Chapter 16

October 1st, 2010

It was a Friday when Ennis's visit was due to start, and Jack was pacing restlessly around his apartment. Ennis had just been allowed into the building and would knock on the door at any minute; Jack was very nervous. Six long months that felt like six years, and now Ennis was almost here with him again.

Jack had spent the last month preparing himself for what would be an amazing fortnight, and also thinking about what they had to discuss. They seriously needed to talk about their future living situation and what they were going to do when Ennis returned for good.

He jumped when there came a knock on the door, and Jack eagerly crossed the room and opened it; Ennis was standing there with his bag, dressed in the uniform that Jack loved so much with a smile on his face. "Hey, Jack."

Jack grinned and felt his heart flutter, but he held back for a moment. "Were you followed?" Ennis shook his head.

"Nope; I made sure this time," he replied, and he dropped his bag when Jack rushed into his arms, kissing him fervently. He grabbed at Jack to steady himself, and then sunk into the kiss that his lover was ravishing him with. "Mmm..."

"I missed you," Jack breathed when they let go of each other for air. Ennis nodded and hugged him tightly.

"I missed you too, so much..." Jack led him into the apartment and they kissed again, safely behind a closed door where nobody could spy on them. Ennis pulled his mouth away to look into Jack's eyes. "Damn...feels so good to be with you again. I needed this..."

"I know, baby," Jack replied, caressing the back of his neck and peering up at him. "I know it hasn't been easy and I'm so sorry about being the cause of it..."

Ennis shook his head. "It's not your fault. We shouldn't have to hide away just because neither of us is a woman. I sure as hell don't blame you for what Mike's trying to do."

"He still hasn't done anything?" Jack asked.

"Nope. It's weird...sometimes he looks at me and grins, like he's got this hold over me. I don't know what to make of it."

Jack gulped. "Maybe he's hoping...that you'll reconsider his suggestion just to keep him before..." Ennis cupped his cheeks.

"Even if he's never gonna happen. I mean...I get lonely without you and sometimes it's not easy at all. But that doesn't mean I'm gonna go messing around behind your back, not even for my job. It's just not worth jeopardising this, what I've got with you."

Jack smiled up at him and kissed him again. "I love you."

"I love you too, Jack..." They kissed once more and felt satisfied for now; they were going to have two whole weeks together.

" want anything to eat or drink?" Jack offered. "I took the day off so I could be here when you arrived. Lureen said she'll cover my shift."

"Yeah, I'll have whatever's on offer," Ennis replied, and the double entendre hit them both at the same time. Jack laughed.

"You can have me later; you need some solid food right now." He went into the kitchen and Ennis sat down, removing his hat and stretching. He felt happier than he had in months, and realised that he also felt very much at home. He could get used to this, being with Jack all the time and coming home to him. They still needed to talk about where they were going to live, but not now. He wanted to savour this for as long as possible.

Jack came back with some lunch for them and they settled onto the sofa together, happy and content. They half-watched the TV for a while but soon became much more interested in each other when the food had been consumed.

Ennis was pressing Jack down onto the sofa, kissing his neck and sliding a hand down his stomach. "Ennis," he gasped, bucking upwards. "Oh this a good idea? With you wearing your uniform?"

"I'll take it off," Ennis whispered in his ear, and Jack groaned in response. Before he could register what was happening, his pants were around his ankles and Ennis had his head in his lap.

"Oh the hell are you so good at this? I thought you never did this before you met me?" he moaned, tilting his head back. Ennis briefly came up for air.

"I didn't, but you know what they say...practice makes perfect. We've done this plenty of times, right?"

"Fair point," Jack agreed, aware that Ennis was jerking himself off as he sucked him off; there was going to be a stain on the sofa after this but he didn't care. "Fuck!" he groaned, bucking harder and shooting into Ennis's warm mouth. Ennis sucked him dry until he collapsed, and he felt the warm fluid hit his lower stomach where his shirt was open. "Oh, Ennis..."

