Hey guys! Here's the epilogue. I hope you've enjoyed this story; it wasn't easy to write in certain places but hopefully it's paid off. My next story is a short one, just ten chapters with each one to be posted every day. It will be called One More Miracle. I have another big story coming up after that which I am really looking forward to writing, and I'll tell you more when the first story finishes.
After Ennis and Jack took their new son home, they were soon bombarded with gifts from their friends and relatives, with the exception of Ennis's parents. They both knew that there was no point in worrying about that, so they forgot about it and just concentrated on what they had now. They had to focus on this because their new baby was depending on them.
"Isn't he something else?" Ennis asked as they watched him in his crib in the nursery. He was looking up at them with his wide eyes, taking in everything he was seeing. They thought of him as the cutest baby they'd ever seen, even if they were a little biased. Karen had told them that every new parent felt that way, and they could see why.
"He sure is," Jack replied, holding Ennis's arms around him. "Our baby boy...and we're a family..." He couldn't quite believe it sometimes; when he'd first been infected he'd feared that he would never have this. He owed it to Ennis.
Their bosses had given them two months of paternity leave, and they would start their new shifts when they returned. They had fallen in love with their new son and were happier than ever; it had been the best idea they'd ever had. They hadn't been married for long when they had first talked about it, but they had been right; in the time since their relationship had grown even more and they were ready for a baby now.
Karen was pleased to be a grandmother and doted on James; his last name had been tricky for them to decide on. Ultimately, they decided that his full name would be James Warren Twist-Del Mar, with his mother's last name being his middle. Ennis and Jack felt as if it was the best way to remember her. They weren't sure why they felt like this about a woman they had never known, but since she was the woman who had brought their son into the world they felt as if they owed it to her.
Claire was able to give them the address of Francesca's parents in Queens, and the pair of them took James to the cemetery where she had been buried. Her grave was under a willow tree, slightly apart from the rest. It was made of beautiful marble, which showed them that she had at least had a good relationship with her parents.
Francesca Jane Warren
August 20th 1992 - September 15th 2012
Beloved daughter, friend and mother
"God," Jack sighed, looking down at the grave as he laid the flowers down. They had brought her a bouquet of roses, the New York state flower. They were of a dark pink colour, which they had thought she might have liked. "Poor girl...she didn't deserve that."
"Sure didn't," Ennis agreed as he held James. "We have to go see her parents, Jack. They're his grandparents just as much as Karen is...and maybe they can tell us more about her. I wanna know this stuff and I think it's only fair that James knows it too."
"Yeah," Jack replied, gently touching the headstone and clearing leaves from the engraving. He felt very sorry for this young girl who they hadn't even known. He silently vowed to her that they would take care of her son. They owed her that much and they knew that she would have wanted good parents for her baby.
He and Ennis tracked down her parents and they were very welcoming. They themselves hadn't known how she had become pregnant, which more or less confirmed Ennis and Jack's suspicions if she hadn't told anyone. They really didn't want to know the truth; it might make things harder for them.
Her parents had plenty of stories to tell about their daughter, and showed no signs of homophobia towards her or them. They thanked Ennis and Jack for taking on their grandson and in turn were told that they could remain in touch and see James whenever they wanted. They gave Ennis and Jack some photos of her; she had been a redhead with green eyes, very pretty and clearly full of life. She'd looked so happy and they felt even sorrier for her. Jack wished they had known her.
They took the photos home with them and resumed their lives. They had already celebrated Thanksgiving together, and knew that they had much to be thankful for this year. At the beginning of December, they decorated the apartment for James's first Christmas and took him to the park when it started snowing. When he was older, they could take him sledging and help him to build a snowman; they had some good times to look forward to and couldn't wait to see him grow up.
As Claire had told them, they were starting to experience the firsts. They noticed that he was becoming more aware of everything around him and starting to respond to them. They did research on the development of babies when they got the chance so that they had some idea of what to expect.
They didn't hear anything more from Ennis's parents, but that was to be expected. Ennis sometimes wished that they could be in contact, but he realised that he didn't really need them. He had a loving husband and now a son; everything he'd ever wanted.
Their sex life didn't suffer too much; James hardly ever cried in the night and slept for most of it anyway. They knew that they were very lucky in that respect; Karen had told him about how he used to be the exact opposite. Besides, they felt more in love than ever now that they had a baby and they were raising him as a team.
Christmas came, and they loved seeing the look in James's eyes as he stared at the lights on the tree. His brown hair was growing curly, like a perfect mix of their hair. It truly was as if he was the son of three people, and they definitely didn't want to know about the biological father.
During the cold nights, Ennis and Jack would curl up on the sofa under the afghan with the baby monitor close by, warm and happy.
"I love you so much," Jack murmured, nuzzling his cheek to Ennis's neck. "I swear, I've never been this happy..."
"Me neither," Ennis replied, kissing his forehead. "I love you more than ever now. We're a family..."
Just as they leaned in for a kiss, they heard James through the monitor. He was whimpering and they recognised the sound. "Your turn to change him, bud," Ennis said to Jack, smirking. Jack sighed; this wasn't his favourite part of being a dad.
Still, they were very happy. There had been a point when they hadn't been sure if they would get to this point so they knew how lucky they were.
Through the holidays, James grew even more and they were fascinated by him. He soon started crawling in early 2013 and the pair of them baby-proofed the apartment just in case.
In February, Ennis and Jack left James with Karen and went on a romantic trip to Vermont together. They rented a cabin and went fishing and walking through the trees, glad to have some time to relax at last. They'd been through a lot lately and needed a break; James wasn't particularly fussy but it was still a lot of hard work.
