Secrets III

Debra Fran Baker

       It's so not fair.  We have six months of everything
wonderful and perfect, and then Jim screws it up so bad we
don't get together again for weeks and weeks.  I mean, we
have to totally rebuild the relationship.
       But we do.  And it's better than it was because now
there are no secrets at all between us.  Except there's this
other thing hanging over our heads like the Sword of
Damocles.  I mean, not only do I have those two disser-
tations to prepare and defend (which I do.  Introducing Dr. 
Blair Sandburg, Associate professor, not quite tenure track,
but possibly one day, *if* I stick around.)but we have to
totally straighten out Jim's senses.  Again.
       That AIDS cocktail not only doesn't work as
advertised, it interacts with his senses catastrophically. 
We spend *hours* every day just getting him in touch with
them.  And that's while we're still trying to pick up the
pieces.  Meanwhile, I'm trying to get him to watch his diet
and take his medicines on time, and he's totally chafing at
being forced to sit at a *desk* all day, but no way is Simon
or anyone else going to let him out on the streets again. 
Even if his senses were normal, it wouldn't be possible.
       So he's losing all heart because he can't work the
way he needs to - here's a Sentinel who can't watch his
tribe without endangering himself and maybe it.  It kills me
to see him like this.  
       Then Simon hits on the bright idea of letting Jim do
AIDS counseling for kids.  He's interacting with people
again, not just cops or me.  And it gives him something to
look forward to, because he likes the kids.  And then I move
in, back to his loft and his bed and it's not like it was
before, but it's close enough.  I love him so much it hurts.
       We tell his dad and his brother.  His brother
decides that it's okay and he becomes a part of our lives in
a big way.  His dad...his dad can't accept that his son was
gay, was living with another man and was maybe dying of
AIDS.  That was a nightmare.
       There's an AIDS support group that we join - three,
really.  One for him, one for partners and one for both. 
I'm one of the few who's still negative.  It takes a long
time before Jim is comfortable with having sex with me
again.  Honestly, it's a long time for me, too.  It wasn't
the AIDS.  I still have to get over the betrayal.  But, I
do.
       So, no swallowing.  No bare hands.  Condoms
everywhere.  And we can kiss all we want but Jim's afraid. 
So I catch him unawares and steal them, and then it's okay. 
It's more than okay, it's good.  It's healing.  My mom told
me it would be.
       And the drugs just don't work.  His viral load gets
larger and larger, and there's nothing I can do but watch
him get smaller and smaller.  I can almost carry him now. 
He's not working any more, and I've taken a leave of
absence.  We