And so the story comes to an end. . .

I wanted to start with a short author's note to send out a HUGE thank you to everyone who took this journey with me. I was terrified when I posted the the prologue, but the terror faded when I received such a warm reception from you all. I can't possibly thank everyone who has commented, cajoled, and encouraged, but I do want you to know that I read all the responses and took them to heart. I learned so much from this experience.

I found Brokeback Mountain in December and it broke my heart, tore me apart, and, in some ways, saved me. I have been right beside Ennis on his journey to self-discovery. I have to be honest, though, in that it wasn't Jack's death that tore me up and devasted me the most--it was Ennis's loneliness and aloneness. These are the two reasons I wanted to write Divergent Dreams--to see what would happen if Ennis came face to face with his sexuality and because I wanted him to not be alone anymore--I just couldn't bear his loneliness anymore. Okay, I really didn't want Jack to die, either. ;)

So, thank you all, so much. If you've missed the announcement, this is the end of this 'chapter', but another will be beginning soon. There are some subtle clues in this chapter to what you can expect in the sequel. And since I'm really bad at coming up with titles, the sequel is named Minnesota Dreams. Simple and yet, maybe it will help you remember which ranch fic it is :)

Chapter Thirty-Six

September 20, 1976

"Maria!" Bobby's cry rang out as he ran to her and launched himself into her arms.

"Bobby! Oh my goodness, let me look at you." She stood back, her hands on his shoulders, and her dark eyes filled with tears. "You've gotten so big." She looked up at Jack, repeated, "He's gotten so big."

Jack, his own eyes suspiciously misty, just nodded, then said, "Hey, Bob, why don't we give Maria a tour–show her around." Jack lead the way through the living room while Ennis stayed in the kitchen to take over supper preparations from Kelly.

"Thanks for staying all day today Kelly."

"How'd it go, Ennis?"

"It was . . . a hard day. But Jack did a real good job."

"What happened? Did the judge make a decision? Did he say Bobby could stay with Jack?"

"Nope, he's got some time t'decide. We might not know fer a couple months."

"That long?" Her dark eyes widened. "What's going to happen in the meantime?"

"Judge said Bobby can stay here for now."

"Oh." She opened the oven and slid in a pan of garlic bread to warm. "Who's Maria?"

"A friend of Jack's. She was him and Lureen's neighbor down in Texas and she useta babysit Bobby, too. L.D. brought her in as a witness, but it sure backfired." He grinned. "She said Jack was a great daddy and wasn't no reason he shouldn't keep his son."

"Oh, I knew I liked her right away," Kelly said, a warm smile on her own lips as she cut up tomatoes for the salad. "I might as well stay and help you finish this, if you want?" she offered.

"Sure, I'll take all the help I can get. You know I ain't much good in the kitchen."

"I think you're getting better. In no time at all, you guys won't even need my help."

"That ain't true. I may be gettin' better at cookin', but there ain't nothin' that's gonna make me better at cleanin' an' doin' laundry. Least I'd never admit it, 'cause then I'd halfta do it myself." He winked at her. "So, how's school goin'?" he asked, changing the subject.

"Oh, Ennis, I'm so glad I started. I love it. It's different than being in high school. I couldn't wait to get out of there, but college is so much more interesting and I feel like I'm really learning a lot."

He looked at her from under his eyelashes. "How's Dwayne? You still talk t'him?"

Kelly smiled. She knew it was his own way of looking out for her. "He's good and yes, we still talk. I'm going to visit him next weekend." She washed and dried her hands and began setting the table. Ennis brought over the salad and the basket of garlic bread.

"Well, everything's ready," she said. "Think you guys will be eating soon?" Ennis nodded. "I'll take the lasagna out of the oven now, then, so it can cool for a few minutes."

Jack, Bobby, and Maria came in just as she was leaving and they said good-bye, then sat down at the table to eat. Bobby kept up a steady stream of conversation, telling Maria everything that had happened since he'd last seen her.