When they got back, they started to maintain some kind of relationship with James's maternal grandparents. They were as pleasant as ever and got on well with Karen. Ennis swallowed down the lump in his throat when he thought of his parents and how he wished they could be more accepting, even though he knew this was for the best. Jack soon picked up on this and would stick close to him whenever he started to feel like that.
"It's okay," he soothed Ennis on the night of his mother's birthday, knowing how hard it was for him. "I'm here, sweetheart...shh..."
Ennis clung to him, trying to get a grip on himself. "I miss them, Jack. I don't want them around you or James, or even me, but I miss them..."
"I know you do. They're still your parents, after all. You wouldn't be here if not for them. But you did the right thing and we both know it. They don't deserve you, Ennis...they just don't." He kissed his husband's forehead, trying to calm him. "I'm right here, not going anywhere. And we've got our son, who's depending on us to take care of him. We have to remain strong for him, Ennis. He needs us."
"Yeah," Ennis replied, nodding and starting to relax. Jack was right; he had to try and let go.
In April, Ennis and Jack celebrated their first wedding anniversary. They had a party in a local venue which was attended by their friends and family, excluding Ennis's parents. Everybody made a fuss over James, who was growing all the time and wasn't far off his first birthday.
To further celebrate their anniversary, Ennis and Jack let Karen take James for the night and thoroughly christened their new bed sheets together. They made love all night, until the sheets were covered in stains and they could barely move.
"We're gonna feel this in the morning," Jack panted, staring up at the ceiling. He wasn't sure how they had ended up perpendicular to the bed, but he didn't care. That had been a lot of fun.
"Tell me about it," Ennis breathed, one arm draped over Jack. "Shit...your mom's gonna see us limping tomorrow and she'll know what we were doing..."
"Ennis," Jack replied. "I think she already knows. It's our anniversary and she's babysitting. That can only mean one thing. She knows full well that we have sex."
"I know, but...she's your mom," Ennis replied. "It's just...weird."
Jack grinned and rolled onto his side, kissing his cheek. "You're cute when you blush." Ennis gave him a look, and before Jack knew what was happening he was on his back, feeling Ennis starting to push inside him without warning. "Oh God...you bastard," he groaned, feeling arousal flow through him once more.
Ennis kissed his neck. "I'll show you cute," he growled before rendering Jack unable to talk.
Jack was certain of one thing; his love for Ennis would never wane no matter how long they had left to live. Both of them were aware of what might happen to them now that they were both positive, but neither of them had any scares. Ennis was wary of taking the Videx, considering how it had landed Jack in hospital, but he was fine. They still kept a close eye on each other just in case anything seemed out of the ordinary, but for the most part they were healthy.
One of Jack's greatest fears, besides losing Ennis or James, was that Daniel Waters would either break out of prison or be released, and come looking for him. As a victim, Jack would be immediately contacted by the police if his attacker were to escape or be released early. He didn't know what he might do if that happened but he knew that Ennis would be there for him no matter what.
In late June, they started hearing things on the news that the Defence of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 of California were finally being challenged. On the 26th, both laws were found to be unconstitutional and that meant a huge breakthrough for same-sex marriage. Ennis and Jack thought of the irony; if they had stayed over there then they wouldn't be able to marry yet; licenses weren't going to be given out until next year. As it was, they had just celebrated their first anniversary and that was very special.
"That's incredible," Jack said as they watched the story on the news. "I never thought they'd do something like this in our lifetime. Thought it'd be much longer before they realised that we have rights too."
"I know," Ennis replied, rubbing Jack's arm. "Still, I'm glad we moved anyway. We've been married for a year, Jack...and that's something special." Jack nodded and snuggled closer to him, knowing he was right.
They did take a trip back to California with James to visit Lureen and Alma, who were both doing very well. Alma had met someone of her own and was now engaged; Ennis was very happy for her because she deserved someone who could love her completely. Lureen had been seeing someone for six months and they were talking about living together. Ennis and Jack were pleased to know that their friends would be okay without them close by; this made it easier.
While eating in a café, Ennis looked out the window and spotted his parents walking down the street across the road. He pointed them out to Jack, who took his hand. "Baby...I know it's hard for you but you have to be strong. Look...do you want to talk to them?"
Ennis considered it, but then remembered those dark times when Jack might have been locked up because of them. "No, I don't. Not after what they tried to do. I can't trust them." He looked away from the window and went back to helping James with his food.
Their son grew in leaps and bounds, and they had tons of footage to show people about him taking his first steps and starting to talk. They were enjoying every minute of parenthood and could now see why people wanted to have kids; it was clear to them by now.
For his first birthday, they took him to Chuck E. Cheese in Manhattan. They enjoyed the pizza and helped him in the play area, grinning the whole time at how amazing their son was. He was happy to explore his surroundings and they knew that they were very lucky. There were other same-sex parents there too, which gave Ennis and Jack an opportunity to talk to people who understood what they were going through.
"Isn't he amazing?" Jack said for the hundredth time since they'd adopted him, as they watched him sleep. He was worn out after their day and probably wouldn't wake until the morning now.
"He sure is," Ennis agreed, squeezing Jack from behind. "He's our son, Jack...and there's nobody who'd love him more than we do. We've waited for this for years."
"Yeah. I love you," Jack replied, smiling when Ennis kissed his cheek.
"Back at you, bud. You ready to go to bed?" Jack heard the insinuation and nodded, allowing Ennis to take his hand and lead him to their own bedroom. No matter how tired they were, they always had time for each other.
Five years ago, he was alone and wasn't sure what kind of future he had to look forward to. Everything had changed a year later when he'd met Ennis, and now he had everything he'd ever wanted.