If You Don't

Jack's fingertips on his skin were like kisses, like raindrops, like unexpected gifts. Gentle but never hesitant. How could he be so damn self-assured when he had just as much to lose?

"Jack?" Ennis murmured.

"Mmm?" The confirmation came not in the form of a whisper but as a soft, utterly contented sigh that ruffled Ennis's hair.

His fingers traced Jack's brow line, almost of their own accord. Jack's eyelids rose slowly, almost coyly, and the faint light glimmered in his eyes. They weren't subtle, Jack Twist's eyes—they said everything, if you looked right. If you watched them long enough. The corners crinkled as he smiled, and the spark in them danced.

Ennis had a lot of questions. But he didn't want the answers to any of them.

"Never mind," he managed.

Jack smelled of rope and horses, of clean sweat and the tendrils of smoke that rose from a dying fire. "You sure?" he asked, those oddly blessed fingers, the pads of them worn, torn, and healed over again, skimming over Ennis's skin.

"I…" Ennis began.

He what? What did he do?

He thought it over, though he certainly didn't want to. He wanted to feel, to know, to understand—not to think. Thinking was dangerous here. Now. At this point. When it was just a little too early and a hell of a lot too late.

Damned if you do, he thought reluctantly, clear enough.

"You?" Jack prompted, his petal-soft lips grazing Ennis's neck. They curved into a smile again as he settled placidly at Ennis's side. "Gimme a verb. Adjectives, too, if you're feelin' generous."

Well, that was it, wasn't it? At the heart of things, at the center, at the core, there was a great and overwhelming generosity to it. He felt that Jack was extremely generous, for giving him this thing—this thing that was deep and warm and enveloping; for sharing with him so much of the quiet, radiant joy that filled those bright eyes. It made Ennis feel like he could be generous, too. Like he had the power and the ability and the cause.

It made his soul resonate like a guitar string, the echoes building on themselves, gathering, combining until they sang aloud.

"Forget it," he said, following the curve of Jack's ear with a fingertip.

Ivory showed as Jack grinned. "Forget what?" he asked.

"Damn right," Ennis concluded.

It was. It was right. Deeply.

There was something almost supernatural at work here. An interplay. A connection. It was electric and unashamed, and it scared him, because he knew, somehow, one way or another, at a level that didn't lie, that it wasn't going to go away.

Damned if you don't, he thought, because you'll always wonder what it would've been like if you did.

Jack wriggled a little closer, his eyes sliding shut again, his mischievous fingers wandering up Ennis's chest until they could reach to slide along the line of his jaw.

It looked like being damned wasn't nearly so bad as it was made out to be.