When they finished, Maria insisted on helping clean up. Afterwards, they took her outside to show her around the farm. Bobby lead her from horse to horse, while Jack and Ennis stood back, each secretly amazed at how much information Bobby had retained about the farm and the horses and was relaying to her. Maria occasionally glanced back at the two men, a bemused expression on her face and, at times, with questions in her eyes. At nine o'clock Jack reminded Bobby that he was visiting his grandparents the next day and he needed to take a bath and get to bed. Bobby gave Maria a hug and said goodnight. Ennis also said goodnight to her and followed Bobby in the house.

Jack opened the door of the truck for Maria and went around to the drivers seat.

"Wow, I can't believe how much he's grown since I last saw him."

"I know. Time seems t'go by so fast." He turned out of the driveway and headed towards Goosedown.

"You're doing a good job, Jack. When L.D. first told me about you and Ennis, well, I didn't believe it. I was angry, too. Lureen was my friend, same as you were, and you guys always seemed to be okay. And then, to hear . . ." she trailed off quietly.

"I know. Musta been quite a shock." He looked at her and sighed, realizing she was still struggling with trying to understand. "Marryin' Lureen was a mistake, but I did love her, in my way. We didn't have a bad life t'gether. I just always loved someone else, in my heart. But I wouldn't give up Bobby fer nothin' in the world."

"Ennis is good with him."

"He loves him, just like he loves his daughters."

"I can tell." She was quiet for a moment. "I hope things work out for you, Jack."

"Me too."

They arrived at the hotel and Jack walked her in to her room "Think you'll ever come down to Texas again, Jack?"

"I don't know. Might take Bobby down to see his grandparents sometimes, depending, you know, on what happens."

"If you do, you make sure you come by. Keep in touch with us, okay? And you can bring Ennis with you, if you want. He's welcome in our home."

"Thanks, Maria. That means a lot t'me. I will. You take care." He gave her a hug. "Thank you, so much, for what you said today."

She pulled back and smiled at him. "I swore t'tell the truth and that's what I did." She leaned in and kissed his cheek, then turned and went into her room.

Ennis sat on the kitchen counter and waited for the phone on the other line to ring. When it did, it was picked up after two rings and a familiar voice said, "Hello?"

"Hi, Alma, it's Ennis. The girls around?"

"Sure, hold on." He heard her hand the phone off and say, "It's yer daddy."

Junior came on the line. "Daddy! Hi, how come yer callin' today? You usually call on Sundays."

"I need a reason to call my girls?"

She giggled. "Course not, silly."

"Good. How are ya?"

"I'm just fine, daddy, just fine. I got an A on my English test yesterday. We're startin' t'do some creative writing and I wrote a poem and my teacher said it was real good. Maybe I could send you a copy of it?"

"I'd love that, darlin'."

"Okay, I'll write ya a letter and put the poem in."

Ennis's heart ached, to hear her excitement and pride in her voice. He missed being there, with them, but didn't want them to know, so he tried to keep the sadness out of his voice. "How're yer other classes going?"

"Good, except fer math. I hate math. I'm no good at it."

"Just do yer best."

She sighed and said, "I'll try, daddy. You wanna talk t'Franny? She just came in."


"'Kay. I love you, daddy, an' I sure do miss you."

"Me too, Junior, me too."

Franny got on the line. "Hi, daddy! How're you?"

"I'm good, sweetpea. Where were you? Junior said you just came in."

"I was outside playin' hopscotch with my friend Jenny. She lives next door and we're in the same class."

"That's nice."

"Most of the time it is. Sometimes we argue, but we make up pretty quick." Ennis chuckled at her matter-of-fact tone.

"How's school goin'?"

"Well, I don't like school that much, daddy."

"Why not?"

"It's just too much work. I got homework almost every night!"

"You get it done?"

"Yes, sir, but I sure don't like it. I kinda like math, though. That's my best subject."

"Well, at least that's somethin'. Maybe you can help yer sister."