Ennis crawled back up and smiled down at him. "Now that's what I call a welcome home present," he quipped, and Jack started laughing.

"You're crazy," he replied, smiling up breathlessly. Ennis cupped his cheek.

"I like it when you laugh...and if I'm crazy then it's for you." He kissed Jack tenderly, allowing Jack to taste himself on his lips. "I missed you so much, darlin'..."

Jack reached out for him and they lay there together, half-naked and spent. Jack didn't care about the stains; the cushions would wash. Besides, he was so happy right now that he would have sex anywhere that Ennis wished. Maybe the kitchen worktops were on the agenda for this fortnight.

"Looking forward to my birthday," he whispered in Ennis's ear. "All that sex with you..."

"Mmm," Ennis agreed, squeezing him. "Gonna give you a day you'll never forget." Jack smiled and kissed his forehead, feeling as though he was finally complete with his other half in his arms.

A little later, Jack locked up and went into the bathroom to find Ennis filling up the tub. "Hey, what's this?" he asked, looking around. "I thought we were gonna go to bed..."

Ennis smiled at him. "Yeah, but then I got to thinking. I wanna have a bath with you, weird as that sounds. Look, I found the candles," he indicated, and Jack noticed that every surface was covered with them. It was very romantic, he had to admit. He loved Ennis's romantic side so much; it reminded him of lucky he truly was.

"Oh, Ennis...that was a really great idea. Is it too late for wine?" Ennis shook his head.

"Don't think so. I'll finish this and you can get some from the kitchen," he suggested, and Jack nodded, kissing his cheek before leaving the room. He came back to find Ennis naked and in the tub, clearly much more relaxed now. He was a little put out to find that Ennis had started without him, but he could never stay mad at Ennis for long.

"Well...this is a sight for sore eyes," Jack quipped as he set the wine and glasses down, grinning at his lover. He pulled his shirt off and was aware of Ennis watching him, eyes full of hunger. "See something you like?" he asked as his jeans came off. Ennis nodded.

"Yeah, a few things. Come on," he added, widening his legs so that Jack could fit between them. Jack climbed into the tub and immediately felt himself being wrapped up in a pair of strong arms. Ennis squeezed his stomach, making him purr.

"Mmm...that feels good. I missed having your arms around me, Ennis. I missed everything about's been so long..."

"I know. And it's been really hard this time, with Mike threatening me. So many times, I would go into my cabin and wish that you could be there in my bed. I wanted to hold you...and have you tell me that everything was gonna be okay. I wanted inside you because that's when I feel safe. To be in control of something for once..."

Jack rested his head back on Ennis's shoulder, looking up at him. "Ennis...I wish this didn't have to be so hard. But think about it...there's just one year left to go until you're here for good. Right?"

Ennis nodded and smiled at him. "That's true. I can't wait to be back with you. Are we gonna talk about where we're gonna live?"

"I don't know. We've got three options, I guess. Here, your place in Knoxville, or a new place."

"Right. Well...a new place would be expensive. There's no point in a getting a new place when it's gonna cost so much, at least not yet. We've both got apartment that we love already that can hold two of us. So it makes sense to go with one of them."

"Yep. I don't know what might be best. If we choose here, what about your apartment? Would your parents handle the return to the landlord?"

"Yeah, they would. I don't know, Jack. I know you've never seen my place, so maybe you should before we make a decision. I'd be happy with whatever you choose."

Jack smiled and picked up his wine glass. "You're sweet, Ennis. I love you so much...and I'm looking forward to living with you. I was so worried when you told me about Mike threatening you. I know that you're strong, and that you can defend yourself. But...we're talking about your job. I mean...these guys could hurt you just for being who you are. The thought of that sickens me, and I'm scared for you. I don't want you getting beaten up for it..."

