August 23rd, 2012
Two days after Lureen's arrival, Ennis and Jack took her to meet with their doctor and lawyer. They had spoken at length about how everything would be handled and had come to an agreement that suited all of them; this was bound to make it easier.
The day before, they had received their template contract from Peter and gone over it with Lureen; she had agreed with everything so now they could sign it. All three of them were looking forward to doing this.
"Okay," Peter said as they sat down in his office. "You've agreed to carry their child, and upon the birth you will sign over your parental rights to Jack," he said to Lureen, who nodded. "However, it has been agreed between you that you don't have to return home right away; you can stay as long as you need to until you're ready to leave the baby."
"Yeah," Jack replied; it was the easiest solution for all of them. They didn't want Lureen to feel like she was being pushed out by them.
"And it says here that you will have a say in the name of the child as well, and also in where they are educated. During the pregnancy, Ennis and Jack will attend all scans that you go to and offer their support whenever you need it. It has been agreed that Jack's mother will pay two thousand dollars, half of the fees that you are entitled to, and that they will pay the rest in instalments over the nine months."
Lureen nodded. "Yep, I think that's everything," she replied, and Peter handed over a pen, pushing the contract towards them.
"If everything is to your agreement, Miss Newsome, then you should sign here." He indicated where she should sign and she glanced at her friends, happy that she could do this for them. She signed her name and handed the contract to them so they could do the same.
"Okay then, now what should we do?" Jack asked, and Peter cleared his throat.
"Well, it's out of my hands now. You're ready to get started on this, so I say you should go and see your doctor right away." They nodded and stood up, full of anticipation now that things had started. They all shook his hand and left, starting to head for their doctor's office.
"Who knew that having a baby would involve so much paperwork?" Lureen mused as she glanced over the contract again.
"Well, we wanted to make sure that you're happy with everything," Jack told her, giving her a nudge. He was holding Ennis's hand tightly, starting to get excited about this now that everything was agreed. She smiled at them.
"At least you won't have any trouble with the money," she pointed out. "I bet you were worried about that."
Jack nodded. "Yeah...didn't think we could do it on our own and if we had to pay you in full right away." He shrugged. "We might have had to wait, but...I'm glad we don't."
They reached their doctor's office and were soon able to see him. "We got the contract all signed," Jack informed him, and he nodded.
"Good. Now, the next step is preparing Ennis and Lureen for the conception of the child. The first thing we need to do is some tests. Ennis, as the partner of someone with HIV you would need to be tested for this before we can do anything. I personally am certain that you two are careful, but it's standard procedure." Jack tried not to panic at this; he and Ennis were always so careful even in their most passionate moments. Surely he hadn't infected him.
"Okay, and what about Lureen?" Ennis asked, and John looked at her.
"Well, you would need to take a fertility test to make sure you are capable of having a child. This would need to be done in a fertility clinic, but it makes no difference whether it's here or in California as long as you have your doctor informed of it. You can have it done here before you leave and have your results given to you over the phone if you're back home when they arrive."
"Alright," Lureen agreed, nodding. "So if Ennis is negative and I'm fertile, then we can get started?"
"That's right," John told her. "In both cases, it could take a few days for your results to come through, maybe even longer. So in the meantime, you have to at least consider alternative options if something is wrong."
They all nodded, but were all hoping that it wouldn't come to that. Lureen had set her heart on doing this for her friends and would feel very guilty if she was unable to carry a baby or if anything happened to it during the pregnancy.
"So...Lureen, if you don't mind being tested here I can arrange for that. There are some open slots this Saturday if that suits. And Ennis, you can be tested on the same day if you wish."
"I don't leave until Saturday evening," Lureen informed him. "So...can we do it in the morning?"
"Yes, of course," John replied. "I'll call you when I have a slot booked for you. For now, I would advise you to go home and try to relax. I know that all of this is a lot to take in, but you all need to get some rest. Leave it with me and just try to enjoy yourselves."
They thanked him and left, out into the bright sunshine. "Well, that was easier than I thought it would be," Jack said, looking around. "Now what? You guys hungry?" The three of them headed for a nearby café and were looking forward to having a break. "You okay?" he asked Lureen, and she nodded.
"Yeah...just thinking about that test. I hope everything's okay with me, and that there's no problems."
Jack wanted to tell her that he was sure everything would be okay, but he too was starting to worry.
After lunch, the three of them decided to walk around for a while and go shopping. They headed into a bookstore and Lureen couldn't help but look at the baby books on sale. There were a number of books on pregnancy and she picked one up, flicking through and looking at the photos.