"If she lets me. Oh, I gotta go. Mama's callin' us t'supper. I'm sure glad ya called daddy. I miss you."

"I miss you too, sweetpea."

"I love you, daddy. Wait! Mama wants t'talk t'you."

"Love you, too, darlin'."

"Ennis?" Alma asked, as if unsure that he was still on the line.

"Yeah, I'm here."

"Just wanted t'tell ya that yer sister stopped me in the store the other day. Seems she's lookin' fer you."

"What'd she want?"

"Well, I don't know, I didn't ask her. She asked where she could find you and I told her you were in Minnesota."

Ennis grunted, unsure what the proper reply was.

"Is it a secret, where ya are?"

"No, 'course not, it's just, I haven't talked t'her fer years. Don't know what she'd want."

"Well, me neither an' our supper's gettin' cold, so I gotta go. Just thought ya might wanna know." Ennis watched Jack walk in from outside and put on a pot of hot water for cocoa.

"All right, thanks, Alma." Jack's eyebrow raised at the name. "I'll call the girls on Sunday, like usual."

"Sure 'nough. Bye." They both hung up.

Jack walked over to stand in front of him. "You were talkin' t'Alma?"

"You jealous?" Ennis asked, hooking his fingers in Jack's belt loops and pulled him closer.

"Yeah, I'm so afraid yer gonna leave me fer her." He rolled his eyes.

"Okay, smartass, just fer that, I ain't gonna tell ya why I was talkin' t'her."

"Oh, come on." Jack arched up and kissed him, sliding his tongue along the slight part in Ennis's lips.

"Mmm . . . maybe if ya give me one more o' them I might be persuaded." Jack kissed him again, lingering longer this time and nudging himself between Ennis's knees. When they broke apart he said, "Do any more o' that and I'll ferget I even talked t'Alma."

"That's my goal, cowboy." He kissed Ennis again, wrapped his arms around Ennis's waist to bring them closer together and by the time they broke apart, they were both breathing heavy. "So, what'd she want?"

"My sister was in Riverton and askin' fer me, wonderin' where I'm at."

"Yer sister?"

"Yeah, remember, I told you she married a roughneck? Ain't seen her in years. Her or my brother." He pulled Jack close again, "But I really don't wanna talk about that. When d'you halfta pick Bobby up from seein' his grandma and grandpa?"


Ennis leaned in for another long kiss, then hopped off the counter. "Come on, that gives us more'n an hour." He grabbed Jack's hand and pulled him toward the stairs leading up to the loft.

"What'd you have in mind?" Jack asked, his eyes twinkling, letting Ennis pull him along.

"Come on. I'll show ya. You know I'm better with showin' than tellin'."

"Don't I know it," Jack murmured. They reached the bedroom; Jack shut the door behind them and leaned against it. "Okay, show me," he said, the sparkle in his eyes replaced with hooded desire.

In spite of their worry about what the judge would decide, things slowly went back to normal at the farm. The next few weeks were filled with work, homework, and the search for a new farmhand to replace Tyler. Ennis was ready to give up. No one that they talked to was good enough, but he knew they'd have to find someone soon. Luckily, Beau was a quick learner and he was getting more competent every day, but it didn't erase the fact that they still needed more help. Jack didn't worry about it too much, said they'd find someone soon enough.

Tuesday, the fifth of October was an ordinary day. They'd had an early supper and Bobby had already taken his bath. He'd fallen asleep on the floor, his head pillowed on a rolled up blanket, in front of the television. Ennis sat on one end of the couch, his feet up on the coffee table, while Jack was stretched out full length on the couch, his head in Ennis's lap. He had Ennis's hand clasped in his, held close to his chest, while they watched a new episode of 'Happy Days'.

The phone rang and Jack jumped up to answer it. Bobby didn't even stir. Ennis was thinking he should probably get up and carry him up to bed when he heard Jack say, "You're kidding. Are you sure?"