"Hey," Ennis soothed, kissing the back of his neck. "Calm down, Jack. Even if I do get hurt, it'll be fine. I'll still come home to you next year and we're still gonna be together. That's just how things are supposed to be, you know?"

Jack nodded. "I can't help it, though. I worry for you because I love you. I don't want to see you hurt, but if you are...I'll be there for you. I promise you that, Ennis. I mean...I'll take care of you."

Ennis smiled and squeezed him again. "I know you will; that's why I'm not so scared of them beating me up. But I worry about what they'll say; that'll probably hurt more."

Jack turned around so that he could face Ennis. "Baby...can we not talk about this tonight? It's your first night back, so...can this be just about us tonight?" Ennis smiled and kissed him.

"Sure, darlin'. Let's finish the wine and then we'll go to bed, okay?" They nodded in agreement and did as he'd suggested.

When the tub was empty and the wine had been finished, Ennis held out his hand to Jack with a smile. They had both loved their session on the sofa earlier, but there was nothing like the real thing. It had been so long, and they had missed each other. "Come on, darlin'."

Jack grinned at him. "What are you gonna do with me, huh?" he asked lightly, pressing up close against his lover's warm body.

"I'm gonna drag you into that bedroom, lay you down on the bed and show you how well I can move a bed," Ennis replied, smirking. "That wall's gonna have marks on it from the headboard."

"Sounds good to me," Jack told him, grinning and kissing his neck. "Come on then." He put his arm underneath Jack and lifted him up into his arms. Jack laughed and held onto him.

"Steady on, sailor. Don't drop me..." Ennis looked at him.

"I'd never do anything to hurt you, Jack. You know that." Jack kissed him gently, holding on tight.

"I know you wouldn't, Ennis. Come on..." He allowed Ennis to carry him into the bedroom, where he had been alone for so long. Now he had the man he loved where he belonged.

October 9th, 2010

On the Saturday, Jack was driving Ennis up to his parents' place on Ocean Drive, near the coast. It was a beautiful day despite the late month, and he could tell that Ennis was very nervous.

"Jack, are you sure they're gonna like me?" he asked for the third time as they neared their destination. Jack smiled and took his hand, giving it a squeeze.

"Baby, calm down. They're gonna love you...not least because you make me happy." He saw Ennis nod and knew in his heart that he was right.

By the time they reached the area, Ennis was still visibly nervous and looking out of the window at the sea to calm himself. Jack liked it a lot up here, with it being so different from the city, but he couldn't imagine living in a place like this right now. He loved city living too much to be somewhere quieter, and he wondered how Ennis felt about that. He knew nothing of the area where Ennis lived, and made a mental note to ask about that.

He found his parents' house and parked up, stretching after the long drive. "Damn, forgot how long it takes. But I wanted you to see the view, so..."

"It's beautiful," Ennis admitted, admiring the clear blue sea to his right. Then he smiled at Jack. "I'm nervous, but...I really wanna do this." Jack nodded and they got out, ready to face his parents and hopefully get a seal of approval.

Jack led Ennis to the front door of a beautiful one-storey, which had white brick and a wrap-around porch. It was nestled in this quiet part of the world, so far away from the bustling city where they had spent all of their time together so far. "What d'you think?" Jack asked after he knocked, looking for Ennis's reaction.

"It's something else," he replied, nodding. "It's beautiful, like I said just now." They heard footsteps and he felt his nervousness returning. Jack squeezed his hand.

The door was opened by a middle-aged redheaded woman, who smiled widely when she saw Jack. "Oh, honey...come here!" She hugged him tightly and then looked at Ennis, knowing that her son wanted her approval for his choice of partner. "Well, you certainly look like a sailor. Tall and handsome, for one. I'm Karen, Jack's mom. Welcome, Ennis."

"Thank you, ma'am," he replied, shaking her hand. "Beautiful house."