"Guys, you've gotta look at this," she said to them, and they came over to see what she was looking at.
"Oh...look at that," Jack said softly, grasping Ennis's arm. "They're something else, aren't they?"
"Sure are," Ennis agreed, and he was starting to look forward to being a father. He was still wondering whether or not to tell his parents what was going on; he felt as if they should know about their future grandchild but he still couldn't forgive them for how they had treated Jack. They had actually asked Ennis to consider leaving him, which neither of them had forgotten.
"You know, I think I'm gonna buy this," Lureen said, looking through it. "It's got all these tips about being pregnant...could be useful. I know there's a long way to go yet, but..."
"Don't worry about it," Jack said to her. "I'm sure it'll be okay." Ennis knew that Jack was trying to convince himself as well as her, but didn't say anything. He too was hoping that their tests would carry the results they were hoping for.
He and Jack looked around some more while Lureen paid for the book and then left, wondering where to go now. Ennis was enjoying living here; it was very different from San Francisco and he hadn't really expected that. He had worried about how Jack would cope with living here considering what had happened to him, and it might not have been possible without their previous trips here. He would never forget that walk in the park where Jack had taken him to the spot and how he had been able to comfort Jack.
Jack felt Ennis squeeze his hand and looked at him. "What's up?" he asked as he saw the pensive look on his husband's face. Ennis shook his head.
"Just...thinking about us living here. I didn't think it might ever happen, with everything that you went through."
"I know...I surprised myself, to be honest. When we broke up I even thought about coming back here by myself. It would've been really hard to do that without you, and I'm glad I didn't have to."
"Me too. Just wish it hadn't taken you being sick to get us back together and knock some sense into me," Ennis said quietly; he would never forgive himself for that. If Jack had died that night, he might have died thinking that Ennis didn't want him anymore and that thought terrified Ennis. As a result, he had resolved to tell and show Jack every day how much he loved him.
"Don't think about it," Jack told him softly, squeezing his arm. "It's over and done with now, okay?"
Lureen heard everything they were saying but decided not to speak, knowing that this would be an ongoing issue for them. Ennis would never stop feeling guilty and Jack would never stop telling him not to blame himself; there wasn't much else they could do when this topic came up, but she knew that it wouldn't cause problems for them. They were past all of that now.
They did some more shopping for a few hours and then returned home, Lureen having found some more books to look through. She was trying not to get too excited about it just yet in case something was wrong, but she couldn't help it. And while she was aware that it would not be easy for her to hand the baby over, she could at least be certain that Ennis and Jack would be great parents. She couldn't imagine two people more ready for this than them.
When they got home, she noticed them sat closely together on the sofa, watching TV while she read. It was very clear just how strong their bond was, and she liked watching how they interacted with each other. She found it quite inspiring to see just how much they loved each other, and knew that the baby would grow up in a loving family.
Jack was resting his head on Ennis's shoulder and stroking his hand with his thumb, knowing that Ennis could do with the reassurance that he was well loved. He knew that they could never truly resolve the issue of their brief separation and what it had taken to get them back together, but he was used to that now. All he could do was make sure Ennis knew they wouldn't have that problem ever again.
When Lureen went to the bathroom, Jack took the opportunity to kiss Ennis full on the mouth, drawing a surprised sound from him. "Mmm, what was that about?" he asked, looking a little dazed. Jack smiled.
"Just wanted to remind you how much I love you," he replied, nuzzling Ennis's nose with his own. "And I didn't want Lureen smirking at me while I did it. Please, Ennis...don't go beating yourself up over what happened; it's been a long time and we've been through so much since then. When you get like this, it hurts me to see you suffer. I know you don't like hurting me, so just cut it out, okay? I'm not going anywhere now, promise."
He kissed Ennis again and resumed his position, shifting even closer to him. Ennis kissed the top of Jack's head and sighed. "I'm trying, bud. It just gets to me that I was such an idiot and that I ever let you go. I was a real coward to do that, and..." He was cut off by Jack's hand on his mouth and relented, knowing that Jack didn't want him feeling like this. He nodded and kissed Jack's palm in apology. They didn't need to say anything; they knew each other well enough by now.
That night, Ennis and Jack were in bed and facing each other, talking about the day and everything that had happened. They were happy that everything was sorted out and were very much looking forward to the next step.
"Just hope everything goes okay with those tests," Jack said, running a finger along Ennis's arm. Ennis cupped his cheek.
"I'm sure it'll be fine, darlin'," he replied in a soft voice. He stroked Jack's skin gently, eyes roaming over the face he knew and loved. "You wanna take your mind off it for a while?" he asked, and Jack grinned; he knew what Ennis was asking.
