottle of champagne and proposed a toast.

"I just wanna say thank you to everybody at this table. Without you guys I never would have gotten through the last few months. Not just for the court case but...the stuff that came before as well." He glanced at Ennis; now they could truly make peace with the infection. "I've really appreciated your support through this. Peter, you've been a good friend of my side of the family for years and I can't thank you enough for helping us so much. You're gonna be a friend of ours for life, I can tell you that."

Jack looked around the table, and thanked his mother and Lureen for their support as well. Then he took Ennis's hand. "And what can I say about this guy? Only that he's...the best husband anybody could want. He's been brilliant through all of this, holding me up when I couldn't do it myself." He smiled at Ennis, whose cheeks had turned pink. "I love you, bud."

"Love you too, Jack," Ennis replied, grinning and blushing even more when Jack kissed his cheek and clearing his throat. "'s to all of us," he added, raising his glass.

"To us," they echoed, raising their own. Ennis and Jack glanced at each other before drinking, a silent understanding passing between them.

The meal was as delicious as it ever was here, and they had a good time. They liked reminiscing about the moment when the photos had been produced, especially for the looks on Ennis's parents' faces when it had happened. Ennis looked around the table and realised that he didn't miss his parents too much. He would always wish that things could have been different, but as it was he was much happier without them. He had a loving family right here, even though none of them were blood relations. He was married to Jack, which made Karen his mother-in-law. Peter and Lureen weren't related to either of them, but that didn't matter; they felt like family too. And Ennis was certain that the pair of them had taken an interest in each other; maybe Lureen might be moving over here one day after all.

He caught Jack smiling at him and nudged him gently, knowing that Jack understood. They could move on now, and they were going to make the most of it.

As soon as Ennis and Jack got home, they were all over each other. Lureen had brought an overnight bag with her to dinner, and had decided to stay with Karen in the house on Long Island for tonight; she knew that her friends were bound to be making a lot of noise. As much as she supported their relationship, she knew that hearing them having sex would traumatise her; they were her best friends after all.

The door was locked behind them and Jack pulled Ennis close by the shirt. "Ennis...I wanna be inside you," he breathed. Ennis trembled with arousal.

"You sure you're up for that?" he asked hopefully. Jack took his hand and guided it to his crotch.

"What d'you think?" he whispered, grinning. Ennis kissed him and they started walking to the bedroom, eager to make their bodies connect once more. They had a lot to celebrate tonight and they would certainly do so.

Jack made quick work of Ennis's buttons, throwing his shirt to the floor and then removing his own. They kissed fiercely and pressed their chests together, always needing more. Shoes were kicked off and they sank down onto the bed, straining for each other. "Come on," Jack breathed, undoing his jeans and nuzzling at Ennis's neck .Soon they were naked and in the middle of the bed, a tangle of arms and legs. "God, I want you..."

They shuffled up the bed and Ennis lay on his back, head on the pillow. He gazed up at Jack with both lust and love. "'s all yours," he said softly, and he could see in Jack's eyes just how much he was wanted. He shivered as Jack reached for the lube and coated it over himself. "Please...come on..." he breathed, needing that contact more than anything else.

Jack spread his legs further apart and settled in between them, biting his lip and grinning. "You want me to fuck you?" he asked lightly, trailing a hand down Ennis's stomach in a way that would drive him crazy. It was a sensitive area when Ennis was aroused, which he knew very well.

"Yeah," Ennis replied, trying not to yell out. Without an answer, Jack pushed in with one smooth stroke, taking Ennis hard and causing little lights to pop in front of his eyes. "Jack! Oh God..."

"Just relax," Jack whispered in his ear, hard and ready to make love to this man. He owed Ennis so much and this was just the start of showing him how grateful he was. "Gonna be good."

He started off slowly, allowing Ennis to get used to the feeling and work his way past the pain. Once that part was over it would be so enjoyable and they both knew it; that was why they kept going even when in pain at the start. It would be worth it in the end.

"Jack," Ennis croaked out, thinking that he would lose his mind if Jack didn't stop teasing him. Jack wasn't even touching him except in that one place; his hands were on the pillow and purposefully keeping away from the one place where he knew Ennis wanted him to touch him.

"What d'you want?" Jack breathed in his ear, nipping it. "Tell me what you want."

"Touch me, please," Ennis groaned, lifting his hips even as Jack thrust steadily into him. Jack grinned and grabbed hold of him, sliding his hand up and down slowly and continuing to search for the prostate; he had an idea of where it was but he always enjoyed postponing that moment because it made things last longer. He wanted this to be as good as possible for Ennis, just like Ennis did when he was on top. "Oh..."

Jack started thrusting harder and faster, finding the sweet spot and using every trick he knew to make Ennis moan. He loved the sounds dropping from Ennis's mouth and was dimly aware of making his own as they rocked together, skin slapping together. He could feel Ennis leaking between them and knew he was very close, about to explode and drive them both over the edge. "Come for me," he murmured in Ennis's ear, and that did it. Jack grinned when he felt sticky fluid hitting his stomach and planted his knees, thrusting a few more times until he was there himself.

He collapsed onto Ennis, panting heavily like he'd just run a marathon without stopping. "Oh, Ennis...that was..."

"Yeah," Ennis gasped, eyes fixed on the ceiling. That had been something else, and he was very glad to see that Jack was back to his usual self. Everything would be okay now. "I love you..."

"Right back at you," Jack sighed, pulling out and relaxing on top of him. "Been a while since we were like that, huh?"

"Sure has. I missed that..." Ennis wrapped his arms around Jack, closing his eyes and still breathing deeply. "Missed doing it when we didn't have anything to worry about at the back of our minds. We don't have to worry anymore."

"Yeah..." Jack tiredly pressed his lips to Ennis's chest and rolled off him, stretching. They pulled the quilt up from underneath and threw it over themselves, immediately moving in close and looking at each other. "You okay?" Ennis knew he was only partly asking about his physical wellbeing.

"I'm fine," he answered, taking Jack's hand underneath the quilt and squeezing. "I really am. I've got you, and Karen and Lureen and Peter. I'm gonna be just fine with you guys, but especially with you, Jack. If I was your rock through the last few months, then you're gonna be mine while I adjust to being estranged from my parents."

Jack nodded. "Of course I will. We're always there for each other, Ennis; that's what a marriage is about. I just wanna see you happy."

Ennis smiled and kissed him. "You make me happy, Jack." They curled up together and let their eyes fall shut, still holding hands through the night.