"Thank you very much; come on in. John! Jack's here with Ennis," she called as she led them inside. "You two make yourselves at home, okay? I'll get us something to drink, and dinner will be ready soon."

"Great," Jack replied, smiling at her. "What d'you think?" he asked Ennis when she was out of earshot. Ennis nodded.

"She's really nice." Jack's father came into the room and he stood up. "Um...afternoon, sir."

"Hey there. John Twist Sr. So you're the one making my boy pine...well, as long as he's happy I don't care. He says you're being good to him." John smiled and shook Ennis's hand. He sat down to talk to Ennis about where he was from, and Jack marvelled at his luck. Ennis was the first person, male or female, that he had ever brought home to meet his parents and they seemed to like him. He was certain that dinner would go well.

"So, Ennis..." Karen started as they began to eat. "Jack told us about your problems with your co-worker. I sure hope it won't get too bad."

"Me too," he replied. "I'm not sure yet what's going to happen, but...I got myself into this so I should be able to just take it. Besides, I've got nothing to be ashamed of. I love Jack, and if they can't handle that it's not my problem."

"Quite right," she told him, smiling. Approval was written all over her face, and Jack was quite relaxed. He knew his father would be a hard nut to crack, though. John was fine with the relationship, but it was clear that he wanted to know the kind of man Jack was settling down with.

"Ennis...what's your plans for when you finish up? Workwise, I mean."

"Well, um...I'm not sure yet but I know I'd have to take into account where me and Jack decide to live. Then I can start looking for something in the area. When I was a kid, I always wanted to join the Navy so I've never had any other kind of dream job. Not sure what I'll be going into...but I want you to know that I'll always be good to Jack. I know he can take care of himself, but...sometimes I want to do it for him and we're fine with that."

John nodded. "Glad to hear that. Everyone needs someone to be there for them," he replied, lifting his glass at his wife in a toast. Jack smiled and wondered what it would be like if he and Ennis got married. Hopefully, they would have a long and happy life together like his parents had. He knew in his heart that this would be the case.

"Anyway...I wanna thank you for inviting me to come. I know you weren't always okay with a long-distance relationship because of Jack missing me, and...I want you to know that it means a lot that you accept it. Makes me feel better about leaving him alone for so long because I know he's got you guys," Ennis told them, and even though he was trying to get in their good books, Jack could tell he was still being sincere. Karen and John exchanged a knowing look and Jack smiled at him.

"Well, I think we should propose a toast," Karen said, lifting her glass and the others following suit. "To Ennis and Jack, and also to love and family."

"Hear, hear," they replied, and Jack caught Ennis's eye again as they drank. He was so happy, and very much looking forward to what the future might hold.

"That went well," Ennis commented as they walked through the door. "I enjoyed it."

Jack smiled and locked the door behind them, feeling very happy. He had always wanted Ennis to meet his parents, and it had gone so much better than he ever could have hoped for. "Yeah, so did I. And...I think they really like you, Ennis."

"I sure hope so...I really wanted to impress them." He coaxed Jack into his arms, locking his fingers together around his lover. "You think I did?"

"Of course," Jack told him, wrapping his arms around Ennis's neck. "Ennis...I really wanna thank you for coming with me. I want you to know that it means a lot to me..."

"Jack, I didn't go just for me, or even for them. I went for you, because I wanted to know more about you. I wanted to see more of your life, you know?" He cupped Jack's cheeks. "And I wanted to see where you got your good heart from, darlin'."

Jack smiled widely at him, feeling happier than he had in months. "I love you so much, Ennis. Thank you for coming with me. I wanna meet your parents one day, too. When we've got the time, obviously." Since he and Ennis were very serious about each other, he figured that it only made sense for them to integrate into each other's lives as much as possible. One day they would probably be married, so they might as well lay the foundations now while they were waiting to be together every day.

"Sounds great. I have told them about you and they wish us well. Even my dad's okay with it despite being a military guy, so that's a good sign. He's happy for us. So...maybe one day it will happen." They kissed and then Ennis sighed. "You wanna go to bed yet, or sit down for a while?"