"Sure..." They leaned in and kissed, just lightly pressing their lips together. Sometimes they liked to take things slowly, so that they could relax and enjoy every second of it. It was the perfect way to wind down after a long and busy day.
Ennis found himself moving closer to Jack, pressing their crotches together and hearing a soft moan escape from Jack. "Ennis..." he breathed, eyes darker than usual. "I..."
"What d'you want?" Ennis asked softly, nuzzling their faces together. "Tell me..."
"Want you inside me," he whispered. That was the position they usually had sex in; sometimes Jack would be on top and they both loved it, but this was their favourite position. Jack always enjoyed having Ennis inside him, making him feel safe and loved like nobody else ever could. He trusted Ennis while in such a vulnerable position and knew that Ennis would never hurt him. "Want you...right there..."
Ennis nodded and rolled on top of him, spreading Jack's legs apart and settling into position. He had to admit that he liked being here, knowing that Jack trusted him enough to allow such access to his body. He liked being on top not because of control, but because he liked making Jack feel good.
He kissed Jack deeper this time, pushing his tongue into Jack's mouth and caressing his chest at the same time. He felt Jack sigh into his mouth and broke away, smiling slightly. "Gonna make you feel good," he murmured, and Jack grinned breathlessly. Ennis grabbed the lube and two rubbers, preparing them both so that they would remain safe. He marvelled at how they could remember to do this even when they were yearning for each other and usually unable to think of anything else.
When they were both ready, he lifted Jack's legs up and wrapped them around his waist. Jack locked his ankles together and they shifted against each other until Ennis was pressing against the dark entrance. "You ready?" Jack nodded and bit his lip when he felt Ennis pushing into him, the familiar warmth washing over him.
"Oh God..." he breathed, head falling back to the pillow. "Every time...feels so damn good..."
Ennis smiled and nuzzled his neck as he pushed further in until he was there. Jack could feel the throbbing inside him and he welcomed the slight pain that came with it; the pleasure was always worth this. He allowed Ennis to lace their fingers together on the pillow and gazed up at his husband, who always knew how to make this moment both romantic and sexual. "I love you," he said suddenly, and Ennis smiled.
"Back at you, bud." He slowly started moving, pulling out a little bit before pushing back in and watching Jack's face. After a few thrusts, Jack's eyes fell shut and his mouth opened in bliss; Ennis had never seen anything so beautiful. He buried his face in Jack's neck and kissed the glowing skin as he moved, feeling Jack take every inch of him and hearing soft moans coming from him. He didn't like to think of causing Jack any amount of pain, but Jack had told him that it was a good kind of pain that he welcomed. Besides, he knew from experience that it would all be worth it.
As they moved together, Ennis let go of Jack's hands and instead slid his own underneath Jack, holding him close in an embrace. Jack returned it and raised his hips to meet every thrust, loving the slow pace that Ennis was taking because it felt more like making love. He gulped for air as he started trembling, knowing that it wouldn't be long. "Oh God," he groaned, feeling Ennis push deeper and harder to get them there. "Fuck...oh God, fuck me..."
Ennis raised his head and kissed him deeply just as he climaxed, shaking violently and bucking underneath him. Ennis wasn't far behind, gritting his teeth as he came and gasping as he finished. He collapsed onto Jack, breathing heavily and seeing stars. "Oh...Jack..."
"Yeah," Jack replied, burying his nose in the dampened curls and inhaling Ennis's scent. "I know, baby." He felt Ennis pull out of him and relax, sighing with contentment. "Mmm...well, you were right. You did make me feel good...really good." He heard a soft laugh coming from Ennis and smiled, hugging him tightly. "You, uh...you wanna take these off?" Ennis nodded and they removed the rubbers together. They cleaned themselves up and got comfortable, Jack now resting his head on Ennis's chest. Ennis lay on his back and wrapped an arm around Jack, rubbing his shoulder.
"I reckon we've managed to wind down after today," he said, and Jack nodded.
"Yeah...damn. Tell you what...I think every time is our best. We just keep getting better every time we do it."
"Reckon we do. Guess we really are meant for each other...I never doubted that, but you know what I mean," Ennis told him, and Jack kissed his chest.
"I do. And just think...we've got so many years of our lives ahead of us. All those nights just waiting for us. We're spending our lives together, and...I can't imagine spending my life with anyone else."
Ennis kissed his dark hair. "Me neither, bud. I think we've got some good times coming." He blushed. "I mean...damn it." He felt Jack laughing against him and gave up, knowing that he couldn't hold back when Jack was this happy.