Ennis turned to look at Jack and his heart clenched when he saw that Jack's eyes were swimming in unshed tears, his hand over his mouth. He got up and went to him, but stood back, unsure.

"Yeah, okay. Thank you, Anna. Thanks fer everything." He hung up the phone and pulled Ennis into a hard hug and clung to him, his body shaking with emotion.

"Jack? You okay? What'd she say?" Ennis ran his hand up and down Jack's back, trying to soothe the trembling.

Jack pressed his face into Ennis's neck before he pulled back and looked into the chocolate eyes. "She said she woulda called sooner, but she was in court all day. She brought her work mail home and just opened it and there was an order from the judge on our case. He said it was in Bobby's best interest," Jack paused and took a steadying breath, "fer Bobby t'stay with his daddy. To stay with me." His sapphire eyes shone with tears that would still not fall. "He said I get t'keep him, Ennis. Me."

Ennis cleared his throat hard, shook his head, felt the welling in his own eyes. "Well, course ya do. Yer his daddy. Glad that judge was smart enough t'say so." Ennis ran his hand down Jack's cheek, leaned in for a soft kiss, then pulled him into an embrace. They were still standing there, holding each other up, when they heard Bobby next to them. They drew apart and looked down.

Bobby was in his cowboy pajamas, thick socks on his feet, and was rubbing his eyes and yawning. "I'm goin' up t'bed. G'night, daddy. Night, dad."

Jack leaned down and gave him a long hug. "Good night, son. I love you."

Bobby looked at him for a moment. He knew something was different, but he was too tired to sort it out, so he just said, almost as a question, "I love you, too, daddy." Jack let him go and he shuffled up the stairs and into his room.

Jack turned back to Ennis. "We're goin' out tomorrow. Got two things t'celebrate."


"Two. First one is victory over L.D. Newsome. I only wish I coulda been there t'see the look on his fuckin' face when he found out the news." He looked off into space, a satisfied smile on his face.

"Jack? What's the other thing we got t'celebrate?"

Jack looked back at him, still smiling, but his eyes got a mischievous twinkle in them. "Just so happens that the most handsome cowboy in the whole wide world is havin' a birthday tomorrow."

Ennis smiled at him. "It's yer birthday tomorrow? I thought it was in November."

"Very funny. It's your birthday, dumbass, which you very well know."

"I know, but you threw me off with that 'handsome cowboy' thing."

Jack took Ennis's face in his hands and leaned close, forehead to forehead, his eyes lingering on lips before moving up to look into the brown eyes. "You're the most handsome cowboy, the most beautiful man, I've ever seen." He kissed the lips he'd just been admiring, then drew back a bit, but didn't drop his hands. "Thank you, Ennis, fer standin' by me, fer believin' in me."

Ennis cut his eyes away and blushed. "Don't need t'thank me fer that, Jack. What else was I s'posed t'do? Yer my life." His voice dropped to a whisper. "My angel."

Jack's eyes filled with tears again and he didn't trust himself to talk for a moment. When he did, he said, "Come on, let's go t'bed."

Jack parked the truck in front of Willow Bay and he, Bobby, and Ennis got out.

"Hey, dad, isn't that Beau's motorcycle?" Bobby asked.

Ennis squinted at it. "Yeah, I think yer right. Maybe he's here fer supper, too."

Jack didn't say anything, but if Ennis had been watching his face he would've seen a secret, knowing smile cross his lips before he schooled them to nonchalance. He opened the door and held it for Ennis and Bobby.

Ennis went in and stopped, allowing his eyes to adjust to the dim interior. When he finally started forward, he stopped again, almost immediately, and turned back to look at Jack. "What's all this?"

"All what?"

"You plan this?"

Jack feigned innocence, but wasn't very good at it. "I didn't plan nothin'. Mighta mentioned to a coupla friends that we were havin' supper here tonight."