"I'll get some wine," Jack replied, grinning. He went into the kitchen while Ennis sat down, stretching. He had enjoyed meeting Jack's parents a lot, and he was starting to believe that things would work out for them. He did want to marry Jack one day and he knew now that his future in-laws would be okay with it; they seemed to like him. He had wanted their approval for a long time and now he had it. Things were looking good for his relationship with Jack, and that made him happy.

Ennis wasn't sure why he kept thinking about marriage when he and Jack hadn't spent much time together, but it didn't scare him. He loved the idea of being tied to Jack for life and he hoped that Jack might feel the same. But he didn't know when might be an appropriate time to ask, given that they had spent less than a month in each other's company so far. It was definitely too soon for that. But that didn't mean that it would never happen; he and Jack loved each other very much and it was a natural step to take.

He was shaken from his thoughts when Jack came back in, carrying a bottle of wine and two glasses. "Here we go. I know that red wine makes you horny, but I'm prepared to take that risk," he said with a smirk as he sat down. He did secretly like it when Ennis was all over him, after all.

Ennis grinned and they moved closer together. "This is nice," he said softly as they sat back with their wine. Jack curled up against him.

"Yeah, it is. This is the kind of thing I've always wanted, Ennis. A quiet life with someone I love. I mean, I like going out but I'm not a kid anymore. When I was in college, I went out every weekend and got myself plastered. But now...I want something different. I want to settle down with"

Ennis nodded. "That's what I want too, Jack. I want to be with you so much, darlin'. Just another year left...and then we'll be together every single day." He kissed Jack's forehead and heard him purr. "I just...can't wait to find out what it's like. Waking up with you every morning, and going to bed with you every night. It's gonna be great."

"It really is. Tell me something, Ennis. Do you ever think about us...getting married one day? It's popped up now and then since we got together and...I wanted to know what you think."

"Well, um...yeah, I do," Ennis admitted. "I always wanted to get married to someone I love, and...because of the way things are now I don't have to marry a woman. So...what do you think about it?"

"I wanna marry you one day, Ennis. I really do...but it's a little too soon. I mean, we haven't spent much time together. But I can see it happening one day," he added, squeezing Ennis's hand. "I really can, Ennis. It's what I want more than anything."

"I know. And I'm not gonna put pressure on you," Ennis assured him. "It's good to know that it's on the cards, though. I'm fine with that. Anyway...since we got that dinner out of the way, we can have the rest of the time to ourselves. I know that Richard wants to meet you sometime, but other than that...what else are we gonna do?"

"Well, we could go on a cinema date, like we talked about. It'll be dark, so we could always make out at the back if we don't like the movie. That sounds like fun."

"Right. Anyway..." Jack looked at his watch and grinned. "Look at's time for bed. You wanna join me?"

"Alright, but we're not sleeping right away," Ennis replied, standing up. "We're having some time together, you and me."

Jack grinned at him. "Sounds good to me." He took Ennis's hand and led him into the bedroom, giving him that familiar lustful look that he had missed so much during their time apart.

October 16th, 2010

It was time for Ennis to leave again, which he wasn't looking forward to. They had spent two amazing weeks together which had been a relief for both of them after the past six months.

Jack's birthday had been as wonderful as promised; he and Ennis really had spent the entire day in the bedroom with only a break for the bathroom now and then. They had even ended up having sex in the shower during this time before going back to bed.

Now it was over for another six months, and they would go back to pining for each other. This was always hard for both of them, but after the fortnight they'd spent together they were closer than ever. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad this time.

Jack was sitting on his bed while Ennis finished packing, watching him sadly. "What time do you have to go?" he asked, and Ennis sighed.

"Half an hour," he replied, feeling as if his heart would break at the idea of leaving Jack again. He hated being away for so long with only phone calls and letters to sustain him, but at least each trip home brought them closer to being together for good. "Wish I didn't have to go..."