August 25th, 2012
The morning before Lureen was due to leave, she had a fertility test at the local clinic to make sure that she was capable of having a baby. As far as she knew everything was okay, but she'd never attempted to get pregnant before so she didn't know.
While she was busy with that, Jack went with Ennis to the HIV clinic as moral support, hoping that everything would be okay with him. They sat holding hands as they waited to be called in, both of them aware that if something went wrong then they would have to choose another option.
"If that happens, then what do we do?" Jack asked, looking at his partner. Ennis thought for a moment.
"I reckon the only way is adoption. But you heard Peter; gay couples aren't at the top of the list and it could take years before someone picks us." He looked at Jack sadly. "Sure wish it wasn't like that."
"Well...we're only almost thirty," Jack reasoned. "If it takes a few years then it might not be the worst thing. Lots of people have kids in their thirties once they've settled down. But...I don't like the idea of waiting so long. And we've got no idea when someone might pick us, so it's not like we can really prepare for it. And what if someone never picks us?"
Ennis squeezed his hand. "Tell you what...we won't think about that right now. You never know; it might be alright. We can't go panicking, Jack...we'll just make ourselves feel worse."
Jack nodded and took a deep breath. "Yeah." He looked at his watch. "You reckon Lureen might be done yet? I don't know how long those tests take."
"No idea. Anyway, you told her to text you, right? She'll let us know when she's done." They were called in and sat down, being greeted by the doctor.
"So, is this just a routine check?" he asked as he prepared the needle. Ennis shook his head.
"Not really. We're looking to have a kid with a friend with me as the dad, so..."
"Ah, I see. And this is your husband?" he asked, seeing their matching rings.
"Yep. I'm positive, so obviously we need to make sure that he isn't before we go about doing this insemination thing," Jack informed him. The doctor nodded.
"Right. Well, it would be standard procedure anyway even if you were single." They both nodded.
"How long until we get the results?" Ennis asked. "When he got it, his results came back in two weeks..."
"It can take that long, but these days it can usually be detected faster than that so it might only be less than a week. We'll give you a call when the results are in and we can either give them to you over the phone or you can come in." He paused. "However, if we ask you to come in, that tends to mean bad news. It's definitely the hardest part of this job, having to tell people something like that."
"I can see why," Jack agreed; having experience of what it was like to live with the virus, he didn't think he would ever be able to do this kind of job. He couldn't imagine having to tell people that they had it, knowing how much it could change a life.
Ennis was then injected with the needle, wincing slightly as his blood was extracted. Jack grinned and nudged him. "Hey, come on. I thought you were tougher than that." Ennis gave him a look.
"I've never been good with needles," he replied, and he was given a piece of cotton wool to place over the puncture.
"Well, that's that. Like I said, we'll call when we have the results," the doctor told them. They left the office and Jack checked his phone; there was no message from Lureen yet so she was still being tested.
"You wanna head over there, see if she's done?" Ennis nodded and they headed for the fertility clinic. They had discussed Ennis having such a test done, but their doctor had informed them that there wasn't much point until they were sure of his HIV status. If he was fine then they would do so; they just had to wait now.
When they got there, they found that Lureen was just finishing and ready to leave. There were a few more hours until she had to get to the airport, so they all decided to have lunch together in the city one last time.
"So now all we can do is wait," Jack said as they sat down. "No idea how long it might take. Could be a couple of weeks."
"Well, at least we've got time to prepare," Lureen pointed out. "And at least if everything is okay you won't have to wait years for it to happen."
"Yeah...just don't like all this waiting," he replied. "Part of me wishes I was a woman right now."
"Then you guys wouldn't be together," she pointed out. "Ennis is gay, remember?" Ennis nodded at her statement.
"Yep...wouldn't really work."
"You know what I mean...that I could carry your baby myself. Lureen, I'm really grateful that you're doing this for us, but...you know? I wish we could do it by ourselves."
"I know," she replied gently, covering his hand with hers. "But this is how things are and we just have to deal with that. I'm fully prepared to do this for you guys, and I want to. I think we all know that we can't put things off all the time...you never know what's gonna happen." Jack nodded, thinking of the night when he'd been taken to hospital. What if he hadn't? He'd planned on returning here by himself and he might never have seen Ennis again.
"You cold?" Ennis asked when he noticed Jack shiver. Jack shook his head.
"No...just thinking of what might have happened if I hadn't been in hospital. We might not..." Ennis didn't say anything; there was nothing they could say about that time in their lives. But he curled his fingers around Jack's and squeezed his hand.
