The harsh, bitter cold wind ripped through the air and made the trees shudder back and forth, pulling at the earth with their roots and making it sound like the mountain was angry. Ennis had to hold his hat down on his head as he ran to the camp to keep it from blowing away.
When the hailstones first started coming down it looked like the stars were falling out of the sky, and he thought for a moment that if that really happened he would snatch one in its fall before its light died out and give it to Jack to keep. He wondered if it would feel hot in his hands like Jack's back always did when they got to gasping and sweating in the dark no matter how cold the night was when they started.
But these were not falling stars. After ducking into the tent with Jack he caught one in his hat and held it between his fingers, a perfect frozen sphere. Now they were coming down hard and fast like rounds of ice-cold bullets shot down from the sky, and the noise made him and Jack hardly able to hear each other as he yelled something about getting back up to the sheep and Jack just smiled like a kid, laughing at the whole situation, and Ennis knew he wasn't going anywhere.
They closed the tent up the best they could but the wind still managed to penetrate it enough to keep them shivering, holding their unbuttoned coats shut around them with their muscles tense and their teeth clenched. The ice pounded down against all sides of the tent in a constant sound like dozens of knuckles knocking demandingly on doors.
"Shit," Jack said, lying down on his back. "Gonna be a goddamn bitch gettin' them sheep back together. They'll be goin' all over the fuckin' place."
"Ain't nothin' we can do about it now," Ennis muttered calmly, shuffling around in a corner to find a comfortable position. Nothing to lean against in a tent. He had almost forgotten what it felt like to sit in a chair by now.
Ennis reached into his pocket and cussed when he found no cigarettes. Jack had one left in his coat, and so they moved out of their opposite corners to sit a little closer together. Jack cupped his hand around the tip as he lit it so that the light from the flame filled the spaces in between his fingers and made it look like he was holding something that glowed hot; Ennis thought again of them holding bright stars in their hands. Maybe if they swallowed them the light would spread and circulate through their bodies and keep them warm.
They passed the cigarette back and forth, tasting each other without touching, which they could sometimes do by just looking at each other anyway, wanting and remembering the feeling of each other's bodies from some night before. It wasn't night now, but the storm had darkened the sky so much that from in here they couldn't tell the difference. No way was Aguirre going to be coming up here for any reason right now; they were as safe as they would be protected by darkness.
They moved closer together still, facing opposite directions as they leaned against each other's backs and kept sharing the cigarette. When it was done they just sat there feeling each other still shiver a little, though they were starting to get numb to the cold. Jack didn't try to blow a tune on his harmonica because the cold metal was like ice against his mouth. He didn't even say much for a while.
"An' I thought it was fuckin' cold that other night," Ennis suddenly mumbled, and felt Jack's back stiffen almost undetectably, then sag. He never would have expected Ennis to mention that first night that drew them into the same tent, even if just alluding to it. He seemed to take the comment as some kind of permission - or with Ennis, it could even be a well-masked request - and leaned his head back so that it rested on his shoulder.
"We don't got a just sit here 'n' freeze," he said boldly.
"Mm," was the sound Ennis made with his mouth closed tight.
The diminishing of the storm found them lying together under the blankets so comfortable they almost could have fallen asleep that way, Jack holding Ennis loosely from behind, his breath making hot condensation on the back on his neck with every slow exhale.
Days later was when the real storm was going to come. Alone, Ennis would wake up to the dead quiet that a snowfall holds the world in and the mountain would be completely silent like it was sleeping under the heavy, smothering blanket of snow. When he came back to the camp he would find out they had to leave Brokeback, and his anger would grow and burn and get loud in his head until he threw Jack a solid punch in the face.
But right now all Ennis knew was the calm, peaceful quiet as Jack breathed slowly behind him, a wall of comfort and body heat. Even though the earth was covered in ice then, it felt as if there was a light glowing warmly inside both of them, and neither of them were bothered by the cold anymore.