"Me neither. I loved the last two weeks, Ennis. It was great to spend so much time with you and I know...that we probably won't have so much time on your next visit. Doesn't happen often, right?"

"No," Ennis admitted, straightening up. "We'll probably only get a few days the next time, but I hope it's for our anniversary again like last time. That was great."

"Yeah, it was," Jack agreed, smiling. Then he patted the bed with a smile. "Come here." Ennis sat up on the bed with him and Jack rested against him, sliding one arm around Ennis's stomach. "I'm gonna miss you."

"Me too," Ennis replied, returning the embrace. "I'm really worried about what Mike's up to, if I'm honest. He makes me nervous."

"Yeah, but at least you've got support on the ship. The captain's on your side, and there's Richard. He's a really nice guy, like you said." He had met Ennis's friend a few days before and had got along well with him. It eased his mind to know that Ennis had a friend on the ship that he could talk to when things got too bad. "I just want you to be happy, bud."

"I am happy with you, Jack. It just gets really hard for me to be without you. I keep thinking about what a great time we have together and it just hurts that we don't have even longer. I know we've really lucked out this time but that's rare. And I hate being without you."

Jack sighed and nodded. "Yeah, same here. But you know what?" he asked, sitting up. "It'll be okay. Just six more months until your next visit, and then after that just another six until you're here for good. That's something to think about, right?"

"Yeah, it is. I can't wait to be back with you." Ennis smiled at Jack and kissed him. "Anyway..." He lay back on the bed, bringing Jack down with him and turning onto his stomach. "I'll remember this face when I'm alone," he said softly, tracing Jack's jaw with a finger and smiling down at him. "It'll help me to feel a little less lonely."

Jack suddenly sat up, remembering the shirt he was keeping. Maybe it was time for Ennis to know where it had gone. "I've got something to show you." He got up and reached into his bedside table, pulling out the folded shirt. Ennis stared at it.

"Is that my...?" he asked, and Jack nodded.

"I took it when you were last here, when you were in the bathroom. I just...I get lonely without you and I was having trouble sleeping. So I took it really helps," he said quietly, sitting down again. "I hold it when I'm asleep and it smells like you know..." He looked up. "Are you mad at me for stealing your stuff?"

Ennis thought it was the most romantic thing he'd ever heard, and he completely understood why Jack had done it. "I'm not mad," he assured Jack, shuffling over. "I can see why you did it, Jack. And if it helps you, then that's okay. You can keep it," he added, stroking Jack's cheek. "Can I take one of yours?"

Jack nodded. "Sure, help yourself," he said, smiling as Ennis went to retrieve an old shirt from the wardrobe. "You think it'll help you sleep?"

"Worth a shot," Ennis replied, putting a white shirt into his bag. "It smells like you..." Then he looked at his watch. "Shit..."

"Is it time?" Jack asked, standing up now and trying not to feel too heartbroken. Ennis nodded.

"Yeah. I've gotta go, bud..." Jack followed him through the apartment and to the door, sighing. Ennis opened it and put his bag down for a moment. "Come here..." He drew Jack into his arms, squeezing him tightly and wishing that he could imprint this moment on his mind forever. "I love you so much."

"I love you too," Jack replied, trying to keep his tears at bay. "Take care of yourself, Ennis. Don't let Mike get you down too much, you hear me?"

Ennis nodded. "I'll try. And...we should both remember that when I come back in April, then the next time you see me after that will be for good. We've gotta keep looking forward, Jack."

"Yep." They let go and kissed deeply, sealing their promise to hold on despite how hard it would be. "See you in six months..."

Ennis picked up his bag and nodded. "Bye, darlin'." Jack watched him walk down the corridor and to the stairs until he was out of sight, and then sighed as he realised that there was no going back now even if he wanted to; he had it bad for the man.