Later that afternoon, they took Lureen to the airport and bid her goodbye. They were sad to see her go but she would be back soon enough; as soon as they knew the results of the tests they could move on to the next stage. Jack spoke to his mother about their plans over the phone and he could tell that she was looking forward to being a grandmother. Even though she would not be related to the baby by blood, it would still be her grandchild due to Jack's marriage to Ennis, and that was all they needed to know.
When she'd left, Ennis and Jack retired to their apartment and looked forward to an evening in. They started making dinner together, occasionally nudging each other as they worked and grinning. They had always enjoyed doing things like this ever since the start of their relationship; they liked the domestic feeling.
"So, looks like things are going well," Jack commented as they saw to the food. Ennis nodded.
"Yeah, guess so. You really think everything's gonna be okay with the tests?" he asked, looking over at his partner. Jack took his hand.
"I hope so, bud." He paused. "But even if it isn't...we'll figure it out. I'm sure there's a way for us." Ennis smiled at him and nodded.
"Yeah. I do want us to have a kid somehow, darlin'. But if we have to adopt...it wouldn't be the worst thing, right?"
"No, not really. There's bound to be a lot of kids out there who need a home...but we know it's a long shot for guys like us." He felt Ennis squeeze his hand and they let go, returning to their work.
Over dinner, they decided not to talk about the potential setbacks of what they were doing. That was a conversation for when the results came back; for now, they just had to try and look forward to the possibility of them having a baby. It was certainly something that they both wanted, and that was the most important thing.
"So, how's work?" Ennis asked. Jack nodded.
"Yep, going good. There's this young girl who got infected by her boyfriend...the doctor in charge told me about her and that she needs someone to talk to, so...I've been giving her some tips on how to deal with it."
Ennis smiled at him; he was very proud of how well Jack was doing. They had come so far in the last few years and he could remember when Jack had worked at an electrical store. He'd been so unhappy while working there and had had to quit because of it. Ennis knew that he was so much happier now and it made him happy.
"That's a good thing for you to do, darlin'. I just wish you'd had someone to talk to when you got infected...might have made it easier, you know?"
Jack nodded. "I know, but...I had you, in the end. You were always there for me, right?"
"Yeah, of course. But I wasn't positive, and I'm probably not now. You really should've spoken to someone back then, you know. Someone who could've helped..."
"I know I should have...but I just couldn't cope. I was traumatised by what had happened and my dad had disowned me. I felt really alone, Ennis...until I met you. Then I felt like I really had someone to take care of me, for the first time since it happened." He looked into Ennis's eyes. "You were the first person in my life who...wanted to be with me despite what I have. I'll never forget that, bud."
Ennis smiled back. "I'm glad I could help you, Jack. I saw that you were trying to just live your life but you were struggling because you felt alone. I wanted to be there for you."
They finished their dinner and then headed over to the sofa; Jack switched the TV on and they got comfortable, him resting against Ennis. This was one of his favourite times of the day, when they could just relax and be together. They would need this if they did have a baby; it would undoubtedly take up most of their free time and they would have to take these moments wherever they could. But they knew it would all be worth it as they saw the child grow up; Jack's mother had said the same thing.
Ennis laced their fingers together on his knee, liking how Jack's hand felt against his own. Jack truly was his other half and there was never any doubt about that. He used his free hand to lift Jack's face to his, smiling. He leaned in and kissed Jack softly on the lips, hearing a sigh escape from his partner. They were still so much in love and that would never change; he knew that. He'd heard that having a child could put strain on relationships, but he was certain that this would never happen.
"What was that about?" Jack murmured, eyes sparkling in the light from the TV. Ennis shrugged.
"Just felt like kissing you. Always enjoyed that, you know." He nuzzled their noses together and felt Jack slide an arm around his waist. They hugged and kissed for a good few minutes, not paying attention to the TV but only to each other. Jack laughed when Ennis kissed his neck.
"You know that drives me crazy," he said, enjoying it nevertheless. Ennis grinned.
"I know...I like making you squirm." He relented and chose to simply gaze down into Jack's eyes; they were a deep blue that went straight to his heart. "I love you so much, you know..."
Jack nodded. "I know, bud. I really do...and you know how I feel about you, Ennis." He rested his head back to Ennis's shoulder and sighed. "Mmm...this is good, but...you wanna go to bed yet?" Ennis laughed at the implication and switched the TV off.
"Sounds good to me, darlin'." He grabbed Jack's hand and led him through the apartment to their bedroom.