Ennis lowered his head, shaking it back and forth, looked back at Jack and tried to look indignant, but, like Jack, was having no luck with making his face do what he wanted, and Jack saw the twinkle in his eyes when he glanced back at Jack before walking into the dining room. There was only one table of people in the restaurant, but it was a table made of several tables that had been moved together to form one long one. Seated around it were Alice, Kelly, Anna, Nancy, Beau, Janie, Tyler, and the entire McIntyre clan. Bobby took a seat next to Danny, while Jack and Ennis took the two empty seats between Anna and Kelly. There were greetings all around and Ennis felt a bittersweet happiness, thinking that two more guests would make this the perfect celebration. Jack, as if reading his mind, touched his hand under the table and squeezed his fingers in sympathy.

Jack leaned toward Alice. "If yer out here, who's cooking?"

"Ida Olson does most of the cooking on the days I have off. She's pretty good," Alice said.

"Not as good as my mom, though," Kelly said.

"There's prob'ly no one cooks as good as yer mom," Jack said and smiled wide at Alice.

"Oh, you." She blushed like a young girl. "You're probably just hoping I'll send more goodies with Kelly. I made some of those chocolate chip cookies you like so much. I'll send some tomorrow."

"I am and it worked like a charm," he said and winked at her. Everyone laughed before they settled down to order. The table was filled with chatter, laughter, and soon, good food.

They had finished eating and were waiting for desert when Ennis leaned close to Jack and whispered, "It's prob'ly a good thing we're the only ones here. I'm sure there'd be some complaining if anyone else was here. We ain't exactly a quiet group."

"Ain't it funny how fate works sometimes? Sometimes it seems like she's really lookin' out fer us."

"Yeah," Ennis said softly. He leaned back in his chair and rested one arm across the back of Jack's chair. Every once in a while his fingertips would reach out and brush against Jack's soft denim shirt and he'd send up a prayer of thanks.

Ennis was in between the juxtaposition of sleeping and waking, where dreams and memories sometimes merge into a tangle, to be sorted out in the light of day. He knew it was near morning and had a vague thought of getting up, but he was so comfortable that the thought, if it could even be called that, passed. He shifted under the covers, nuzzling deeper into the pillow, as another memory dream took him over and he was lost again. He turned onto his back and stretched his long legs out, one hand on his chest, the other by his side, nestled between his body and Jack's warm back.

Ennis slept for a while, then woke for real. The past few days had been unseasonably warm, even though it was October, but now the wind was blowing in, lifting the curtains with ghostly fingers. It had started raining and he knew the rain was coming in. He slipped from the bed and went to the window to close it. It was almost morning; just starting to get light, in spite of the dark clouds. He stood there for a while, looking out at the trees and the lake in the distance, not noticing that the room was cold in the chill air.

He heard a hitch in the steady breathing behind him. "Ennis..." a sleepy voice called out. Ennis rubbed his eyes and cleared his throat. "I'm here, darlin'."

"Come back here. I'm cold. Come'n warm me up." Ennis finally realized that he was getting cold. He went back to the bed and crawled in between the flannel sheets and snuggled up to Jack's back. Jack's warm skin felt like fire next to his chilled skin. "You're not cold," he murmured.

"Goddamn, Ennis, you're freezin'." He turned in Ennis's arms to face him.

"Well, I reckon you'll just have to warm me up, then, won'tcha?" He smiled as Jack pulled him close, their legs and arms entwining beneath the heavy quilt.

Jack kissed him, letting it deepen for a moment before pulling away, smiling his sexy, sleepy smile. "I reckon I will."


I awoke slowly from the depths of my dream
and realized quickly that life
isn't always what it seems.
The day emerges out of darkness
and the trees outside are silhouetted
black against the bone colored sky
and the clouds are ominously dark
as they roll by above the trees.
And the world is sacredly silent
in the quiet of the dawning of the day,
here in the early morning,
where peace is always free
and it's easy to believe in perfection,
but that's only my perception.
Who can determine what is real
when life has you in its grasp
and dreams float effortlessly by.
Are they really out of reach?
Or merely a figment of our imagination?